At DC's Before Watchmen panel, Quentin Tarantino showed up to announce that he's teaming with DC to release a comic series based on his upcoming western movie "Django Unchained." He says it will be based on the ENTIRE first draft of his epic script, telling all the stuff that he has to cut out in order to make it a movie. A comic series is the best place to tell the full, unvarnished story, and the first two issues will precede the release of the movie.
The rest of the Before Watchmen panel news is forthcoming, as I'm in the middle of it right now, but I wanted to get this out there as soon as possible! Stay tuned!
UPDATE: Here's the full liveblog from the just-ended "Before Watchmen" panel!
DC's "Before Watchmen" panel – the controversial prequel project – features Dan DiDio, J. Michael Straczynski, Amanda Conner, Darwyn Cooke, Mark Chiarello, Will Dennis and Len Wein.
First up, John Cunningham asks DiDio how he feels too months in, and he's excited about it. The house is pretty full, and he knows it's garnered attention. He couldn't be any happier with the quality of the material, but he was nervous about putting it out. If you were still wondering, stop wondering and check them out.
Realistically, they had questions about periodical form for the prequel because a lot of people thought it was originally a full graphic novel, but they did it this way because that was the way it originally came out. They've exceeded sales expectations and they're just getting started.
Nite Owl #3 cover is shown, with him making out with that villainess from that one-off photo that was found in Dan Dreiberg's effects in the original series. JMS wanted to get Rorschach and Nite Owl together as soon as possible, and he knew Nite Owl would be too modest to propose a partnership, so having Rorschach do it made more sense. He wanted to get him into adulthood and the costume so he could get to the Rorschach partnership right away. The Twilight Lady works in the underground sex industry, and she's really dynamic. When they kiss for the first time, she says 'this is weird even for me' when they're naked except for masks. There's a lot of hijinks when it turns out she knows who he is when she convinces him to take the mask off for the nooky. This is about what makes a hero a hero.
Len Wein says "it never happened between me and Joe, with the masks." (laughs)
David Finch's variant cover for Nite Owl is shown. JMS is impressed with the Kuberts work on his book. Every once in a while, he gets to see the family dynamics between the Kuberts when they argue about who gets to ink whose panels.
Ozymandias #3 is shown, with the Comedian on it. Len Wein, original Watchmen series editor, writes this. Wein jokes "you'd think my career would've progressed more." He never imagined there would be a 'Before Watchmen' but he's thrilled to be a part of it. Everybody on this project is doing stuff he's never seen them do. "It's fun to be home again, to play with these characters. I never thought I'd have another chance."
Wein wanted to tell the story of Ozymandias, beginning with his birth and takes you right up to his first moment in Watchmen. He's documenting his own story from his own mouth, but he's a liar. Sometimes you see one thing and he's saying something entirely different. He believes he's the most noble guy on Earth, but Wein doesn't think he's even 17th. Variant covers from Phil Jimenez, Phil Noto, Jae Lee. Wein says we all have our egos and sense of worth, but he looks at Jae Lee and says "I'm not worthy. This isn't comic book art, it's FINE art." Wein writes initially from his layouts, and then the panels come in and have as much resemblance to the layouts as Wein has to Wonder Woman. Wein had an initial complaint with how Lee would change things, but then he got a very reasoned letter explaining his thoughts on why he changed, well thought out, and thus Wein sent him the first apology letter he's ever written to an artist. "You're right, I'm wrong."
Jim Lee joins the panel and announces a special FIVE ISSUE MINISERIES starting in November with tying into the most anticipated movie release of 2013. QUENTIN TARANTINO announces a DJANGO UNCHAINED comic with DC.
Tarantion says he always loved western comics in particular, and was really excited about doing a comic. When he writes epic scripts, there's too much epic and he has to cut things out, and he regrets how much he has to cut to make it a movie. The comic book is THE ENTIRE SCRIPT. The whole thing, the whole first draft will be in comic form, and he thanks us for letting him barge in on the panel.
After QT leaves, discussion turns to Rorschach. It's going to be a 70s grindhouse book – you won't learn stuff about him, you'll see him doing stuff. Brian Azzarello will be working out a lot of his demons.
Dr. Manhattan shown next. JMS says there's some overlap with is first Nite Owl issue. He will be revisiting the origin of Dr. Manhattan, and he's going to do some quantum storytelling, which he really enjoys. It weaves in and out of the original book, "dancing between the raindrops" of what Alan Moore originally did.
The cover to Minutemen #4 is released – and Cunningham likes the retro ideas of the art and the emerging rot underneath the characters. Cooke says most of the work he's done leading into this has been a very idealized look at the past exploring the heroic ideal. Generally, it's very nostalgic feel to it about 'when times were better.' He wanted to give that wonderful sense of the good old days for this one, but by the end of issue 2, that's nothing more than what you see – what lies beneath is incredibly dark and complicated. That's been a big challenge for him, because he doesn't generally do mature-readers work. It's kinda cool. After 12 years of doing this every day, he's now working in an area he's never done before, so he's feeling like he did back on 2001, wondering if he has what it takes to do it. The challenge is driving him, and it's a lot of fun. He would caution any reader against drawing conclusions from what you see in issue #2. The story switches back on itself so many times that by the end, Cooke isn't even sure about what it is. DiDio notes that background things coming to light as the story goes on hearkens back to the original series and how it worked, so people who think they know what's going on after first issues aren't going to be right. Even they don't know what's going to happen until they see the pages.
