Thinking Pink

I hope this goes up. I'm having trouble saving again, and after the problem with the whole gorilla thing it could well vanish, but I want to end March of Comics 2009 on a bright note.

A few weeks ago I mentioned in passing the cache of comic books kept at my grandparents' condo in Florida. While a Superman cover unsurprisingly brought memories of it to mind, my sister and I had a variety of stuff there, from Marvel Classics Comics to Huey, Dewie and Louie to The Pink Panther.

I wouldn't swear with 100% certainty that the cover atop this post matches one of ours, but I'm pretty sure that it was in the mix. You can see from the GCD's cover gallery of the Gold Key Pink Panther series, or just from the examples surrounding this paragraph, that it's hard to pinpoint a particular issue by cover unless the memory is very vivid. Doesn't that page look like a great wall of pop art, though?

A Warner Bros. animator who had worked on the Looney Tunes shorts, Friz Freleng, directed the animated opening and closing sequences to the first Pink Panther film. Peter Sellers' brilliant rendition of Inspector Clouseau spawned a series of live-action films, of course, and Freleng's enthralling work led to a series of animated shorts and then comic books, merchandising, etc. featuring the animated icon. Henry Mancini's memorable theme was delicious icing on the cake, and I highly recommend Bobby McFerrin's rendition.

I have no idea how to wrap this up without it seeming anticlimactic, so I'll just say thanks to those of you who checked out this year's March of Comics. Don't hold your breath for another one, because even if I go for it that's a whole year away and you'd, like, pass out.

Covers to The Pink Panther #23, #24, #30, #33, & #34 courtesy The Grand Comics Database and © 1975, 1976 Mirisch-Geoffrey. The Pink Panther is a registered trademark of United Artists.

Foyer, Guns, and Honeys

It Rhymes with Lust was the first in a short-lived line of Picture Novels from St. John Publications, crossbreeding the comic book with the somewhat more respectable, certainly more adult entertainment of the prose paperback potboiler. Digest-sized, with black-&-white interiors under a color cover, Lust hit newsstands in 1950 and was largely forgotten until Dark Horse Comics released a replica edition in 2007 [ISBN 978-1-59307-728-0].

cover to Dark Horse replica edition of St. John's 'It Rhymes with Lust' / $14.95 / 'Picture Novels' / woman (Rust Masson) in a body-hugging black dress with plunging neckline, smiling amidst a gun, smokestacks, a town, and a ballot box

The honeys are Rust Masson and her stepdaughter, Audrey, vying for the affections — or perhaps just the obedience — of our protagonist, Hal Weber, in the days of dames and dolls.

The guns come out in the climax of the book, when all the principal players converge upon the Masson Mining Company.

The foyer is barely glimpsed in the home that Rust shared with the late Arthur "Buck" Masson — but crucial, as it's where Hal first glimpses Audrey on his way to visit his newly widowed old flame, and it completes the pun for any Warren Zevon fans out there.

How Green Are My Graphics

It's said that on St. Patrick's Day, everybody's Irish. A large number of folks back in Wildwood, NJ, were Irish year-round. I went to Hebrew School with kids named MacDonald.

Peppermint Patty was created by Charles M. Schulz
and is the property of King Features Syndicate.

At one corner of Pacific & Lincoln was Shamrock Café, which was only a café in the sense that it was a pub that served coffee with Irish whiskey. Shamrock was owned by a family whose two youngest daughters, twins, I walked with to and from Crest Memorial Elementary in 1st grade. Their house was on the way to mine, and often I'd linger for milk, cookies, and an episode of
Ultraman. No idea if the Wards still own Shamrock, but now the place has a typically sense-assaulting MySpace page, with 195 friends.

The Dragon House, the best Chinese restaurant in town — I can't think of any others, actually, but it would still be the best — was across Lincoln from the Shamrock. My grandparents were friendly with the owners, and I'd always get extra paper placemats to turn over and draw upon. Across Pacific from the Shamrock was one of my many spinner-rack stops.

Left to right: Marvel's Banshee, DC's first Jack O' Lantern, and Marvel's Shamrock

There have of course been Irish comic-book characters, including a superhero named Shamrock, who first popped up along with a bunch of other never-before-seen international do-gooders in Marvel's
Contest of Champions miniseries, and... well, a Web search turns up a few other appearances, but I've never read 'em. DC's main Irish superhero, Jack O' Lantern, was introduced in the pages of Super Friends and remained a bench player before returning with The Global Guardians in Justice League International. Marvel's X-Men brought us Banshee — civilian name: Sean Cassidy, long before his namesake popped up on The Hardy Boys — and incorporated him into the melting-pot version of the mutant team that became a creative and financial sensation. We could be here all day if we delved into Irish-American comic-book characters, so let's move on.

