Issue #6, Page 19: The Origin of Rorschach

©1987, 2005 DC Comics. All Rights Reserved.
by Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons & John Higgins
Issue #6, page 19: Rorschach Origin
Digital color proof (1/1) for Watchmen: Absolute Edition (2005) signed by the artists with C.o.A.
12" x 18"


Watchmen is widely considered the greatest comic book of all time...

Watchmen was the only graphic novel to appear on Time Magazine's 2005 "All-TIME 100 Greatest Novels" list. Time critic Lev Grossman described the story as "a heart-pounding, heartbreaking read and a watershed in the evolution of a young medium." In 2008, Entertainment Weekly placed it at number 13 on its list of the best 50 novels printed in the last 25 years, describing it as "The greatest superhero story ever told and proof that comics are capable of smart, emotionally resonant narratives worthy of the label literature." It has won every award a comic book can win (Best Writer, Best Artist or Penciler, Best Colorist, Best Writer/Artist Team, Best Continuing or Limited Series, Best New Series, Best Single Issue, Best Graphic Album, etc.), and several awards that generally aren't awarded to comics, like the 1988 Hugo Award for Best Work (Other Formats).

A 12-issue limited series published by DC Comics between 1986 and 1987, Watchmen is set in an alternate reality close to the Reagan/Thatcher era in which it was written. Part costumed-crime-fighter drama, part murder mystery, the story predicts an ominous future for a world in which a single superhuman has come under government control in the atomic age. The outcome of this divergence from the twentieth century as we know it is a fascinating timeline of counterfactuals in which "the end is nigh."

The masked vigilante Rorschach (named for his mask, which randomly changes patterns) is hunted by police while investigating the death of former colleague, The Comedian. He seeks to warn other costumed heroes –most of whom are long retired, uncovering a conspiracy in the process. The page above is the only multi-panel page in the entire series to feature Rorschach in every panel. It is one of the few wordless pages in the series, and reveals a critical piece of Rorschach's origin: the event that pushed him over the edge. This colorist proof was produced for Watchmen: Absolute Edition, which won an Eisner, an Eagle and a Harvey Award for Best Collection. It is the only such color proof for this particular page. It is signed by Dave Gibbons and John Higgins and comes with a certificate of authenticity. The original pencil & ink artworks routinely sell for upwards of $20,000.00 for non-hero pages. These color proofs were offered through a single dealer, and pages of this significance were among the first to sell. With the success of the recent film and the reinvigoration of interest in the title, these unique color proofs make an affordable option for the fledgling collector. How many people can actually claim to own an original production piece of the greatest comic book ever written?

Writer Alan Moore was already the hottest scribe in the business at the time Watchmen issue number one was released, but by issue twelve, his reputation was cemented as perhaps the greatest writer to ever tackle the medium of sequential storytelling. In fact in 2001, he was actually named the Best Comics Writer Ever by the British National Comics Awards. Dave Gibbons would continue to occasionally collaborate with Moore and soon after worked with that other best-writer-ever, Frank Miller. John Higgins colored many of Moore's comics published in the 1980's, including the seminal Batman/Joker story, The Killing Joke.

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