Last year's BBC4 Comics Britannia
documentaries were wonderful things to see on TV at all, but man, they really did Watchmen a disservice by limiting their description of its unique appeal to a voiceover saying (paraphrasing) "its characters occupied a dark and bleak world".
You see, for me, the things that really make
Watchmen are the repeated visual compositions, motifs and patterns - the "Hiroshima lovers" image, for example, is echoed throughout the book in numerous panel compositions. There are loads of other ones like that all through the comic, and they probably reach their peak of multilayered ambition in Chapter V: "Fearful Symmetry", whose structure is just crazy
No way could anyone spot all that in on first reading - thankfully sites like Watchmen Annotations
and Watching the Detectives
have already done all the hard work. I mean, it's incredible that Watchmen is such a layered work that it somehow only gets more interesting even if you read it in the strangest ways
Regarding the Watchmen film, I alternate between thinking that if they don't find some way of transferring those visual motifs onto film then it won't be
Watchmen; and thinking that the basic story is strong enough to stand on its own whatever the medium. I'm generally quite positive about the movie, anyway.
Watchmen isn't my favourite Alan Moore work - his ABC writing (I'm particularly fond of Tom Strong
, and the two Top 10
spinoffs The Forty-Niners
and the very Terry Pratchetty Smax
) is generally much more fun
. You've also got to love his 2000AD
Future Shocks, The Ballad of Halo Jones
and his definitive goodbye to the Silver Age Superman
. (His dead-on parody of Frank Miller's Daredevil run
is also sheer genius.) But Watchmen is definitely his densest, flashiest, and most ambitious... though parts of what I've read of Promethea
There's an amazing interview with him available online, called "The Craft"
. It's 15000 words long or something ridiculous, but it's incredibly fascinating. As is any interview with a man who can come out with a comment like this
"The only references there are to him [the snake god Glycon] in the literature, which are very disparaging, are in the works of the philosopher Lucien. Lucien explains that the whole Glycon cult was an enormous fraud, and that Glycon was a glove puppet. And I've got no reason to disbelieve that whatsoever. To me, I think that's perfect. If I'm gonna have a god, I prefer it to be a complete hoax and a glove puppet because I'm not likely to start believing that glove puppet created the universe or anything dangerous like that."