I’m writing this just a few hours before I dive into the madness that is “Watchmen”. I’m lucky to be hitting the midnight show tonight; I had completely forgotten to get tickets on the day they were released, then signed on to the website of my favorite theater two days later to find nine tickets left, with four serendipitously together so my wife and another couple could go…not that they really care, mind you. My friends are going because it’s an “event” movie, and while my wife is enthused, I know that her status as a “Real Person” with a “Real Job” will most likely have her snoring by hour two of what is a three-hour production. I love these people, but they WANT to go; I HAVE to. On a cross-country drive in 1990 my younger brother Glen handed me “The Dark Knight Returns” graphic novel by Frank Miller, three bound volumes of “Sandman” comics by Neil Gaiman, and a thick, soft cover book with a smiley-face on the cover. I was twenty-three at the time, and my purchasing of comics had long since ended, the days of Spider-Man vs. Wolverine long behind me. Hell, I was all grown up, time to move on to more important things like punching strangers and trying to bang anything with breath in its body…y’know, real grown up stuff like that. I hadn’t lost my love for or interest in comics; I just figured that I had outgrown them. Glen, however, could not stop raving about the smiley-face book, saying it was even better than “The Dark Knight Returns”. Ooookay; this book of goofy looking “heroes” I’d never even heard of was better than Batman? THE Batman? Please. I grabbed it and dove in…and didn’t stop reading until I was finished. I read the book while my older brother drove. I read the book when we stopped to eat. I asked my older brother to take my driving shift so I could keep reading. I read the book when we stopped to eat again, and I finished the book at the hotel where we stopped for the night. I was mesmerized; never before had I read a “comic book” that was so…well, I don’t want to say “adult”, because everyone says “adult”. Let’s go with “fascinating”, in that it was a comic book that didn’t condescend, didn’t feature “good” and “evil”, at least not in the cut and dried, black and white way most other comics presented the concept. This book was…well, just that, a book, comic or otherwise. This was a piece of literature that just happened to feature guys in masks and capes, and I was absolutely in love with it. I read it again the next day, even trying to check it out while I drove. When I wasn’t reading it I was discussing it with my brother, telling him how right he was. And while I eventually did read the other books that trip, it was “Watchmen” that I purchased the second we got settled in California. I might have been crashing on a friend’s couch while scraping by flipping pizzas, but there were some things I had to have; “Watchmen” had just joined monthly issues of “Pro Wrestling Illustrated” and the collected works of Van Halen on that list. I’ve lost and re-purchased the book many times, but I’ve never been without it for any real length of time since that car ride, reading it every few months. I think I speak for most “Watchmen” fans when I say that, while every character is integral to the story, the book is held together at its core by one name: Rorschach. I wrote a piece for the site this past summer about “The Dark Knight”, and how a perfect Batman would need a perfect Joker. Well, a perfect “Watchmen” is going to need a perfect Rorschach. In a book filled with masks and costumes, it’s Rorschach that jumps out at you. A trench coat and hat, a simple black and white mask and a complex black and white attitude, Rorschach is an anti-hero whose behavior lets you know that this comic book is not going to be “comic” at all. Fifteen pages in he hits a dive bar and starts breaking fingers to get information. No fancy entrance with smoke capsules, no Golden Lasso Of Truth – just a guy in a mask fucking another guy up in pursuit of the Truth, Justice and the American Way be damned. It’s the first of many Rorschach moments, and let me tell you the movie better include all of them. We all know Heath Ledger crushed The Joker out of the park, and I have high hopes that Jackie Earl Haley will do the same for what is the definitive “Watchmen” character. I’m sure he’ll meet those expectations, lest I have to engage in some finger-breaking of my own. All right, time to hit the road for some Chinese food before seeing something I never thought I’d see: “Watchmen” on the big screen. We’ve been teased for years but now it’s finally happening, and though I hated “300”, I’m holding out hope that Zack Snyder doesn’t make me regret viewing someone else’s interpretation of one my favorite things in the world. I’m not going to review the movie for the site, as the guys said they have it covered, which is probably for the best. Christ, if my anticipation-for-the-movie column is a thousand words, you can imagine what I’d bang out for a review. No, better to just sit back and enjoy the experience, one I’ve wondered about ever since reading the last page of the book for the first time in a Tulsa, Oklahoma hotel nineteen years ago. I will say that whatever happens tonight, whether the movie is terrible or is everything I wanted and more, I definitely take comfort in knowing one thing for sure… I’ve got a dog-eared copy of the book at home, and I always will.