10 Fascinating Facts About Watchmen

Amazon
Amazon

Writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons’s Watchmen—which was released by DC Comics as a 12-issue limited series in 1986 and 1987 and eventually collected into paperback—was a radical deconstruction of the comic book medium. Instead of flawless heroics, its protagonists—including the psychotic vigilante Rorschach, the near-omniscient Doctor Manhattan, the ineffectual Nite Owl—struggle with self-doubt and personality conflicts after one of their own is murdered.

Coinciding with the 10th anniversary of Zack Snyder's 2009 movie adaptation, plus the pending arrival of an HBO series, we’re taking a look at a few things you might not know about Moore and Gibbons’s seminal work.

1. Watchmen was originally supposed to feature familiar faces.

When English writer Alan Moore (Swamp Thing) came up with the idea for a murder mystery set in the realm of costumed heroes, he drafted a proposal for DC Comics editors that used characters from Charlton Comics, a lesser-known line of titles featuring more obscure characters like Blue Beetle and the Atom that DC had recently acquired. In his pitch, Moore described the suspicious death of a Charlton hero dubbed the Peacemaker, with the Question—a blank-faced inquisitor seemingly devoid of emotion—on the case.

Fearing Moore’s story would be too damaging to established characters, DC editor Dick Giordano suggested the writer instead come up with a new cast. Though there are obvious parallels—the Question transformed into calculating detective Rorschach, with a morphing ink blot over his mask—Moore and artist Dave Gibbons soon devised a lineup that served the needs of his story while arguably becoming more famous than the heroes Moore had initially planned on using.

2. Watchmen took some design cues from Mad magazine.

Both Moore and Gibbons were interested in subverting the superhero genre in much the same way they had seen it turned upside-down in the pages of Harvey Kurtzman’s satirical MAD magazine and its "Superduperman" parody: The difference was that Moore was aiming for drama rather than comedy. For Gibbons, some of the visual tricks seen in MAD were perfect for the story they were trying to tell.

“I’d … like to say that when it comes to the kind of storytelling we did in Watchmen, we used many of the tricks Harvey Kurtzman perfected in MAD,” Gibbons told Entertainment Weekly in 2018. “The thing for instance where you have a background that remains constant and have characters walk around in front of it. Or the inverse of that, where you have characters in the same place and move the background around. We quite mercilessly stole the wonderful techniques Harvey Kurtzman perfected in MAD.”

3. The smiley face logo was a happy accident.

Watchmen Second Narrows graffitiColin Knowles, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Most promotional material for Watchmen is adorned with a smiley face button with a trickle of blood to reference the death of the Comedian, the crime that sets the story in motion. The button was an addition by Gibbons after he and Moore had designed the brooding character and realized there wasn’t anything about his costume that indicated a sense of humor. Gibbons sketched in the smiley face button, which came to represent the contrast of Watchmen itself: a world of colorful heroes that masked a sinister undercurrent. The button also echoes the Doomsday Clock that appears in the comic: The blood spatter that appears on its face is in roughly the same spot as the hand of the clock that marks five minutes to midnight.

4. Alan Moore made richard nixon a character so that he didn't turn off readers.

Part of the Watchmen narrative involves a creeping and corruptive political influence. In the story, Richard Nixon is serving a fourth term as president. Moore chose Nixon because he was concerned using then-current president Ronald Reagan might turn off readers who supported the politician. “You’re not going to get much argument Nixon was scum,” Moore told Entertainment Weekly in 2005.

5. artist Dave Gibbons made sure the book had “understated genitals.”

Full-frontal nudity was not a common occurrence in comic books in the mid-1980s, but Moore and Gibbons didn’t receive any negative feedback when they decided to show genius scientist Doctor Manhattan unburdened by pants in several issues. Gibbons credited the lack of controversy to Manhattan’s “understated genitals.” By having them resemble the type of nudity seen on Greek statues, Gibbons believed people might not even notice they were staring at a blue penis—for a page or two, anyway.

6. Neil Gaiman provided some assistance.

Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images

While writing scripts for Watchmen, Moore would sometimes phone author Neil Gaiman (Sandman, Good Omens) and ask for random bits of information. “I was his occasional research assistant,” Gaiman said in 2005. Moore asked for sources of quotes he planned to use in the book. Some came from the Bible; Gaiman eventually loaned him a book about birds from which Moore obtained a quote about owls for Watchmen #7.

7. Moore and Gibbons communicated by taxi.

Without fax machines at their disposal, Gibbons was often forced to wait for Moore to mail him script pages so he could work on illustrations. When Gibbons ran out of pages, Moore would sometimes hire a taxi driver to shuttle more of the script the 50 miles to the artist's house house.

