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Group Reads Discussions 2009 > Watchmen -- "Watchmen" General Reaction

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message 1: by Michael (new)

Michael (bigorangemichael) | 188 comments Have you started reading? Where are you? Have you read this before? What are your first, general impressions of the work?


message 2: by bsc (new)

bsc (bsc0) | 251 comments My first time reading it and I loved it. I've never been a comic book guy, and have very little exposure to graphic novels so it was a different experience for me. Alan Moore is obviously a genius. I mean, you just have to look at the back of the book to see he's either a genius or a crazy nutjob.

Really excited about the movie, too.


message 3: by Michael (new)

Michael (bigorangemichael) | 188 comments I think Alan Moore is both...genius and a crazy nut job. LOL


message 4: by Jeffrey (last edited Feb 25, 2009 03:36AM) (new)

Jeffrey Jelmeland (Geoffrie) | 16 comments For me this is a return to an old favorite. Watchmen was probably the second graphic novel I ever purchased, but it quickly became a favorite story that I have read many times over the years since I first picked it up. I haven't actually started reading it yet, but it is on the top of my To Read stack.


message 5: by Kristjan (last edited Feb 02, 2009 06:43PM) (new)

Kristjan (BookTroll) | 184 comments Michael wrote: "Have you started reading? Where are you? Have you read this before? What are your first, general impressions of the work?"

Half way ... first time ( not really a comicbook person either, so I do have issues :)

My first impression was a dislike of the rather graphic (and somewhat morbid) depiction of blood in what I felt was a distraction. It did take awhile to figure out some of the thematic uncurrents in the story that are really quite good ( to my surprise).


message 6: by Richard (new)

Richard (MrRedwood) | 164 comments I enjoyed the graphics, but thought the story was simplistic, dull and stylistically overbearing. The only reason I finished the book is because it was supposed to be an important milestone... but I just don't see it.

I've never been a fan of comics or graphic novels -- I was given 300 and didn't really enjoy that one either. If I ever give graphic novels another shot, it'll probably be Maus.

I just don't think graphic novels can carry the complexity that a "real" novel can, and they strain too hard to make up for it with melodrama.


message 7: by Elton (new)

Elton Gahr | 5 comments I have read Watchmen a couple times and I can understand how at the time it was great but I just can't get all that excited about it. I've certainly read far far worse comics, but there are others I've enjoyed more.


message 8: by JuliAnna (new)

JuliAnna | 53 comments I'm only about two thirds through Watchmen. At a couple of points, I have wondered if I would be able to make it through to the end. At others I have thought it was brilliant and had trouble putting it down. I love the use of different types of documents, especially the discussion of the comic within the comic. I like the various cultural and historical references (and I wish I knew more about the history of comics in the U.S.). But, a lot of the execution feels a bit clumsy and crude, and while sometimes the crudeness is used to verygood effect, sometimes it is simply lacking. I wish I had read it when it first came out.


message 9: by Robert (new)

Robert Dunbar It's a wonderful novel, isn't it? Probably the first work to realize the serious potential of the form. Of course, then came "Maus" and the world would never be the same ...


message 10: by Michael (new)

Michael (bigorangemichael) | 188 comments It's interesting to hear the different reactions to the story. I wonder how I might have reacted to the story if I were reading it when originally published (that said, I doubt my parents would have let me given how much more adult the themes of this story are compared to other comic books I read at the time).



message 11: by Neil (new)

Neil Anyone know how the work on the comic was divided? I.e., did Moore basically storyboard everything, then have the illustrator (Gibbons) 'merely' fill in the details? Is it a close collaboration? Or does Moore write a novel and have Moore do the boxing, sequencing etc.


message 12: by Elton (new)

Elton Gahr | 5 comments I don't have any information, but with how picky Moore is about his stuff I have trouble imagining it as a very close collaboration


message 13: by Maggie (new)

Maggie This is the first time that I have read Watchman and a long time since I have read a graphic novel. I really enjoyed this book, I didn't want to put it down. I have mixed feelings about the movie. I will probably end up seeing it, however I get the feeling it could ruin the book for me. Who knows maybe they will be able to pull it off.


message 14: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Jelmeland (Geoffrie) | 16 comments Maggie wrote: "...I have mixed feelings about the movie. ..."

