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Watching the Watchmen: The Definitive Companion to the Ultimate Graphic Novel Hardcover – October 21, 2008

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Book Description
Enjoy the ultimate companion to a comics masterpiece, as award-winning artist Dave Gibbons gives his own account of the genesis of WATCHMEN in this dust-jacketed hardback volume, opening his vast personal archives to reveal never-published pages, original character designs, page thumbnails, sketches and much more, including posters, covers and rare portfolio art. Featuring the breathtaking design of Chip Kidd and Mike Essl, WATCHING THE WATCHMEN is both a major art book in its own right, and the definitive companion to the graphic novel that changed an industry.

Voted among Time magazine's 100 Best Novels from 1923 to the present, a perennial bestseller over the past twenty years and widely considered the greatest graphic novel of all time, WATCHMEN is a gripping, labyrinthine piece of comic art, which has earned an acclaimed place in modern literary history.

"I've had a great time, re-visiting the very beginnings of Watchmen and unearthing material I haven't set eyes on for many years. As a fan myself, this is the kind of stuff I eat up and I'm sure the many devotees of the graphic novel will do the same!" says Gibbons.

© DC Comics 2008. All Rights Reserved.

A Q&A with Dave Gibbons on the Making of Watchmen

Question: You were tasked with drawing new illustrations of key shots from the new Watchmen film. Was it a difficult challenge to re-imagine your work in this movie format?

Dave Gibbons: I don’t think that I actually did many key shots from the film. I had to actually imagine them rather than exactly recreate what was going to be in the movie. But as far as the drawings I did for the licensing purposes, accuracy was the real key so that they looked exactly like the movie. Whereas doing the graphic novel was creating stuff afresh and being very creative, this was more the case of interpreting something that already existed. So it was rather more a commercial art job than a creative thing.

Q: How many scenes from the original graphic novel did you redraw in the new "movie" format?

DG: I kind of did them piecemeal, these licensing drawings. I did do a section of storyboarding for Zack Snyder. There is a part of the movie that isn’t in the graphic novel and he wanted to see how I would have drawn it, if it had been in the graphic novel. So I redid the storyboards as three pages of comic on the nine-panel grid, also getting it coloured by John Higgins so it looked authentic. But I think there were probably only 3 or 4 scenes that I drew, which were from the movie.

Q: What was your working method for producing these new illustrations from the film? And how has it changed from when you originally illustrated Watchmen?

DG: When you’re producing things from existing material, you have to look at and assemble the references... you know, keep looking backwards and forwards to make sure what you’re drawing is accurate to what’s in the photos. I did have lots of photos from the movie and in some cases I had more or less the illustration I was going to do in photo form, which made it a lot easier. On others I had to construct it from various references: really just the usual illustrator’s job of drawing something to reference. And on the original illustrations of Watchmen, I was free to come up with exactly the angles and exactly the costumes and everything that I wanted to. When you’ve designed a costume and drawn it a few times, you actually internalize it and you find you can draw it without having to refer to reference at all. So in some ways it’s more creative and in some ways it’s easier!

Q: In Watchmen: The Art of the Film, there are concept designs by other artists of their visions of your iconic characters. What do you think of their versions and did you offer any guidance while they were working on these?

DG: It’s always really interesting to see versions of your characters drawn by other artists. You tend to see things in them that you hadn’t noticed before. So I really enjoyed looking at those. I certainly didn’t offer them any guidance. The purpose of getting those kinds of drawings done is to get a fresh perspective on what exists. I noticed actually that they really stuck more closely to my original designs than those, but I really enjoyed seeing them.

Q: Watchmen: Portraits is Clay Enos’s stunning black and white collection of photos of each character from the Watchmen movie. What was it like looking through this book at all the characters you had conceived years ago now being brought to life by actors?

DG: It’s rather interesting; you know if you look at the Watching the Watchmen book you can see these characters as fairly sketchy rough conceptual versions. Then when you look at Clay’s book you can actually see them right down to counting the number of pores on the skin on the end of their noses! It’s incredible high focus! It’s like zooming in through space and time to look at the surface of some moon of Saturn or something. I thoroughly enjoyed his book... it had a real artistic quality to it that was really so good. And of course to see these actors who so much are the embodiment of what I drew, that it’s a tremendous thrill to see them made flesh!

Q: Watchmen: The Film Companion features some stills from the animated version of The Black Freighter. What do you think of the look and design of this animated feature?

DG: It looks really interesting! Although I drew my version in the comic book in a kind of horror-comic style, these are very much in a savage manga style. I think they work really well... they’ve got the kind of manic intensity, which I think that work should have and I really can’t wait to see the whole feature. I’ve seen the trailer for it and that looks great and again they’ve used a lot of the compositions that I came up with but just translated them to this kind of very modern drawn animation.

Q: How much time did you spend on the set of Watchmen? Was it a surreal experience to see your work recreated like this?

DG: I was on the set of Watchmen for a couple of days and it really was surreal to walk through a door and then suddenly be in the presence of all these people in living breathing flesh! I was there for what you would call the Crimebusters meeting where they were all there in costume in the same room, which was incredible. They had obviously planned that so I would get to see everyone. It was surreal though quite a wonderful experience to see it come to life.

About the Author

Dave Gibbons is best known for his iconic artwork on the groundbreaking graphic novel Watchmen. He has also written and/or drawn many other comics titles, including Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Doctor Who and his semi-autobiographical graphic novel The Originals.

