iFanboy Video Podcast

iFanboy #111 – Watchmen

Show Notes

Widely heralded in most comics circles at the greatest comic book of all time, Watchmen holds a much vaunted place in the heart of comic book readers. For years, Hollywood tried to bring Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons‘ deconstructionist super hero murder mystery to the big screen with no success. For years Watchmen was considered unfilmable.

But no longer. Riding the wave of comic book movie hysteria (and big profits), Warner Bros. and director have finally brought Watchmen to the big screen! And thus did hysteria ensue. The initial teaser trailer release caused the general public to go on a Watchmen buying frenzy, and 300,000 copies of the book flew off the shelves in the second half of 2008.

This week, iFanboy takes a look at the comic book that caused all the hysteria. Is it, in fact, the greatest comic book story ever told? Does it live up to the hype? Is it still as relevant now as it was in 1986? And how do the guys feel about the up coming movie?



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  1. I’ve been looking forward to this for aaages 😀 Until I realised you would be waiting for the movie. Damn you and your timely programming.

    Next week…"ideal comicy Christmas gifts?"

  2. @Cooper – batman pijamas

  3. One of the moments I always recall from Watchmen is when Ozymandias is performing a gymastics routine on television and we hear the commentator gush on about his performance while at the same time Nite Owl is failing to perform sexually with Silk Spectre. I always thought that moment was so well done and that it was a cool coming together of art and writing. What I love about Watchmen is that it is full of moments like this.

  4. What I mean is that its full of moments where art and story compliment eachother very well, not that its full of people failing to perform. haha.

  5. I didn’t finish reading it, but V for Vendetta did it better. A little less obvious.

  6. I actually got batman PJ’s for christmas….

  7. I doubt Lord of the Rings will be read differently because of the movie, but the designs for how people look might limit people’s imagination. I would love people to read that whole drum beating in the distance scene and the chunk before it and after it, free from the movie(s) and the way they designed the things in the book, although I think the cartoon movie of the first book is great.

    Also calling this comicbook the best this industry ever produced is pretty much conceited. I would never think of giving that title to a book, and I don’t understand why people give it to a comicbook. There might not be the same amount produced, but comicbooks are everywhere so there is an amount of doubt that prohibits this from having that title, no matter how great some people think it is.

  8. BASICALLY if the film isn’t exactly like this I will be disappointed:


  9. I saw the film last night… and dare I say, I really liked it. 

    I will refrain from additiona comments until opening weekend is behind us.

  10. "I didn’t finish reading it, but V for Vendetta did it better. A little less obvious." – chlop


    what does this mean? 

  11. "hurm"  Can’t wait to see how he says, or if he says it.

    It’s funny you guys mention Lord of the Ring because a review I read (mania.com, if any are so inclined) compared Watchmen the movie to the adaptation of the trilogy.  Sure, long time fans will be upset by this change, or this ommission, or these scenes being switched.  But it’s still good, and true to it’s origins at least in spirit, that it doesn’t matter.

    I enjoy Watchmen discussions and stories of first reads etc, and I hope for nothing else than for this movie to create more oppurtunities to do so.

  12. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    I am told there is a clip out there where he does say "Hurm."  

  13. @nick – I’m in the process of reading it. I read 200 pages. From those 200 pages I think the text over panel thing is a little less obvious than it was in Watchmen. Like Almond’s widow and V with the poster thing, but that’s a bit more obvious example.


  14. @paul:  I’ve been such a whore for all info regarding Watchmen, perhaps it will be one of the few surprises for me come Friday.

  15. That is the perfect picture of Alan Moore you provided! He looks like some person’s grandfather remembering the good out days. lol Also, that infamous script you provided to show how long it was for a 26 page comic….I swore I saw the word ‘M&M’ in there and him remembering what they were. Priceless.

    Is it the greatest comic of all time? Yes Is it the greatest book of all time? No. I can think of other books (prose books mind you) that are better then Watchmen. But the fact of the matter is, is that Watchmen is one of the greatest books period. The reasons you guys give are pretty accurate, what I would’ve said. But I have to emphasis the depth of this book. It’s so deep, that even reading it for a 20th time, I am still finding new things in it. For 23 years it has provided fans huge depth in story, incredible characterization (I mean we actually start to feel sorry for these flawed superheroes), and overall provide entertainment to the masses.

    That is the only thing I worry about the film. You know it really isnt tough to make this into a film, it isnt. The story on face value is simple; murder mystery involving a superhero that turns into a conspiracy against the planet…involving superheroes. On paper that sounds easy. But again the depth of the book and the simple but challenging writing of the story brings much more then just a simple superhero story. Will Synder, and more importantly the writer, bring out the literary techniques of some of the panels? Will they provide a rich subtext into the origins of Rorshach and Dr. Manhattan? That is what I am worried about the most. Other then that, I am all for this film.