I know exactly what you mean. Too many times in the past movie adaptations have completely trashed the source material, and it could easily happen again. On the other hand, everything I have heard about this upcoming adaptation is that the people wanted to stay loyal to the source material, and the trailers give me some level of hope. In the meantime, read and remind yourself why you enjoyed it before.


message 15: by Richard (last edited Feb 03, 2009 02:42PM) (new)

Richard (MrRedwood) | 164 comments Ah, for those curious about the movie... it's due in 2009. See IMDB.
Photo of Watchmen (2009) with Billy Crudup, Malin Akerman, Matthew Goode, Jackie Earle Haley, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Patrick Wilson. Pictured: Rorschach, Nite Owl II, Silk Spectre II, The Comedian, Dr. Manhattan, Ozymandias. Visit IMDb.com for more info.



message 16: by Bronwyn (new)

Bronwyn (nzfriend) | 55 comments I read this for the first time about a month or so ago, initially because I saw something for the movie and wanted to read it before the movie came out. The only other graphic novels I've read were The Sandman volumes.

I wasn't that impressed. It was confusing in parts and nobody was really that great of a person no matter how hard they tried to be. The characters were all interesting looking, but that's about it. I mean, it was an interesting concept, but I agree with Richard in a different thread that it could've been done much better in a novel where we could hear what the characters were thinking and things like that (I think that's what he said anyhow). I'm still interested in the movie, but unfortunately not as much as I was before I read the graphic novel.


message 17: by Barb (new)

Barb | 4 comments This my first experience reading a graphic novel and I loved it. I began reading with few expectations, but quickly found myself drawn in to the story and by what I found to be complex, multifaceted characters. I’m impressed enough to give another graphic novel a try. Any suggestions? (I’m new to this group. Please disregard if my question is too far off topic.)


message 18: by Allie (new)

Allie Ben wrote: "I mean, you just have to look at the back of the book to see he's either a genius or a crazy nutjob."
Ha, yes - I thought it was Charles Manson at first!

I'm really new to graphic novels too, only having read one of the Hellblazer ones. I've only just started Watchmen, and I find myself skipping from text box to text box thing and skimming over the graphics. I don't even think about it, I'm so unused to reading with pictures there, and have to keep reeling myself in and digesting the entire thing. It'll definitely take a few reads to fully appreciate, but so far I'm enjoying it in a light hearted way.

On the other hand, I'm halfway through another graphic novel called Kabuki, by David Mack, which is an absolute work of art. Every single page is a stunning spread, and the story is amazing. I take ages to fully appreciate each page though, unlike with Watchmen. I really should read more before commenting properly though.




message 19: by Elton (new)

Elton Gahr | 5 comments Kabuki is really good. Not sure if you have someone suggesting graphic novels to you or not but if you do, keep him, he's good at it.


message 20: by Skip (new)

Skip (skipryan) I've been reading graphic novels for about 2 years now and finally got around to reading the Watchmen last fall. To be honest, I didn't really like it--the characters were uni-dimensional and it was so depressing! I did, however, love the concept of the comic book within the comic book. I wonder if they will be able to incorporate that bit into the movie?


message 21: by Skip (new)

Skip (skipryan) Barb wrote: "This my first experience reading a graphic novel and I loved it. I began reading with few expectations, but quickly found myself drawn in to the story and by what I found to be complex, multifacet..."

