Sunday, February 8, 2009


Fan-Freaking-Tastic. That is the only proper way I can start a post on Watchmen. I loved this graphic novel from beginning to end. It has everything - amazing story, well developed characters, twists and turns, humor, interesting and innovative panel perspectives, everything! My favorite aspect of Watchmen is that every detail matters, which is obvious from the very beginning when the focus is a close up of something very small - the Comedian's Smiley Face pin - and then zooms out. This happens through out the entire story. The little details are actually huge and crucial to the overall story. For this post I am going to focus on panel perspectives, the cover, and my favorite character, The Comedian.

I think the best example of how innovative and different the panel perspectives in watchmen are on pages 11 and 18 of Chapter five - where we are literally looking through Rorschach's eyes. This is a whole new level of first person narrative! Even though Watchmen has been called "the unfilmable graphic novel" the panels are very cinematic to me. On page 21 of Chapter 3, the first three panels are different angles/closeups of the Dr. Manhattan. This zooming in and out between panels reminded me very much of a camera. The Dr. Manhattan scenes were always very intriguing. By going back and forth between the present and memories you could almost see as Jon does. It was like being inside the character's minds and following their thought process through images. This is hard to do with words much less panels! But somehow Moore and Gibbons were able to do it very successfully.

The Cover itself is like a panel that connects to the entire first two pages of the story. Each panels moves further and further back from the Comedian's smiley face until we are just over the detective's head. Therefore the graphic novel actually begins before you even open the book!

Although Watchmen is full of interesting characters, I found myself most drawn to the Comedian - who is dead before the story begins. I could really sympathize with Sally because as much as I should hate him I liked him the most. Now this might be because I find characters with questionable morality the most fascinating but then I probably should like Adrian Veidt the most! But the reason why I liked Edward Blake is the same reason why most of the other characters admired him - he understood society and accepted it as a big joke. Whenever he did something "bad" such as assaulting Sally I would feel disappointed in him but not angry. The fact that I was trying to make excuses for a fictional person shows how well Moore created his characters. The end of the novel was fantastic because since the assistant was wearing a shirt with the smiley face while discovering Rorschach's journal it was like the Comedian got the last laugh - like he always said he would.

I'm very excited for the movie. I think the most interesting parts will be how they show Laurie realizing that her father is Blake and if they are able to show how all of the small details tie into the big picture. I am optimistic. I think the casting was great - especially Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the Comedian.


  1. Courtney,

    I love it that you included THE COMEDIAN's graphic design as your opening to your BLOG report on the WATCHMEN -- especially since Edward Blake is your favorite character.

    Good comments. I am appreciative that you include page numbers with your comments.

    You did a nice job commenting on the "SMILEY FACE" and its importance in the opening sequence. You want to quickly flip through the whole book and look for how Gibbons sneaked in the SMILEY FACE: Chapter 6, page 25, panel 6; Chapter 9, page 27, panel 2, etc. And, how the YELLOW circle creeps in: clock, moon, etc.

    I have a theory that the COVER can be viewed as a RORSCHACH TEST -- as the reader does not know what the image is until s/he turns the page to read the graphic novel.

    And, I agree that Jeffrey Dean Morgan makes a potential great COMEDIAN. Oh, I noticed Edward Blake's middle name is MORGAN....


  2. Courtney,

    I was interrupted by a phone call and did not get to finish my WATCHMEN post to you.

    I loved it that you connected with "the assistant wearing a shirt with the SMILEY FACE while he is discovering Rorschach's journal" And you observation that the Comedian got the last laugh -- like he always said he would."


  3. Also, I just re-read this commentary on the SMILEY FACE:

    "A blood-stained smiley face is a recurring image in the story, appearing in many forms. In The System of Comics, Thierry Groensteen described the symbol as a recurring motif that produces "rhyme and remarkable configurations" by appearing in key segments of Watchmen, notably the first and last pages of the series. Groensteen cites it as one form of the circle shape that appears throughout the story, as a "recurrent geometric motif" and due to its symbolic connotations. Gibbons created a smiley face badge as an element of The Comedian's costume in order to "lighten" the overall design, later adding a splash of blood to the badge to imply his murder. Gibbons said the creators came to regard the blood-stained smiley face as "a symbol for the whole series", noting its resemblance to the clock ticking up to midnight. Moore drew inspiration from psychological tests of behaviorism, explaining that the tests had presented the face as "a symbol of complete innocence." With the addition of a blood splash over the eye, the face's meaning was altered to become simultaneously radical and simple enough for the Watchmen first issue's cover to avoid human detail. Although most evocations of the central image were created on purpose, others were coincidental. Moore mentioned in particular that "the little plugs on the spark hydrants, if you turn them upside down, you discover a little smiley face".