DC to publish ‘Before Watchmen’ prequels

The unspeakable has happened, a series of prequel for Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ epic masterpiece the Watchmen have been announced. This can either be astoundingly amazing or the worst decision since someone first spoke the name Jar Jar Binks.

CBR.com has unleashed a barrage of information, interviews and more on the upcoming ‘Before Watchmen’ mini-series. I strongly recommend visiting their site to read exclusive interviews and editorials on this major event.

Official Press Release

DC ENTERTAINMENT OFFICIALLY ANNOUNCES “BEFORE WATCHMEN”

This summer, DC Entertainment will publish all-new stories expanding on the acclaimed WATCHMEN universe. As highly anticipated as they are controversial, the seven inter-connected prequel mini-series will build on the foundation of the original WATCHMEN, the bestselling graphic novel of all time. BEFORE WATCHMEN will be the collective banner for all seven titles, from DC Comics.

“It’s our responsibility as publishers to find new ways to keep all of our characters relevant,” said DC Entertainment Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee. “After twenty five years, the Watchmen are classic characters whose time has come for new stories to be told. We sought out the best writers and artists in the industry to build on the complex mythology of the original.”

Stepping up to the challenge is a group of the comic book industry’s most iconoclastic writers and artists – including Brian Azzarello (100 BULLETS), Lee Bermejo (JOKER), Amanda Conner (POWER GIRL), Darwyn Cooke (JUSTICE LEAGUE: NEW FRONTIER), John Higgins (WATCHMEN), Adam Hughes (CATWOMAN), J.G. Jones (FINAL CRISIS), Andy Kubert (FLASHPOINT), Joe Kubert (SGT. ROCK), Jae Lee (BATMAN: JEKYLL AND HYDE), J. Michael Straczynski (SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE) and Len Wein (SWAMP THING).

BEFORE WATCHMEN includes:

–      RORSCHACH (4 issues) – Writer: Brian Azzarello. Artist: Lee Bermejo
–      MINUTEMEN (6 issues) – Writer/Artist: Darwyn Cooke
–      COMEDIAN (6 issues) – Writer: Brian Azzarello. Artist: J.G. Jones
–      DR. MANHATTAN (4 issues) – Writer: J. Michael Straczynski. Artist:  Adam Hughes
–      NITE OWL (4 issues) – Writer: J. Michael Straczynski. Artists: Andy and Joe Kubert
–      OZYMANDIAS (6 issues) – Writer: Len Wein. Artist: Jae Lee
–      SILK SPECTRE (4 issues) – Writer: Darwyn Cooke. Artist: Amanda Conner

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Each week, a new issue will be released, and will feature a two-page back-up story called CURSE OF THE CRIMSON CORSAIR, written by original series editor Len Wein and with art by original series colorist John Higgins. There will also be a single issue, BEFORE WATCHMEN: EPILOGUE, featuring the work of various writers and artists, and a CRIMSON CORSAIR story by Wein and Higgins.

“The original series of WATCHMEN is the complete story that Alan Moore and I wanted to tell. However, I appreciate DC’s reasons for this initiative and the wish of the artists and writers involved to pay tribute to our work. May these new additions have the success they desire,” said Dave Gibbons, WATCHMEN co-creator and original series artist.

“Comic books are perhaps the largest and longest running form of collaborative fiction,” said DiDio and Lee. “Collaborative storytelling is what keeps these fictional universes current and relevant.”

So I watched the Watchmen…

I’ve been fighting the flu for the past two months so missed opening weekend. Today I managed to squeeze in a very quiet matinee of the most talked about comic book movie in ages and… I find it strangely difficult to come up with anything to say about it.

But I’ll try…

watchmen-poster-comparison
I should explain that this movie is meant for comic book fans. I mean that in the deepest way possible. If you are not an avid comic book reader you may still enjoy the movie, but if you are a comic book fan this is a full date that picks you up at your door, pays for dinner and brings you home for a night cap. Watchmen really wants to please comic book fans. As such, I should explain where I’m coming from as a fan of the medium.

My comic book addiction began here...

My comic book addiction began here...

My initial exposure to super heroes is pretty common to most men in my general age group, Super Friends. I leafed through a few comics in my days but if not for my brother I never would have embraced comic books as much as I have. See, my brother has good taste. I snuck into his room and read two key comics books that got me hooked immediately. X-Men #142 by Chris Claremont and John Byrne and Daredevil #179 by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson. It’s pure coincidence that these comic books are key examples of how the modern comic had matured at the time. These comics were so sophisticated and full of intelligent craft that my eyes were opened. They’ve been fixated on the comic page ever since.