Cover to the original Incredible Hulk #5 © 1963 Marvel. Click on title for credits.

On St. Patrick's Day, even if we don't wear four-leaf clover pins or "Kiss Me, I'm Irish Today!" buttons, we do wear green, just as we wear red on Valentine's Day, the colors of our flag on Independence Day, and taupe on Rusty Drainpipe Water Day. Hulk obvious, but there are plenty of other comic-book characters who wear, or are, green:

Clockwise from top left: Covers to Green Lama #1, © 1944 Spark; The Green
Hornet #3, © 1967 Greenway Productions, Inc., Twentieth Century Fox Television, Inc.,
& The Green Hornet, Inc.; the latest Green Lantern #2, © 2005 DC; and Green Arrow #4,
© 1983 DC. Click on titles for credits and more, or covers for larger images.

Green Lantern, of course — on tap to be a major motion picture, and actually the name of many interstellar protectors belonging to the GL Corps. Green Arrow. The obscure Green Lama. The Skrulls, featured in Marvel's recent Secret Invasion stories. Emerald Empress, foe of the Legion of Super-Heroes. LSH wannabe Chlorophyll Kid. Beast Boy, a.k.a. Changeling. Rubberduck of Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew. Mole Man, antagonist in The Fantastic Four's debut. Spider-Man's arch-enemy The Green Goblin. A pair of Flash rogues called The Weather Wizard and The Pied Piper. Superman villains Brainiac and The Kryptonite Kid. The Dragon, to make a relatively newer pick. The Martian Manhunter. The Impossible Man, zany alien mischief-maker. Ambush Bug, zany metafictional mischief-maker. Bruce Banner's cousin, Jennifer Walters, alias the sometimes metafictional She-Hulk. The Green Team, stars of an issue of the tryout series First Issue Special. One of Jack O'Lantern's fellow international crimefighters from The Super Friends, Green Fury, who became The Green Flame, who became Fire, losing more of her dignity each time. And Peanuts' Peppermint Patty, who's perched atop this post, to venture into comic-strip territory.

Clockwise from top left: Covers to 1st Issue Special #2, © 1975 DC; Fantastic
Four #176, © 1976 Marvel; The Amazing Spider-Man #39, © 1963 Marvel; and The Super
Friends #47, © 1981 DC. Click on titles for credits and more, or covers for larger images.

That's without doing a methodical mental search, let alone a physical one. If
you're green with envy that your humble blogger can pull all those names out of his foliage and not even furrow his brow, just remember that we all have our areas of expertise. It's easy to forget that not everybody has a lifetime's catalog of comic-book culture swimming around in their heads, and sometimes it leaves me a bit... jaded.

All cover scans courtesy The Grand Comics Database at
Characters and logos are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders.

Barenaked Vaders

Whistler's Vader / parody of 'Whistler's Mother' with Darth Vader in place of the woman

Just a title... Post contains no actual nude photos of David Prowse, James Earl Jones, Hayden Christiansen, or the fella who played Vader unmasked during his death scene whose name I forget (see, I'm not a total geek).

The Force / 'Star Wars' action-figure package with empty bubble Dead Ewok / 'Star Wars' action-figure package with small tuft of fur at the bottom
The Planet Alderaan playset / mock-up playset box with rocks spilling out

I sent the photo above left some time ago to a friend who used to be nuts for Star Wars.

Since it ties in well with this post, I tried to Google up its source for credit; no joy, but I did find a bunch [sorry; broken link] of similar mock-ups, including this box o' crumbled Alderaan — much funnier if you browse without reading the captions, since they're kind-of redundant and water down the joke.

The other day some relatively purposeful meandering revealed that Steven Page — seen here shaking his tuchis at his bandmates — has left Barenaked Ladies. He says so on his blog, and the Ladies' website also carried the news. While I'm a few albums behind thanks to barely having any money, I got the BNL bug back when "One Week" hit the radio. (I've just learned that the album Barenaked Ladies Are Men from a few years ago is often referred to as BLAM, so I should probably check that out.)

