HBO’s take on the seminal graphic novel Watchmen is already picking up an enormous amount of hype. Network executives adored the pilot, the casting is excellent and the sense of mystery around the production (described as a ‘remix’ of the original comic) has fans desperately theorizing about what it is. While it’s unlikely that Alan Moore is ever going to comment on the show, the original artist and co-creator Dave Gibbons has read the screenplay for the pilot and thinks it sounds pretty damn good:
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, he said the following:
“I do know a little about it. I’ve had conversations with Damon, and I’ve read the screenplay for the pilot. I don’t think it’s my place to say too much about it, other than I found Damon’s approach to be really refreshing and exciting and unexpected. I don’t think it’s gonna be what people think it’s going to be. It certainly wasn’t what I imagined it to be. I think it’s extremely fresh. I’m really looking forward to seeing it on the screen.”
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He went on to explain that he thinks Lindelof’s approach differs hugely from the squalid treatment that DC’s putting the IP through with its terrible Before Watchmen and Doomsday Clock comics, stating:
“I’ve been resistant to the comic book prequels and sequels, but what Damon’s doing is not that at all, it’s very far away from that. While it’s very reverential and true to the source material (by which I mean the Watchmen graphic novel that Alan [Moore] and I did), it’s not retreading the same ground, it’s not a reinterpretation of it. It approaches it in a completely unexpected way.”
A couple of months back I theorized that, despite his historically grumpy attitude towards live-action adaptations of his work, Moore might be a little more charitable to something that genuinely puts its own creative spin on the idea rather than slavishly recreating the aesthetic without understanding the themes. Pleasingly (for me, anyway), Gibbons seems to concur:
“Other people have done it with some success, coming to the basic material with a fresh approach. I feel like the comic prequels and sequels don’t really do that. They’re done by very talented people, but they don’t expand the scope of it at all. Grant Morrison did a thing with Multiversity, where he came up with some very fresh approaches to comic stories, and in one of them (Pax Americana, with Frank Quitely) they did something similar to Watchmen, but in a new way. I heartily applauded that. My feeling is that what Damon’s doing is like that, it’s not a retreading of something we already know, but it’s a fresh and unusual approach.”
By the way, Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s Pax Americana issue of Multiversity is probably one of the finest single issues of the last five years and if you haven’t checked it out I highly recommend it.
Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ original comics were rooted in Reagan-era nuclear paranoia, and while today we have our own existential crises to deal with, I just hope that Lindelof can take the DNA of Watchmen and create something that speaks directly to contemporary politics and fears. After all, with superheroes currently the most popular pop cultural phenomenon, what better way to take society’s temperature than with a cape and cowled thermometer?