Friday, March 6, 2009

Who will watch the Watchmen? Hopefully me – and a zillion other devotees – this weekend!

March 6, 2009
Posted by Noah

Okay, so I’ve heard a couple lousy reviews on the radio, and read one this morning that was not necessarily bad, but certainly not good. This, I figure, is to be expected. What I want to do is tell them that they simply don’t get it. You have to go to The Watchmen. It does not come to you!

The thing is, I have this nagging feeling in the back of my mind that the reviews I’ve heard have a certain amount of truth to them. Watchmen has been in development of some kind since its first publication in the mid-1980s. If you’ve read it, and gotten through it, then you’ve probably read it a few more times over the years and have a certain reverence for its scope, detail and amazing breadth of story. It’s an epic, sweeping, grueling meditation on politics, religion, salvation and social and moral decay. It’s also essentially a product of its time – again, the mid-1980s.

I, like so many of the deep and abiding fans of the comics, read them originally as high school and college students in the era of their creation. Gen-X came of age just as Watchmen was printed. The Cold War had really not ended, cassette tapes were being replaced by CDs, and urban decay and crack cocaine were among American’s greatest fears. Soon the Internet age would make all this look like a quaint time, but they were heavy days. We live in different heavy days now, with different implications, and those of us who read it originally with devotion to the book have much different lives and perspectives. Is the story, then, still relevant to us? 1980s boredom, anger and ennui were all fine and good before, oh, marriage, children, work and about a million other things that make you grow up.

The movie will be flashy, violent, beautiful and grim. It’s slavishly adapted from the comic, minus the pirate comic book story – available as a separate thing altogether online, I believe – and a giant space squid that destroys NYC and united the world in peace, which the fanboys on the Web have been moaning over for months. It’s a crucial part of the comic, and I lament its loss, but would its inclusion have made the story more relevant now?

Off the cuff, I wrote Jim Halperin, our Co-founder, renowned coin expert and a great fan of comic books in general. He gave an answer that I think I might find if I asked any 100 people who fell in love with the book back when it was first published: “Not sure if I will go; depends on if my kids want to see it.”

If you don’t have kids I reckon you’re still feeling a little bit the same way. Comics Director Barry Sandoval, a guy who knows the Watchmen quite well, and has sold many superb original copies over the years simply said he was curious. After 20 years of waiting, so am I.

The Watchmen does not mean the same to me as it once did, but I still consider it great art. I hope that it is wildly successful, and that it turns on a whole new generation to the comics. If it does, the prices on the comics will benefit, which is good for business. If it tanks, the comics may take a hit of some kind, but they will bounce back, because they aren’t the movie, and are still pure…

I put together a list from the HA archives of Watchmen sold in the past, and the top issue – a 9.9 issue #12 – brought more than $560. That, however, is an anomaly, as there are almost no issues of the comic in that condition anywhere. It is, however, an interesting list. There are also some Watchmen comics in this Sunday’s Internet Comics Auction. It will be interesting to see if the prices on these good copies exceed the normal price, around $50 a copy, for good condition examples.