My sister, a couple of friends, and I had a blast at a Ladies concert way back in the year called 2000, but were totally unprepared for the audience participation that most of the die-hard fans there knew like Rocky Horror regulars. The single stand-out moment for me wasn't from BNL frontmen Page & Ed Robertson, or even Jim Creeggan (the George Harrison of the band, based on his few but formidable album contributions); it was Kevin Hearn's hysterical mash-up of Darth Vader's theme with Britney Spears' "Oops... I Did It Again". Let me know if you ever find a clip of it on the web!

The Pyrrhic Lightsaber Duel? / Jean-Léon Gérôme's The Pyrrhic Victory with swords replaced by lightsabers

Another friend of mine who was even more nuts about Star Wars back in the day forwarded the above to me. You'll find it along with dozens of other efforts in an exhibition of Star Wars as Classic Art — worth checking out for some first-rate Photoshop experiences. The former Anakin Skywalker is a favorite subject, as seen in the Klimt below and atop this post in what whomever wrote the captions should've titled Whistler's Vader. Someone called Palpak did both of those, while the above is credited to Lincoln.

Darth Vader in the style of Gustav Klimt

Star Wars and all related characters are the property of Lucasfilm. Fake action figure, playset, and illustrations are copyright their respective creators. Barenaked Ladies photo from Wikipedia.

Screen Savor: Quick Hits

I was talking to my sister last night about how solid
CSI has been despite its cast turnover. New blood is necessary to the survival of most long-running series — If it works for Law and Order, why not CBS's crime procedurals? — and you can mark me down as happy that Gil Grissom & Sara Sidle reunited, much as I'll miss both of them.

Lauren Lee Smith had been back-burned for a spell until her strong turn in last Thursday's hostage situation, but the low-key cheekiness in her early episodes was compelling. Just as much so is Lawrence Fishburne's portrayal of a smart, capable man making a career change to the forensics lab, where despite his wealth of medical and academic experience he's an eager student. And we've seen some interesting narrative twists that operate as more than simple gimmicks, keeping this a show a favorite of mine.

Reaper is a fun diversion (with an ugly logo) that may get a longer review soon. Bret Harrison plays Sam, a slacker who learns at 21 that his parents sold his soul to Satan — who might even be his real father. He's promptly drafted into hunting down escaped demons and sending them back to Hell with help from his buds and fellow big-box employees Sock and Ben. It's no Buffy or even Supernatural, and it doesn't always live up to its premise. But it's trying to build a mythology, and Ray Wise as the Devil is pitch-perfect delivering lines like this one from the recent Season Two premiere, as Sam tries to summon him: "I just wanted to tell you that your pentagram is actually a Star of David. Mazel tov!" You had to be there, perhaps. The show airs at 8 p.m. Tuesdays on the tee-vee, with back episodes online here.

As the laid-back protagonists of Reaper toil away at the fictional Work Bench, which sells whatever the plot demands but mostly looks like a Lowe's or Home Depot, the title character of NBC's Chuck is part of the Nerd Herd at the Best Buy proxy Buy More.

Zachary Levi plays a poor guy who inadvertently downloaded a supercomputer's worth of government intelligence into his brain and periodically "flashes" on places and things that provide the springboards for each week's adventure. Yvonne Strahovski and Adam Baldwin are the undercover agents for the CIA and NSA charged with protecting him, posing as his girlfriend and neighbor. Chuck's a fine show on the whole, from the theme music (a slice of Cake's "Short Skirt/Long Jacket") to the generally seamless blend of humor, romance, and action... when it focuses on the field missions. I've actually started to fast-forward through the B-story antics at Buy More, which, trust me, is saying something. It certainly merits another season more than the floundering Heroes, which follows it on Monday nights, and prime-time real estate on NBC is scarcer with Jay Leno scheduled at 10 p.m. five nights a week.

I'm sorry to hear that
Life on Mars won't be returning next season, but at least it wasn't canceled and yanked immediately. ABC was apparently mindful of how viewers complained when Eli Stone and Pushing Daisies weren't allowed to wrap up their high-concept storylines satisfactorily. The network gave Mars producers a long enough lead time to reveal by season's end just how police detective Sam Tyler ended up in 1973 after being struck by a car in 2008.

We knew how the BBC series on which it's based turned out even before this incarnation hit the air, but an exec producer recently told TV Guide that the Stateside version won't lead to the same conclusion; it looks like the explanation will involve actual time-traveling. I don't think the show could've run indefinitely, but it's good enough that I'd have liked to see pieces of the puzzle revealed more gradually than will now be case, and I'll miss Jason O'Mara's chemistry with Gretchen Mol.

