Scenes from my Watchmen novelization

Some excerpts from my upcoming novelization of the Watchmen movie:

page 54:

The Comedian fired again, his tear-gas canister ricocheting from the side of a school bus and into a crowd of protesters. With his goggles’ magnification turned on, Dreiberg could see a woman coughing and weeping. This isn’t what we talked about! he seethed.

Blake worked the action on his shotgun and took aim again. That’s it! Dreiberg slapped the autopilot lever and sprang to his feet. Taking a deep breath, he leaped from Archie and spread his cloak, landing with birdlike ease on the sidewalk below. Foompt! Another tear-gas canister flew into the crowd.

A few long strides brought Dreiberg face-to-face with Blake. His goggles’ infra-red vision indicated that Blake hadn’t even broken a sweat. But the Comedian only grinned. “I love working on American soil, Dan,” he crowed, splitting the gun open and reaching for the shells in his belt pouch. “Ain’t had this much fun since Woodward and Bernstein.”

“How long can we keep this up?” Dreiberg shouted, his voice cracking with dismay. But Blake’s face still wore that infernal grin. He doesn’t see what I see, Dreiberg thought. It wasn’t a realization so much as it was a recognition of what he already knew. We’ve never been on the same side. Not really.

“Congress is pushing through some new bill that’s gonna outlaw masks,” Blake sneered. “Our days are numbered. Till then it’s like you always say. We’re society’s only protection.”

Blake’s voice had taken on the sardonic tone that always made Dreiberg wonder if he was truly serious, or just trying to provoke a reaction. Blake had never been one to cooperate quietly with authority. But the gun in his hands was no joke — people had been hurt tonight, and Blake had been the one doing the hurting.

Still, Dreiberg couldn’t stop himself from protesting. They were supposed to be heroes, for God’s sake. “From what?” he cried, trying vainly to penetrate Blake’s contemptuousness. Little pieces, he reminded himself. Plant the seeds.

“You kidding me?” the Comedian smirked. “From themselves.”

page 81:

Every camera’s flash seemed, to Jon, to take both an eternity and an instant: he could see the carbon filaments in every bulb slowly curling, like a neglected flower dying on a windowsill. So many chemical reactions, he thought. Fascinated, he followed the molecular chain into the camera itself, where photons bombarded the silver halide in the ribbon of film nestled safely in its center. From there it was a simple matter to track carbon interacting with oxygen and nitrogen — their playful interplay was so fascinating that he was taken aback when he realized he’d followed the chain right though the camera, and was now staring into the flesh of the cameraman’s hand.

It was only Wally’s voice that tore him from his reverie. What time had done to poor Wally! It was suddenly 1971, and Wally was dying of cancer. Jon was starting to get used to these shifts back and forth — only they weren’t back and forth, not really; they were all at the same time. Time was a jewel, and right now he was looking at a different facet.

“The superman exists, and he is American!” Wally was saying. Jon had a vague sort of sense that Wally was referring to him. It seemed like a sentiment that would have been terribly important, once upon a time; now two seconds later Jon could barely remember shadows of what Wally had said, as if having awaken from a dream. It was 1971, and Wally was dying of cancer. It was 1959, and Wally was shaking his hand for the first time.

“Nations around the world are still reeling from this morning’s announcement…” The voice of a newscaster, from far away, reporting on what was happening right now. It was tonight, and Jon was watching television.

They call me Dr. Manhattan. They had just informed him of this, and they had been doing it for years.

They explain the name has been chosen for the ominous associations it will raise in America’s enemies. It is 1959, and they crowd around Jon, unsure what to say as Jon draws on his own forehead. A hydrogen atom. The most logical choice for a symbol. They say the marketing people need a symbol. It is 1975, and Dr. Manhattan toys are gathering dust on a shelf.

They are shaping me into something gaudy, something lethal. Jon looks at the tank and sees every piece of it — every bolt, every rivet, every exploding artillery shell. He looks further, and sees every molecule, every spinning mote of iron colliding with every other. He could reduce it to its atoms to show them how it’s put together, really put together, but he knows they will not understand.

He lifts bolts and plates and engine parts and bullets gently from one another, and the crowd behind him gasps as a thousand component elements of tank suddenly float in the air like a school of deadly metal fish. Then Jon closes his fingers around the iron molecules. One hundred thousand pounds of metal hit the desert floor with a crackling thump. The tank has become a stone.

But it is still iron. It is still the same number of particles. Everything is always the same number of particles.

page 177:

“We need to squeeze people.”

Rorschach’s voice sounded like it always did, like gravel through a sieve. Dreiberg wondered how he could ever tell if the man was annoyed. With practiced motions, he began disengaging the fueling pump from Archie’s power port. So many times he had done this…so many nights. “Sure. Why don’t we just pick names out of a phone book?”

“You forgot how we do things, Daniel? You’ve gone too soft. Too trusting.” Rorschach turned and looked as Dreiberg pulled the hose free. Steam hissed around Dan’s hands. Hot. “Especially with women.”

Dreiberg felt his face flush, and it wasn’t from the steam. What the hell did Rorschach know about women? “Now listen, I’ve had it with that! God, who do you think you are, Rorschach? You live off people while insulting them, and no one complains because they think you’re a damn lunatic!”

