Tuesday, 3 March 2009
Watchmen, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. I'm reading this for Nymeth's mini-challenge for March. I'm just finishing Chapter 3. I am in awe. I had no idea it was going to be this good. And make no mistake - this is really good fantasy, dark stuff, the stuff that is gritty and noir and filled with heroes and men trying to be more than they are, and the humour is as black as it gets and good. If I were to have a conversation with the part of me that wants to be a superhero - and believe me, I have a part to my nature that wishes I could fly and rescue people and save the world - my super alter ego would be like the dark nature of this book. I know it would. I am sarcastic in my real life, and while I come across as someone who laughs a lot, it's because underneath I'm aware of how twisted life can be, and how much pain we end up being a part of by being in this world. That's what this graphic novel is like. It's bittersweet, it's wry, it's funny, it's dark , it's got superheros who are flawed. This book is as much about relationships and people's secrets as it is about saving the world. There are subtexts, that deepen the stories being written about, exploring say, love, or aging, from different points of view. All kinds of stories are being played out across the pages. The illustrations themselves add another whole layer to the story, and frequently the words are set in direct contrast with the illustrations, creating still another level of meaning on each page and often, each square of story. There is a tremendous feeling of world-weary truth you get when you've saved the world and it's not enough because the world will need saving again. It's good, it's dark, and I'm so happy I finally let myself read it!
And if you haven't yet, please go out and try it. It is marvelous writing and storytelling and art all together in one book.
And this is just at then end of chapter 3!!
I also have to say that even though it was written in 1985, there is a timeless quality to it - even the headlines in the papers, written for then, still apply now - possible war in Afghanistan, Russians moving, threat of nuclear war - headlines we still have now. I don't know if that means that the human race hasn't moved forward at all, or if the writers picked up on essential stories that perhaps the world is still wrestling with, something that we now know won't be solved easily - but there it is, front and square in the graphic novel, and no one in charge in the world (ie the US President, the UN) know quite how to handle it. La plus ca change........so this novel is relevant still today, and it gives a haunting feel to the novel. Will we ever figure out the answer?