Silk Spectre #4 is shown, with a cover by AManda Conner. Cunningham notices that the first issue felt like "Watchmen at Riverdale High," capturing that era of Laurie's youth, and next is the "electric Kool-Aid acid test." Conner says she's researched everything there is to know about the mid-1960s Haight Ashbury in San Francisco. A lot of rock and roll research, too. A lot of stuff she's thrown in doesn't directly involve her because it's fun. You're really seeing her grow into someone she didn't start out as being. She was very sheltered and her mom didn't let her have friends, and that all changes big time. It's what they say about minister's daughters – the most sheltered always go the most crazy when they're away from their parents. Cooke says Conner is working so hard on this book, her husband won't talk to Cooke anymore – Jimmy Palmiotti is eating alone, sleeping alone, showering alone. Conner says he's being a trooper, but one day announced that this project is the biggest pain in the ass he's never been on. Conner says she's going to town on it. A lot of references to the original stuff, a lot of references to rock history, and in #2, she kicks some more ass, too.
Cooke says he works with a lot of writers and they hate him because he always thinks of better ways to do things, and he's always trying to pitch that to them. So in this project, he said 'it's gotta be Amanda or nothing' and he's trying to live up to his own words (as he explains in my interview with Cooke – check it out on Crave Online). Cooke talks about the fight between Laurie and her mother, and he wrote it as a Danger Room fight, and Conner pitches it like the "Pink Panther" movies, about how Kato always surprise attacked Clouseau? Wouldn't it be better if she was just watching TV and her mom jumped out of the closet and started beating her?" He loved it, and the whole book has been that way. Working with Conner makes Cooke very proud of Silk Spectre. Conner says he did warn her that if this book failed, he would throw her under the bus.
Comedian #4 cover is shown. The unexpectedly heartbreaking ending to #1 is discussed. Azzarello is taking him through the events of the 1960s, and he's not depicting him as a completely nasty bastard. Examining whether or not he can change who he is or not. Can Eddie do anything differently, or is he just going to keep doing the same things? Working with JG Jones is great – he's very tortured, and there's a lot of talking him off the ledge, Dennis says, but he's good enough, he's smart enough and people like him.
Cunningham clarifies that in Chicago, they did indeed call someone at random to look at BW art and love it, and the guy was NOT a plant. Cunningham asks DiDio to verify that he's not smart enough to do that.
Q: A question for Cooke – the inspiration for making Silhouette the emotional core of the book? Cooke says Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' stuff about the Minutemen is sparse, but very pithy. All we knew about her was that she broke up a child pornography ring and she likes bolero jackets. She had one line of dialog. Cooke thought 'why was she passionate about that? Why would she pursue that kind of criminal?' She became committed to trying to stop that evil, and she's definitely the moral center of the book. Everything that happens in Minutemen happens because of her – even with her death, which becomes the catalyst about how the rest of the characters measure themselves. Cooke thinks Silhouette will go down as one of the best female characters in comics history by the end of this book.
Q: Any chance that any of them could consult with Alan Moore on a sequel to Watchmen? JMS asks "when did you arrive on Earth?" Len Wein says "there's about the same amount of chance of that as we have of seeing the 30th of February." DiDio says they went forward with the prequel, but Alan Moore chose not to be involved with any of this, all though they reached out. There would be no Before Watchmen series if this top flight talent didn't sign onto it. DiDio was very confident that this quality of material could match the Watchmen.
Q: A "keyboard warrior" against this prequel has picked up the book and apologizes because he was impressed. DiDio calls him the perfect fan – it's great to be that passionate about it while keeping an open enough mind to try it and appreciate it anyway.
Q: Is the protective attitude towards Watchmen going into the actual story? No editorial mandates – DiDio says "they don't even listen to me when I tell them what time the panel is." DiDio is letting them tell the stories they want to tell.
Q: Ozymandias fan asks if there will be an After Watchmen? DiDio says everybody asks that. Realistically speaking, how BW does is how they proceed. None of them want to take it on again but they're glad they took it on in the first place. This is a marathon, not a sprint. We're on a roll and we're excited – how the reaction is once they're completed is how they proceed.
Q: How did you pair up the creators with the titles? Did anybody not get what they wanted? The only one who didn't get what they wanted was Adam Hughes, who wanted Nite Owl. The creators on the panel say they all got what they wanted. DiDio says Cooke refused to do it because he didn't have a story, but then came back later and said 'screw you, I've got the story now.' The stories worked within the body of the original series.
Q: What were the responses to the first approach? It took two years for Cooke to commit to it. They've been trying to build this meticulously like the Olympics, for a long, long time. None of them underplay the magnitude of this undertaking. Everybody had to really take the time to consider whether or not they had the game to bring to this thing. But by the time everyone was in the meeting, you had a bunch of people really ready to challenge themselves, and maybe that's the secret. DiDio says the creator list originally was twice as long as what they came up with. They concentrated on four core writers who had to be able to withstand criticism and who have a body of work which stands on its own. They didn't just want to do what Dave Gibbons did as the single artist on the original series. They did not rush this. It wasn't a budget thing. It was done and scheduled and rescheduled until they had it right and ready to go.