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Talk about the Watchmen comic book mini-series and film
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2007 1:52 pm 
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I'll be honest; despite the urgings of several friends who are graphic novel aficionados and whose recommendations I trust, I didn't pick up Watchmen until I found out Jeffrey Dean Morgan from Supernatural was going to be in the movie. I'm also not a huge fan of the graphic novel format, though my appreciation of the medium is growing as I venture further into it. The Sandman series, the adaptation of Bester's The Stars My Destination, and Watchmen are the only serious reading I've done in the genre. I unabashedly adore those first two titles; I'm still wrestling with the latter after two readings.

My first knee-jerk reaction was that I didn't like Watchmen. Oh, I understood why it received the kudos it did, and why it's still adored today by so many ardent fans of the genre, but it left me frustrated and irritated. The flashback format, the fact that there seems to be a whole lot of "telling" rather than "showing" in terms of actual storytelling. The impotence of the characters to really do anything about anything at all in the end. I'm reading about these idiots why? The "flawed super hero" archetype that is almost caricature now; the fact that the Comedian is damn near off-stage the entire time? Puh-leese. I've read sci fi that's done the whole "nuclear war" schtick better, and the "hoax that saves the world," all of it. I've seen these tropes done better--or at least, done differently and more effectively for my palate.

However, the book stuck with me, refused to be something I could just shrug off as "Meh. It's okay, but not to my tastes." I sat down two days after I finished it the first time and read it through again in one sitting. I started poking around online to see what I could find out and if there were answers out there to some of the questions I had--like why in the hell don't we get the Comedian's backstory along with everyone else's? (Okay, I freely admit that that desire is at least somewhat influenced by the fact that I want to see more of Mr. Morgan's character in the movie. Sue me.) The symbolism in the story, the archetypes it's deconstructing and constructing, the reasons behind the choice of alternate history to tell... There's a hella lot to explore here.

At this point, I'm willing to grant the story its "genius" status. A story where you can peel back layer after layer after layer and find ever more meaning is a lovely thing. I'm not fond of this kind of subtlety when I read an actual novel; but I'm finding to my surprise that I do enjoy it in a graphic novel. Maybe it's because the story becomes more intuitive; maybe it's that despite being raised in a text-worshiping culture, I remain a very visually focused person.

I've still got questions, to which I'm beginning to realize there may not be actual solid answers, only individual interpretations. I have a few observations about the characters and their stories and role in the greater story that most likely have already been said--and said better--by others. I've also got the next two weeks to navigate around the board and play in the discussion before real life crashes down again and fandom activities have to be pared way back. So I'll be hunting and pecking and exploring and maybe pitching in a bit here and there for the next little bit.

This is never going to be a "comfortable" story for me; definitely won't be added to my "comfort read" pile. But I'm glad I finally bought the book--and gave up pretending it was for my teen-aged son before I even got to the register with it. But it's most likely going to wind up in my "recommend" reading pile, for those who can see beyond the cheesy smiley-face cover and the stereo-type of the graphic novel as a "kid's medium."


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2007 3:45 pm 
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I too was initially frustrated with the "heroes'" inability to stop the big plot. But then I realized that the story couldn't have ended any other way. One of the great things about Watchmen is the ambiguity. The question of should Veidt be stopped and is the world better off. If Nite Owl and Rorschach really had killed Veidt and stopped his scheme, the emotional and thematic core of the story would've been ruined. Furthermore, it plays against the typical superhero narrative where no matter how much trouble the hero is against, he always comes through. In fact, given the goals of the different characters, the very line between "hero" and "villain" is blurred beyond recognition.

As for understanding the graphic novel, it helps if you think about it as a meditation on power. Financial power, legal power, military power, moral authority, the ability to kill people or spare them. Even the power of the media and the power wielded by scientists have prominent places in the narrative. Just ask yourself: If you were confronted by a robber or a rapist or what have you, would you really want to trust any of these characters with your life?

And yes, the graphic novel as a medium has a ton of breathing room for layers and hidden details. That's probably because graphic novels have very few limits. The artist is in complete control over how much he wants to show the reader and he can do so with an unlimited amount of space. The audience, meanwhile, is free to observe the novel at their own pace and look at every panel with microscopic detail.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 27, 2007 9:48 am 
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...look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!
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Hi!

Cool to find people coming in due to interest in the the cast-list for the up-coming movie.

Nice post, btw.

I'm sure I'd had written something similar after the first few reads. The story itself is a bit old, but that doesn't detract from the level of creativity that went into producing it. Most graphic novels never approach the level of background detail evident in Watchmen. The frames are often crammed with little references, clues and surprises. There is a reason for just about everything drawn, juxtaposed and imagined — which makes for a densly interwoven read.

As to the toothless reaction to the news of the Squid-plot. The antagonists weren't given a chance to do anything about it. It was what their choices were after they found out that was important.

That's the key to admiring the work.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2007 3:28 pm 
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First of all very nice post..

You know what?About several weeks ago I mentioned to a friend about Watchmen.I knew he would like this stuff and I added the "Director of 300 will make this into a movie!!!11" hype to get his interest.And he asked me the inevitable question:"So what's so great about it?"

I managed to give some poor answers;"Well uh the ending left you in shambles.It's a book about heroes but there is no moral hero!It's deep.With philosophy and stuff.." He pointed me out this kind of thing was easy to do and even added "Heroes did it!".Yes even Heroes(imho a shallow but entertaining show when you put it near to the todays other 'big' shows) did morally questionable outcomes.So what made Watchmen great?

Some can say it's impact to comic books made it great.I'm not old enough to experience those times but when Watchmen came out morally questionable heroes in comics was something rare and fragile,unsuccesful heroes was unheard of.There was Cold War when Watchmen came out; a reasonable fear to believe to die in a big flash that destroys everything you know.It's not hard why Watchmen was a hit.But why people still buy it,read it and come to conclusion that it is a work genius;despite it's themes overused to death?I can't find answer to this question in plot or characters.

I think the answer lies in the execution.You know something is a masterpiece when you understand it is a work of commitment.Watchmen gives that impression every time you read..

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2008 7:10 pm 
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Soupdragon wrote:
Hi!


I'm sure I'd had written something similar after the first few reads. The story itself is a bit old, but that doesn't detract from the level of creativity that went into producing it. Most graphic novels never approach the level of background detail evident in Watchmen. The frames are often crammed with little references, clues and surprises. There is a reason for just about everything drawn, juxtaposed and imagined — which makes for a densly interwoven read.


That's what initially sold me, Everytime i read Watchmen, or just flip through it i find new thins in each panel, its so awesome.

Only character i dislike in Watchmen is Laurie Juspeczyk, shes too much of a crybaby for me lol

But i do enjoy her conversations with Doc Manhattan, I laugh everytime when they are having sex, and Doc Manhattan is simultaneously doing experiments in his lab :lol:


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