... and here

... and here

In 1986, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons collaborated on Watchmen which is regarded as the definitive post-modern statement on comic book super heroes. I’ve stated recently that since this factor is the strongest theme in the work that it is important that the movie based on the Watchmen be released now at a time when super hero films are a major success at the box office. Whereas the comic book version of Watchmen deconstructed the super hero psychosis, the motion picture does the same thing for the celluloid cousin.

However… it’s not all wine and roses.

The book itself, prepare to throw tomatoes, has flaws. The characters are by and large stiff and uninteresting. The poetic license of the comic book is both forced and sometimes cringe-worthy. I mean, this is a comic which concludes it’s first issue with the statement that it’s difficult to laugh because ‘the Comedian is dead.’ Taking this in 23 page doses or however much you can read in one sitting is one thing… but being forced to read the entire 12 issue collection in one sitting while your room mate makes a mix tape is a bit much to ask. That is by and large what watching this movie feels like.

Condensing the plot of a massive work like the Watchmen into a single movie is daunting task, no matter how long you end up making the final product. Asking your viewers to sit through it is even more difficult. Combine this with the problematic elements I have already laid out (this is a movie based on a 12 part post-modern deconstructionist comic book) and you’ve got trouble. This would frankly not be so much of a concern if the movie were helmed by a more experienced director or at least one that was interested in making a statement of his own rather than echoing the intentions of Alan Moore.

If you walk into any comic book shop, almost anyone present would happy to point out any number of X-Men, Spider-Man or Superman comic books that would make for better movies than what we have seen. They would insist that the comic could be used as shooting script and adapted directly. This is almost precisely what was done with the Watchmen and the end result is both stunning and a big ‘so what?’ Honestly, if I wanted to read the Alan Moore comic, I’d rather just read the Alan Moore comic. Making a movie that so faithfully and stringently adapts the source material line for line makes me wonder why the film makers even bothered. Director Zack Snyder has gone on record as saying that he brought the Absolute Watchmen comic with him to the set every day and if in the end what he has done is nothing more than create an advertisement for the comic he would be happy. Well… job well done.

But does this make for an enjoyable movie? It certainly has its strengths.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the Comedian is astounding. His character is a touch stone of sorts that connects several plot threads while also serving as a statement on both American culture and the super hero phenomenon, so it’s a lucky thing. The Comedian exemplifies the justified violence of the modern super hero in such starkness that it’s startling. As a culture, we trust our heroes to be just and right so seeing one gladly attack protesters with a riot shotgun makes us retract in disgust. But ‘we’ have put him in this position. By and large, fictional heroes and protectors are called upon to do the very things that we cannot do in order to maintain the status quot. After all, if they are punching someone in the jaw, that must be a ‘bad guy.’ But who decides who the bad guys are? And who stops our protectors if they are being manipulated by authorities that do not have our greater good in mind? The Comedian plays out the story of the hero turned bad in all of its gory detail in the comic and the screen to great effect.

Rorschach is played to perfection by Jackie Earle Haley. This is also fortunate as he is the best character in the whole movie/comic. Rorshach is a statement on the two-fisted detective/vigilante that we have seen several times in comics. However, this version of the archetype has gone over the edge after witnessing just how evil human beings really are. Rorshach’s journal audibly paints the character as a deranged lost soul who is hiding from the ugliness that he sees all around him behind his mask, his ‘true face.’ The fact that the movie gets this character right alone is worth the price of admission. A relative unknown in film, Haley is well on the way to stardom thanks to this film as it provided him with numerous opportunities to flex his acting muscles.

The comic is full of several key moments that the movie also gets right, including the Dr Manhattan on Mars sequence, a story that plays out like a how-to instruction in sequential art in the source material. The deeply movie koan on cause and effect that plays out through Billy Crudup’s delivery is both fascinating and heartbreaking in its beauty. Seeing time as a thread of events made by personal experience is one thing, pulling that thread apart and analyzing the moving parts is just maddening. Zack Snyder may be a young filmmaker but he deserves full props for pulling off the most difficult sequence in the entire work.

So it may sound like I am totally in love with the movie, right? Well… no. There are problems, major problems, with the Watchmen movie.

