Tim

Will YOU watch the Watchmen?

In Comics, General on 02 March, 2009 at 12:08 am

Rather than continue my history of “comics and me”, I thought I would write about something else tonight… I just realised that this week a highly anticipated movie comes out…

Even more anticipated, dreaded, cheered, pre-judged and hyped than either The Lord of the Rings or The Dark Knight

I’m talking of course of Zack Snyder’s adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Graphic Novel (or 12-issue “maxi” series of comics, depending on your point of view) Watchmen.

For those of us who read the book (and I use that term with good reason) either when it first came out, or in the early nineties, it was a bombshell of a comic. Here were two British creators who had taken the superhero concept, placed it in an alternate world just like ours, but subtly different. “The Superman does exist, and he is American!” was the news story from the forties that changed the world of the Watchmen. The USA won the Vietnam war. It is 1985, and Nixon is still in power. Cars are electric. Kids read Pirate Comics, because Superhero comics were competing with real Superheroes in the news. It had nudity, swearing, rape, murder, broken limbs, and an oppressive right-wing American government still locked in a Cold War with the USSR and edging closer and closer to nuclear Armageddon (the clock motif represents a “Doomsday Clock” slowly ticking closer to midnight…).

Compared to “Superman the Movie” it was like comparing “The Untouchables” to “Murder, She Wrote“…

The book has many stories interwoven throughout a core detective story of one vigilante hero (“Masks” have been outlawed) trying to solve the murder of another ex-hero, “The Comedian”… The yellow “Smiley” badge with a blood splatter on the corner became a symbol recognised by comic geeks all over the world.

The problem that I’m facing is the same one that I had before “The Fellowship of the Ring” (Part one of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, as you well know 😉 )came out. I had seen the trailers. I loved Peter Jackson as a director, having seen all his previous films, but couldn’t help worrying if his vision would come close to my vision of a book that I have read about seven or eight times in the last 20 years, and loved utterly. (I know, sad old geek… 😦 )

I came out of the cinema that time grinning from ear-to-ear, having adored every minute of it.

The problem is, this is a Graphic Novel, not a Novel. It utilises the form to perfection, pushing the storytelling into new patterns and styles that hadn’t really been used before. Re-reading Watchmen is a necessity to getting to more and more out of it. There are so many incidental characters, whose stories are told in glimpses and then stitched together in text pieces at the end of each chapter, while whole pages are given over to a pirate comic being read by a boy at a newsstand, who pops up throughout the story, from the first chapter to the last…

I know that like Tom Bombadil was dropped from the Fellowship film, various stories will be lost (like the artists on the island bit), and it occurred to me that I didn’t want to have read the comic first. The trailers look fantastic. The world they’ve created looks like the comic. The costumes look spectacular, and the actors seem fine (I prefer a no-Name cast, if offers less distractions and the actors work harder (look at Star Wars!).

I’m going to try and see it in the next couple of weeks with my wife. She’s keen, she’s seen the trailers, and she’s heard about the book (hell, in the last 15 years, she must have seen me read it half a dozen times!) but I’ve told her that she’d be better off reading it after she’s seen the film… I think she’ll appreciate it a bit more… And if you haven’t read it yet, wait until after the film… and remember: “READ THE TEXT BITS TOO!” (that’s the wordy bits at the end of the picture-y bit, okay? There’s only twelve of them, it’s not that hard) 😉

Now if only WordPress had an keystroke for a Watchmen Smiley… B)

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