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    Wednesday, January 28, 2009

    Review: Watching the Watchmen

    Dave Gibbons has put out a book that details, in part, some of the behind the scenes thinking that went into the now legendary "Watchmen" comic book by him and Alan Moore. This isn't a complete telling of the story of how the Watchmen came to be, to get the full story, you'll have to also buy the "Absolute Watchmen" edition of the comic. So the story of the DC aquisition of the Charlton characters, and their eventual transformation into the iconic persona we know now is incomplete. However, what this IS, is a view into the creative mind of an artist/illustrator. It is amazing to see how much of the sketches Dave Gibbons has saved. He even has the home-made inkblots he used to figure out Rorschach's mask effect. This book probably was green-lit because of the upcoming movie, but who cares, its a treat. Its a look into the nuts an bolts, behind-the-scenes of what it takes to produce a comic. Its quite something to see the onion-skin manuscript that Moore sent to Gibbons. A reminder in this digital age, of how writing used to be done, laboring at a hulking metalic beast of a typewriter, having to use white out, smudging the script... That is what is great. The Chip Kidd cover is good, and has a nice obverse to the Dr. Manhattan cover. Now onto what's not so good. The interior design, not done by the estimatable Mr. Kidd . The inside is layed out out alright, but the designers choice to use colored body copy against black backgrounds, makes it VERY hard to read, the legibility of this design makes it difficult to give the book 5 stars out of 5, so I can't.  4 out of 5. It would be lower because the actual information (which is important in a book presentation) is so poorly designed, had it not been for the phenomenal source material, I would likely rate it a 2.5-3 star book at best. But its a definite recommend, and ultimately it needs its companion, the previously mentioned "Absolute Watchmen", but buy it, its a great read (tough on the eyes), and a great piece of art.

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