The film may embrace fans of the comic (and seeing as how Watchmen is one of the most widely read comic books ever that’s not a big problem) but it does everything short of kicking the uninitiated in the shins. Alienating and vague, the plot of the movie is never really clear and unless the audience is prepared to dive into an alternate reality, it’s also hard to connect to the world it takes place in. While it would be a mistake to set the movie in contemporary America, I can almost sympathize with that idea.

Another problem is the high level of violence. I don’t really have a problem with violence if it furthers the plot, but that is not always the case here. Action sequences are graphic (which I am fine with as it makes the violence jarring and upsetting which it should be) but as the film drags on they become glorified sequences of acrobatics.

Also, whereas the characters of the Comedian, Rorschach, Ozymandias and Dr. Manhattan are carefully constructed statements on the super hero psyche, both Silk Spectre and Nite Owl come across as uninteresting in comparison. True, there are moments of inspired genius for these characters. In particular, the absurdity of wearing costumes to feel sane combined with the brutal fight in the alley says volumes about the comic book super hero. Unfortunately this is all done away with in the hilarious sex scene in the owl ship. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no prude but everything has its place and their extended love making scene was just excessive.

Additionally, the film had one of the worst soundtracks in recent memory. It started off tastefully with Dylan and devolved to K.C. and the Sunshine Band. I mean, honestly. Do I need to hear a song from a particular time period to know what decade it a scene is set in? It’s as idiotic as showing the Eiffel Tower to make sure I know that the action is taking place in France. I wouldn’t go on about this so much if it didn’t almost single-handedly ruin the experience of the film.

So is the Watchmen a good comic book adaptation? Sure. But is it a good movie? No, not really. In fact, I often found myself wondering why it was made at all, which may be what Alan Moore was upset about all along.

See, I knew if I tried hard enough I’d manage to say something about the movie.

Why You Should Watch The Watchmen

watchmen_5_mThe little 12 part maxi-series that could known as the Watchmen is about to play out to an audience that has never even heard of Alan Moore (perish the thought). Yet an even more avid audience waits in the wings with tickets purchased online and dog-eared copies of the first printing trade paperback gripped firmly in anticipation, the comic book fanatic. The Watchmen series arrived at a time when the comic book readers were graduating to sterner material. No longer satisfied with the simple four-colored exploits of Spider-Man, readers wanted to see their heroes beset with problems… big problems. Swamp Thing was an Earth deity that produced mind-bending fruit on a very pedestrian world that could never understand him. Over at Marvel, the X-Men became more adult and Frank Miller sharpened his quills with Klaus Janson on Daredevil, turning it into a comic book that rivaled the films of Scorsese and DePalma. Comic books were growing up.

pixariaimagephpMany moons later, the comic book industry is rife with frustrated novelists and former indie scene darlings writing the adventures of corporate-owned properties. Not to knock these works as they are very well done, but the day of the innovator and maverick that so enthralled comic book readers in the 1980’s is much harder to find these days. Comic books used to worry about losing readers to video games but have since taken up the very nature of that rival and look slicker and more dynamic than the 65 cent comics they evolved from.

However, it’s a very different world for the comic book fanatic of today compared to 1986.

The post-modern touch of the Watchmen arrived at the perfect time, when readers finally realized that guys in tights could be written in new, more sophisticated stories. Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons mutated this idea into a story that spoke as much to the state of America as to the state of comic books at the time. But what of the state of America today? After suffering eight years under President Bush, the average citizen has to hope and pray that the job market will bounce back and that the family home will not have to go on the market. Businesses are closing left and right or being swallowed up by opportunistic corporations.

In short, it’s a bleak picture.

rorphp

More importantly, the state of the comic book industry has seen many once popular and highly acclaimed creators working on flagship titles rather than their own creations. I hate to beat a dead horse with this one, but working for DC and Marvel is where the money is and frankly Captain America has never been better than under Ed Brubaker’s reign, so everyone wins. The flipside of course is that Grant Morrison is far better at delicate works like ‘We 3’ and ‘The Invisibles’ than bombastic disasters like Batman R.I.P. or Final Crisis, but they just don’t bring in the same money. But you take the rough with the smooth, I suppose. The bottom line is that there are not as many intelligent comic books that take chances as there once were.

