Watchmen

Sick Boy

All about pride and egos
Also, I'd say that Alan Moore doesn't try to hide the fact that the Watchmen are soulless, detached, or cruel people. That is why the irony concerning Dr. Manhattan's dilemma over whether he should save the world or not is so great. He is the only actual superhero, and his detachment is accidental and attributed to his gifts. His cold universal logic extends much further beyond the scope of human life on Earth.
 
it's like saying Romeo and Juliet is too one-dimensionally dark and sad - because there are lots of happy lovers out there! get me?
Yes, but Romeo and Juliet are actually happy together to begin with.

Also, I'd say that Alan Moore doesn't try to hide the fact that the Watchmen are soulless, detached, or cruel people.
My point is that the comic is detached from the world, the general people we are meant to care about saving and how we save them. It is possible to show the Watchmen as detached, disillusioned, cruel without letting those perspectives completely rule the story. We would understand that the world is in trouble morally without the blanket, over-the-top portrayal of it we are given.

but most of those points such as cliches and stereotypes and cardboard cutouts and "soul-lessness" can be applied to most fiction out there, be they novels, films, or comics. what work doesn't want to impress the audience?
It can be applied to most fiction - and that fiction is bad too. A lot of great works work because they want to inspire, amuse, entertain, educate the audience - not impress it. I feel Moore is too busy trying to earn kudos points to bother with engaging characters and story that could more subtly reveal his points for him. I want to see the puppet, now and again the strings, but never the puppeteer.
 
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Sick Boy

All about pride and egos
It is possible to show the Watchmen as detached, disillusioned, cruel without letting those perspectives completely rule the story. We would understand that the world is in trouble morally without the blanket, over-the-top portrayal of it we are given.
I think this is a fair point. I don't think that some portrayals of people not being the way that Rorschach and the Comedian percieve them would've particularly hurt the story either. It would have given it more depth. It would've, more importantly, given a better picture of why the Comedian's "joke" was wrong. His character is not meant to be endearing at all, in my eyes. At times, though probably unintentionally, the book starts to feel like a thesis for The Comedian's fucked up nihilistic view on human depravity.

I still wouldn't call Watchmen a bad piece of the work though. The movie, on the other hand...
 
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reeltoreel

Well-known member
What's wrong with trying to impress the audience?

That desire to impress, the 'betcha can't do this' nature of a lot of Alan Moore's work is what makes it great. Y'know, panache!

And the other thing about Alan Moore is that he's not all that concerned with what you (the reader) want. If he wants you to see the puppeteer, you're bloody well going to see the puppeteer.
 
The story needs to have its own life, not just feel like a vessel for a writer's concerns and ideas.

I want to be impressed by what the puppet is doing (and then I'll praise the puppeteer).
 

reeltoreel

Well-known member
Yeah, fair enough.

I guess I just wanted to point out that the puppeteer plays a pretty important role in all of Moore's work (or so it seems to me).

While I think that Alan Moore has come as close as anyone to realising the idea of the graphic novel, there's still things that word-novels can do better - like lush characterisation.

EDIT - As close as anyone in the mainstream, English-speaking, pop culture world....
 
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UFO over easy

online mahjong
My point is that the comic is detached from the world, the general people we are meant to care about saving and how we save them. It is possible to show the Watchmen as detached, disillusioned, cruel without letting those perspectives completely rule the story. We would understand that the world is in trouble morally without the blanket, over-the-top portrayal of it we are given.
Your point about it being over the top and slightly ridiculous is fair enough, but I would say that Watchmen doesn't purport to portray the real world or anything like it, and that in fact the detachment you talk about is pretty crucial to its premise.

It's a superhero story about superhero stories.. an examination of that kind of detachment that's fairly standard in the genre, and of the implicit assumptions that underpin superhero narratives and are crucial to our enjoyment of them. This was probably slightly more impressive an idea when the book was written, whereas now it's a bit of a cliché. I don't think this film would've been made without Batman Begins.
 
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droid

Guest
The story needs to have its own life, not just feel like a vessel for a writer's concerns and ideas.

I want to be impressed by what the puppet is doing (and then I'll praise the puppeteer).
I think reading Watchmen 25 or so years after it was written would blunt its impact somewhat and remove some of the context - hes on record as being extremely pessimistic about the future of humanity at the time, even speaking about leaving England because of Thatcher... the book's politics are a reflection of the disillusionment he (and many others) felt in the mid 80's.

I read it in the early 90's in my early teens and believe me, there was absolutely nothing else like it in comics back then. Yes its a bit heavy handed with all of its cross-referencing - but at the same time, Moore was reaching for something that had never been done before...
 

Sick Boy

All about pride and egos
It's a superhero story about superhero stories.. an examination of that kind of detachment that's fairly standard in the genre, and of the implicit assumptions that underpin superhero narratives and are crucial to our enjoyment of them.
Particularly when you consider that in your typical superhero story, humanity is mostly portrayed as innocent and defensive lambs that need to be protected from evil by a supremely moral guardian.
 

