Dave Gibbons: Before Watchmen Is ‘Really Not Canon’

The Watchmen co-creator shrugs off the prequel project and other spinoffs of his seminal work.

Andy Hunsakerby Andy Hunsaker

Before Watchmen

Much hullabaloo was made about DC's Before Watchmen prequel project (although Darwyn Cooke would not agree with using the term 'prequel'), considering that Alan Moore, writer of the original Watchmen series, expressly stated that he did not want it to happen. People came down on both sides of the creators' rights issue, some seeing the new plan as an exploitative cash grab, while others opined that Moore didn't really have a leg to stand on. There was also a lot of unfortunate detail about the dissolution of the friendship between Moore and Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons, who was perfectly happy to take the money for the movie Moore never wanted made and for these new issues.

Now, however, it appears even Gibbons is distancing himself from Before Watchmen, although it was a bit off the cuff with no real ill feeling intended. In an extended interview discussing his Madefire comic and GameCity Nights, he was asked about the Watchmen video game based on the movie, and had this to say about it (here's the video link jumping directly to the spot, about 1 hour, 7 minutes into the show)

"They actually paid me quite a lot of money to be a consultant on it. I looked at two of the cut scenes and drew over a bit of artwork to show how I would draw it. That’s what they paid me… well, I’d be embarrassed to tell you how many thousand dollars for. But I was a distant consultant.

“I didn’t have a lot of input in it. To me anything to do with the movies – as far as I’m concerned, what Alan and I did was the Watchmen graphic novel and a couple of illustrations that came out at the same time. Everything else – the movie, the game, the [laugh] prequels – are really not canon. They’re subsidiary. They’re not really Watchmen. They’re just something different."


This isn't really that big a deal – I'd be surprised if a goodly number of people haven't been using the same mental separation when taking in the Before Watchmen books – I've been advocating that myself so I can enjoy Darwyn Cooke and Amanda Conner work without getting bogged down in continuity minutiae. This isn't really a prequel, but rather The Watchmen of Earth 240 or some such. It's much, much easier to swallow that way, and now it'll go down even easier with Gibbons dismissing it as non-canon. Sure, there's still the matter of Moore's objection, but it's pared down to the exploitation of his work rather than the ridiculous claim that they're attempting to alter it and, by extension, make it somehow better and more complete.

Here's the full video of Gibbons' inteview.