"She was the daughter of Zeus alone. No mother bore her.
Full-grown and in full armor, Athena sprang from his head."
– from Mythology, by Edith Hamilton
Unlike the birth of that ancient Greek goddess, creative works seldom (if ever) come about so suddenly and completely. Speaking as someone who's worked in the field for a few decades, the creative process is more like a vigorous workout or, in some cases, an unruly brawl as ideas and images are coaxed (or pulled kicking and screaming) out of the ether and into reality. In fact, it's heartening to know that not even Olympian works of comic book art like The Watchmen sprang "full-grown and in full armor" from the heads of creators Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.
Included in the supplemental section of the highly-recommended Absolute Watchmen, Moore and Gibbons' earliest concepts for their legendary masterwork are explored...making it clear that even something at this level was a gradual process of thinking, exploring, revising, and refining.
The most telling example of this intense, amorphous process is the evolution of Rorschach. My favorite Watchmen character from the start (and one of my all-time favorites)...it's hard to imagine him looking any other way. In fact, since he was based on a previous, similarly-costumed character named The Question, you'd think his creation would've been a slam-dunk compared to the other core Watchmen characters. As the progression below proves, that simply wasn't the case (click to enlarge):
Left: Rorschach in a full body-suit of shifting patterns, as described by Alan Moore in his written proposal (taken from an early color guide for colorist John Higgins). Obviously a huge departure from The Question's look and closer to a traditional superhero's. Could you imagine Moore's Rorschach dialogue coming out of this version of the character?
Center: Still sporting the body-suit, a hat and trench coat are added to the mix...making him look more like an elaborately-tattooed flasher than the spooky, subdued figure we're familiar with.
Right: Finally...there's the sociopathic-yet-strangely-noble character we all know and love.
Later today, I'll be seeing him come to life in the Watchmen movie. Stay tuned for my full review later this weekend!
Has March 6th ever been this exciting?