Rorschach didn’t respond. Dan could feel his heart pumping deep in his chest as he replaced the hose in its cradle. God, this man’s killed children for saying less than that. He began to look around for things he could grab, ways he could defend himself, even as Rorshach stood and approached him. Dan could almost hear Rorschach’s anger boiling over like a teakettle about to blow. He wrapped his hands around the hose. Splash him in the face. Hit Archie’s remote flamethrower ignition. Has it really come to this? They’re setting us against each other —

But Rorschach only stared at Dreiberg. Impassive behind that shifting mask, his eyes lost somewhere deep within the swirling masses of ink. Dreiberg licked his lips. “I’m… I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that, man.”

To his amazement, Rorschach held out his gloved hand.

“Daniel. You are a good friend.”

His voice sounded no different than it ever did — but Dan was moved all the same.

34 thoughts on “Scenes from my Watchmen novelization”

  1. I dig this so hard; these excerpts are amazing! When it’s finished, how will you make it available?

  2. Def buying this when it’s available. I wasn’t able to tear myself away. Your style is perfect.

  3. If this is for real, I may have to replace Craig Shaw Gardner as my favorite comic book to movie to movie novelization author (Batman, 1989). If I weep as I do so, it will be only from the beauty that I have witnessed.

  4. Rorshach’s Journal, March 9.

    Amoral merchandiser wrote book of movie based on book that already existed. Why not just read original book? Alan Moore would turn in grave, if dead.

  5. David Malki!, I think it is apparent that you sometimes go over people’s heads.

    Which is why I like you. <3

  6. Is this real? If so, I will stock twenty in my bookstore and read my own copy until it is more dog-eared than the graphic novel.

  7. Awesome, although I think it might be better if you punch up the dialog some more. Dialog is one of those things that novels do better than comic books, so there’s definitely room for you to improve on Moore’s work here.

  8. If it’s successful, maybe you’ll have the opportunity to adapt your novelization into a graphic novel in a second time. That would be awesome, Superheroes with beards!

  9. If you fix “different than” into the correct “different from”, I will buy this. Until then, the Grammar Griper bids you adieu.

  10. Surely this is a joke of some sort. Trying to novelize Watchmen makes about as much sense as translating it for ballet. Moore wrote it as a comic for a reason. Comics can do things traditional prose novels can’t.

  11. Nice, but I think you stick too closely to the original text. Watchmen may have been a great comic, but novels are truly the supreme art form, and you can reflect this in your novelisation. Remember: this is your novel, no matter what the original was like. You should be sure to add some more sex scenes, and gratuitous violence. Also, a crossover with Marvel would be awesome.

    Plus, I’m finding it a little difficult to understand the character’s motivations and inner monologue. Remember: tell, not show. Telling makes it easier on the reader, who consequently doesn’t have to think.

  12. I haven’t been this excited about a movie novelization since Alan Dean Foster’s classic “Nightbreed” in 1990.

  13. You’ve taken all the life of out Snyder’s masterpiece. How dare you. Who do you think you are, telling a story with no regard to how the original writer felt the story should be told. People like you are what’s wrong with the book-business.

  14. “Who watches the Watchmen?” thought the young grafitti artist thoughtfully as he dropped the red can of crimson spraypaint, the punctured bottle’s that had been shot’s pigment mingling with his own blood. He smiled as the reds on his shirt faded to the black, conciousless darkness of unconciousness. “I do. I watch them so well.”

  15. I nearly wet myself while reading this.

    No, wait, I did. Please, please, find a way to make this real.

  16. Bohemond has a good thought–turn this into a ballet! Dr. Manhattan leaps elegantly across the stage, turning graceful pirouettes as the Comedian twirls the flamethrower…

  17. Watchmen, the classic graphic novel based on the collectible card game based on the children’s TV show based on the video game based on the novel based on the movie based on the classic graphic novel.

    The author said in an interview, “Even though inevitably some things had to be cut, I tried so hard to be faithful to the source material. You know these collectible card game geeks, they demand that you get every detail right.”

  18. Hey everyone, I have a great idea! Let’s make a movie adaptation of this novelization of a motion picture adapted from a graphic novel!

  19. @Bryan Pick : I Tap Rorschach to use his “Hairspray Flamethrower” ability, dealing lotsa damage to the two “Corrupt Police” Attacking creatures.

  20. Watchmen: The Movie: The Ride.

    “I got wetter than I’ve ever been in my life! And I’m from Canada!”

  21. Trust me, people get the joke, there are just two things at work here in the comments that don’t seem sarcastic enough:

    1. – People who, while acknowledging the joke, are impressed with the quality of the excerpts (which, of course, owe much to the quality of the graphic novel source material) and would love to read a novelization of the graphic novel. Anyone who has read the Life and Death of Superman or Nightfall novels can attest to the fact that comic books can be made into excellent books when done right. They don’t care that it is a joke, they want the damn book!

    2. – People whose sarcasm falls a little flat.

  22. I’ll agree, Nathan, but with one caveat: the quality of the source material can only carry a thing so far; after that, the writer has to have talent, which Malki! clearly has. :)\

    (None of this was sarcasm, nor was it intended to be.)

  23. I like how it’s a joke and yet still awesome enough I actually want to read it for real. Something I never thought I’d say about a novelization based on the movie based on the graphic novel Watchmen. Just the movie part is still tripping up my poor brain.

    Nicely done, sir!

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