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Talking With Dave Gibbons

The time has finally come for’s exclusive interview with Watchmen illustrator and co-creator Dave Gibbons.

As some of you may know, we solicited Watchmen fans for questions for Dave a couple of months ago. Well, we submitted a total of fourteen fan questions from more than a hundred submissions and sent them to Dave, which he graciously agreed to answer.

We also submitted five questions of our own because we just couldn't miss the chance to ask Dave a few key things ourselves.

So, in Part I of what will be a three part series, here are the five questions that asked Dave along with his generous answers. Of course, we'd like to thank Dave very much for being so candid and for his continued support of this Web site. On to the interview…

Watchmen has been keeping you pretty busy these days. How much of your week is dedicated to interviews and appearances related to the film adaptation and your new book Watching the Watchmen? Do you even have time to create comics anymore?

Dave Gibbons: Even worse than that, it’s not just interviews and appearances, but I am involved in reviewing various materials that are being produced in connection with the Watchmen movie. As you know, there’s the motion comics, and I’m a consultant on that. Also, there are various other products, video games, new editions of the book, sculptures, things like that which I’m keeping an eye on. So that does take an amount of time. I’m off in a few weeks to do a mini-tour with Zack to publicize the movie. I’m then doing a mini-tour of the UK to publicize the Watching the Watchmen book and a similar mini-tour of the US to do the same. Quite a lot of that is going to be involved in the way of signings or maybe just me doing interviews, I really don’t know. But no doubt, you’ll be aware of these things as they occur.

I’ve also done pieces of licensing art, to get the definitive look of the movie characters. What they call “turnarounds,” views from front, back and sides of the main movie characters, and some other group shots and pieces of art like that to give a guide to people who are producing art for various reasons to keep pretty much on-model. Frankly, I’m very pleased to have the opportunity to do that. It’s often the case that this kind of work is done by people who aren’t connected with the original property, with the inevitable lack of authenticity and so on. Although I’m very much dealing with the way things appear in the movie, hopefully my approach to it will filter through to the final products and they will be, to that degree, much more faithful to the original graphic novel.

As for creating comics, I actually wrote a script the other day — first script I’ve written in a few months — for Hellblazer, funnily enough, which I did once before in the past write a short piece for. That’s an eight-page story, don’t know who’s drawing it.

I’ve got odd little covers and commission things that I’ve been doing for people, but yes. You’re quite right — Watchmen is keeping me pretty busy. But I am enjoying it, and it does make a change, being on the side that gets to say what it likes or doesn’t like about a piece of artwork, rather than being the guy who’s submitting the artwork and waiting for the feedback.

You’ve been involved with the development of the Watchmen film while Alan Moore, who co-created the comic series with you and is a close friend of yours, wants nothing to do with it. How do you walk the line between staying friends with Alan and being an active and vocal promoter of the film?

Dave Gibbons: First of all, I’d have to say that I don’t necessarily see that there is a conflict between staying friends with Alan and being an active and vocal promoter for the film. Alan’s position, as I’ve explained before publicly and I’ll make it clear again, Alan has had some bad experiences with Hollywood. He’s also had some less-than-happy experiences with DC. He’s decided that he doesn’t want anything to do with movie adaptations of his work. And so what he wanted at the beginning of Watchmen, when he first heard that it was going to be a movie, was to sign a piece of paper which removed his name from the movie and that would give his share of the income from the movie to me. This goes along exactly with what he’d wanted on the V for Vendetta movie. Obviously, Alan made this decision before he really knew anything at all about the movie and it was long before shooting started, or anything like that. So it’s not as a reaction to this production.

He has had a bad experience with Hollywood. I’ve had no real prior experience with Hollywood. And I have to tell you that the experience that I’m having so far — so far, as Alan has warned me — so far, my experience is very, very good. I’m being very well-treated, my input is being sought, and I did feel that I’m able to have a positive effect on what’s being done with the movie and everything to do with it.

Alan doesn’t have a problem with me doing that. He doesn’t take the moral high ground. It isn’t that he thinks that anything to do with movies is evil and wicked. He would say that he’s had a bad experience and that’s the truth. But it isn’t a thing that really comes between me and him at all. Initially, when I was doing my Watching the Watchmen book, I did ask him a few questions. I wanted to know, for instance, if I could use notes that he’d written, if it was okay to reproduce a few pages of script and he said that he didn’t have a problem with that. But at a later stage, he said to me during one of our phone conversations that he was very happy to talk to me — always happy to talk to me — and he felt that I’d behaved impeccably in all my dealings with him regarding Watchmen, but that he really didn’t share my enthusiasm and that he didn’t want to have any further conversations with me about Watchmen.

And that’s fine. If that’s what he wants, I’m happy not to talk to him about Watchmen at all. The last thing in the world that I want to do is to upset Alan. If he’s happy with that state of affairs, then that’s absolutely fine with me.

