Watchmen is one of my favorite works of fiction, a graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. See my FAQ for more info on Watchmen itself. These Bench strips are the result of an insane project to retell some of the scenes from Watchmen as Bench strips, in a sort of simultaneous homage to Watchmen and The Bench & Penny Arcade... This is surely crazy since the intersection of people who will get all the Watchmen references and get all the Bench/PA references is surely not large... Previously all my Bench strips involved existing bits of computer art from prior Bench or Penny Arcade strips, with modifications done by me using Gimp. In late March I bought myself a scanner (Epson Perfection 1200U -- I like it). Now I can draw my own art on paper and use that in strips.
The rules of the game I set myself here are that I'm using all original Penny Arcade/Bench art for the main Watchmen characters, and everything else (backgrounds, etc.) is my own art. (No art scanned from Watchmen. I love the Gibbons art in Watchmen, but I wanted to do all the non-main-character art myself!) I'm using original Watchmen text unless there's a strip-specific reason not to. Rorschach's journal entries are now hand-written by me. I wanted to use modified Gabes for all the main characters (except Laurie of course). I also decided to modify Nite Owl (Dan Dreiberg) into Nite Squirrel, partly because the meta humor was irresistible and partly because there was no obvious way to signify a PA character as Dan (the others are obvious: Comedian has a smiley, Dr. Manhattan is blue, Laurie has the mole under her eye, Rorschach has the mask, etc.)
These strips take a lot longer than my "normal" Bench strips, for several reasons. Finding appropriate poses of Gabe etc. is often hard. The aspect ratio of the panels in the classic Bench/PA frame is different from the Watchmen frame. I did some judicious changes to the scenes in some strips, but for the most part I believe I have captured the feel and spirit of the original Watchmen scenes while simultaneously making standalone Bench strips.
This is basically my obligatory fan art project. Some people draw Star Trek and Star Wars portraits. I do meta Watchmen/Bench strips. :) We'll see if I can see this wacky project through completion.
I'll provide a little explanation with each strip for those who haven't read Watchmen, but some of it might be spoilers. You really should read Watchmen if you haven't! It's a brilliant work with many levels of cleverness to it. The notations are to chapter and page number, e.g. I 1 is chapter I, page 1. The setting is an alternate 1985, after most costumed superheroes have retired. Rorschach is still active, as was the Comedian aka Edward Blake, who worked for the government, until Blake was murdered. Dr. Manhattan, the only superhero who actually has supernatural powers, also works for the government. When Watchmen begins, Manhattan lives with Laurie Juspeczyk, the retired Silk Spectre. Another retired hero is Nite Squirrel [Owl in the original] aka Dan Dreiberg.
Thanks to my friend Mike for the Nite Squirrel idea and other brainstorming. Thanks to my friend Wendy for many very useful artistic criticisms and suggestions on some of the strips.
Thanks also to Bench readers who emailed me or posted on the forum to say they like these! The Watchmen Bench strips have gotten much more response than any other Bench strips I did previously. It's really cool that people are enjoying these so much.
Return to the Bench Watchmen page.