Dave Gibbons, the legendary artist of “Watchmen,” came to Comic-Con International in San Diego on Friday to discuss his life as a comic book creator and impart some technical knowledge upon the masses of fans who hope to follow in his footsteps.
Having grown tired of year after year telling the same old life tale at a plethora of events, Gibbons opted for a less orthodox manner of spending his time with fans this year. Gibbons said that he had been toying with the idea of an autobiography for many years and opted to use the notes for this book to discuss his life and work. The rules were simple: Call out a letter, and let Gibbons do the rest.
The first letter to be shouted by a fan was “M.” While most of the room was likely under the impression that Gibbons would talk about his relationship with writer Alan Moore, the artist took it in a completely different direction, instead opting to discuss his work with “Sin City” creator Frank Miller. Gibbons told the audience about how one year, during Comic-Con, he and Miller decided to spend some time at the San Diego Zoo. It was there, while walking through the rainforest section, that he and Miller came up with the idea for “Give Me Liberty” starring Martha Washington.
Gibbons then went on to cover the letters “Z” and “Q,” in which he described two of the tools he has utilized to make his artwork, the computer program ZBrush and Q-Tips. ZBrush is a computer molding tool that Gibbons used while working on “Superman: For the Man who has Everything.” This program was used to create a three-dimensional model of the villain Mongul’s head, as it is such an odd shape Gibbons had difficulty rendering it directly from his mind. As for the Q-Tips, the artist recommends them as a cheap alternative to brushes when using India inks for large surface areas.
The request of the letter “K” brought up the topic of Todd Klein, a well-known comic book letterer. It seems that Klein has been teaming with some of comic books most famous creators to create a series of alphabet posters. Gibbons has been working on the letter “I,” which will focus on concepts of self and be purchasable via mail order.
For those who have been waiting for the coarse language, here it comes: Gibbons finished off the letters for the day with on of the most commonly used in the English language, “T.” In his little book, this letter referred to Mr. Thrifty, a half-sized human skeleton used for reference in artwork and medicine. During a previous Comic-Con, Frank Miller presented Gibbons with the gift of a Mr. Thrifty. Everything seemed to be going smoothly with the model until Gibbons went to the airport to head home. According to Gibbons, a very bored security screener who had seen everything under the sun contained within people’s luggage was staring at her screen chewing gum, when the box containing Mr. Thrifty made its way through the X-ray machine. Upon seeing what appeared to be human remains, the screener shouted, “Jesus fucking Christ what is it?” Gibbons was subsequently swarmed by security, including one guard who removed his sidearm. The screener continued her line of questioning with, “How old is it?”
As for fans who want to know who Gibbons’ favorite character is to draw, the answer to the question posed by one of the multitudes of people in the room was Rorschach because, “Basically, you have to draw a hat.”