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
It can be applied to most fiction - and that fiction is bad too. A lot of great works work because they want to inspire, amuse, entertain, educate the audience - not impress it. I feel Moore is too busy trying to earn kudos points to bother with engaging characters and story that could more subtly reveal his points for him.
yeah & other great art works cos it's impressive, aweing, it envelops you. tho anyway it's kinda ironic as the last thing I'd think someone would accuse Alan Moore of is intellectually pandering to his readers.

The story needs to have its own life, not just feel like a vessel for a writer's concerns and ideas.
why? tons of great writing is mainly a vessel for the authors' concerns & ideas. this seems a rather arbitrary demand to make. if you don't like Watchmen or Alan Moore generally whatever but these sweeping statements about what fiction should & shouldn't be & do, I dunno.
 

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
This was probably slightly more impressive an idea when the book was written, whereas now it's a bit of a cliché.
absolutely true - also it's a cliché specifically b/c Alan Moore (& Frank Miller with Dark Knight tho - anyone else?) opened the door for ppl to make it into a cliché in the first place.

droid, that was a good bit about it being divorced from context too - V For Vendetta suffered of course from the same problem only moreso.
 

BareBones

wheezy
i know i'm going to hate this film.

i never understood why it was meant to be so "unfilmable" anyway. What parts could possible be unfilmable? The bits on mars? I mean, if they could do something like 2001 space odyssey in 1969 or whenever it was, i'm sure they could've done a mars scene in the late 80s. The Invisibles - now that's an unfilmable comic. And way better than watchmen too i reckon.
 

Sick Boy

All about pride and egos
i know i'm going to hate this film.

i never understood why it was meant to be so "unfilmable" anyway. What parts could possible be unfilmable? The bits on mars? I mean, if they could do something like 2001 space odyssey in 1969 or whenever it was, i'm sure they could've done a mars scene in the late 80s. The Invisibles - now that's an unfilmable comic. And way better than watchmen too i reckon.
I don't think the concern was whether it'd be physically or technologically impossible to film, but that it'd be impossible to condense the story into the 1.5-3hr framework of a movie and still do it justice.
 
why? tons of great writing is mainly a vessel for the authors' concerns & ideas. this seems a rather arbitrary demand to make. if you don't like Watchmen or Alan Moore generally whatever but these sweeping statements about what fiction should & shouldn't be & do, I dunno.
I said it shouldn't feel like that's all there is to it. I read the Nausicaa manga which is full of the authors' ideas and concerns about war, environment, life, death etc. but they are subsumed into and illuminated by the story - they don't trample on it.

It's not an arbitrary demand at all. Anyway, I felt it was a demand needed to be made of this particular work. Godard's Notre Musique is full of empty characters / personas spouting random philosophical nuggets but it worked.

But why write a story at all if you could write a checklist or an essay showing what you think?
 
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UFO over easy

online mahjong
i don't think it's an arbitrary demand but i'm struggling to see where you're coming from.. watchmen is at its strongest when its examining characters. the actual plot is where, i would say, it's at its weakest. the last few chapters are kind of a letdown compared to first few sections, which are mainly concerned with context and the backgrounds of the characters.

my favourite chapter is actually one of the few that the film skimmed over - the one about the relationship between Rorschach and his analyst after he's been captured. It has very little to do with the plot, which at that point is only just beginning to unravel.

It's similar in a lot of Alan Moore's stuff actually. The background stuff in From Hell is my favourite part of that book as well - the chapter where the Doctor goes on a little tour round London, pointing out patterns of Hawksmoor churches and stuff..
 
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droid

Guest
I said it shouldn't feel like that's all there is to it. I read the Nausicaa manga which is full of the authors' ideas and concerns about war, environment, life, death etc. but they are subsumed into and illuminated by the story - they don't trample on it.

It's not an arbitrary demand at all. Anyway, I felt it was a demand needed to be made of this particular work. Godard's Notre Musique is full of empty characters / personas spouting random philosophical nuggets but it worked.

But why write a story at all if you could write a checklist or an essay showing what you think?
I don't agree with your criticism, but its interesting to see a reference to Nausicca, and i think the ease with which Mayazaki (and other Mangaka) imbue their stories with thematic signifigance and profundity without resort to methods which could be construed as literary pretentions is a reflection of how comics are viewed in Japan as compared to the West - they are simply seen as a highly effective medium for transmitting information (the most effective from a paedogological perspective), so manga has developed to a point where any theme - from the most obtuse and abstract to the most prosaic and ridiculous can be explored without the medium having to prove itself.

What Moore did with Watchmen and other works (V, Halo Jones, even Skizz) was to almost singlehandedly attempt to push Western comics in the same direction, but given his cultural context is was inevitable that the results would be less 'natural' and more bogged down in expectations of what comics for grown ups should be like (dense, literary, convoulted)... Theres a still a long way to go obviously, and his many imitators have pretty much failed to live up to his achievements IMO (Grant Morrison in particular),but as I mentioned above, you can't really underestimate the importance of his achievement with Watchmen...

BTW - I uploaded the entireity of miraclemen/marvelman a few months back. The link is in the comics thread. All moore fans should read it - its kind of a dry run for Watchmen.
 

zhao

there are no accidents
droid did you ever read Big Numbers? i thought it was fucking so brilliant. but i think they only made it to issue 2 and the project ran out of steam or money as it wasnt a good seller?
 
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