San Diego Comic Con 2012 – Before Watchmen
Going back to one of the best known comics written by Alan Moore, DC is going into the history of those found in the Watchmen. Moore himself did not give consent to the project but the artist who owned the characters did. It did make for an interesting set up though many were saddened that Alan Moore would not be contributing to building more about these famous characters.
Dan DiDio, a publisher with DC comics was there and opened up the panel. At this point a number of the comics had come out and a few of the series had gone to their second issue at the time time of the panel. He made it clear that it was a project that they had undertaken with grave seriousness and that it was only by assembling the team and the talent they had that it was remotely possible. He considers Watchmen to be one of the pinnacle works of comics that has endured the test of time very well. It was to assemble this team that the series kept getting pushed back. These series needed to be equal in quality to be worthy of the name in any sense.
First up was J. Michael Straczynski who was working on the Nite Owl comic series. We were shown the cover of the #2 where it was clear that Nite Owl and Rorschach are going to start working together. Rorschach was the one who approached Nite Owl about it as Nite Owl did not quite have the force of personality to ask that question. Joe wanted to work on filling in the blanks of how their partnership was built. He also talked some about Nite Owl's involved with the Twilight Lady which was alluded to briefly in the comic. He thought it was fun to start working in the past of Nite Owl and how he grew into his role of a costumed vigilante. Nite Owl would be going to a very different place than where Rorschach would be going. He made it clear that their lives were very shaped by the childhood. Anyone who read “Watchmen” would know that Rorschach came from a very abusive house and later became very uncompromising. Nite Owl came from a much happier place and it was reflected in his demeanor.
The second comic line to be talked about was Ozymandias. Len Wein was in charge of this comic book line who was one of the original editors of the "Watchmen" series. He went over all the original materials that he could to start building this story line. It aims to cover the time between his birth up to his appearance in Watchmen, which is different than most would suspect. Since the series is following a journal written by Ozymandias, who we know to be a great liar, sometimes what is shown in the journal and what is in the scene can be vastly different. Throughout this arc it is meant to show just the level of detail that is going into the world and building a lot into the stories just like the original.
Rorschach was the next comic they talked about. Will Dennis was in charge of this comic line. He did not say too much but what he said told us a lot. Rorschach was the one of the darkest heroes to start and this continues in his own comic. This is set to the 70's grindhouse style of movies. We were told to expect a crazy ride.
Next on the docket was Dr. Manhattan. Straczynski talked some about what this comic was touching on. Remember that Dr. Manhattan was the only being in the world that had any form of super power. It was made clear that this also bound him more tightly than any other character. In seeing the past and future he found himself bound by that very power. It is also because of this that this comic can look both into itself and the original series itself. It looks into quantum theories and sticks to the science of things. He loved to doing the art by the science of it all made for a lot of headaches. He talked some about how as Dr. Manhattan came to understand what happened to him that he saw multiple possibilities that could have happened when he was inside the chamber. He saw a possibility that he had gone into the chamber and retrieved the watch without anything happening at all. It was from here that he started to grasp the string of events and saw just how he was trapped by his own powers. Straczynski described that writing this series was very like dancing between the rain drops in the Watchmen universe.
The series “The Minutemen” was talked about next. It looked back to the first Vigilante group with the Comedian and the first Silk Specter. So far, Darwyn Cook has focused on the ideals of the group first. This was regarded within the Comic as the Golden Era of costumed heroes. This meant that these were their “Good ol' days” but underneath that he has been working on planting something darker and much more complex. He was finding this a bit harder to work on as he generally does not work on comics of such mature content. He also recognized that he was pressing into a new area and found the challenge of it all to be a great motivation. He told us to look very carefully at the end of Issue #2 as things could be much more or very different from what they appear to be. This is not something to just jump around in.
The next series to be talked about was “Silk Specter” done by Amanda Connors and Darwyn Cook. This focuses not only Sally Jupiter, the original Silk Specter (for that see “Minutemen”) but on Laurie Jupiter, her daughter. One way they described this lady was she was more the Minister's Daughter, the one that would eventually go far astray from what their parents intended. The pair described the first issue of the series like “Watchmen” at “Riverdale High” (of Archie Fame). The second issue picks up after High School and goes from there to an “electric kool-aid acid trip”. Amanada told us that she did a lot of research in the history of Rock and Roll as well as the Haight Asbury District of San Francisco. This research shows up in the comic both directly with Laurie going to events and indirectly with them mentioned. This is all intertwined into the history of the Laurie herself. Amanda and Darwyn also do what they can to keep some things in the comic fun. They alluded to a fight sequence between Sally and Laurie that started with Sally ambushing her daughter. It was done in a style very similar to that of the old “Pink Panther” comics.
Will Dennis was next up and he talked to us about the “Comedian” story line. He told us that it would be a harsh story, befitting the man Eddie Blake. He started as one person but just came to see the world in a very different light. It focuses on Blake's days in the Vietnam War. It is important to remember at his core Blake was a very cynical man and he just got more jaded as the years went on. He also noticed the truth of matters a lot more often than others did. He did tells us though that #1 had to end with a very crazy twist.
The panel wrapped up with a Q&A session. This was the point where it was made clear that they needed every bit of talent assembled there to make the comics into something that could stand up to the test of time the way the original did. They were also asked if DC was very protective over the “Watchmen” property. They were given free reign to figure out how to proceed they understood what they were doing very well. It was something wonderful to hear at least some of the ideas behind the continuation of one of the most revered comics known.
It is also important to note that Quentin Taratino crashed the panel briefly. He announced here that the complete "Django Unchained" comic book series. He described it as the complete, unedited script will be present inside the 5 issue mini-series that he will be releasing through DC comics. This caused an amazing amount of buzz in the room and many were excited by being there for the announcement.