Late Sunday afternoon, as many Comic-Con attendees were packing up their bags of freebies and fighting traffic back to freeways and the airport, artist/writer Dave Gibbons and DC VP of sales Bob Wayne sat down for a relaxed discussion on everything from the Watchmen movie, to Julius Schwartz and Frank Miller.
Wayne kicked things off by asking Gibbons about his work in Britain on "2000 AD," "Dr. Who," and "Warriors," before moving on to his first visit to New York to pitch to DC, wherein he was subsequently rejected by "a timorous young man named, I think, Paul Levitz," Gibbons joked. Later, while attending a convention in Chicago, Gibbons was approached by legendary editor Julius Schwartz who offered him a chance to work on "Superman." The result, with Alan Moore, was the story "For the Man Who Has Everything" published in "Superman Annual #11," a story Gibbons called "one of my most favorite things I ever worked on."
After learning that Gibbons and Moore were big admirers of his work, Schwartz asked if they had all of his books. When they replied that they did not, Schwartz took them to his office and had them choose comics from filing cabinets full of all his work, urging them to "go older." Gibbons eventually chose "Mystery in Space" issues, while "Alan came away with 'The Brave and the Bold' #28, the first appearance of the Justice League." From then on, Gibbons said, whenever he and Moore were in New York "Julie would take us to his filing cabinets." With a catch in his throat, Gibbons told of receiving an envelope from Schwartz containing "Mystery in Space" #1 in which "Julie had written 'A #1 book for a #1 artist." "Still makes me a little bit tearful now," Gibbons said.
Gibbons told of the creation of the Watchmen, explaining that DC editors Joe Orlando and Dick Giordano wanted to see "a treatment with the recently acquired Charlton heroes, though when they saw what Alan wanted to do with them they thought maybe they didn't want him destroying their new toys." Instead, Moore and Gibbons created new characters loosely based on the Charlton ones. Gibbon's new book, "Watching the Watchmen," will be released in October and will include unpublished pages, character designs, and Gibbon's account of the creation of the Watchmen.
Set for release next year is a trade paperback of Gibbons' stories with Frank Miller, "The Life and Times of Martha Washington in the 21st Century," a collection of all the "Life of Martha Washington" stories the two have done over the years. "We did the last part, 'The Death of Martha Washington,' last year and realized we'd done about 550 pages of stories over the years here and there, which is about a good size trade paperback," Gibbons said.
With anticipation for the Watchmen film building, Juice Films is releasing episodes of "Watchmen" as a "motion comic." Each issue of the series has been adapted into an episode available for download from iTunes. The first episode is available now, for free, until the end of August. Panel attendees saw clips from the episode, as well as some scenes from episode two which has not yet been released.
When asked if he was involved with the look of the film, Gibbons replied "Yeah, but I did my bit twenty years ago," adding that the look of the film was due to the filmmakers being true to colorist John Higgins' color palette. Gibbons did express his excitement at seeing his art come to life through the film, adding that he had gone inside the Owl Ship used in the film at this year's Con. He marveled at the fact that the ship "was in my head and then it went on paper and then it was taken off the paper and built and now I'm inside it." Gibbons said of the film adaptation that he "particularly loved the look of The Comedian and Rorschach," and said he was excited that the film would lead to more people reading not just "Watchmen," but comic books in general. Wayne added that after the "Watchmen" trailer was shown in theatres before "The Dark Knight," the "Watchmen" graphic novel was #1 on Amazon.com's fiction/literature section (not to mention the "buzz book" of CCI). When asked by an audience member if there would ever be a sequel, Gibbons said that Watchmen was always "a finite story, and was only ever conceived of as that...whether Warner Brothers will see fit to do a sequel, I don't know."
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