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Watchmen: Portraits Hardcover – February 10, 2009
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As the official photographer on the set of Watchmen, Clay Enos was there at every stage of production as director Zack Snyder filmed the adaptation of the legendary graphic novel.
As well as his day-to-day duties making sure there was a visual record of the production, Enos also made time to work on a very special project: a collection of black-and-white portraits photographs.
From the lead characters, including of course Rorschach, the Comedian, Dr Manhattan, Nite-Owl and all the other Watchmen, to supporting characters and even extras in the crowd, his lens captured them all. With its wealth of exclusive photographs, this stunning book is a unique look into the world of the film.
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.
Praise for Watchmen:-
"Watchmen is peerless" -- Rolling Stone
"The greatest piece of popular fiction ever produced" -- Lost co-creator Damon Lindelhof
"A masterwork representing the apex of artistry" -- Entertainment Weekly
Top Customer Reviews
The full page portraits freeze the entire cast of the film from the prostitute to Rorschach and inbetween. When you see the film and notice a character you might like to see in more detail, this is the reference you need.
Surprisingly, the black and white imagery accentuates the nostalgaic nature of the film.
Photographs capture the soul, and Clay Enos has a mitful. May they treat him kindly.
Whether you are a fan of Watchmen or not, Clay's collection of portraits are a must have for fans of photography. I look forward to more books from this impressive artist!
Quick sidenote: Don't look through this book if you haven't read the graphic novel or watched the movie. There's actually some spoilers throughout, which when you see them are quite fantastic.
I got this book alone with Watchmen: The Art of the Film and Watchmen: The Film Companion on the same day a week before the film came out. I was tempted to look through them, peruse the pages and see what the film had in store. I held off with the latter 2, but I jumped into the Portraits book and devoured it, looking at each picture. What's cool about it is that they don't just showcase the stars of the film, but all the extras in the background and even the stunt doubles and stand ins for the various cast members.
If you love to see the making of a movie in any way imaginable, I suggest getting this film and the other 2 as soon as you can. A great coffee table book for all your friends to see.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
All portraits of actors from the movie. Pretty cool but I thought it would have more comic material.Published 13 months ago by ollamhbard
Great book for the price. Great graphic pictures and bigger than expected. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoyed the movie as well.Published on March 6, 2014 by Kimberly Gallagher
This book exceeded my expectations. The images, both breathtaking and disturbing do not disappoint. This is not only a great gift for fans of the Watchmen film/books, but also for... Read morePublished on May 13, 2011 by Ginger Virago
Startling, Avedon-esque photos that give you even more ability to marvel at the detail poured into this film. For completists. Read morePublished on February 6, 2010 by Darcy Sullivan
There's really not much to say other then this book is stunning - The photography is rich, high contrast black and white. Read morePublished on May 7, 2009 by K. Phillips