    Speaking of depth in the book, I figured something out I dont think anyone has every mentioned. In the issue where we learn of Viedt’s plan and we get the infamous ‘I did it thirty-five minutes ago’ line. Look at the final panel in that issue. Notice the pattern the newspaper stand owner and the comic book reading leaves out? Now notice the cover of the issue where the dome has a clear spot in the snow…..It’s the same design! Simply outstanding.

  16. I don’t know if I will be able to forgive the absence of the squid from the movie.  Spoiler alert, btw.

  17. Saw the first 20 min at Wondercon. He does indeed say hurm. When he is checking the Comedians closet and notices that it opens he lets out a nice "Hurm.".

  18. @Gabe – he will be there. You’ll need to wait for the DVD to come out and search with a software for the single frames he’s in and join them together. It will be like an Ed Wood production but the fans wanted it so they put it their, like those "stills from porn in comercials" affairs that happen once in a while. The last time I heard that a commercial had a subliminal message it was a potato chip company that put porn in the commercials. It’s time for another.

  19. Here’s a shocker:  I’ve never read Watchmen.  I’ve tried several times, but there’s some inexplicable quality about the book that makes me incapable of finishing the first couple issues.  I think it’s a combination of the art, the campy 80’s dialouge and the fact that it’s required reading for comic book fans (i.e. you HAVE to read this book). 

    Last week, however, I bought the series as motion comics from iTunes.  The twelve issue run lasted almost 6 hours, and it took me roughly an afternoon to watch it all.  It was very cool, and has made me excited to read the book.  I’m very interested to find out how the three mediums – book, motion cominc, movie – compare to one another.

  20. @TheNextChampion – I doubt you had time to read every comic work in the entire world. 🙂

    I’ll also argue the "depth" of the book. Also some people are pretty unbelievable – the psychologist, Rorschach switching from state to state are unbelievable – to the costumed state, and to the really crazy state, to the crying state.  The Comedian and the Dr. are pretty believable. Also Ozy gaining back all his money and being that smart is too far fetched. It’s hard to walk between the "real" and "fake" and Moore stumbles sometimes. Calling those people vigilantes and making them too unbelievable is one example.

    As for sympathy – I’m of course a cold hearted bastard, but I have no sympathy for them. The Comedian deserves whatever he was given, Ozy is an idiot, Rorschach deserves no sympathy – his past as a neglected child doesn’t really justify his actions, the silk spectre is an idiot and she got the attention she wanted, the second one is useless and clingy and whiny. The dr. enjoys his current state.

    They don’t need to copy the source material – they just need to base the movie on it. It seems silly expecting another medium to be exactly like the original.

    If you refer to that clear spot looking like the guy before the white panel, it’s everywhere. It’s the blood on the smiley and it’s everywhere.

  21. @Doski – you don’t have to. Read it to enjoy it. Don’t expect anything but for it to be decent. The hype is so huge that even a great work of fiction might not live up to it. If that doesn’t help, get drunk and read it that way. It might not help, but you’ll be too drunk to care.

  22. they changed the ending (the squid beasty) which was the only bad the about the book ive heard rumors of the movie version and its not any better just less goffy  also the soundtrack is in stores its pretty good

  23. @chlop: You never seen my house then. It’s like Dexter’s Labratory, you push a button in my closet and a huge library that has every single comic ever made…..It defies the laws of physics cause there is no growth of the house outside of it….but I got a huge library in my room. Serious 🙂

    Is that true the blood stain references the design I’m talking about?….*mind is blown*

  24. Sweet, leaving to watch Watchmen in 10minutes sporting my ‘hurm’ badge and ifanboy members shirt I got yesterday, can’t wait for the review sometime in the next few days 🙂

  25. Coolio show guys.  I plan on showing it to all my non comic book friends that are curious about the book but too lazy to read it.

    And I totally hate how the movie flat out spoils Rorschach’s identity for people.  Easily one of the craziest reveals I have hever read

  26. I the rorshach reveal thing the other day, but am still hoping it will remain.  The trailers have done a good job of keeping his mask on, and not many people know who james earl whatever is.

  27. Was anyone really suprised about who Rorschach was under the mask?  The second I saw him in the book, I thought, "Yeah, that guy’s totally Rorschach."

  28. @Gabe-he is all over the interviews and production diaries that have been released over the past year.  People know he plays Rorshach

  29. Great show, the opening gag made me laugh for the first time in about a day and a half, it’s been a rough one, I needed that.

    Thanks, Ifanboy!

  30. Ha, so glad that Conor read the pirate parts this time 🙂

    Interesting that Ron is an Ayn Rand fan. Many of those in San Francisco? Weird how other people co-opted Rand into the conservative movement when she actually said that she wasn’t a conservative and thought that the Right in the US was more dangerous than the Left (at least at the time). Off topic…but there’s got to be some way this could be brought back around to Rorshach and Ditko and, on the other hand, Ozymandius’s plan to unite a world. I guess you can say that totalitarian forces, or forces that want to collectivize everything, are dangerous whether they’re Left or Right, and that the resistance to those forces is noble whether or not they’re crazy in their own way.

