Comic book living legend Dave Gibbons spoke with CBR TV during Comic-Con International in San Diego about a number of things, including his current venture working with digital comics start-up Madefire, the relationship between his art and technology, bringing “Secret Service” to film and the ever-present legacy of “Watchmen.”
On doing comics with Madefire and a new stage of his career: When people would ask me what my ambition was, I used to say my ambition was to work in comics. That’s what I wanted to do when I was a kid. In a kind of zen way, I was always interested in the journey rather than arriving anywhere. If somebody said to me I would work on something like “Watchmen,” and it was the best-selling graphic novel, a classic of the medium, changed the face of everything — that would have been beyond my expectations. I feel lucky that that happened, but really I just love to do comics. But more accurately, what I want to do is to tell stories in words and pictures because I can write a bit and I can draw a bit. The exciting thing about Madefire is it’s using those skills and it’s extending them because I’m able to do everything I did in comics, bring my personal vision to it, make it very much in my voice. I don’t have to answer to a committee of money, don’t need people to assist me to do it. I can deal with so much more — I can deal with transitions and timing and movement where it’s appropriate while still maintaining it as a reading experience, which to me has always been a key thing that the reader does the closure and the reader is a participant.
On his relationship with technology: My education, my background, is much more in science than in arts. I did math and physics and chemistry. I trained as a building surveyor. I had my first computer — I don’t know — in the very early ’80s. I’ve been using a Mac since 1991 or so. I think the art and the science side of my brain work at the same time, which is why I’ve actually found the transition to Madefire really quite easy because I kind of understand the technology. I think when people first used computers for art, we used to bemoan the fact that the people who understood how to make the computer work weren’t artists, but as time has gone on, it’s become much more intuitive. Now you have to only have a very small technical knowledge to produce artwork on the computer. It’s a wonderful tool that you can use.
On how involved he wants to be in the movie adaptation of “The Secret Service”: My area of expertise is telling stories in words and pictures, but I don’t want to be hanging around a movie set saying, “Oh, you should do it like this,” and I don’t think they’d let me do it anyway. I think I might quite like to storyboard, but I think really, I’m happy to let the experts in that field deal with it based on what I, an expert in my field, have already done.
On “Watchmen” following him throughout his career: I suppose — something like “Watchmen,” hasn’t to me, got many downsides. Who wouldn’t want to have a successful book. Who wouldn’t want to constantly have people come up and say what a wonderful piece of work it was and how it changed their lives. I wouldn’t ever wish that away. I suppose the only slight problem I have after doing it is the “follow that” thing. … I’ve always done what I felt like doing, and if it sells well or it’s popular, that’s beyond my control.