This art book is the ultimate companion to the comics masterpiece, Watchmen by Dave Gibbons (art) and Alan Moore (text). The title page has been boldly hand signed by Gibbons. Very Fine First Edition hardcover in dust jacket. Authenticity guaranteed for life by Collector's Shangri-La.
Librarian note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name
Dave Gibbons is an English comic book artist, writer and sometime letterer. He is best known for his collaborations with writer Alan Moore, which include the miniseries Watchmen and the Superman story "For the Man Who Has Everything". He also was an artist for the UK anthology 2000 AD, for which he contributed a large body of work from its first issue in 1977.
Gibbons broke into British comics by working on horror and action titles for both DC Thomson and IPC. When the science-fiction anthology title 2000 AD was set up in the mid-1970s, Gibbons contributed artwork to the first issue, Prog 01 (February 1977), and went on to draw the first 24 installments of Harlem Heroes, one of the founding (and pre-Judge Dredd) strips. Mid-way through the comic's first year he began illustrating Dan Dare, a cherished project for Gibbons who had been a fan of the original series. Also working on early feature Ro-Busters, Gibbons became one of the most prolific of 2000 AD's earliest creators, contributing artwork to 108 of the first 131 Progs/issues. He returned to the pages of "the Galaxy's Greatest Comic" in the early 1980s to create Rogue Trooper with writer Gerry Finley-Day and produce an acclaimed early run on that feature, before handing it over to a succession of other artists. He also illustrated a handful of Tharg's Future Shocks shorts, primarily with author Alan Moore. Gibbons departed from 2000 AD briefly in the late 1970s/early 1980s to became the lead artist on Doctor Who Weekly/Monthly, for which magazine he drew the main comic strip from issue #1 until #69, missing only four issues during that time.
He is best known in the US for collaborating with Alan Moore on the 12-issue limited series Watchmen, now one of the best-selling graphic novels of all time, and the only one to feature on Time's "Top 100 Novels" list. From the start of the 1990s, Gibbons began to focus as much on writing and inking as on drawing, contributing to a number of different titles and issues from a variety of companies. Particular highlights included, in 1990, Gibbons writing the three-issue World's Finest miniseries for artist Steve Rude and DC, while drawing Give Me Liberty for writer Frank Miller and Dark Horse Comics. He penned the first Batman Vs. Predator crossover for artists Andy and Adam Kubert (Dec 1991 - Feb 1992), and inked Rick Veitch and Stephen R. Bissette for half of Alan Moore's 1963 Image Comics series.
Works other than comics include providing the background art for the 1994 computer game Beneath a Steel Sky and the cover to K, the 1996 debut album by psychedelic rock band Kula Shaker. In 2007, he served as a consultant on the film Watchmen, which was adapted from the book, and released in March 2009. 2009's Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars Director's Cut for the Nintendo DS and Wii platforms featured hand drawn art by Dave Gibbons.
An absolute must-have for all fans of Moore and Gibbons and their life-changing work on the seminal artistic and cultural achievement that is, was, and will be Watchmen, this book sheds light into the messy and brilliant process of Gibbons, Moore, Higgins, and all parties involved, and provides incredible insights into the inspiration and perspiration behind the greatest graphic novel of all times, written, as it was, to honor the profound medium that is the venerable comic book, no matter what time or culture decides it to be, Moore and Gibbons did it an ineffably divine service with the gift that is Watchmen and Gibbons took it a step further for fans and comic authors such as myself to provide so much depth and detail into everything that went through his mind and hands as the process developed into something far greater than a simple story for the simple enjoyment of a couple of comic book lovers. In my mind, nothing will ever touch the prophetic genius of Watchmen, the poignancy, the humanity, the scale, the scope, and this book is a must have for any serious fan as it will inspire even more and ever further forms of art and artistic communication, as authors seek to tell their own stories with the skill and integrity and sheer passion that Moore, Gibbons, and Higgins poured into Watchmen.
With Alan Moore severing all ties with DC due to various reasons, it looks like we're not going to get a discussion by him of how the story of Watchmen came about or how he plotted the series, page-by-page and panel-by-panel. However, what we get here is Dave Gibbons' take on things, though primarily concentrating on the glorious artwork that he created over 25 years ago.