The motion picture based on the Watchmen has been in development almost as long as the collected edition has sat on the shelves of Borders and Barnes and Noble bookshops. Many different approaches have been considered but surprisingly 300 director Zack Snyder has been given free reign to make a rumored shot-for-shot adaptation of the classic work. A dark and foreboding tale of a world run down by war and societal and economic collapse, even the heroes of Watchmen are scarred and damaged goods.

dreib

After seeing Spider-Man swing to safety three films in a row, the X-Men duke it out in special effects glory and Iron Man slyly entertain the masses, is there a place for such a grim and gritty film? Personally, I think that there is a very real need. The comic book super hero chic has ascended to acceptance by the everyman for the first time since the Golden Age of the medium in the 30’s where everyone read Superman (of course the actual readership of comic books has shrunken to a cult following). What better time to show vigilantes are mentally unbalanced lunatics and supermen as god-like creatures untouched by petty human concerns and emotions? When the country so desperately needs a helping hand to pick us up and yank us out of a cultural depression, what better time to hear Rorscharch’s gruff answer, ‘NO’?

comedian

Dave Gibbons proudly stated in a recent interview: “If I could just go back to this point, when we did the original graphic novel, Alan (Moore) and John (Higgins) and I were just left alone to do it, and we kind of did it. And it’s great that Zack has found himself in the position where he’s been able to make his movie largely with out a lot of editorial micro-management. I think that is to the great benefit of the movie.”

manhattan

I hope that this rings true because for all of the fun and exciting comic book films that have been made there has yet to be one that has actually had something new to say. The American comic book has always acted as a mirror to our world which may be why so many long time readers have dropped certain comics in frustration, claiming that they want things to go back to the way they were. The influx of remakes and repackagings of film in the cinema is a desperate attempt to appease this need for escape to a simpler time… but you have to be shaken up some times and Watchmen certainly does just that. While the trailers look like X-Men, the actual movie will possibly leave many casual movie goers expecting Spider-Man or some other action-packed flick confused and dismayed at what they just saw.

Hopefully these people won’t bring their kids.

Watchmen opens this Friday 3.6.09 with the director’s cut running in select LA and New York cinemas. If you still haven’t read the trade paperback, you can always watch the entire thing as a limited animation ‘motion comic’ available on DVD.

Nite Owls at the Diner

For the most important comic book to be adapted into a feature film, I’m actually surprised that there are not more promotional items to drum up interest like Taco Bell cups, graphic T-Shirts and the like. This could easily be down to the fact that Watchmen is going to be such a niche movie and that the reportedly high level of violence and nudity could make this one of the first comic book movies that is not littered with children. I think the first flash of Dr Manhattan’s nude groin will get many teen boys screaming for the door. However, a limited run of organic coffee has got to be one of the weirdest movie tie-ins I’ve seen in a long long time and speaks volumes as to how different this film is.

Nite Owl Coffee

Nite Owl Coffee

It’s a small moment in the film WATCHMEN – Dan and Laurie save a group from a tenement fire. Once inside the Owl Ship, the survivors are offered what else? Coffee. Among all that hardware, there’s an airplane-style coffee maker. And Veidt Enterprise’s Nite Owl Dark Roast is the imaginary brand of coffee they brew. What better name for the quintessential caffeinated beverage when served in the context of nocturnal crime-fighting? In truth, this is 100% organic specialty coffee from WATCHMEN unit photographer Clay Enos and his Organic Coffee Cartel.

Designed on one side to resemble something straight out of the WATCHMEN universe, the other side features a striking black & white portrait of Nite Owl as captured by Enos. With just one run of 10,000 cans produced, this is sure to be a distinctive and unusual collectible.

As a coffee aficionado, I’m of course curious, but is it any good? Sure, I bag and board my comics but I’ll be damned if I’m about to leave a canister of coffee unopened! Drink up, The Watchmen opens 3.6.09.

Nite Owl Dark Roast

After Watchmen, Now What?

Seeing as how a major motion picture is due out next month based on Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen mini-series, DC Comics is anxious to grab any viewers jazzed from the experience. Given the limited nature of the Watchmen comic, however, there’s not exactly much more to read beyond the 12 issues.

So, DC is offering the next best thing, five budget-priced comics that may appeal to a viewer who thoroughly enjoyed Watchmen.

