Alan Moore’s Hidden White Watchmen Whale?
Book: Watchmen Graphitti Designs Edition
Writer: Alan Moore
Artist: Dave Gibbons
Pages: 456 pages
Dimensions: 7″ x 11″ or 18cm x 28cm
Publisher: Graphitti Designs
Printing: AP (20) Signed-Numbered (100) Unsigned (? 1,000-unknown)
This deluxe Watchmen edition by Graphitti Designs seems to be both a rarity (limited editions) while at the same time flying under most Alan Moore and Watchmen collectors radar. The publishing history and inexact number of copies available make this a truly interesting piece of the Alan Moore canon, and why I see it as a ‘White Whale’ for collectors.
Graphitti Designs, currently run by Bob Chapman, produced this with the blessing of DC Comics in 1988. Graphitti editions usually have limited runs, and this book was being brought out right in the middle of the Moore/DC situation that ultimately led to Moore washing his hands of DC Comics.
The most common number given for copies is 1,000, with 20 AP editions. I can only find one source stating the 20 AP number, calling it a “guess”, but others since seem to have taken it as fact. My thought is the TOTAL run is 1,000 or less, and I’m leaning towards less. There have been very few copies seeing the secondary market, but one surfacing on eBay on at least two occasions was a Signed/AP stating “of 1,000 signed and numbered by the author and artist”. We know from the current copies available as well as ones that previously surfaced that this book is rarely signed, and when so it is an AP edition and not numbered. I believe that they produced a VERY limited set for the AP, and before the “1,000 signed and numbered” editions could be brought to press, Moore walked from the DC relationship. Graphitti then simply removed the numbering page, and produced the rest of the book as was originally intended. (The signed editions, all anecdotally at least, lead back to John Koukoutsakis, a former Graphitti Designs employee who seems to have listed at least one of the AP editons on eBay in 2002, according to Scott VanderPloeg.)
The book itself is a faux black leather hardcover with embossed smiley face on front, fitted in a black faux leather slipcase.
Each original Watchmen comic book is reprinted here with its cover, back cover, and additional contextual document (Under The Hood). It’s comprised of separate sections, with the first section being the complete twelve issues Watchmen run from 1987. It looks like they took the first printing Watchmen TPB and put the hardcover around it. (The ‘Minutes’ section seems to confirm this, with this note: “New material and complete hardcover package produced by Graphitti Designs by arrangement with DC Comics Inc.”)
The original Watchmen section uses the same paper stock as the comics, while the following sections containing the new content are on a different higher grade white matte paper stock. (Care needs to be taken to keep the yellowing of the original section to a minimum.) I believe the intent was to begin with exactly what Moore and Dave Gibbons had presented, in its exact form, before any tangents or explorations for the reader to contemplate.
The new content is 47 pages of extra material separated in two parts, ‘minutes’ (introduced by Alan Moore) and ‘seconds’ (post-face by Dave Gibbons). ‘Minutes’ begins with Alan Moore’s original proposal for the story, first with the Charlton characters, then with the Watchmen character revision illustrated by Dave Gibbons early visuals (21 pages overall). The four following pages display excerpts form the original script alongside pencils thumbnail, ending with promotional artwork and cover sketches (2 pages). ‘Seconds’ is 6 pages, with additional content, including prints from the Zenda French edition portfolio.
The books ends with a picture of the smiley face on Mars, ‘NASA’. It also ends with a sense of satisfaction, enjoyment, and usually upon a revisit a new light on the Watchmen statement itself, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons workings, as well as what we choose to say in our presentations of ourselves to those around us. To this reader at least 🙂
As the first in an ongoing weekly visit to Alan Moore’s works and their physical representations in print and media, I claim at the outset NO authority. Art and Content all belong to their respective artists, and opinion all belongs with me. Please leave corrections, comments, as well as personal thoughts about this Graphitti Edition and its history below.
*the entire content here is reprinted in the Absolute Edition from DC Comics, with recoloring overseen by Dave Gibbons