    I agree pretty much completely with Josh’s view of the film. I’m fine with it being made, and will probably enjoy it, but if I had my way it never would have come out. It’s unnecessary. It has sold a lot of books, though, but I’m afraid that it’s going to color too many people’s opinions of the work, whether it’s good or bad or great.

  31. @TheNextChampion – how do you put them in order?

    @drakedangerz – changing faces midway during a film only works for Nicholas Cage.

    @flapjaxx – they should add a soundtrack to the end of the book so whoever reads it after seeing the movie gets a sound effect when the squid appears out of nowhere. Like a rickroll.

  32. @TheNextChampion – also there are a lot of clocks and grafitti.

  33. @chlop: Alphabetically no matter what the company is. Makes it easier to find the book that I want. Although truth be told my A-L shelves are smaller then my M-Z shelves…need to add more:)

    My sister just finished the book and she liked it (as a non-comic fan). But she definitely wants to read it again…cause she did not get everything in the book. When I mentioned one little thing in the book she’s like ‘Gah….’

  34. Great Show…I liked it!

  35. I disagree with first statement Josh made in this episode. Watchmen was one of the first comics I read as an adult, it is the reason I’m into comics. Maybe because I always prefer more grounded pieces of fiction when I’m reading. But I don’t get how it is more inaccessible to a newcomer than anything Marvel or DC has produced, bathed in decades of continuity.

    I have a favorite panel. It’s the last panel on page 4. That’s when the book punches you in the face, while reading the second time, screaming "You’d been doing it wrong". And I do agree, you appreciate the art more the second time.

    Butwhat really resonate to me is how Moore creates this environment of apthetic fear. I live in a similar environment, it’s bone chiling!


  36. @MUDDI900  maybe inaccessibale isnt the right word to use but i think i know what josh meant by it. most non comic fans have a certain idea in their minds of what a comic is, an reading this is total shell shock for most. i have given the book to many non comic fans,some only after they have read other books,others right out the gate. they all love it at the end but the latter has a harder time getting into the feel of the book

  37. Great show guys. I always get into debates with people who say that the Watchmen Characters are based on DC characters and not Charlton comic Characters.

     Funny how Conor never read the pirate part until now lol.

  38. "If you like the font futura, you will like this shirt" made me chuckle out loud. So did "Math is difficult."

    Very well done show. I’ll post this around for context with the release tonight/this morning.

  39. Yeah I’m hyped for the movie. I’m going to get a custom Rorshach shirt before watching the movie. But before watching the movie I’m going to finish the comic, so long sleep =|


  40. I re read  Watchmen for the movie, and i did "a Conor", i skip all the pirate stuff.

    Great epsidoe guys

  41. nice show!!

  42. @ ANYBODY…….Connor states that Dr. Manhattan is the only one w/superpowers. Didn’t Ozymandias catch a bullet in his hands? He is shown with the bullet in his palm and a blood stained palm. Also, he is shown carrying the Comedian over head before throwing him thru a window. Above human speed, strength, not normal skin tissue(wouln’t the bullet go thru his palm? at so close range?)

    Finally best chapter has to be the Dr. Manhattan ChapterIV, where he breaksdown the time/moments of his life and it just comes off sooo poetic.

  43. Great Podcast! I listened to it before seeing the movie tonight on Imax. I will forever be haunted by a big blue penis in my worst nightmares.That is something I never needed to see on the large screen.

    I saw it with my wife who has never read the comics. From her perspective the ending seemed a little rushed. I also think that if you dropped the squid, you should have dropped the white tiger or at least explained why it was there. Overall, other then a few questions like "Why was he called the comedian? He wasn’t funny at all." I think that it is still accessible to a non comic reader. There is more depth to this story than in alot of other of teh typical shclock that Hollywood serves up. 

    Overall I enjoyed it, as I did the comics. But I don’ feel you can truly compare it to the comic book. They are 2 different things, and should be treated that way.

  44. Great show, guys.  As someone who has not read the graphic novel, but HAS seen the movie, your exposition made me want to read the book more than ever.  I ordered the regular paperback from Amazon, but I think I will give that to a friend and instead order the Absolute Edition of Watchmen for myself. 

    One minor quibble – Ron, you totally forgot to mention the Bronze Age of the 1970s (and maybe the early 1980s), going directly from the Silver Age to the Modern Age.  The Bronze is a significant period in comic book history and should not be overlooked.  It my personal favorite.

  45. @Jesse1125 – Ozymandias represents the pinnacle of human ability, but has no superpowers, like Batman.

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