  • Saga of the Swamp Thing #21, March 11
  • Transmetropolitan #1, March 18
  • Planetary #1, March 25
  • Preacher #1, April 1
  • Identity Crisis #1, April 8

swampthingThe Saga of the Swamp Thing issue is kind of a no-brainer as it is a classic. The Anatomy Lesson not only stood the entire Swamp Thing series on its head, but it also paved the way for one of the most impressive horror/suspense comics on the market to date. Swamp Thing was such a success that it introduced a new readership that DC could sell on Sandman, Hellblazer and later spawn the entire Vertigo line.

preacher2_prev2

Transmetropolitan and Preacher are frankly ‘also rans’ in the Vertigo line that were once impressive but have not aged well. Both read like stilted juvenile attacks on authority and frankly I cannot see a fan of Watchmen getting interested in either of them. If nothing else, an issue of Preacher may encourage someone to research Bill Hicks. Transmetropolitan will just make readers confused as to why DC published a Hunter S. Thompson sci-fi series.

absoluteplanetaryPlanetary was a once hopeful new spin on the super hero/super science genre that became plagued with publishing delays and a lack of original ideas. For every brilliant issue there was the inevitable homage to ‘x’ (be it Godzilla movies, Doc Samson, Wonder Woman or what have you) issue that became tiresome real fast. It’s a shame because the artwork by John Cassiday is stunning.

identity_crisis001Identity Crisis may seem like the oddest addition but stacked up against the others it is actually the most appropriate for a fan of Watchmen. The first part of a major event comic written by Brad Meltzer, Identity Crisis took characters that readers had gotten bored with and added new facets to their personae. A gripping tale that really did have a lasting impact on the monthly comics, this could be the perfect read for a novice in the comics field. It also utilizes characters most everyone knows into telling a sophisticated story.

Looking past the obvious problem that in order to sell these issues movie viewers will have to set foot in a comic shop, each copy will only cost a slim dollar. So… maybe it’s the task of the already initiated to buy up these comics and distribute to those unfettered by the Wednesday new release habit?

For more recommendations, I suggest the following for those looking for very well done super hero fare and one book that I just think everyone should read:
The Twelve, Vol. 1
Supreme Power Vol. 1: Contact
Life in the Big City (Astro City, Vol. 1)
Black Hole

Saga of the Swamp Thing, Book 1 (nice new edition)

Watchmen- Tales of the Black Freighter

watchmen_blackfreighterr4
To build up interest in the Watchmen feature film due in theaters in a scant month or so, Warner Bros. is releasing a pair of DVDs that will present additional views on the nearly immortal work of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. One is the digital ‘motion comic’ which I have covered elsewhere, but the second release is a far more important in my opinion. A full animated version of the comic-within-a-comic ‘Tales of the Black Freighter.’ Piggy-backed on this DVD will be ‘Under the Hood,’ the fictional auto-biography of Hollis Mason, the first Nite Owl, chronicling the rise and fall of the masked vigilante phenomenon.
watchmen-black-freighter

Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter & Under the Hood offers audiences two essential Watchmen background stories on one disc

Burbank, CA, February 2, 2009 – Experience the exclusive and dramatic origin stories essential to the Watchmen experience as the comic-within-the-comic and Nite Owl’s autobiography are brought to life as Warner Premiere’s Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter & Under the Hood arrives on Blu-ray and DVD on March 24th from Warner Home Video.

Produced in association with Legendary Pictures, both titles are executive produced by Watchmen director Zack Snyder, Lawrence Gordon, Lloyd Levin, Deborah Snyder, Thomas Tull and Wesley Coller.

Tales of the Black Freighter, the story-within-the-story in the acclaimed Watchmen features the voices of Gerard Butler (300) and Jared Harris (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) and is directed by Daniel DelPurgatorio and Mike Smith and written by Alex Tse (Watchmen) and Zack Snyder. Tales of the Black Freighter is produced by Brian McNulty and Karen Mayeda-Vranek.

Tales of the Black Freighter brings to strikingly animated life the graphic novel’s richly layered story-within-a-story. Within the graphic novel, Tales of the Black Freighter, appears as a comic book read by a young man in New York City while the city is being destroyed. This daring pirate saga chronicles a sailor’s journey home from being marooned. During his journey, the young seaman is “forced by the urgency of his mission to shed one inhibition after another” and experience horrible events along the way. The turbulent events the sailor endures seem to mirror those in the Watchmen’s world.

Hollis Mason’s tell-all autobiography, Under the Hood, chronicles the events in Hollis Mason’s life that led to him to become the masked avenger Nite Owl and discusses how the Minutemen were formed. It features the original Sally Spectre, the Comedian, Moloch the Mystic, along with Hollis Mason, the original Nite Owl.

