Watchmen artist extraordinaire Dave Gibbons was on hand with SYFY WIRE's Mike Avila to chat about his work as a comic book artist as well as his relationship with DC Comics, Watchmen writer Alan Moore, working with Mark Millar on Kingsman, and more.
As some of you may know, some of Gibbons' earlier work includes the UK anthology comic series 2000 AD. Fun fact for Doctor Who fans, though: Gibbons left 2000 AD briefly in the late '70s/early '80s to take up a gig as lead artist on Doctor Who Weekly/Monthly magazine, where he drew the main comic strip from Issues 1 to 69 (missing only four).
In the '80s, Gibbons was recruited by DC Comics, where he started doing backups before editor Len Wein (who went on to recruit Alan Moore) offered him the lead artist gig for their Green Lantern comic title before the three of them went on to work on Watchmen from 1986 to 1987.
"Not to take anything away from Len or from Barbara Randall, who later edited it, but we really didn't need a lot of editing," Gibbons recall about the editing process on Watchmen. "Alan would write the full script after we'd talk about it on the phone. I'd get it. I'd draw it. I'd send the pages to John Higgins, who lived just up the road from me, the colorist, we’d go through the colors together and then we'd just send the whole job, the art all fully lettered, the colors already done, send it to New York and they would proofread it, but there really wasn’t a lot of editorial input in the traditional way."
What Gibbons also found wonderful about working on the iconic 12-issue graphic novel was that there were no restrictions on what they did, and the only way they could have done the comic in the first place was that they loved superheroes. "If we despised them," he said, "it wouldn't have been a good book, it wouldn't have been an interesting story, it wouldn't have been as popular a story." Amen to that. What Gibbons is bummed out about, however, is that what the American comic book business took from Watchmen was "the darker the better," which for him wasn't the right conclusion and something they felt guilty about.
The artist also explained how they came up with the inspiration for the characters and why he came up with the Comedian's smiley face badge, which became one of the most recognizable symbols of the comic. Gibbons shares a lot of interesting insights and anecdotes about his career, so we invite you to take a look at the excellent interview above.
Additional material by Nathalie Caron.