I’ll be honest with you. I only ordered this from Previews because it’s written by Rich Johnston. Rich is the man in the know when it comes to insider goss in the comic book biz, and is always the first to offer up juicy news that gets all those forums hyperactive. I’ve enjoyed his Lying In The Gutters column at CBR for years now and felt it was my civic duty to buy his latest foray into writing comics, rather than about them. He also was extremely kind enough to mention Extra Sequential, my free on-line comics mag, as we were one of the few comics sites with daily updates during last year’s Christmas break.
Johnston isn’t a first time creative writer though. The English scribe has written for TV’s Smack The Pony sketch show as well as indie comics such as The X-Files and The Flying Friar.
I must say reading Watchmensch from Brain Scan Studios was a relief. I was blessed enough recently to get a preview copy of Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s latest League of Extraordinary Gentlemen adventure from Top Shelf. (See the review in the upcoming Extra Sequential #2!) and was disappointed. Hugely so in fact. As is Moore’s want Century is brimming with the stuff that makes literature students giddy, but makes the rest of us feel somewhat perplexed.
However Watchmensch gave me the happies. It spoke to me. Sure, it’s a niche comic. A very niche comic. Not only is it a Watchmen parody, but it is also filled with a multitude of references to Moore’s unique personality, DC’s mistreatment of its writers and artists, and the troubles with Moore’s film adaptations. Fanboys will eat this up, but everyone else will be left scratching their heads, kinda like the Watchmen film really.
With nods to The Simpsons and reality TV, heartless studio execs and even Ozzy Osbourne, Johnston and artist Simon Rohrmuller have crafted a tidy, black and white laugh giver. It was honestly a refreshing read, and after the sour taste of Century in my mouth, I felt relieved after reading this. It spoke to my inner geek and gave it a warm hug. It’s a good feeling being an insider.
Rohrmuller’s art is very much like Dave Gibbons in places and he uses the constraints of the two colours very well, managing to fill in the panels with enough detail and give great expressions to the characters. It’s no easy feat to summarise the epic that is Watchmen, but this creative duo have done it, even down to exact panel recreations and familiar lines. I won’t say too much about the plot, as the genuine laughs come from the surprises but it’s cleverly done.
The characters we all know and love from Watchmen are amusingly tweaked here, so The Comedian resembles Krusty the Clown, Rorschach becomes the “Jewish” Spottyman and Dr. Manhattan becomes a man who walked under a falling tin of blue paint and became Mr. Broadway.
Thanks Mr. Johnston. I may not be educated enough to get Moore’s latest League (though I loved the first two) but Watchmensch makes me feel part of the in crowd. Yes, it’s a crowd of misunderstood, net-aholics with opinions as varied as their action figure collections, but it’s my crowd. The kind of crowd that will enjoy this too.
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