Monday, July 24, 2006

Reasons I Love Comics (issue#3):"quis custodiet ipsos custodes"

It was going to be on the list sooner or later. Everyone who is even slightly interested in comics has to read Watchmen. It is the Sgt. Pepper of comics. Wonderfully written by Alan Moore and superbly illustrated by Dave Gibbons, Watchmen is the only graphic novel to have won a Hugo award and is also the only graphic novel to appear on Time's list of "100 best novels from 1923 to present."
It was among the first superhero comic books to tackle the subject realistically, to present itself as serious literature (saying that, though, Moore had already attempted a successfully 'serious' stab at a superhero in Marvelman {later Miracleman when Marvel comics threatened to sue; subsequently Moore never worked for them again.})
Technically, it's a trade paperback rather than a graphic novel, as it came out originally in twelve issues in '86/'87, but such is the intricate plotting, and the fact that there was a planned finite number of issues, that to not call it a graphic novel seems silly.
If you've not read it, I don't want to spoil it for you. Go out and read it. I'll lend you my well-read dog-eared copy! Each time I've read it, I've discovered something new. Gibbons' art is phenomenal. Deceptive in its simplicity. I've always been a big fan of Dave's ever since his stint on Rogue Trooper (who will probably get his own post one day!). There's no flashy panel layouts; most of the pages have six square panels, but the art has real impact. As I said, deceptive in its simplicity.
Moore's writing is brilliant. The man is a genius. He's the best there is at what he does. He took the bold move, at the time, of writing a book that has no thought balloons, no 'suddenly...' or 'meanwhile...' caption boxes, no sound effects, since then, all 'serious' books have followed his template.
Read it before the (bound to be shite) movie comes out. It's going to be directed by Zak Snyder, the very famous director of the Dawn Of The Dead remake; who took it over from Paul Greengrass (United 93, The Bourne Supremacy) who took it over from Darren Aronofsky (Pi), who took it over from Terry Gilliam (you know who he is!) .the fact that all of those guys tried to take it on and failed shows you how complex and difficult to adapt this book is. Leave it alone. It is a comic, one of the best of its kind, and adaptation into other media will make it rubbish. Look at the adaptations of Moore's other work;Be Warned! From Hell, The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Constantine and V for Vendetta were all rubbish.

11 comments:

Jemima said...

I don't believe you would lend anyone your Watchmen. And rightly not so. Everyone should own a couple of copies and boost Moore's royalties, and Gibbons' too. He needs the money to keep his dancing shoes in good nick.

DanProject76 said...

When are they making the Rorschach sitcom?

bb said...

I though Disney remade the Watchmen in their own 'special' style (!) and called it The Incredibles.

mick said...

JvS: I'd quite like a second copy. That new A3-size deluxe hardcover one that's been re-colo(u)red and costs about elevententy groats. So if you've some spare cash...

Dan: Rorschach would be a brill sitcom, with Ardal O'Hanlon playing our ink-blotted friend. He's done the similar 'My Hero' (and weirdly regenerated into James Dreyfuss!?!) Ben Elton could write it. To the soundtrack of Queen songs.

bb: The Incredibles did look at metahumans (i'm fed up of typing 'superhero'-oops! did it again!)in a kind of post modern way, but I think it's main influence was the Lee/Kirby era Fantastic Four, in which family arguments always got in the way of saving the world. In fact, it was a far better FF film than the FF movie itself. Which was shit.

Drew said...

Watchmen. I have a hardback copy that I've just about worn apart. I think the only other comic book I've read as much is Dark Knight Returns.

You're right. No one could ever make this into a movie.

Though if I were given the opportunty to make it a 12 episode series for HBO... hell, yeah.

mick said...

I'll probably have Dark Knight on my list at some point. It is awesome. That and Watchmen appeared at roughly the same time and totally changed the comics world. Nothing published since (in superhero comics) has come close to those two, not even DK2, which was disappointing.

DanProject76 said...

I saw The Incredibles at the cinema and wasn't remotely ashamed.

bb said...

Yes, The Incredibles certainly did look at the squabbling family aspect.
I was referring more to the opening set up of the film which asked what was the role for superheroes in society when they are deemed a liability and must be 'retired'. I thought that drew directly from The Watchmen.

mick said...

Yes, you're right. Maybe Alan Moore removed his name from the credits of that one as well.
The plot device of the government forcibly retiring superheroes was also used in 'Dark Knight Returns' as well, funnily enough. Maybe because both books were aimed at 'retired' comics fans, trying to force them back into action.

Jemima said...

When you say "retired" do you really mean women? Like female biology is a retired version of a man's. We are a tired, past it, outdated version of a 'normal' ie: male comic appreciator. Gah!

mick said...

Yes, that's what I meant. You got me. Let's turn this into an argument about sexual politics.For a change.

I just meant adults!