When the 20-years-in-the-making film adaptation of DC Comics' Watchmen finally unspools in movie theaters next March, the opening credits will say: "based on the graphic novel co-created and illustrated by Dave Gibbons." The name of the other co-creator, writer Alan Moore, will not appear anywhere on-screen (unless as a sly Easter Egg) or in Warner Bros.' official press materials due to a long, well-documented history of bad blood between the genius author and Hollywood and publishing conglomerates. But if there's a bright spot to Moore's principled decision to disassociate himself from what is likely to be the greatest big-screen version of not only his work but any comic book ever, it is that it has thrust the incredibly gifted, but less famous, Gibbons into the biggest spotlight of his career.
The British artist responsible for the beautiful line work, brilliant visual structure and insanely detailed panels of the comic now serves as the official public representative for the source material, giving his explicit stamp of approval for the film in appearances with the movie's director, Zack Snyder. The result has been not only renewed appreciation for the quality of Watchmen's artwork, but also an opportunity for the soft-spoken, gentlemanly Gibbons to impress listeners with his intelligence, modesty and devotion to his craft. Not to mention his dry humor: His initial reaction after seeing almost 30 minutes of amazing advance footage at recent press screening was simply: "That didn't suck too bad." (You can get a detailed recap of that footage here.) What follows are highlights of his further thoughts on the film and on the comic book that changed everything.
On the Comic's Long Journey to the Big Screen:
"Alan and I were just happy to get it out as a comic book and tell the story that we wanted to tell and have people read it. Although it was optioned as a movie very early on, I don't think either of us ever really believed that it was anything other than [like] having a ticket in some kind of lottery that might come up, and it might come up and you win $10 million or it might come up and you might win $5. I mean, we didn't even think it would stay in print as a graphic novel; we thought it would be 12 comic books and then be in the back-issue bins. So it's amazing. Now is the perfect time for the movie. Five years ago, ten years ago, 20 years ago, certainly, it would've been completely out of time. But now, I've a feeling that it's -- it's Watchmen time."