Watchmen: The Little Graphic Novel that Could

41CzzBxS-ZL._SS500_When my brother was applying to college this past year, one of the essays he had to write asked: Name one novel that changed your life. Explain how.

His answer: Watchmen

Some of you may be asking, “Isn’t that a comic book?” Well, technically, the entirety of the collection is consider a graphic novel. Still, yes, what makes a “comic book” worthy of such praise? Well, you’ll have to read it. But here’s an inside peek into the genius behind Watchmen

Created by Alan Moore (who also wrote V for Vendetta), Dave Gibbins, and John Higgins, this little 12 issue comic book series grew into one of the most popular graphic novels of all time. This is the best example to depict the impact of graphically represented novels. The first, and only, graphic novel to receive the Hugo Award (1988), was also listed as “one of Time Magazine‘s 100 Best Novels”. It rocked the comic book industry by destroying the “superhero” image and questioning the sanity of the super human. Each character has their own outlook on their role as “the watchmen”, representing different ideologies in the psychological and philosophical realm of literature. Yet, Moore layers this upon an semi-accurate depiction of the historical and political turmoil of the 1940’s through the 60’s. The Vietnam War and threat of nuclear attack set the tense tone throughout the novel, in which the superheros must thrive. The subplot of the pirate comic serves to further this feeling of impending doom, which, Moore implies, is only a figment of our imagination.This combination of literary techniques pays tribute Watchmen‘s outstanding plot and graphic design. Beautifully formatted, with camera-like shots all woven between articles and readings to further our understanding of Moore’s Armageddon, the novel lends itself to many forms of literary and artistic interpretation, and applies greatly to our contemporary world.

If these aren’t enough reasons to go buy/barrow the book right now, I have one word for you: Rorschach. Now, we can all sit here and argue about how accurately he was portrayed in the film (which came out in 2009 directed by Zach Snyder, and personally I thought it was AWESOME!). Nonetheless, with out a doubt, he is one of the more disturbing and badass characters in the history of comics. The book opens with a passage from his journal:

“Dog carcass in alley this morning, tire tread on burst stomach. This city is afraid of me. I have seen its true face. The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown. The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout ‘save us!’… and I’ll look down, and whisper ‘no.'”

Sends chills down your spine. So go read it!

About Clarissa Keen

Clarissa Keen (CAS '11) is a literature writer for the Quad.

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