On July 17th, co-creator of Watchmen, Dave Gibbons, sat down for an hour plus interview with Jonathan Smith, the head of production at Traveller’s Tale games, to discuss his storied career in the comic industry. Of the topics discussed, his work on Batman vs. Predator, the Secret Service and his take on modern video games were all brought up; the main focus was placed on Gibbons’ work on the Watchmen and its place in the comic book industry.
While I, like many, have read the Watchmen and consider myself to be a fan, I never dug too deep into the origin of the story or even what its creators wanted the story to be. Gibbons mentioned that, originally, the story was meant to contain characters acquired from Charleston comics by DC, but they were not used them as they didn’t want their inclusion in such an adult story. Gibbons feels that the book is more of a science fiction story happening in a dystopic world that happens to have “super heroes”, rather than a basic super hero story. When he begun to understand what this story would truly entail, the vision of these characters appear more human instead of exaggerated like some of his original, more surreal sketches. This rationale played a big part in the very specific panelling throughout the comic. With very small nine-panel pages meaning to identify these characters as being more human within the scope and the context of the events of the book, the ending has these fantastic full page spread’s that truly convey how large the moments were, such that, the reader could truly feel it.
But for all of the positive talk about the Watchmen, it was only a matter of time before he was tasked with his thoughts on the ongoing releases of the Before Watchmen prequel books. Since he, nor Alan Moore, have any attachment to the creative process of these story, things like the video game (which Gibbons was a “distant consultant” on) the movie and, yes, the prequels are not to be considered as canon. While we can all continue to have arguments as to whether or not the prequel books should or should not exist, there is no denying that stories within the same universe should definitely be explored. There is not one Batman story by Bob Kane or one Spider-Man story written by Stan Lee, but hundred’s written by many others in which we all have been able to love and enjoy because they deserve to be explored.
With reference to new comic platforms the like iPad and other digital distribution, specifically an app he worked on called the Madefire, he said that he truly believes comics are a truly “democratic art form”. “It’s the simplest thing in the world to perform…” he said. “…a piece of paper and a pen, that’s it really. That’s all you need. If you give creative people the tools to do these things (iPads, tablets etc…) and get them out there, then it’s going to enrich the whole field for everybody”. With the Madefire app, he gave examples of twisting, tilting and changing the orientation every single panel in order to get more information out of a drawing then just looking at a flat piece of paper in a regular comic book. While the possibilities of this app are quite interesting, like most technology, it will take a large base of people developing on the platform to truly make this something special.
If you are a fan of Gibbons and have about an hour and twenty minutes to kill, you can find the entire interview online. It was an interesting talk and one that was pretty interesting to hear. We all probably assumed beforehand that Gibbons wasn’t on board with the other Watchmen works, but it’s always nice to hear it from the horse’s mouth.