And my! What a lot of artwork there is. Firstly, this thick, oversized book is a lot bigger than I'd thought it'd be. It feels like it weighs half a ton. It also seems that Mr Gibbons has saved 95% of all his notes, doodles, rough drafts, and layouts (though none of the actual artwork used in the series) that he produced for Watchmen in the mid eighties. Does this guy throw nothing away!? Of course, nowadays he could sell this stuff for a lot of money - even the rather scribbly bits. In fact, in part of the book Gibbons laments the fact that he sold all his original artwork for the comic book series for a very reasonable sum during the early days.
Together with the treasure trove of art from Gibbons' Watchmen box, a number of other pieces of related artwork and photos of memorabilia are collected. Shown are the various posters used to promote the original series, lead minatures of the main characters, artistic material from the role-playing game and even a picture of a smiley face carrier-bag. I must admit that I quite like the Marvel version mock-up of the Watchmen. Very Kirby-ish.
Most of the book is taken up with Gibbons' roughs showing the layouts for each individual panel. Nearly all pages from all issues are shown in these little sketches. To begin with, it was quite fascinating to see these. But then, after a couple of issues, you realise that they're just rough versions of the art you've already seen and so start to skip over them. Still, it's certainly comprehensive.
Running through the book are words by Gibbons' describing his memories of the time planning, producing and promoting this landmark series. To me, this is the most fascinating part of the book. Obviously, the actual events are over 25 years ago so things are somewhat sketchy, but what is discussed is almost exclusively positive and steers well away from the Moore/DC debacle. John Higgins also chips in a few pages discussing the colouring on Watchmen, including some words about, and examples of, the new colouring job for the Absolute edition.
Overall, the book is a quality piece of work. It's size is large enough to show off the beautiful artwork on good quality, glossy paper. Chip Kidd's design works well and doesn't detract. And there's plenty in there to keep a Watchmen fan flicking through the images for weeks.
The construct of the book is great. It's hardcover with a dust jacket. The paper stock is good, thick and low gloss.
Inside the book are tons of initial sketches, designs, storyboards, comic panels, scripts and scribbles. Dave Gibbons really packed in a lot of stuff from their sketchbooks. The scans are so high in resolution you can see the texture of the sketchbooks' paper grain.
The book starts off with the background story on the history of Watchmen, when Dave Gibbons and Alan Moore first met. Then there's the process of creating the comics, getting the readers reactions (one sent in a fan note using plastic bag), to the sending of the last pages off in an overweight parcel to the publisher.
Everything is written in a very condensed manner, the way magazines write their articles. That's not a bad thing though. But for a graphic novel of such caliber, I'm very sure they left out a lot of things.
Also, nothing is mentioned about the plot and the character development. I can't believe they actually left out the story about the story, which is what made Watchmen so popular.
My reservation about the book is on the perceived lack of depth. Overall, this book is strictly for fans of Watchmen, especially those who have the graphic novel.
This review was first published on parkablogs.com. There are more pictures and videos on my blog.
For a coffee table book about the creation of 'Watchmen' made without Alan Moore's involvement, I thought it was pretty great. Lots of beautiful sketches and other artwork, many fascinating letters and notes from those early days, as well as short remembrances and anecdotes from Dave Gibbons and John Higgins (the colorist).
My only complaint is that a large portion of the book is devoted to displaying the initial very rough outlines (in the book they're called 'thumbnails') of almost every page in the comic. Although interesting in their own right, collectively they span dozens upon dozens of pages and after a while I became kind of... over-saturated (if that makes sense) and was flipping through those pages to get to the next 'good' part. Instead, I think I would have preferred more comparisons between sketches and finalised pages, or more pages from the original script - or maybe just a thinner book. :)
Watchmen is a very special comic. It remains so despite the Snyder movie, despite the two decades that have passed, despite the reveal at the end (which actually makes rereading the comic exciting), despite the strange form - half comic and half book - ... I've reread it recently and got more out of it. A lot more than rewatching the Snyder movie. So a book describing the process of creating the comic should be just as fascinating, right?
Well ... I'm not the intended audience.