Now, I am an active and vocal promoter of the film, because from the very beginning, I haven’t had any doubts at all that everybody involved with it, from Zack through all the other people working on the movie, to the people doing the various licensed properties, the motion comic and so on, are anything other than totally committed to this. I’ve never had a sense of anybody thinking “It’s near enough, it’s good enough,” or doing anything to the characters that diminished them in any way. Given that there are bound to be differences between the graphic novel and an adaptation of a graphic novel, I really, genuinely believe that everybody involved is doing their best to bring all their skill and intelligence into making it as good an adaptation of the graphic novel as can possibly be.

If at any point I felt that wasn’t the case, I would say so. I’m not being paid just to say good things about it. There’s no point in me saying that the movie’s really good if I didn’t genuinely believe that it was really good. So within myself, I can perfectly reconcile being friends with Alan and being involved in the film in the way that I am. I hope I’m being true and faithful to both. I think that any conflict is a perception from the world outside. Particularly journalists who could see a story and I can see that it is quite an interesting story. I know that “Alan doesn’t want to have anything to do with it, he’s not playing ball with the evil system in Hollywood. Meanwhile, his so-called friend Dave Gibbons is taking the money and glad-handing everything.” That’s a fiction. That’s a journalistic fabrication. I’m sure it will come up again. It has come up before and I’m sure it will come up again. But I think that’s my comprehensive response to that.

Would you like to collaborate with Alan Moore again on another comic project? If so, are there any particular projects that the two of you have discussed?

Dave Gibbons: I’d love to collaborate with Alan on another comic project. On any project. We’ve always enjoyed the things that we’ve done together although we’re completely different people. You only have to see a photograph of us to realize that [chuckles]. We do end up on pretty much the same wavelength when it comes to comic books and I think we’ve both done some of our best work together. I think we’ve enjoyed it as well. I think we both bring a similar level of commitment and intensity to what we do together that hopefully makes it a pleasure for both of us.

As far as any particular projects, over the years, we have talked about various things. At one time, we were going to do an interactive CD-ROM kind of game. We shelved that because we realized that we were really playing out of our field of expertise and probably that to do a state-of-the-art game was going to be as complex and involved as many hard commercial decisions as trying to get a movie going together. One of the joys of doing comics is the informal manner in which you do them. It’s Alan and a keyboard, me and a piece of paper and that’s basically it. And because it’s very low-budget, there’s no great investment by anybody in it. It’s a thing which is very personal and very pleasurable to do. In a sense, it’s words and images going directly from our minds to the reader. I think that’s what we’ve always both really liked about comics.

As far as any future project, there’s just one particular thing that Alan has mentioned publicly, so I’m free to mention it. Alan and his friend Steve Moore (no relation) are going to do… I think it’s called “The Boys’ Book of Magick” or “Everybody’s Book of Magick,” which is not a book about conjuring or sleight-of-hand or making eggs appear out of people’s ears or anything like that. As you know, Alan has been very interested in magick (with a “k”) for a long while and he wants to do a primer that kind of brings magick out of the fusty, gothic area that it’s traditionally inhabited and make it something that’s a bit more light and a bit more accessible to modern readers. Some time ago, I agreed to do some illustrations for that. Quite what they will be, I’m not sure, but I’m really looking forward to collaborating with Alan and Steve on that at some point in the future.

The lawsuit between Fox and Warner Bros. over who has the rights to the film, do you have any thoughts about that matter? Are you worried that the film might not get released on time or even at all?

Dave Gibbons: Well, I’d really as soon kind of pass on this. I’m not a lawyer. I imagine that lawyers will sit down and discuss this at length, and eventually will come to some kind of agreement about it, whether it’s in a smoke-filled room or a Blackberry-filled room or whether it’s in a court of law. But I’m sure that it will be settled and personally, I’ve got no doubts that the film will be released and that it will be released on time. I really can’t see that it’s in any of the parties’ interest for the film not to be released in a timely manner.

There is a moral ambiguity at the end of Watchmen, a choice one of the main characters makes to sacrifice a few million lives to save the world. I’d like to know what is Dave Gibbons’ opinion on that choice? Was that character right or wrong? Did he really want to save the world, or was he just serving his own ego?

Dave Gibbons: So you want me to make it unambiguous?

Well, I think we deliberately left it ambiguous. There are arguments on both sides. Often, very hard decisions have to be made in the real world.

I don’t know that I would want to interfere in the free-running nature of the universe by doing what Adrian Veidt did. I think you could see that it was an evil thing to do and maybe a patronizing thing to do. I think that probably is one of the worst of his sins, that it’s kind of looking down on the rest of humanity, scorning the rest of humanity. I think for that reason that Rorschach, by persisting in his single-minded devotion to what he sees as the truth is, by Adrian’s actions, actually painted in a very human manner. At the end of it, your loyalty lies very much with this very flawed, psychopathic human being who knows his faults, who knows the faults of the rest of humanity, rather than somebody like Adrian, who considers himself to be above humanity and who has taken a rather cold and calculating view of everything.

So, from the heart, I would say that Adrian was wrong. And I think he really wanted to save the world, but the problem with people of ego is their ego can’t see their ego.

10.16.08 Source:

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