When writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons’ iconic Watchmen first hit shelves back in the 1980s, it completely changed the landscape of the comic book industry, ushering in a new age of darker, gritter comics. The merits of this shift are still being debated by fans and creators alike to this very day. As it turns out, however, Gibbons himself is actually of the mindset that the influence Watchmen had on the medium was just a little too negative.
Gibbons explained how surprised he and Moore were that their graphic novel became such a big deal in the first place in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.
“It is amazing to me that after all this time there is still interest in it,” said Gibbons. “Alan and I thought we’d have a mildly successful series that would have its end and go into the remainder bin and that would be the end of it. The fact it’s kept on for so long and hasn’t been out of print is amazing.”
Gibbons is well aware of the fact that Watchmen would go on to inform comic books for years, which is something about which he has conflicted feelings.
“If it worked to the detriment of comics at all, it might be the ‘grim and gritty’ approach was taken by other people in the business to mean ‘ah this is how you must make comics,'” said Gibbons. “So there was a decade of grim, gritty and nihilistic comics, which wasn’t what we intended at all. In fact, if we’d done anything after Watchmen, we would have done something like Shazam, something with a lighter, more humorous fable feeling to it rather than something dark and grim.”
Gibbons finished his thought by stating, “I do apologize to the comic-reading public for all that misery.”
For its sophisticated storytelling, interesting characters and vivid imagery, Watchmen is considered by many critics to be arguably the best graphic novel of all time. But seeing as how the darker, more cynical elements of the book are what the comic book sphere latched onto, particularly during the infamous gritty comics boom of the 1990s, it’s not surprising that Gibbons feels the way he does.
Every rose, as they say, has its thorn.
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