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'Confabulation: An Anecdotal Autobiography by Dave Gibbons' review
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Comic Books

‘Confabulation: An Anecdotal Autobiography by Dave Gibbons’ review

‘Confabulation: An Anecdotal Autobiography by Dave Gibbons’ is a must-read for fans of comics history.

Dave Gibbons is a creator who has had a hand in shaping how we think about comics. This week in comic shops is his new autobiography Confabulation: An Anecdotal Autobiography by Dave Gibbons, detailing his relationships, key projects, and more, all told by Gibbons himself and featuring art from his career. Given the sheer influence of his works, this book is, without a doubt, a must-read for comic fans who want to get insights into an illustrious career and for historians who love a thorough examination of a career populated with legendary highlights.

Running 256 pages, Confabulation is not too long, nor is it too short. Organized alphabetically, the book starts with A and works its way all the way to Z with listings such as “Bradbury, Ray” and “Batman vs. Predator.” This organization makes the book a joy to read, allowing readers to seek out specific series Dave Gibbons worked on or get his take on working with famous creators rather quickly. You can also read it cover to cover, as each listing offers great insight, interesting historical context, or just a darn good anecdote.

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As a reviewer in his thirties, there was a lot to unpack and dig into that delighted. Batman vs. Predator, for instance, is an excellent chapter in part because that comic was so impactful for me growing up. This listing details how the project started, the original artist attached being Geof Darrow and Gibbons general thoughts on the project. In another listing titled “Alien,” we learn Gibbons’ thoughts on working with Mike Mignola on a title that, at the time, they thought would do incredibly well sales-wise but ended up being a dud. And yet, Gibbons finds the clarity to point out this may have been Mignola’s final straw working on other people’s characters as he went from that to creating his Hellboy universe.

'Confabulation: An Anecdotal Autobiography by Dave Gibbons' review

Love the personal touches like the Batman drawing on the right.
Credit: Dark Horse

There are layers to this that casual readers might not necessarily care too much about. For instance, the back-door dealings with editors might go over your head or not interest you. The business side of comics can be cutthroat, though, and there’s drama that is entertaining to read. Learning how Dan Didio and Jim Lee approached Gibbons before launching the Before Wachmen prequel comics, for instance, is enlightening and revealing.

Speaking of Watchmen, there’s plenty of it here, from how truly sick of it all Alan Moore was when DC Comics refused to let the series be, to the joyous and enlightening time Gibbons had being involved with the recent HBO television show. Watchmen pinups and artwork populate much of the book, but thankfully, the project doesn’t take up a majority of its pages. Instead, it feels like there’s just enough about it here to satisfy findings, but not so much that it feels like Gibbons’ entire legacy is attached to the iconic and legendary series.

This book also details projects that were started but never made it to the stands. One in particular that should get fans excited is a Batman project with Garth Ennis that Gibbons was going to draw. Told via the “Ennis, Garth” listing, Gibbons mostly tells a story taking place at Ennis’s stag weekend party. Over three pages, however, we get to see some great character sketches of what they were going for, including imagery of Joker, Penguin, Killer Croc, and a fantastic Batman. The suit has an armored look with a wide Batman. A page of notes for Batman and Joker is fun to read as you ponder what could have been.

'Confabulation: An Anecdotal Autobiography by Dave Gibbons' review

We learn the Watchmen movie didn’t get Gibbons a cent, thanks to Hollywood accounting.
Credit: Dark Horse

As far as visuals, there’s plenty to sink your teeth into. There are sketches, artwork for movies like The Matrix, and full comic strips. Designer Amy Arendts does a fantastic job populating the book with fun captions, quoting Gibbons and never taking over the narrative side of things. Pages tend to have one piece of art max, allowing for Gibbon’s voice to be the main attraction. Memos and letters in key listings help add a historical element to the read. This all happened. This is Gibbons’s life, and we’re getting it told in readable chunks.

Comics fans, historians, and lovers of all things Dave Gibbons, do yourself a favor and purchase Confabulation: An Anecdotal Autobiography by Dave Gibbons. The book is filled with interesting anecdotes, artwork, and rumination on a career well lived. Told in an alphabetically encyclopedic style, it’s also incredibly easy to read, allowing the reader to pop in and out at their leisure as you take in one of comics’ greatest careers.

'Confabulation: An Anecdotal Autobiography by Dave Gibbons' review
‘Confabulation: An Anecdotal Autobiography by Dave Gibbons’ review
Confabulation: An Anecdotal Autobiography by Dave Gibbons
Comics fans, historians, and lovers of all things Dave Gibbons, do yourself a favor and purchase Confabulation: An Anecdotal Autobiography by Dave Gibbons. The book is filled with interesting anecdotes, artwork, and rumination on a career well lived. Told in an alphabetically encyclopedic style, it's also incredibly easy to read, allowing the reader to pop in and out at their leisure as you take in one of comics' greatest careers.
Reader Rating1 Votes
8.9
Expertly made and organized well
Thoroughly tackles everything you'd want to know from Dave Gibbons himself
Great use of art keeps a good balance between Gibbons' voice and his visual work
There are rare cases where a listing could use a little more detail, or follow up
9.5
Great
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