“Watchmen,” the movie, caused a stir at the box office when its opening weekend nabbed $55 million, the highest opening gross of the year and third-highest March opening ever.
It’s a shame that none of the money will trickle down to the artist Malcolm Mc Neill, whose image of the Mayan Death God (right) in an unheralded collaboration with William S. Burroughs served as a pictorial template for the “Watchman”‘s godlike character Dr. Manhattan (below).
Alan Moore, who wrote the screenplay, has acknowledged that Burroughs’ work with Mc Neill was “one of his main influences during the conception” of his Watchmen superhero comic book series, the basis for the movie.
Moore has said he admired the use of “repeated symbols that would become laden with meaning” in “THE UNSPEAKABLE MR HART,” a comic strip that Mc Neill drew and Burroughs wrote before they undertook Ah POOK IS HERE.
Meanwhile, the Italians are interested in Mc Neill’s work with Burroughs, especially the MR HART series. Have a look at another HART strip, and another. The strips were published in the British underground comics magazine Cyclops, in 1970.
Perhaps that will generate interest in Mc Neill’s memoir about Burroughs and their relationship, Observed While Falling, which remains unpublished.
In any case, his recent show in New York, featuring his artwork for “Ah POOK IS HERE,” has moved on to California, where it opens in Santa Monica at Track 16 on April 4. See the invitation and read the details.
Postscript: March 16 — Just to follow up, ticket sales for “Watchmen” this past weekend dropped off a cliff. The gross came to an estimated $18 million, down 67 percent from the opening. Since the flick cost $150 million, there’s a good chance it will end up in the red. But talking Hollywood numbers like these, whether profits or losses, can’t help distorting one’s grasp of reality. So I’ll stop now.

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