Under the Hood is directed by Eric Matthies, written by Hans Rodionoff and produced by Eric Matthies and Wesley Coller. Stars Carla Gugino, Matt Frewer, Stephen McHattie and Jeffrey Dean Morgan appear as their characters from the theatrical Watchmen film in this live-action documentary style special.

Watchmen: Tales from the Black Freighter and Under the Hood will be available on standard definition disc for $27.95 SRP and Blu-ray disc for $35.99 SRP.

The DVD will also feature exclusive content not seen in the feature film.

Make sure to reserve a copy today!
Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter & Under the Hood (+ Digital Copy) [Blu-ray]

Watchmen, Dylan and My Chemical Romance

Gerard Way must be the happiest guy right now. Not only is he singing for My Chemical Romance and working on the great comic book series ‘Umbrella Academy,’ but he is also getting to combine his great loves by performing a cover of Bob Dylan’s Desolation Row on the Watchmen soundtrack.

Interviewed on MTV

I’m not a big fan of his music, but Umbrella Academy hit a lot of the right buttons for me as a fan of super hero comics. That being said, he must be over the moon to be part of what is gearing up to be the most important comic book movie ever made.
watchmen-minutemen

Official Press Release:

BURBANK, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–A 12” vinyl picture disc of My Chemical Romance’s powerful cover of Bob Dylan’s “Desolation Row,” recorded exclusively for the upcoming feature film Watchmen, will be released by Warner Sunset / Reprise Records on January 27th, 2009. Fans will be able to pre-order the disc through the band’s website, www.mychemicalromance.com, as well as via www.watchmenmusic.com and www.becausesoundmatters.com beginning today.

The disc’s A-side is My Chemical Romance’s “Desolation Row,” featured in the film and on Watchmen: Music From the Motion Picture. The B-side is “Prison Fight,” taken from Watchmen: Original Motion Picture Score, composed by Tyler Bates. Both albums are due from Warner Sunset / Reprise Records in anticipation of the film hitting theatres March 6th.

A complex, multi-layered mystery adventure, Watchmen is set in an alternate 1985 America in which costumed superheroes are part of the fabric of everyday society, and the “Doomsday Clock” — which charts the USA’s tension with the Soviet Union — is set at five minutes to midnight. When one of his former colleagues is murdered, the washed-up but no less determined masked vigilante Rorschach sets out to uncover a plot to kill and discredit all past and present superheroes. As he reconnects with his former crime-fighting legion — a ragtag group of retired superheroes, only one of whom has true powers — Rorschach glimpses a wide-ranging and disturbing conspiracy with links to their shared past and catastrophic consequences for the future. Their mission is to watch over humanity…but who is watching the Watchmen?

Desolation Row Live

The Watchmen movie is currently still tied up in legal battles between 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros., making many fans wonder if the March 2009 release date is firm or not.

Update

NY Times
16, January 2009
Fox Wins Battle Over ‘Watchmen’ Adaptation

LOS ANGELES — The comic book movie “Watchmen” will be released by Warner Brothers on March 6, as planned, after a settlement between that studio and 20th Century Fox in a court battle over which one owned the rights to the story. But the legal drama surrounding the picture is probably only beginning.

more here

Recommended:
Watchmen
Watching the Watchmen: The Definitive Companion
Watchmen and Philosophy: A Rorschach Test
The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite Limited Edition

Watchmen Motion Comics

In preparation for the Spring 2009 release of the motion picture, DC Comics has released a weekly ‘motion comic’ project to drum up support. Using the original artwork from the 12 part mini-series combined with music and voice acting, the motion comic attempts to introduce a new audience to one of the most celebrated comic books of the 20th Century.
rorschach

For those in the know, the ‘motion comic’ format is actually no different than that used by Grantray-Lawrence Animation back in 1966. A simple process of taking comic book art and slightly animating specific parts to give the vague feel of animation, this is a very primitive type of cartoon (an an easy way to get around hiring an animation team).

The more modern ‘motion comic’ has even less animation than the Grantray-Lawrence toons, however. In the end, the motion comics look more respectable… but frankly I prefer the 66 cartoons (because I’m crazy).

Even so, the Watchmen motion comic is a worthy experiment that will surely generate good word of mouth for the average guy who can’t be bothered to read a book.

