I was lucky enough to catch WATCHMEN
illustrator Dave Gibbons at the Apple Store in Soho this past Friday, for a conversation and Q&A about the famed graphic novel and the upcoming motion picture.
Although I arrived 20 minutes before Gibbons was scheduled to speak, I still had trouble finding a seat--proof of the feverish anticipation for the film and the already rabid built-in fanbase of the graphic novel. When Gibbons did finally emerge, he was greeted warmly by an audience who clearly revered him. We were promised clips from the upcoming film, and I licked my lips and clenched my fists, anticipating some never-before-seen footage. Instead, the clips shown were no more than the featurettes already online.
We had all gathered not for a sneak preview of the film, but to hear words from the man behind the creation of the indelible characters Rorschach, Nite Owl and the rest of the iconic gang. Sure it was Alan Moore who wrote their dialogue, but as Gibbons explained, it was he who fully conceived their physical attributes (the easiest character to draw is Doctor Manhattan and his favorite is Nite Owl).
I was surprised to learn that Gibbons had seen the film multiple times, and had nothing but praise for what Snyder and crew have accomplished. Gibbons reminisced about well-documented meetings he and Alan had in the past with bloated producer Joel Silver who he confirmed, wanted Arnold Schwarzenegger to play Dr. Manhattan. Holy God. He also confirmed that Terry Gilliam wanted to make the film in the nineties but Gibbons joked that he'd probably "still be working on it today" and that it would have ultimately "crushed him." Gibbons also mentioned that Paul Greengrass was at one point involved as well, but that ultimately he could not be happier with the choice of Snyder. He mentioned that the studio pushed for Zack to set WATCHMEN in present day, so as not to alienate new audiences unfamiliar with the source material. It was Snyder's "masterstroke" to set the film in 1985 as Moore intended it, said Gibbons.
Gibbons also said that his involvement with the film was minimal, however he did draw a series of brand new pages of the graphic novel, that Snyder used as a storyboard for an original sequence in the film! The pages can be found in one of the many production books being timed with the film's release. Moore's reluctance to have WATCHMEN turned into a film has been highly publicized, but honestly, Gibbons seemed absolutely giddy about it. He stressed that he wasn't being paid by DC to promote the film--that he was doing it because he truly believed in the final product. He likened watching the movie to literally watching his "dreams come true", and spoke of one moment in particular that is so emotionally devastating it nearly brought him to tears. If you guys were unsure whether or not this movie will live up to your expectations, this will hopefully help to alleviate your concerns. Dave Gibbons--the co-creator of WATCHMEN--is a BIG fan of the film. Right f*cking on.
After the Q&A (the moderator never made it to me--bahh), Gibbons treated us all to a live display of his masterful sketching abilities. Using some fancy shmancy software, Gibbons sketched Rorschach onto a monitor in front of him while it was being displayed on a large screen for all to behold. Apple was then kind enough to print out 300 copies of the image which Gibbons then signed for everyone in attendance! Check it out below:
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