8. Time magazine dubbed Watchmen one of the 100 best novels of the past 100 years.

When Watchmen was originally published in the mid-1980s, only faint praise was afforded to comic books, which were still perceived as fodder for juveniles. (Or juvenile delinquents.) Along with Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, Watchmen shot a flare into popular culture signaling that comics were becoming more ambitious. In 2010, TIME Magazine agreed, citing Watchmen as one of the 100 greatest novels published since the magazine’s inception in 1923 and a “watershed” moment in the comic medium.

9. Moore felt “swindled” by DC COMICS.

In the contract for Watchmen, DC promised Moore and Gibbons that rights to the characters would revert to them a year after the book went out of print. Moore found this satisfactory at the time but soon realized the publisher had no intention of ever allowing the title to go out of circulation. He has long refused to participate in any anniversary celebrations, sequels, or other ancillary projects, even though he claimed in 2010 that DC offered him the rights to the title back if he participated in a continuation. "They offered me the rights to Watchmen back, if I would agree to some dopey prequels and sequels," Moore told WIRED in 2010. He declined.

10. The Watchmen movie could have been much different.

When Zack Snyder released Watchmen in 2009, it was met with a mixed reception—though it was likely as close to a faithful adaptation of the comic in a single feature film as anyone was likely to get. Snyder was admittedly reverential of the source material, an approach that may have escaped earlier attempts. At one point, Arnold Schwarzenegger was being considered for the role of Doctor Manhattan, and Terry Gilliam (Brazil) was set to direct.

No matter how much Snyder’s film or any future adaptations exercise fidelity, Moore has said he has no plans to see any adaptation. “My book is a comic book,” he said in 2006. “Not a movie, not a novel. A comic book.”

10 of the Best Indoor and Outdoor Heaters on Amazon

Mr. Heater/Amazon
Mr. Heater/Amazon

With the colder months just around the corner, you might want to start thinking about investing in an indoor or outdoor heater. Indoor heaters not only provide a boost of heat for drafty spaces, but they can also be a money-saver, allowing you to actively control the heat based on the rooms you’re using. Outdoor heaters, meanwhile, can help you take advantage of cold-weather activities like camping or tailgating without having to call it quits because your extremities have gone numb. Check out this list of some of Amazon’s highest-rated indoor and outdoor heaters so you can spend less time shivering this winter and more time enjoying what the season has to offer.

Indoor Heaters

1. Lasko Ceramic Portable Heater; $20

Lasko/Amazon

This 1500-watt heater from Lasko may only be nine inches tall, but it can heat up to 300 square feet of space. With 11 temperature settings and three quiet settings—for high heat, low heat, and fan only—it’s a dynamic powerhouse that’ll keep you toasty all season long.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Alrocket Oscillating Space Heater; $25

Alrocket/Amazon

Alrocket’s oscillating space heater is an excellent addition to any desk or nightstand. Using energy-saving ceramic technology, this heater is made of fire-resistant material, and its special “tip-over” safety feature forces it to turn off if it falls over (making it a reliable choice for homes with kids or pets). It’s extremely quiet, too—at only 45 dB, it’s just a touch louder than a whisper. According to one reviewer, this an ideal option for a “very quiet but powerful” heater.

Buy it: Amazon

3. De’Longhi Oil-Filled Radiator Space Heather; $79

De’Longhi/Amazon

If you prefer a space heater with a more old-fashioned vibe, this radiator heater from De’Longhi gives you 2020 technology with a vintage feel. De’Longhi’s heater automatically turns itself on when the temperatures drops below 44°F, and it will also automatically turn itself off if it starts to overheat. Another smart safety feature? The oil system is permanently sealed, so you won’t have to worry about accidental spills.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Aikoper Ceramic Tower Heater; $70

Aikoper/Amazon

Whether your room needs a little extra warmth or its own heat source, Aikoper’s incredibly precise space heater has got you covered. With a range of 40-95°F, it adjusts by one-degree intervals, giving you the specific level of heat you want. It also has an option for running on an eight-hour timer, ensuring that it will only run when you need it.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Isiler Space Heater; $37

Isiler/Amazon

For a space heater that adds a fun pop of color to any room, check out this yellow unit from Isiler. Made from fire-resistant ceramic, Isiler’s heater can start warming up a space within seconds. It’s positioned on a triangular stand that creates an optimal angle for hot air to start circulating, rendering it so effective that, as one reviewer put it, “This heater needs to say ‘mighty’ in its description.”