Two episodes into the long-awaited second season of AMC's
Breaking Bad, which airs at 10 p.m Sundays and repeats throughout the week, I'm convinced that the movie channel should stick with alliterative series. It's already brought us two rounds of the stellar Mad Men, and you don't fix what ain't broke; maybe they should rename their upcoming version of The Prisoner since remaking it is heretical to many already.

Bryan Cranston deservedly won an Emmy last year for his turn as Bad's Walter White, a 50ish high-school chemistry teacher with inoperable cancer who — unbeknownst to his pregnant wife, teenaged son, and DEA-agent brother-in-law — has partnered with a former student to cook up meth for sale on the street in hopes of leaving his family a comfortable nest egg. Cranston directed the excellent season opener, available here or via On Demand, and tonight's episode was just as good; both feature mesmerizing turns by Raymond Cruz as drug lord Tuco. I won't pretend that the show isn't brutal in its depictions of violence or the downward spiral in which Walt finds himself, but it's damn good television.

Logos and photos are the property of their respective networks or production houses.

Wide World of Schwartz

Gorillas have a special place in the hearts and minds of most fans who grew up with DC Comics in the 1970s and earlier. Most of it has to do with a man named Julius Schwartz, who passed away 5 years ago last month.

Covers to Action Comics #6 and Strange Adventures #8 © 1938, 1951 DC Comics.

When Marvel Comics enjoyed its resurgence in the '60s, the one name associated with every single issue was editor Stan Lee. He wrote or co-wrote almost every story, working with such legendary artists and creative minds as Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. Even after ceding scripting duties to new talent his name was first in the credits box as editor; later, as publisher, his name appeared on the splash page of every issue, declaring "Stan Lee Presents...".

A cousin of mine asked me once if DC had a Stan Lee. I was probably under 12, so this would be the very early '80s, and I replied with something like, "Kind-of. I guess Julius Schwartz."

It's Bananas

Cover to Gold Key's Magilla Gorilla #1 © 1964 Hanna-Barbera Productions. 
Scan from and link to GCD.

Purim was the other day. You often see it "translated" as the Jewish Halloween or the Jewish Mardi Gras. A festival, like Chanukah, rather than a holy day, such as Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, it is indeed a time for people to dress up and make merry. [I had originally, and mistakenly, named Pesach (Passover) as a holy day, but despite its importance to Jewish history and the deprivation endured by foreswearing leavened bread it's actually a festival.]

The original idea behind the costumes was to emulate characters from the Book of Esther, out of whose events the festival arose, but like Halloween, where outfits are no longer limited to spirits and demons, in most communities a wider net is cast. Our synagogue had an annual Purim Carnival for the kids, and one year I made a pretty decent Mork (as in "...from Ork").

What does this have to do with comic books?

Funny vs. Money

Logos ® CNBC and Comedy Partners, respectively.

I don't have a DVR [yet], but if I did I'd probably keep Monday's Colbert Report on hand for when I needed a cathartic laugh. Stephen Colbert's sit-down with Wyoming's at-large Representative was a choking hazard. The link I had pasted in here yesterday isn't working now, which appears to be due to site restructuring, but the clip is really worth checking out when available.

The Daily Show that night was a great example of Jon Stewart and his writers at the top of their game too, if not as wall-to-wall hysterical as the above. Stewart's rant at CNBC and Jim Cramer in particular is the best excerpt. If you like that, move on to his take on UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown's state visit with President Obama. Or you can just watch the whole megillah.

I only knew Cramer by reputation – the shouting guy with red buttons — or an occasional channel-surf past CNBC before he started popping up on other shows thanks to the Wall Street hoo-hah. The ranting is his schtick on Mad Money, but as a guest on other newscasts I've seen him more even-tempered and on The Colbert Report he's a good sport. The thing is, Stewart loves to catch anybody shoveling manure or covering their rear, the more indignantly the better, and he apparently caught Cramer.

Visiting the Daily Show website for the above links just revealed that Cramer is scheduled to be on the show tonight, Thursday, March 12th. CNBC's own website is carrying an unsympathetic article about the event from The Associated Press. So if you have the time I recommend catching up on their feud via its compilation page on Comedy Central's site and then tuning in at 11 p.m. — or 1:30 a.m., or 10 a.m., 2 p.m., or 8 p.m. Friday. [Update: The unedited version of Stewart's interview with Cramer is now online.]