See, I want to read and hear the stories that went into forming the comic. I want to hear about discarded ideas and how the movement from adapting a property to creating new characters came about. I want to see a glimpse of what would have been ... that's what I want from a companion to the graphic novel. I don't want to see the drafts (various, from first to final) of EVERY PAGE in the novel ... without commentary. I don't need little snippets here and there ... I want something meaty to chew on. And Watching The Watchmen didn't really do that. Sure, I got a tiny peak behind the engine, but these were anecdotes at best. And Moore is not included. I'm excited that Gibbons and Higgins (illustrator and colorist, respectively) were able to talk about their work (this is Gibbons's book with a guest appearance by Higgins), but I want to know about the story. What is also sad is that the "Glimpses" section of the Definitive Edition of Watchmen (hardcover edition) has easily 25% of the non-page work that was showed in Watching The Watchmen.
So, there's not a ton that's new (partly due to Gibbons not owning most of the original artwork), and the commentary is sparse. If I was into the art or coloring of Watchmen (a lot more than I am, that is), then this book would have sparked a lot more interest. As it is, it was a wonderful waste of time that allowed me to think of how awesome Watchmen is and gave me the urge to go read Miller's Dark Knight Returns as well as Moore's Saga of the Swamp Thing.
I don't believe I've ever given Dave Gibbons the amount of credit he deserves for the creation of Watchmen. It wasn't until my most recent re-reading that I really paid attention to what he managed to accomplish with a 9 panel grid. The subtlety and level of detail he conveys - with absolute clarity - is every bit as genius as Alan Moore's words. There isn't anything flashy about his style, but I can't imagine any of today's big name artists capable of the feat, especially since so many of them struggle with basic storytelling and lay out pages with loud, splashy action scenes where you can't tell what's actually happening from panel to panel.
I've always appreciated Watchmen as a dense and complicated work, but this behind-the-scenes look helped me understand the exact mathematical precision it took to construct it. Sure, it all started with an insanely detailed script from Moore. (91 pages for issue #1!) But it was Gibbons who brought it all together, and this archive shows you how seriously he took it. There are detailed maps and schematics of locations like Moloch's apartment, the Owlship and the street corner so he'd always have the spacing correct between the newsstand and the Gunga Diner. He dripped real ink into Rorschach patterns over and over to make sure his looked authentic. He even had an entire graph just to chart the rotation of a falling perfume bottle in relation to the fixed stars in the background.
Gibbons must have kept every scrap of paper from those years, and this book is like rifling through his old desk drawers. Not everything is particularly illuminating, but every bit of it is interesting.
Para fans, fans a morir, y que tengan dinero para la costosa edición si no están de Españita. De no haberla comprado con mi descuento de librero tal vez hubiera pasado en esta compra. Los pequeños detalles detrás de la cortina gracias a Gibbons de la elaboración de Watchmen se ven complementados con casi la totalidad de los sketches de las páginas finales de la novela gráfica publicada. Este artefacto será la delicia de cualquiera que desee adentrarse más en los abismos creados por Alan Moore (aunque lastimosamente pero no inesperadamente, sin su colaboración)
Watching the Watchmen is artist Dave Gibbons’s description of the events and concepts leading up to Alan Moore’s and his Watchmen comic book series. It’s not Alan Moore’s take on the trials and tribulations of getting the series written, but the book is utterly fascinating nonetheless. Full of storyboards, pencils, and finished page art to supplement the text, I found the book hard to put down.
Considered by some as the watershed graphic novel of the late twentieth-century, my best comparison of Moore and Gibbons’ epic comic-book series – for you neophytes out there -- is to Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane. How, you ask? Well, think of the recursive nature of the narrative, as well as the adage that absolute power corrupts absolutely. That and the fact that the ubiquitous smiley face is akin to Kane’s Rosebud in its symbolic power. (Perhaps not in its meaning per se, but in its figurative use throughout its narrative.)
Reading Watchmen in its first collected printing back in the late 80s was a literary awakening of sorts – at least when it came to the comics medium. Even though Frank Miller had just published The Dark Knight Returns, which also reinvented the scope and power of the medium, Moore and Gibbons were actually working in isolation – which was also physical, as these two British blokes were hacking away at their soon-to-be-proclaimed-masterpiece across the Atlantic. The comics medium was forever changed, as was my expectations. (Which likely explains my aversion to mainstream comics shortly thereafter, as well as my critical eye when I tepidly returned to the medium in the 90s.)
