Monday, October 27, 2008

Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

This book has had a lot of hype lately among the nerd community, thanks to an upcoming film adaptation. Now that my kids have finally convinced me to read manga, I thought I might be ready to try a 'real' American-style comic book. This one seemed to fit the bill - all twelve titles in the series bound into one book makes it feel more like reading a novel, which is still far and away my preferred format. Just give me straight words. I don't need all those stinkin' pictures!

Watchmen turned out to be worth slogging through all the pictures, though. It's set in an alternate 1980s universe where real people actually do dress up in costumes to embark on crime-fighting careers. They even grow up and have kids who go on to become costumed superheroes themselves. They aren't all nice people - in fact, I wouldn't say any of the 'heroes' in Watchmen bears much resemblance to the squeaky-clean Clark Kents of the comic book world. Nevertheless, they're interesting and compelling characters trying to save the world in the only way they can, against the backdrop of the cold war and the real possibility of a nuclear disaster that could destroy everything.

I don't really want to give too much of the story away, but even if you aren't someone who has ever thought of reading a comic book (ahem, sorry, GRAPHIC NOVEL), I'd recommend you give this one a try. Alan Moore has a way of really making you think about bigger issues, and he uses some very clever ways of telling his story. For instance, there's a minor character who occasionally turns up, sitting at a newsstand getting a free read of his favourite pirate comic book series. We get to see little snippets of what he's reading, while in the background the news vendor is talking to his customers about current events. The pirate story somehow reflects what's going on in the bigger 'real' world of Watchmen, and yet is interesting in and of itself. Watchmen has so many layers to it, there's so much to digest and consider so that even after I finished reading I still find myself thinking back on it and figuring things out that weren't obvious at first.

1 comment:

Bob Andelman said...

You might enjoy this Mr. Media podcast interview with Dave Gibbons, co-creator and artist of Watchmen, as he discusses the Warner Bros./Fox dispute, being on the set during production, and what he thinks of the trailer and the rough cut he saw of Watchmen. He also talks about the possibility of working with Frank Miller and the message he took to Alan Moore from Will Eisner. Here's the link!