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Dave Gibbons talks gaining Watchmen by losing Martian Manhunter at NYCC

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Oct 5, 2018, 8:47 PM EDT (Updated)

Dave Gibbons, the artist of comics' seminal graphic novel Watchmen, as well as one of Superman's most emotional stories, "For the Man Who Has Everything," was the subject of a spotlight panel during New York Comic Con. SYFY WIRE spoke with Gibbons on our live stage yesterday about HBO's new Watchmen TV series and how he curated such a fantastic career.

"I always wanted to do comics, since I was seven years old," Gibbons said. "I was a huge fan of the sci-fi comic Dan Dare from Britain." He then moved onto to superhero comics. Even though his favorite superhero comics came from America, he had to get them from an interesting place. "In the '50s, when comics were deemed to be part of the spread of communism, they no longer imported them from America. However, Australia didn't have those restrictions, so we had them introduced from there."

It was these books that gave Gibbons his first taste into drawing comics. "I am self-taught. I started learning how to draw by tracing and drawing American comics."

Superhero comics weren't his only influences. As a fan of British comedy, he found a liking for Mad Magazine. "Mad was a huge influence on me. It was very subversive." His father even bought him his first issue.

While his parents were okay with his love of comics, they weren't keen in the beginning on comics as a career. "I completed my training and became a building surveyor. I had given up comics for a time, but then saw a Green Lantern comic at a newsstand and the action drew me back in," said Gibbons. Eventually, his parents became proud of this pursuit.

After getting his start in Britain in horror comics and finally 2000 A.D., Gibbons tried to break into American comics. After multiple tries, he found his calling while teaming with Alan Moore for the legendary Superman story, "For the Man Who Has Everything." That comic led to Watchmen, and he became immortalized. 

There was a chance that Watchmen wouldn't have come about if Gibbons and Moore's earliest pitches were approved. "We pitched a Challengers of the Unknown Story and a J'onn J'onzz story, but other creators received those properties." It would have been fascinating to see what the comic landscape would look like today if instead of Dr. Manhattan we got the Martian Manhunter.

As far as the future goes, Gibbons would like to try his hand at original characters. "I've played with all the characters. I did Doctor Strange with Walter Simonson. I did the Spirit with Will Eisner. I've done Superman and Batman. Going forward, I want to try creating my characters. I'm at the age where I don't want to draw based on other people's parameters."

Regardless of what first interested you in Gibbons' work, from Rorschach to Superman, he is one of our greatest storytellers, and we are hopeful he doesn't plan on stopping anytime soon.

Click here for SYFY WIRE’s full coverage of NYCC 2018, including up-to-the-minute news, exclusive interviews, and videos.