Dave Gibbons’ coffee-table book is an amazing inside look into the conceptual development and design of this remarkable series. Although Moore’s absence is conspicuous – being the odd hermit that he is, as he likes to hide-out in his UK home away from the outside world (according to most reports). Despite that, Gibbons succeeds in holding his own throughout his narrative as he lovingly details the development of the Watchmen from his thumbnail breakdowns of each issue – including issue number five's (“Fearful Symmetry”) visual symmetry (imagine an onomatopoeia in comic panel form) – all the way through selected penciled, inked, and colored pages. Think of it as a veritable “how-to” manual of comic-book making. Not to mention an awe-inducing behind-the-scene peek at a watershed even in the graphic novel form.
Many years ago when I introduced Watchmen to a friend, she criticized Gibbons’ art. But I will, and even must, defend it. Although his style is iconic – and perhaps uninspired for some – his visual plotting and pacing have few competitors. Again, just take a look at the thumbnails for issue five “Fearful Symmetry”, the many abandoned conceptual designs, the planned trajectory of the spinning Nostalgia perfume bottle on Mars (yes, the physics of this was actually and accurately planned), and even the multiple angle/perspective layouts for the dramatic and destructive finish in the final issue. You don’t have to be a huge fan of Gibbons’ style to appreciate the level of attention to the minutiae of this fully-realized fictional world on two-dimensional paper.
No doubt like many while devouring this beautifully hard-bound coffee table book, I quickly became eager to re-read Watchmen. But I’m just as hesitant as I don’t want it to spoil my growing enthusiasm for Zack Snyder’s cinematic translation due in March. (What a great present during my birthday month!) As with The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, I waited to re-read Tolkien’s classic until after The Two Towers was released, as I didn’t want become overly critical with Jackson’s interpretation. I’m planning to do likewise with Watchmen and its film version.
For any fan of Moore and Gibbons’ masterpiece – or even those whose curiosity is piqued by the upcoming theatrical adaptation (don’t you just love the new trailer before Quantum of Solace, with its Phillip Glass score?) – Watching the Watchmen is an absolute must-read.
I've been a big fan of "The Watchmen" since I read it many years ago. It was my first exposure to Alan Moore's writing, and Dave Gibbons' art as well for that matter. In addition to being blown away by the mere complexity and depth of the story, I also found it quite fun to look for all the symbolism, which in my pre-sophisticate days, consisted mostly of finding all the smiley faces.
In the subsequent years, I've flipped through my "Watchmen" volume a few times and found other interesting little tidbits, aided at times by various websites replete with detailed annotations. I've read just about everything Alan Moore has written. And I've promptly ignored everything Dave Gibbons drew for the remainder of his career.
So I wasn't super excited when I heard this coffee-table type book compiled primarily by Dave Gibbons, and with zero involvement from Alan Moore was coming out. Alan Moore's reputation and aura, and their absence in this project, kind of overshadows what, when you stop to think about it, is kind of an interesting perspective on "The Watchmen".
Sure, an in-depth behind the scenes volume written by Moore would be infinitely interesting. But though it doesn't quite reach that theoretical level of fascination, Gibbons drops in enough in-the-loop material that this proved to be a very satisfying, if quick, read.
The text in this volume is a bit sparse, but what's there is interesting. Gibbons gives an account of his involvement in the genesis of the comics; the grueling pace of drawing each issue; his growing fame as he traveled around England and America to various comic conventions. We also get the tiniest of glimpses into the British comics scene (that's a book I'd like to read).
Art wise, there is a LOT of cool artwork. There were thumbnail sketches of nearly every page from all 12 issues, plus preliminary artwork for "The Watchmen" role-playing game and posters and issue covers.
There are even a couple of really cool diagrams Gibbons drew which offered a neat insight into the throught-process behind laying out a few scenes. One featured an overview of the city block where the giant-other-dimensional-squid-monster manifests. He drew the whole scene in a long shot (which never appears in the actual comic) in order to better help him plot out the placement of buildings and tentacles and victims in the several zoomed-in individual panels. That was pretty cool to see for a design junkie like myself.
