Andrew Hamm: the Bipolar Express

Ruminations on theatre, music, and just about anything else that crosses my bipolar brain.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Why You Should Read "Watchmen"

(I just posted this over at HCRealms, in response to the question "Why should I read Watchmen," and thought it should go here too. I haven't written about comics in a long time, after all...)

Watchmen is one of a very small handful of pieces of comic art that undeniably deserves discussion as one of the great works of 20th Century literature. Watchmen is in a very small handful of works such as Maus, The Dark Knight Returns, the Wolverine limited series, and Squadron Supreme (which deals with similar issues in a more pure-comic way) that rise above the rest.

Watchmen is that rare combination of "incredibly important" and "fun as hell to read." The only thing more awesome than reading it the first time is reading it the second time--which you will want to do the moment you turn the last page the first time.

I strongly disagree with those who suggest skipping the interstitial sections. They are essential. Watchmen shouldn't be read in one sitting; in fact, it shouldn't be read more than one chapter as a time. Read a chapter, read the interstitial material after the chapter, then take a break and do something else before moving on.

It's fun to see just how much of today's comics are essentially re-telling Watchmen over and over again. As much as I enjoy Warren Ellis, pretty much all of his pet themes come from Alan Moore, and from Watchmen in particular. Brian Michael Bendis' dialogue owes much to the conversational tone of Watchmen's un-powered superheroes. Nothing clarifies modern comic storytelling like reading Watchmen.

It's the superhero Lord of the Rings, and everything since is The Belgariad and Sword of Shanarra--pretty good books, but not exactly Tolkien.

It will change the way you look at the possibilities of what comic art can do. Watchmen is the ultimate example of how comics can do things that novels and movies can't even touch. No comic story I have ever seen mines the possibilities of comic storytelling a tenth as much as Watchmen. Every panel contributes; every word is carefully chosen; every page is essential.

It will remind you about everything you ever loved about comics. It's just effing great. Some people don't like it. I have no idea why. Watchmen is the ultimate funnybook. Drop what you're reading and start reading it now.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home