1/01/2010. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
Pub: Titan Books. 192 page extra large black and white illustrated hardback. Price: well I pulled it for about £16.98 (UK) from you know where but the price is rising. ISBN: 978-1-84856-069-7).
check out website: www.titanbooks.com
Having gotten all the other 'Watchmen' books associated with the film for review, the 'Watchmen: Portraits' kinda slipped the Net (sic). I only bought it recently seeing its second-hand value starting to escalate, which is more surprising cos I still managed to find a first-hand copy at half its retail price.
I think I've said in the past that most books associated with a film or TV series have a limited print run. Retailers don't like to keep media tie-ins on display once the phenomenon and promotion dies down, so if you're not quick enough, the books vanish from sight. With the Net, it's still possible to find such books but then it's a sellers market and the price is dictated by demand and a limited number of copies.
My initial reaction when I flicked through this book is if you have the other two tie-in books then you have all you need to appreciate the 'Watchmen'. Even if you bought this book for photo-reference (are we that far off from Watchmen fancy dress parties now? Hrum!), without the colour reference you'd be a little stuck. Then again, if you match the photos of the various people from the film to the book, that wouldn't be a stumbling block and, although in black and white, gives a lot of detail.
Clay Enos was the film photographer and apart from his duties like photographing the Minutemen (which isn't in this book by the way), he also photographed every interesting face he could find. There are some body shots in this book as well, but these are outnumbered by the faces. I wish he's provided information about the cameras he was using because they have strong resolution and you can count every spot and freckle on their faces. The people range from main cast to extras and stunt people, plus some of the production crew. There are also shots of the Comedian's gun and Rorschach's grapple-gun and journal and a few of the other props. What you don't get is any backgrounds. It's almost as if Enos had them stand in front of a white card background which might not be too far from the truth. You also don't see any pictures of Dr. Manhattan, although there are a couple of actor Billy Crudup wearing the spots, hat and gloves that were used to replace him in CGI later. Interestingly, there are no photos of actor Patrick Wilson as Dreiberg or actress Malin Akerman as the adult Silk Spectre II.
If you're going to be a completest then I would go after this book now before the prices really go beyond the sky. Your friends will look at it sagely over a coffee-table and admire Clay Enos' skill as a photographer. You'll no doubt browse it yourself on occasions but I do wonder how long before it just stays on your shelf or sold on at a high price for those who think they must have it. Just don't be caught by the myth that it's more than just a decent photobook and hope that sales are such that it gets further printings that keep the price reasonable.
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