Anyhow, this is a solid volume that may not include the thoughts of certain involved parties that we'd all like to hear from, but Mr. Gibbons offers enough unique insights, and a plentiful bounty of artwork that will be something I can go back and browse through frequently and with great satisfaction.
If you are obsessed/in love with WATCHMEN and want to be a comic artist, you WILL LOVE THIS BOOK. This book was written by Dave Gibbons, the artist behind WATCHMEN, who introduces us in the comic world, talk us how he met Moore and how they used to spend hours on the phone chatting about WATCHMEN. Gibbons explains us how hard and complex was to produce only a page and how enjoyable was to create it. When I was reading this book and felt a charming warmth in my chest and my fingers ached with desire to draw. --- Didn't like that much the layout, was meh.
Set in an alternate history where costumed heroes have helped shape society since the beginning of time, the controversial yet prolific costumed hero Edward Blake (more commonly known by his alias The Comedian) is found dead and the perpetrator is nowhere to be found. Unable to solve such a bizarre murder by conventional means, the masked vigilante Rorschach who once served as a costumed hero alongside Comedian and four others takes matters into his own bloodstained hands to track down a mysterious assassin that's taking out costumed heroes one by one. Conspiracies abound, political tensions are through the roof, the threat of WWIII is lurking just around the corner and the gritty and depressive atmosphere of a rotting New York City during the 1980's sets the scene for a grim dissection and criticism of classic superhero archetypes.
Watchmen redefines the term superhero. With the exception of Dr. Manhattan, none of them have any notable powers. The Comedian is merely a grotesque reflection of American society and all its shameless faults, as well as how misguided patriotism can be used to justify mindless violence and prejudice. Rorschach is a vigilante who throws around the words good and evil to justify his brute force and questionable methods of solving problems. Silk Spectre is a normal woman struggling between following her own path in life and forever remaining trapped in the shadow of her mother's legacy. Nite Owl almost feels like a comedic parody of Batman, poking fun at the fact that he's an awkward old nerd that loves owl-themed gadgets and dressing up in what is essentially a big Halloween costume. Dr. Manhattan is the embodiment of how power, knowledge, wealth and limitless freedom to do anything imaginable can alienate and dehumanize a person from the rest of the world. All of the superheroes are extremely flawed everyday people with everyday issues and imperfections who hide behind masked personas to cope with the questionable acts they're performing and the faulty morals behind them.
The heroes of this tale defy the image of flawless paragons of justice that can do no wrong. They are just as capable of being selfish, abusing their powers and doing evil things out of spite and unchecked negative emotions as everyone else. This critiques the very idea of putting idols on a pedestal in the first place. This can be compared to the famous actors, pop stars and politicians of today. It's easy for people to treat the words and actions of their idols like the words of God himself, forgetting that they're ordinary people with many imperfections just like everyone else. Again, most of the Watchmen have selfish reasons for hiding behind their costumed personas, because they feel powerless, guilty and ordinary without them. What does it say about who you are when you can't even show yourself in public without hiding behind a carefully crafted disguise? Why wear a mask if you're in the right and have nothing to hide?
All of this deception and abuse of authority is where the popular slogan (Who watches the Watchmen?) comes from. The people in power are constantly watching and judging the actions of the average person, but who are watching and judging the actions of the people in power? The people in power punish us for our wrongdoings but who punishes the people in power for theirs? Dismantling the infallible images that figures of authority try to maintain, dissecting issues of confused morals and identities hiding behind literal and figurative masks, tearing the veil from the one-dimensional definition of superheroes, all of these things are masterfully challenged in the shape of a dark psychological crime-thriller with many timeless themes that go harsh on politics and society.
Our heroes and leaders are never the flawless, perfect beings we romanticize them to be.