Comics of March 1974

Bonus Topic: Cover-Dating Defined!

Superman #273 (March 1974) / Wizard with the Golden Eye! / Superman walking away defeated from a crowd hoisting up the wizard Gunther Jacoby
Cover to Superman #273 © 1973 DC Comics. Script: Julius Schwartz?
Pencils, Inks: Nick Cardy. Letters: Gaspar Saladino. Colors: Unknown.
Superman, logos, and other elements
TM/® DC Comics.

I was going through some comic books cover-dated March for a short, colorful edition of this here March of Comics 2009, and it turns out I might have spoken too soon when I talked about my very first comic book.

Minutes to Midnight

Cover to the slipcase of 2005's Watchmen: The Absolute Edition

I've had some friends and family asking what Watchmen is all about, so I thought I'd offer a primer. The post looks long, but you can pick and choose from among the chunks of information.

a story overview from my review of the film:

Watchmen is set in a world where costumed crimefighters have been around since the 1940s, but true superheroes — or any beings with actual superhuman powers — were just the province of comic books until a lab accident created Dr. Manhattan in 1959. It opens with the murder of The Comedian, source of that now-iconic bloodstained smiley-face button, and plays out in late 1985 with flashbacks to the earlier days of such characters as the gadget-laden Nite Owl, sexy Silk Spectre, and disturbing, possibly disturbed, trenchcoat-wearing Rorschach. Masked adventurers have been outlawed in America since 1977 unless sanctioned by the government, which The Comedian was and Dr. Manhattan still is; his nearly godlike abilities are the main deterrent to nuclear war between the Soviet Union and a United States led by Richard Nixon in his fifth term as President.

Watchmen's 2008 international-edition softcover

Should you read the book first or just see the movie?

I was disappointed by the film on its own merits, not only as an adaptation of the book. Many fans and film critics have had the opposite opinion. (I'll link to some interesting reviews later. Right now
Watchmen has a middling 56% rating from the professionals on Metacritic, but gets a 7.8 out of 10 from users.)

In my own experience it's best to read a book well before or well after the movie made from it. If you want to read
Watchmen but are resolved to see the film while it's still in theaters, wait on it and just go to the movie, because the graphic novel is pretty complex. It's different enough from and broader enough than the film that reading it should still be a rewarding experience even if you more-or-less know where the plot is heading.

There is no group of superheroes called "Watchmen" in the graphic novel, by the way, only The Minutemen in the 1940s and The Crimebusters in the 1960s, but the film changes The Crimebusters to The Watchmen. Alan Moore took the title from the Latin phrase "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?"; in English it literally translates to "Who will guard the guards themselves?" and is often rendered as "Who watches the watchmen?". It is taken from the Satires of Juvenal, although Moore only knew it as a familiar saying.

Left to right: Jeffrey Dean Morgan as The Comedian, Malin Akerman as Silk Spectre, Billy Crudup as Dr. Manhattan, Matthew Goode as Ozymandias, Patrick Wilson as Nite Owl, and Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach

You can visit Warner Bros. Entertainment's official website for the film for clips and all sorts of other promotional stuff. If you click the link its window will automatically expand to fill your screen and start playing video, so be prepared.

The Watchmen section of DC Comics' website lets you choose between pages dedicated to the graphic novel or the movie. On the latter you can watch trailers, see what DC's line of action figures looks like, or learn about the mobile game. On the former you can read the first chapter of the book free as a PDF file, check out product descriptions of the various collected editions, view some of Dave Gibbons' concept art, download Watchmen desktops for your computer screen, and sample so-called "motion comics" that manipulate the graphic novel's artwork to present it in extremely limited animation, with the captions and dialogue balloons narrated.

Cover to Watchmen #1 from 1986, designed and drawn by Dave Gibbons

Here's some background on
Watchmen's creation and publishing history:

Watchmen was first published as a miniseries of 12 standard comic books in 1986-87. It's written by Alan Moore and drawn by Dave Gibbons, who worked closely with colorist John Higgins; all are from England.

The Moore & Gibbons team was already beloved by fans for a 1985 Superman story titled "For the Man Who Has Everything" when
Watchmen was hatched. And Moore had been making waves in the US with decidedly adult material in DC's Swamp Thing and Eclipse's Miracleman, which reprinted and then continued publication of his revival of the British strip Marvelman. His original Watchmen proposal featured characters that DC had recently acquired from a publisher called Charlton; DC executives nixed their use after realizing that some of the heroes don't survive the story and most of them are involved in sex or violence beyond a PG rating. (You don't really need to know this last part, but it's comic-book legend.)

