Author: Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
Date Finished: Feb 27, 2009 #9
Published: 1985 Pages: 416
Wow. What to say, what to say. I went into this reading with a little bit of excitement and a whole lot of fear. The only graphic novel that I’ve read is Persepolis, and this, to me, seems far more intense. Just flipping through the pages left me greatly overwhelmed. But what can you do–just take it one page at a time.
I became curious about this book when I first saw the movie preview. I have to admit that I hadn’t heard of it before then. But now that graphic novels are all abuzz I started to see it listed more and more. Someone actually suggested it for the “future” classics list last year–I still hadn’t heard of it then.
What is Watchmen? Watchmen begins with a murder and then an exile. It appears that someone is targeting heroes (most of whom retired when the US banned vigilantes) and killing them one by one. A few of the old Watchmen group get together at first to save themselves, but it may not just be themselves who are in danger. You know I hate summarizing…and really, the less you know, the better. :)
Several things surprised me about this book. First, I am astounded at the complexity that the author and artist achieved. The book contains twelve volumes, and at the end of each volume is a little snippet of secondary information. Sometimes journal entries, sometimes bits from a retired hero’s book, sometimes interviews. But even though those few pages at the end of each volume added needed background information, the actual picture text part is where the depth comes from. The book is multilayered, switches points of view, is at the same time poetic and frightening. Really–compelling.
The most difficult thing I had to overcome while reading the book was my impatience. I couldn’t decide if I should read the text first and then look at the pictures or visa versa–it was very difficult for me to take in both at the same time. This sometimes created a choppiness that I didn’t really like (because I was impatient for more!), but on the other hand, it was hard not to get caught up in everything single little thing that was going on. One of the things that I loved about the illustrations was how a picture would focus on something small, then the next frame would zoom out, and finally it would zoom enough to get the entire shot. Words are failing me while writing this review…but there is just so much!
The other thing that really surprised me was how interested I was in the content. I don’t read action books. I don’t like conspiracy. I don’t like end of the world type stuff. I don’t like unrealistic, science fictiony, hero swoops in to save the day, etc etc. Really–if that dang movie preview hadn’t been so fantastic, and if I hadn’t seen this book around the blogosphere, I probably would never have given it a second glance. But once I started reading, I was hooked. This was not fast reading for me. Each volume took me about an hour to read (28 pages plus 5 of non-picture text). But, I loved everything about this book except for the story within the story, which I found most of the time distracting and way over my head. :)
Is it for you? I don’t know. It is absolutely, completely, utterly different from anything I have ever experienced before. I don’t know that it has universal appeal, and there is a little bit of s*x and a lot of gruesome violence. But none of that “Pow!” “Bam!” “Holy Jeepers, Batman!” stuff one might expect from a comic book. Am I even allowed to call it that? Pick it up and read the first volume. You’ll get a pretty good idea if you’ll like it or not. I know that I’ll read it again one day and gain an entirely different perspective.
In other news…
Last night we welcomed to the world my niece, Emma Cathryn. She’s absolutely breathtakingly beautiful. Both she and my sister are doing great. Below is the quilt that I made for Baby Emma. It took me about a month, but I’m thrilled at how it turned out. I hope Emma will love it one day as well. I machine sewed and hand tied the quilt. It is about 3.5×3.5 feet. The checked pattern is actually little butterflies (I think you can click on picture to enlarge).