Jul 17, 2012

Top 5 Creators Who Would Have Actually Made Me Buy Before Watchmen (Who Aren't Alan Moore)

So the first couple of weeks of BEFORE WATCHMEN, I was actually curious about how they were going to do things and went so far as to scan MINUTEMEN #1 and SILK SPECTRE #1 in the shop. After that, I promptly forgot all about it, and not only wasn't curious enough to scan COMEDIAN #1 and NITE OWL #1, I actually forgot they were there.

And that made me realize that of my many problems with the project, the biggest is actually that these creators do not interest me at all. None of them (except Darwyn Cooke on the right project, and this isn't it) are a draw for me, so naturally, I wouldn't really be drawn to this particular project.

But there are exactly five people who aren't Alan Moore who would have a very good chance of making me buy this. And here they are.

5. J.H. Williams III

At this point, I feel like I need to buy everything JH Williams draws. But to tie this into WATCHMEN, part of what made the original series great was its technical innovation. Moore and Gibbons set constraints for themselves (a quote in every book, a three-tier/three-column structure, no thought balloons, no sound effects) and adhered to those constraints, sometimes to the point of frustration. Here, Moore says:

Watchmen has just got to be more and more hard labor as it's gone on. We started out with all these innocent ideas like making the smiley badge on the cover of the first one the first panel of the story, and then to be really clever we'll make it the last panel of the story as well, and have it on the last panel of the book. Then we did that with the statue in the second issue as well, and by that time it's a feature and you’ve got to do it every issue. Then there's the little quotes at the end of the episodes that didn’t get into the first three issues, but now they’re running OK and tying the whole story in with a quote. That seemed really clever and stylish and smart and sophisticated, but by the time you get to issue #8, you’re thinking, "Christ …"

That's a lot of thought to put into one story, and the one artist who screams "thought" in today's industry more than any others (not to say others don't do it, but his is more obvious than everyone else's) is J.H. Williams III. He puts so much thought into a single sequence that the care for the craft shines through. To add to that, he prefers double-page spreads with varying panel sizes, automatically making his style a gigantic departure from Gibbons'. A J.H. Williams III WATCHMEN story would be interesting even just for  comparative purposes.

And frankly, at this point, I feel like he's always just on the brink of blowing me away with some new innovation.

4. Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez

Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez is, for me, the greatest artist of all time when it comes to drawing superheroes in iconic poses. If I could have anyone fill up a sketchbook with random characters, the first one would be — well, okay, my first one would be the guy at number 1, but play along — Garcia-Lopez, and I'd have him draw everyone I liked that he didn't draw for DC's various merchandise. And that includes the WATCHMEN characters. Basically, if he drew it, I'd buy it and treat it like a bunch of commission pieces.
Also, the fact that he's one of the greatest and most dynamic layout artists in history? Doesn't hurt.

3. Grant Morrison

I'm sure this will surprise people, because I've developed a reputation somewhat as a Morrison hater (even after I wrote this). But I actually would buy this because I wouldn't in any way be able to contain my curiosity. To me, Grant Morrison's style is the exact opposite of Alan Moore's. Where Moore is structured, technical, and precise — sometimes too structured, technical, and precise — Morrison's style flies off the seat of its pants and is more organic. Morrison's success rate for me is far lower than Moore's, but when he does succeed with me, it's by a big amount.

Look, I'm not saying I would like it, I'm not saying I wouldn't like it, and I'm not saying it's going to be good or that it's going to be bad. I'm not saying I wouldn't rail on it on this website for days on end afterward, and I'm not saying it wouldn't blow my mind. What I'm saying is that Morrison's ability to surprise me constantly with how I feel about his comics, combined with the stark difference in how he and Moore each write comics, would make it impossible for me not to pick this up. I would buy this. I would have to.

So I'm going to wait for Multiversity to hit, hopefully next year, and see his take on the Charlton Heroes, done Watchmen-style.

2. Dave Gibbons

The guy that often gets overlooked when discussing WATCHMEN, Dave Gibbons did more for the original series than he's often credited for (read my piece on what exactly he did here). Gibbons is the only one who could write a project like this that I would see as the "real" continuation to the original series, because I believe he would have built off of the ideas that he and Moore had going into it. WATCHMEN is full of unanswered questions that inform the rest of the narrative. While most of those questions don't need to be answered, I bet Gibbons would have been able to answer questions no one bothered asking. I know it'd be good, and since Dave is the co-creator of WATCHMEN that usually gets less than his share of the credit, that'd make me more inclined to support it.

1. George Perez
Dollar Bill.
Pic from here

Well, this isn't a surprise. I'd buy anything George draws. The guy's my favorite artist, and I'd buy anything he drew! No, seriously, anything. That's my number 1 guy, and that's all the reason I need.

Are you buying BEFORE WATCHMEN? What got you to buy it? If you aren't, what would have gotten you to change your minds?


MOCK! said...

Good choices....I can take or leave Morrison....some of his stuff makes me feel like I missed an issue...other stuff tickles me to no end.

I grew up on a steady diet of Perez (and Byrne) and have never been disappointed.

I have put all the BW books on my pull list. I'm going to wait (I think) and read it all in one fell swoop once it is done.

I bought Watchmen when it was first published "off the rack" and enjoyed the movie for what it was. I guess I just want more of it....in any capacity.

JV said...

I like J.G. Jones, Lee Bermejo and Jae Lee. I haven't really read that much Azzarelo and Cooke but they are critically-acclaimed writers. So keeping them in mind, I read their Before Watchmen books and I just have to say that they're entertaining but as predicted, nothing compared to the original. If only they had gotten Gaiman, Morrisson and Ellis, we might actually have some real masterpieces on our hands.

Duy Tano said...

I actually find I'm very much now a writer-artist-premise guy when it comes to deciding. If one of these things isn't in place, I find another product. (Case in point, I like the tag team of Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, and I love Captain Marvel, but the actual premise of their Shazam work is enough to turn me off of it.)

JV said...

Use to be a time, I'd be happy with one out of three but with my budget, I choose both writer and artist over premise anytime for me. I tend to trust my favorite writers even if their take on the characters is radically different.

Duy Tano said...

I agree. It's very much a combination, and not everyone has the same "weights." JH Williams is an automatic buy for me, generally, and for the most part so is Moore... Moore on a Lovecraft riff though? No thanks, I can do without it. But he and Brubaker are probably the only two writers today that would almost guarantee a buy from me.

Post a Comment

All comments on The Comics Cube need approval (mostly because of spam) and no anonymous comments are allowed. Please leave your name if you wish to leave a comment. Thanks!

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.