Moore's meticulous script for the series was particularly noted for recurring visual motifs and the density of information that Gibbons packed into each panel, providing thematic echoes and foreshadowing to the observant reader. The covers of each issue actually served as the first panel of each story, an unusual practice, and each chapter of the main story was followed by supplementary text material taken from
Watchmen's fictional world — excerpts from the first Nite Owl's memoir, Under the Hood; Rorschach's psychiatric evaluation; an article on the pirate comic book Tales of the Black Freighter, which is seen in the story.

DC Comics collected
Watchmen as a trade paperback in 1987, and sister company Warner Books released a nearly identical edition with a different cover to mass-market bookstores at the same time. Later that year, Graphitti Designs issued a limited-edition hardcover that came slipcased with a companion volume reprinting the original proposal and concept art. Watchmen won a Hugo Award, recognizing excellence in science fiction, in the one-time-only Other Forms category in 1988. It was the lone graphic novel on Time's 2005 list of the 100 best English-language novels published since 1923, the year the magazine was founded.

Cover to DC Comics' original 1987 softcover collection and the cover to current printings

in-print editions of Watchmen include a $19.99 US softcover, a $19.99 international softcover, a $39.99 hardcover with recolored pages and sketch section, and the $75.00 Absolute Edition oversized hardcover with copious supplementary material. Apparently the international edition's cover has a group shot because the smiley-face design is a registered trademark overseas, but you can look up that story on your own. (The US softcover's cover is zoomed in even more tightly on the smiley-face button than is the title page to the first chapter, which was originally the cover of the first comic-book issue. This continues the motif of each issue's cover, or each chapter's title page in the collected editions, acting as the first panel of that chapter, with the top-left panel on the first interior/chapter page pulling out from the cover/title-page image slightly. The first DC softcovers had a different cover image, looking out at the city skyline through a broken, bloodied window, the smiley-face button suspended in midair as, presumably, The Comedian falls below it out of the frame.)

Dave Gibbons' cover to his 2008 Titan Books release Watching the Watchmen

Here's an extremely brief look at
Watchmen's aftermath:

Watchmen and Frank Miller's 1986 miniseries Batman: The Dark Knight influenced superhero comic books to a considerable degree, bringing more nihilistic explorations of the genre and a turn towards darker, more violent stories in general without any purpose.

Moore and DC Comics have had periodic, substantial arguments over licensing and copyright ownership throughout the 20-plus years since Watchmen first saw print, and subsequent partnerships between them have not ended happily. When the film of V for Vendetta was released in 2005, Moore asked that his name be removed from it and all promotional material, so the credits simply read "based on the graphic novel illustrated by David Lloyd". He did the same for this year's Watchmen film and signed his share of any compensation over to co-creator/illustrator Gibbons. Some devotees of Moore have refused to see the film due to his disputes with DC and his general disdain of Hollywood. The movies From Hell and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen were also adapted from his indescribably superior work with artists Eddie Campbell and Kevin O'Neill, respectively.

Gibbons has continued to freelance for DC as both a writer and an artist, and its Vertigo imprint published his creator-owned graphic novel The Originals in 2004. He worked as a creative consultant on the film and merchandising, and late last year Titan Books published Watching the Watchmen, in which Gibbons discusses Watchmen's creation and provides sketches and other rare or unpublished material from his personal archives.

Trade dress for the Tales of the Black Freighter and Watchmen motion-comics DVDs

There exists
supplementary material to the film of which you may not be aware, and which doesn't really impact the viewing of the movie on its own. As mentioned earlier, a pirate comic book called Tales of the Black Freighter exists in Watchmen's reality; not only is it discussed within the story and in one of the interstitial text pieces, but captions, panels, or whole pages of it are shown periodically within the story itself. You might think I'm about to tell you that a tie-in comic book was produced to accompany the movie, but no. For some reason, an animated film was made of it instead, and it's being released straight to DVD on March 24th. On the same disc is Under the Hood, a pseudo-documentary for which the actors of the Watchmen movie were interviewed in character. The Watchmen motion comics are already available on DVD or as downloads from ITunes.

Oh, don't forget about the

Watchmen and related characters are trademarks of DC Comics. Movie images copyright 2009 Warner Bros. Entertainment. Artwork copyright 1986, 1987, 2005, 2008 DC Comics.