Chip Kidd has been called "the world's best book-jacket designer" and "the closest thing to a rock star" in graphic design today. His iconic designs include the cover for Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park. He is also a writer, musician and avid comics fan.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Titan Books; First Edition edition (October 21, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848560419
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848560413
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.1 x 12.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #392,340 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Dave Gibbons passionately roams in three different global playgrounds: The first park is THE AWAKEN GROUP (THEAWAKENGROUP.COM), a consulting firm specializing in creativity, culture and innovation; the second park is a movement of churches not bound by geography that he calls "home" (NEWSONG.NET), throughout Southeast Asia, China, India, Korea, Mexico City, London, and North America. And lastly there is a crazy bunch of people in an organization called XEALOT that focuses on transforming marginalized communities through strategic leadership development and ideation ventures. Dave has written a book on culture and leadership based on an eastern parable called The Monkey and the Fish.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Silly Goose on October 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I don't feel the need to praise Alan Moore's and Dave Gibbon's "WATCHMEN" anymore than it has been praised already, and I do feel that a supplemental book to look back on the original material was a great idea, but for the most part "WATCHING THE WATCHMEN" just catalogues some of the original sketches and storyboard layouts. Without question, the quality of the printing is up to snuff, and the design of the book is flawless...the problem is there just isn't much content. The book would do better if there was more writing and reflection on the part of Gibbons (and Moore, of course), because most readers are probably more curious as to the ideas and sensibility that helped shape the original "WATCHMEN." There is not much in that department - of course one can just as easily look all of that up on Wikipedia at this point.

But overall I have no regrets in buying this book. It is a nice collector's item for those who have an affinity for the original "WATCHMEN" - just don't expect it to be much more than that.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Robert Greenberger on November 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Never before had I seen that much thought and effort go into a project. It was January 1985 and I was representing DC Comics to the British talent. Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons and I spent a delightful afternoon reviewing the project and Dave showed me sketches for the characters, the covers and even a marketing campaign that was as sophisticated as it was smart. It's a terrific that so much of this material was saved and is finally seeing the light of day, so Dave's wonderful efforts can be celebrated. The book is a visual treat and a terrific companion to the graphic novel.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By K. Stone on October 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover
HARD TO READ. My eyes were bleeding by the end of it. Purple and green type on black backgrounds does not a pleasurable reading experience make. I was surprised at how badly the content other than the phenomenal artwork was presented...THAT is my ONLY grip and what keeps it from being a five star book. If it were not for the content in fact it would be a 2.3 star book, but Sigh...Yes it does have that content, which is AMAZING. The fact that Dave Gibbons has saved some of these amazing artifacts of what now is a cultural touchstone and will be even MORE so when the movie come out, its pretty special.

Some highlights.

1. The sketches, which show HOW Dave and Alan came about creating the characters.

2. Actual inkblots used to inspire Rorshach

3. Copies of the actual typewritten on onion-skin manuscript from Alan Moore.

This book is like I said AMAZING, But it doesn't tell the whole story, just part of it, maybe because some was told in the Absolute Watchmen edition published a few years back. This is a companion book that is a must have for either of those editions. If you have Absolute Watchmen, get this book. If you have this book only, go out and get Absolute Watchmen.

I know I will find myself looking at this book as I do the other editions of the Watchmen I have.

Watchmen is and will be the Citizen Kane of comic books.
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43 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Vrattos on November 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I didn't want to like this book. Watchman is a literary classic and, as such, its interpretation is best left to the reader. How could any examination do justice to the graphic-novel equivalent of Michelangelo's work on the Sistine Chapel? Sure, one of the creative geniuses behind Watchmen, Dave Gibbons, is involved with Watching the Watchmen, but sometimes examinations of works of art by the actual sources from which they've sprung can tarnish one's feelings about said art. Case in point: George Lucas's claim that in Star Wars: A New Hope it was always his intention that Han Solo not shoot Greedo without provocation, that Han Solo was always meant to shoot in defense of Greedo trying to kill Han first. I am not alone in disagreeing, and Lucas's assertions to the contrary will always be a burr in my side. I would that he rather kept this explanation to himself. Would da Vinci's Mona Lisa, be quite as seminal in the annals of art had he scripted a Watching Mona, divulging the facts behind his work, and forever depriving the world of one of, if not the, greatest mysteries of the art world? I think not.

So it was with great trepidation that I opened Watching the Watchmen . . .

I was first struck by the design by Chip Kidd, the Frank Lloyd Wright of book design. One need not be a fan of graphic novels to be drawn into the artistry of the page layouts; intricate juxtapositions, adversely placed against single-images, powerful in their simplicity; full-page sketches and panel-by-panel breakdown, in which Chip allows Gibbons's genius to speak for itself.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Anders Dahle on December 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is a product first and foremost for those who would like to learn how Watchmen was created. You get a pretty good insight in how the collaborative process of making Watchmen proceded. Those who wants new insights in the story itself will not get what they hope for. Then you are better off with some of the annotations you can find on the internet. It also contains some chapters about how Watchmen was recieved by readers and the impact on comics at the time.

If you have already read the absolute edition you will find overlaps in the material in this book.

Having said that, I still enjoyed the book. Gibbons presents his overview sketches of the series and for those who has wondered about his part in the creation of the story (not the art), you get your answers here.

I mostly enjoyed the chapters that went outside the story of Watchmen itself - the parts that are the most original for the book.
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