Thursday, February 12, 2009

What is Watchmen about again?

"What is watchmen about?" someone may ask. "Well, uh, its kind of a murder mystery with superheroes, there's like a love story in there, and there's this blue dude who can do anything, and there's about to be a world war..."

No, no, that's just the plot. What is Watchmen about?

Watchmen is about fear. It is about loss. It's about the fear of losing that which you love most. It is about nostalgia; the rose colored glasses you look through where that love is involved. And how sometimes you will do almost anything to hang onto it.

Watchmen is about comics.

Really, it is. It's about an industry that cannibalizes itself over and over, where each successive generation of fans grows smaller and smaller. It's about how the longer you read comics, the more you'll hate them because they'll never be as good as when you remember them having the most impact on your childhood imagination. It's about how no crisis, no reboot, no creator, no matter how powerful, will turn the tide. And most of all it's about the foolish notion that any one man has the answer to make it all better. It is here, in what is either a moment of ultimate hubris or ultimate premonition, that writer Alan Moore condemns both himself and the very story he is writing. It's Brilliant, with a capital B.

I certainly won't say the over-arching metaphor doesn't mean different things to different people, but the book is most definitely about comics. On a larger level comics itself is the metaphor for anything that we loved and longed for in "the good old days" and that's what makes Watchmen so powerful. The fact that the hidden metaphor is comic books, and Watchmen itself is a comic book is what brings Watchmen to its level of "whoa."

There are plenty of people who discuss this in depth with far more scholarly aplomb than I. If you've never done so, and look for an inkling that is the depths of Watchmen, I suggest you poke around the web and read up on things a bit. It will certainly enhance your enjoyment.

Wikipedia: Watchmen
Watchmen Wiki
Watchmen Discussion with Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
The Annotated Watchmen
Notes on Watchmen

These are just a few I found in a passive search. You have to dig a little deeper now that the movie info dominates google searches, but it's out there if you're interested.

by Alan Moore + Dave Gibbons

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