If you just like Watchmen a lot, then I'm not sure this big coffee-table slab is necessary; there are a couple of nice stories about the making of the comic, and some cool character sketches and so on—although not a lot in the way of full-page original art, because most of that was long gone into the hands of collectors before this was put together. Fanatical completists of course will want it���although, for reasons that I'm sure you know, none of it is from Moore's point of view. But if you're involved in writing or illustrating comics, it's both a pleasure and a great resource. I could look at Dave Gibbons's thumbnail pages all day (which make up the bulk of the book) and learn more about design and storytelling than I would by actually reading the comic, and the stories about how he and Moore bounced ideas back and forth are like a best-case scenario of how collaboration can work.
I’m still ambivalent about Watchmen: it’s a tremendous achievement but I do think it heralded in several unpleasant habits for comics, and Moore’s writing is technically impressive rather than likeable. So it’s nice to get a book that looks at the art, and specifically Gibbons’ achievement - who gets main credit here, although John Higgins gets a chance in the spotlight too - which I think is massively underrated because focus is usually on the text. It’s a handsome, lovingly researched book - because it’s a Chip Kidd volume, so of course it is - and manages to demystify a lot of the book’s slightly worthy air
This whopper of a book (which weighs a ton) consists of Gibbons notes regarding the creation of the Watchmen comics with Alan Moore. But the real joy of this are pencil sketches, rough drawings, character variations, etc. Heavy paper, bright colors, and an absolutely perfect companion to peruse after a reading of Watchmen.
The Definitive Companion to the Ultimate Graphic Novel (Chipp Kid, Dave Gibbons, Mike Essel, 2008) A look into the design process of the seminal comic work watchmen. No additional input from Alan Moore, as can be expected. A good look into a elaborate and complicated process, of a comic book that years went into the design of
[3.2] Some personal stories, mostly from Gibbons, and a lot of thumbnails and other art connected to Watchmen. Nothing spectacular and not a must read for fans of Watchmen, but still entertaining and rewarding enough. If you're not especially into the art aspect of comic books, or the creative process, this might not be for you.
Great insights into the genesis and production of the acclaimed work. Naturally, it is very focused on the artwork, hand-drawn sketches, themes, colouring etc. A lot of it went over my head, but it is an inspiring collection.
I was a little scared when I started to read "Watching the Watchmen", not really knowing what I was going to get myself into, just knowing it was about the watchmen and I had to feed my inner nerd. I was scared that the book would withhold to much information about the secrets and wonders of the watchmen, things that shouldn't be told, much like Shakespeares' Macbeth and it's hidden secrets that no one can figure out even to this day, yet I was pleased to see that this book gave you enough information for you to enjoy it and learn from it, yet not exposing any real secrets. This is a great book on showing the basic yet complicated steps in making comic books and graphic novels. It is defiantly inspiring to any artist who is into comic book art, and to any watchmen junkie like myself! I rated it with 4 stars because I'm selfish and would of liked to hear more about Alan Moore and his writing technique for the watchmen, yet he had nothing to do with Watching the Watchmen, so what do you expect?
The next best thing to sitting down with Dave Gibbons and leafing through his sketchbooks and files while he tells you how Watchmen got made from his perspective. Be warned, though: the level of painstaking detail here is for uber-fans and other comics writers and artists only -- if you're not interested in seeing a full set of Dave's thumbnail layouts for the entire series, or photographs of the test inkblots Gibbons made for reference for Rorschach's mask, move along. The thing I appreciate most here is that Dave specifically avoids the post-publication acrimony between Alan Moore and DC Comics -- it's an important coda to know and recognize, but this book is a record of the creative process and celebrates the craftsmanship of the art itself, not the industry politics that followed. I would highly recommend this to any aspiring writer or artist so they can see that even one of the most celebrated works in the medium's history still has rough edges and missteps along the way, and the kind of sweat-the-small-stuff attention to detail that goes into making something that will be remembered for more than a brief period.
excellent overview of the production of the series by artist dave gibbons. not even chip kidd could mess this up. yes, it's true, i hate kidd's designs. i know they're supposed to be "innovative" and "cutting edge" but it always looks like some dude from design school went nuts.
anyway, presentation is very clear and concise, and the layout is very pleasing. if you're into it - it's my favorite super hero story ever - then this book is well worth having.
although it offers insight on the making of the comic, avoids any sort of, uh, "difficulties" surrounding it involving moore and gibbons vs. DC. all that stuff has been well-documented over the last 20 years, anyway.