With such a big buzz surrounding this film, I finally went out and grabbed the graphic novel, and as it happens just finished it yesterday, and man, it was DENSE. Not in the sense of "duh," but in the sense of very packed with story/detail on every page. I don't think it's ever taken me so long to get through a graphic novel!
I now understand the high regard it's held in and the reason it's recognized as groundbreaking. as far as I know, up until the time it was published (~1985) all comics were still of the "bang, pow, big superpowered battle" variety. I see now where the foundation for the type of story like Marvel Comics' "Civil War" story was laid. In a way it kind of sucks, as it seems to have been the beginning of injection of the "real world" into comics, which in many ways I really dislike.
More pictures below.
Ozymandia, genius crimefighter from Watchmen
I think that with the stylistic exception of Ozymandias, the above live action versions are pretty faithful to the comic book (I hesitate to call it that) version.
The original story (voted by Time Magazine as one of the 100 best novels ever written) is very complex and rich in detail. On the other hand, to me it seems dated with its overshadowing Cold War overtones, and although it attempted to seem like it showed both sides evenly, it seemed decidedly left-wing in the final analysis. I do give author Alan Moore props for at least trying to balance the portrayal of the Left and the Right in the story.
Side note, parents, this graphic novel is NOT for kids: Adult themes, situations, language and artwork are present throughout.
I do find it ironic that twenty years later we did not suffer the apocalyptic nuclear war or environmental armageddon that the story (and the some of the public at the time) were was so concerned (consumed?) about. Not that we don't have OTHER issues to worry about at the moment. If I recall, at the time as a country we were more concerned about another global ice age than we were about global warming. It'll be interesting to look back to today 25 years from now in retrospect. :-)
The vibe of the book is such that it could almost have been written in the 1960's instead of the 1980's and I think they're going to have a hell of a time turning the story into an effective film.
Zack Snyder, the guy who brought us the testosterone-laced 300 is directing the film.
For much higher-res versions of the images and more background on the film and story head on over to Firstshowing.net.
Source: Official Watchmen movie blog
Watchmen is scheduled to arrive at theaters on March 6th 2009.