A Beautiful Gory Display

A Beautiful Gory Display: Watchmen (Oct 16)

What it comes down to for me is that I dressed up like an owl and fought crime because it was fun and because it needed doing and because I goddam felt like it.

– Hollis Mason

Thanks to the trailer for next year’s Watchmen movie that ran with The Dark Knight, DC Comics has printed a million copies of the graphic novel, and 21 years after its initial publication it cracked the bestseller lists. Constantly in print since 1987, best estimates are that the collection sells between 50,000 and 100,000 copies a year. Even the most conservative math gives us more than two million copies in print before this year’s deluge, and I suspect the real number is significantly higher.

Watchmen was published as a 12-issue series in 1986. Written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons, both prominent British creators, the series was a huge success from the very earliest issues. It was originally conceived to feature characters DC had recently acquired from long-defunct publisher Charlton, but DC ultimately decided to integrate the Charlton characters into their mainstream publishing, so Captain Atom became Doctor Manhattan and the Question became Rorschach. In the end, this was for the best, as it not only allowed the Watchmen characters to tell their story without historical baggage, and DC managed to make good use of some of those Charlton characters on their own terms.

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