Buy it: Amazon

Outdoor Heaters

6. Mr. Heater Portable Buddy; $104

Mr. Heater/Amazon

Make outdoor activities like camping and grilling last longer with Mr. Heater’s indoor/outdoor portable heater. This heater can connect to a propane tank or to a disposable cylinder, allowing you to keep it in one place or take it on the go. With such a versatile range of uses, this heater will—true to its name—become your best buddy when the temperature starts to drop.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Hiland Pyramid Patio Propane Heater; Various

Hiland/Amazon

The cold’s got nothing on this powerful outdoor heater. Hiland’s patio heater has a whopping 40,000 BTU output, which runs for eight to 10 hours on high heat. Simply open the heater’s bottom door to insert a propane tank, power it on, and sit back to let it warm up your backyard. The bright, contained flame from the propane doubles as an outdoor light.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Solo Stove Bonfire Pit; $345

Solo Stove/Amazon

This one is a slight cheat since it’s a bonfire pit and not a traditional outdoor heater, but the Solo Stove has a 4.7-star rating on Amazon for a reason. Everything about this portable fire pit is meticulously crafted to maximize airflow while it's lit, from its double-wall construction to its bottom air vents. These features all work together to help the logs burn more completely while emitting far less smoke than other pits. It’s the best choice for anyone who wants both warmth and ambiance on their patio.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Dr. Infrared Garage Shop Heater; $119

Dr. Infrared/Amazon

You’ll be able to use your garage or basement workshop all season long with this durable heater from Dr. Infrared. It’s unique in that it includes a built-in fan to keep warm air flowing—something that’s especially handy if you need to work without wearing gloves. The fan is overlaid with heat and finger-protectant grills, keeping you safe while it’s powered on.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Mr. Heater 540 Degree Tank Top; $86

Mr. Heater/Amazon

Mr. Heater’s clever propane tank top automatically connects to its fuel source, saving you from having to bring any extra attachments with you on the road. With three heat settings that can get up to 45,000 BTU, the top can rotate 360 degrees to give you the perfect angle of heat you need to stay cozy. According to a reviewer, for a no-fuss outdoor heater, “This baby is super easy to light, comes fully assembled … and man, does it put out the heat.”

Buy it: Amazon

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Why Steve Carell Was Anxious About Being in The Office Finale

Steve Carell was a bit apprehensive about appearing in the series finale.
Steve Carell was a bit apprehensive about appearing in the series finale.
NBC

Even though fans of The Office were sad to say goodbye to Steve Carell and the employees at Dunder Mifflin when the series went off the air in 2013, a lot of new content related to the hit comedy has come out in recent years.

Not only can fans reminisce about The Office with actresses Angela Kinsey (Angela Martin) and Jenna Fischer (Pam Beesly) on their podcast Office Ladies, but Kevin Malone actor Brian Baumgartner has also started his own podcast about the show as well.

Baumgartner’s podcast, titled An Oral History of The Office, offers listeners a chance to learn how the American version of the mockumentary comedy was developed. From conception to casting, An Oral History of The Office gives longtime fans an in-depth look at how their favorite paper-pushers came to be.

As PopSugar reports, Baumgartner’s 12-episode podcast has featured guest appearances from other actors that were on the show. Carell, John Krasinski, Rainn Wilson, Fischer, and Kinsey have all dropped in to talk about their days in Scranton.

For episode 11 of the podcast, titled “It’s a Wrap,” Baumgartner spoke with Carell and The Office creator Greg Daniels about the actor's surprise appearance in the series finale.

Longtime fans of the show will recall that Michael Scott left Dunder Mifflin to move to Colorado with Holly (played by Amy Ryan) in the finale of season 7. The podcast revealed that Carell was actually hesitant to return for the season 9 finale.

You can read an excerpt from the interview below:

Brian Baumgartner:

Greg wanted the finale to be a giant family reunion, and any office reunion wouldn’t be complete without Steve Carell. And had that been in the works for a while, between you and Steve, or did you go to him and he immediately said, yes, I’ll come back?

Greg Daniels:

Well, I think he was really anxious that it not be all about him. Like he was like, everybody who put in these other two years, this is the end of the show. This is the end of all of their stories. I left, this isn’t all about me. So he didn’t want to do too much. Uh, and you know, he had thoughts on how, what would draw him back to the situation. And he really liked the idea of coming back for Dwight’s wedding. Like he thought the character learned something, so he didn’t need self-promotion. At this point, he didn’t need to come back to be on the documentary. He came back for his friend Dwight.

Brian Baumgartner:

Steve said there had to be a reason.

Steve Carell:

Because I had told Greg, I just don’t think it’s a good idea because I felt like Michael’s story had definitely ended. And I was reticent about coming back because you guys had two more, really valuable seasons and that was everyone else’s ending. Michael had already had his, so I just didn’t want to, but at the same time, I felt like I should out of respect for all of you guys and out of my love for everybody to, you know, to acknowledge the, uh, the ending of this thing.

You can listen to the full episode here.