Watching the Watchmen is really Watchmen porn, with every single bit and piece of the creation of the seminal series held up to 600dpi treatment, and it is hard to think of many other books that could really stand this sort of scrutiny. Sketches, thumbnails, watercolors, bits of Alan's scripts all litter that book which should be a primer for anyone that has ever wondered just how easy it is to produce a comic book, let alone one with this depth. The answer, to no ones surprise, is that it was a mountain of work, and it shows in each series of thumbnails as Gibbons lays out panel after panel after panel of nine panel grid, moving the camera around, in, and out and around each of his set pieces.
My god is it a ton of work. I'm exhausted just looking at it.
How much new stuff is there you ask? Hard to say, given that the best of preliminary work was all put into the Grafitti hardcover from back in '87 that i own, so i've not bought the Absolute edition, although the new coloring is quite a draw honestly, as it the increase of page size. The thumbnails are a masterful touch, but I think only to someone who is really deep into the artistic process. (Seeing the transition from Sharpie thumbnails to pencils to full inks is quite an education in itself.) If this is art porn, and, lets face it, it really is, then its got a very specific fetish audience in mind.
But there is some delight in seeing all the work that was put in behind the scenes, even though two things, of course, jump out at me: that some 16 pages in we have the handsomely put together indicia page "WATCHMEN and all related names, characters and elements are trademarks of DC Comics" and that 200 pages or so into the book, Gibbons writes
It was certainly beyond the imaginings Alain andI had as its creators. We expected that three years after the original series had gone out of print the rights would revert back to us, as stated in our contract. Instead, it has been in print ever since.Meaning, of course, that this is why Moore will never work for DC again. Victims of their own success, the work has been in print ever since. Had we all just stopped buying the damn thing it could have gone back into the hands of its true parents: Alan and Dave. Sad. DC could never bring itself to do the one thing that financially would have paid huge dividends: bit the bullet, given them the rites back in exchange for all that Alan could have brought to them over the last 20 years. Small change for what they could have had.
Sad. Sad. Sad.
This is a beautiful companion volume, one that sits perfectly on the shelf next to the Grafitti edition that I had to freakin' pry out of the hands of the Downtown Sacramento Comics and Comix guys. They only received two copies and sold the two of them to myself and Ron Lim. Sorry everyone in the Sacramento valley, we got 'em.
Who is watching the Watchmen? These days, just about everyone.