WATCHMEN: Now With Motion!

Watchmen on the iPhone

So, it looks as if the legal bru-ha-ha between Fox and Warner Brothers is finally over, and the long awaited Watchmen movie will make it to the big screen on time (March 6th) with Fox much the richer for it. But this is not the first time the Watchmen will have been brought to life in motion.  In conjunction with the Movie, DC comics is releasing “Motion Comics” of the 12 issues of Watchmen, taking the original panel art and adding simple animation, a music score and a single narrator reading all of the parts. 

Currently, episodes are available up to issue 10, each lasting a little under half an hour and selling for $1.99 each through the iTunes and Amazon.com. 

The Interactive Watchmen iPhone App

Although I’m sure the author, Alan Moore,  would disagree, the overall effect is quite good, and makes for a great way to enjoy the story on the go. The art is well preserved and the animation is smooth, although not nearly as complex as it might be if it had been fully animated. Still, it’s miles better the Clutch Cargo.

The single narration voice is not completely to my liking, they could have at least splurged and gotten a female narrator for female characters. Silk Specter may smoke, but the narrators gravely voice is about as sexy as a lime green polyester pants suite.

What intrigues me most about the Watchmen Motion Comic, though, was how seemingly easy it was to take the static images of the comic page, which require a more active role for the reader to animate the action in their minds, and turn it into the more passive video format. Although this is far from the atrocity that colorizing old black and white movies was in the 1980′s, it does give me some pause for thought.

Moore commented in a recent interview with the LA Times that, “There are three or four companies now that exist for the sole purpose of creating not comics, but storyboards for films.” In fact, It looks as if they don’t even need to make the film, but simply take the storyboards and animate them. But why is this a problem? It does take a dimension out of the hands of the reader, placing it back into the creator (or a creator’s) control, but is that necessarily a bad thing?

This is one of the important questions I’m hoping that my panel at SXSW will be addressing next month in Austin. If you have any thoughts or will be at the panel and have suggestions, leave a comment her or email me.

Check out the Watchmen Chapter 1 Teaser, and let me know what you think.

2 comments

  1. rbruning says:

    Well, Jason, for one thing, I can tell you that it was NOT easy it was to take the static images of the comic page and convert them to even simple motion. Frankly it was a lot more work than anyone anticipated. The ideal way to do something like this is to create art that’s layered and intended to be animated, including storyboards.
    Of course, that eliminates bringing classic comics “alive” so…

    It’s also expensive to create these and time-consuming. We have yet to see if there’s a market for these yet.

    Great care and attention were paid in the creation of these but compromises had to be made. Is it a success? That’s up to the viewer to determine. Some people really like these, others – eh, not so much.

  2. jason says:

    Richard, the best always make it LOOK easy. Having done a bit of digital manipulation myself, I know that this was difficult, time-consuming, and expensive. I hope it is successful, though, and that the price of production will come down.