While the voice over work is decent, one excited comic fan has incorporated the spooky tones of Watchmen author Alan Moore himself into the ‘Rorschach’s Journal’ narration… and it’s free!

The entire Watchmen motion comic can be purchased as a $19.99 season download via iTunes.

Recommended:
Watchmen
Watching the Watchmen: The Definitive Companion to the Ultimate Graphic Novel
Watchmen: The Official Film Companion (Hardcover Edition)
Watchmen and Philosophy: A Rorschach Test (The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series)
Watchmen: The Art of the Film

A preview of Watchmen

Comicbookrsources.com recently sat down with director Zack Snyder and got a few tidbits of information on the upcoming Watchmen movie.

From the sound of things, the film is going to be a faithful adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon‘s incredible series. From the setting (an alternate 1980’s) to the visuals (Doctor Manhattan‘s stunning clockwork construction), this sounds like the real deal so far.

From a montage opening sequence set to Dylan’s ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’ to a breathtaking array of key scenes.

Also screened was Snyder’s adaptation of the memorable fourth chapter of “Watchmen,” in which Dr. Manhattan relates his origin in his uniquely non-linear fashion. Save for Mars being not bright pink but rather a dull brown, the sequence of events plays out and is depicted more or less precisely as it is in Moore & Gibbons’ graphic novel, although certainly more graphically in moments where Osterman is moved to explode people. Also intact is Osterman’s stoic narration, although, interestingly, Dr. Manhattan speaks with no vocal processing whatsoever, despite his memorably blue word balloons. Snyder later explained that actor Billy Crudup has a “very calming” voice, and that he interprets Dr. Manhattan as trying to make everyone around him feel as at ease as possible, and would thusly not modify his voice. However, Snyder did note that careful listeners will hear recurring ambient sound effects in scenes featuring Dr. Manhattan, such as modified whale song in close camera shots.

The final segment to be screened was Nite Owl II and Laurie Juspeczyk’s daring rescue of Rorshach from prison. Though events play out as they do in the graphic novel — including a decidedly R-rated moment in which a naked Dreiberg and Juspeczyk formulate their plan, following what was obviously some exhaustive superhero sexing– and Snyder and his team amplify the jail break with intense, stylized fighting as Nite Owl and Silk Spectre make their way through the prison to find their comrade. The film diverges from the novel upon finding Rorshach, who is in full costume when he dispatches the Big Figure in the men’s room.

The presentation concluded with a montage of mostly action footage cut to “Take A Bow” by Muse, including Dr. Manhattan’s giant hand smashing through the ceiling of Adrian Veidt’s Antarctic headquarters and Nite Owl and Silk Sprectre kissing while an atomic bomb explodes in the distance.

The film will also serve as a kind of time capsule playing to the whims of nostalgia-hungry viewers… which ironically fits into the theme of the movie perfectly.

Paradoxically, had the “Watchmen” film been produced in the 1980s, Snyder and company feel it wouldn’t have worked nearly as well, either. Snyder was keen to note that in 1985, ‘They never would have put [Nena’s] ’99 Luftballoons’ in the movie. But we certainly will!”

Um… I hope that the rest of the soundtrack is decent.

An adaptation of such a grand comic book has long been a near nightmare of most comic book readers and film makers alike simply due to the brilliance of the source material. A post-modern comioc book that makes a statement on super hero comics and modern American culture, Watchmen has remained one of the finest offerings in the comic book medium.

Can it be a good film, though?

Alan Moore – pre-Watchmen

Viewed as the maestro of the comic book medium, Alan Moore came from somewhat inauspicious beginnings on 2000 AD strips. In fact, were it not for DC Comics tapping him to revamp their Swamp Thing series, the writer may have never gained such acclaim as he has today. Alan Moore has been referred to as the best artist of our generation in any medium… which Moore himself would certainly question. His taste in jewelry may be remarkable and his collaboration with David J of Love and Rockets interesting, but I have yet to see him dance or sculpt.

It is of course his career-making Watchmen series that made him the super star of the 4-color world, which makes this video that much more interesting. The first major post-modern comic book series that placed super heroes in the unflattering light of critical examination, the world is just months away from seeing a feature film version. But in this 1985 appearance, Alan Moore is still awaiting the release of his maxi-series in monthly form and more interested in sharing his mammoth scripts.

So take a break from your busy Sunday and visit with the once humble and unknown Alan Moore, funny book writer.