Oh, so many options! Assuming you like SciFi and Fantasy, I would recommend Fables or The Sandman to start. If you have a comic book store in your area, you could also ask the employees to give you a recommendation--they always know what they're talking about!




message 22: by Denis (new)

Denis | 3 comments I read this book a couple of months ago, all of the hype about the movie got me interested. I really enjoyed this book but couldn't help but feel that I would have enjoyed it much more if I had read it when it first came out. I love the concept of superheros in real life, and examining what kind of a person would actually put on a costume and fight crime. The only reason I found it at all disappointing is because I had other graphic novels I liked better (like my favorite The Sandman). It may be the most important graphic novel considering what it did for the format, but I wouldn't call it the best.


message 23: by Kandice (new)

Kandice My brother read this in serial form and raved about it. He didn't like waiting, and would reread each right before the next came out. I only read it after it was available in graphic novel form. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's hard, being mainly a novel reader, to make myself take the time to really peruse the panels. There is so much to take in.
I think it's a work of genius. I know some feel the characters are one dimensional, but I don't agree. I care for some, am annoyed by others and genuinely dislike still others. I don't see flat characters causing such a range of reactions.
The underlying plot is not at all original, but the story that fleshes it out is.
The comic book within a comic book is teriffic too. I found myself looking forward to those sections. It adds to impending feeling of doom.


message 24: by Laura (last edited Feb 06, 2009 05:44PM) (new)

Laura (QuestionableAdvice) First, I should say that this is my first graphic novel and I wasn't really sure what to expect. I was a little worried that I would have trouble with the format and maybe find myself skimming over the graphics or not feeling any real involvement in the storyline. I do admit to feeling a little bit of relief when I come to one of the text portions and return to my "comfort zone", but I'm also enjoying the contextual information you can pick up from the small details in each frame (they're called frames, right? I'm trying to sound like I know what I'm talking about here). From the newspaper headlines to the "Gunga Diner" takeout litter that seems to fill the city, I'm enjoying the treasure hunt aspect and how much it adds to the story.

I'm not sure what I think of the storyline yet, just that I dislike just about all of the main characters. That's not necessarily a bad thing; I don't require my characters to be likeable for a book to be enjoyable, but I'm finding that the visual element is making the violence harder to take than it would be if it were strictly text. I guess that's why I can read a lot of books I'd never watch as movies.

And I agree, Kandice, the comic book pirate story is good and creepy.


message 25: by Barb (new)

Barb | 4 comments Skip wrote: "Oh, so many options! Assuming you like SciFi and Fantasy, I would recommend Fables or The Sandman to start. If you have a comic book store in your area, you could also ask the employees to give you a recommendation--they always know what they're talking about!"

Skip, thanks so much for the suggestions. I have never thought to read a graphic novel before and probably never would have if not for this month's selection. I'm looking forward to giving another book written in a similar format a try.


message 26: by Michael (new)

Michael (bigorangemichael) | 188 comments From what I understand, Moore sent over detailed scripts to Gibbons, detailing exactly what he wanted. I'm not sure how much input Moore had with Gibbons final drawings, but I do have the new book on Watchman where Gibbons talks about creating the art. I will look and see if there's anything in there.

As for graphic novels, this one is pretty much a pivotal moment in the history of the genre. In many ways I compare it to Blade Runner in the movies. Whether you like or hate it, it's still a point in time and it seems that comics and graphic novels are described as pre and post-Watchmen.

The movie is developing the comic book within the story. But since the movie is running at two and a half hours, that is being released separately on DVD before the film comes out. And I have heard it will be an extra on the eventual DVD/Blu Ray release.



message 27: by Paul (new)

Paul | 1 comments To really understand what the big deal about this graphic novel is, you have to understand where it came from. In the mid 80's, comics were pretty much the same old superhero stuff. DC bought the rights to a few characters from Charlton Comics. They included the Blue Beetle, the Question, Captain Atom and a few others. Alan Moore was going to use these in the story and at the last minute, DC decided they wanted to save the characters for more mainstream use (they haven't been used for much since, though). What Moore did was never even thought about up to this time.

Since then, graphic novels have come a long way. If this book was published for the first time today it might not get the hype it's received. You can debate the merits of the story and art, but this book is one of the seminal pieces of comics work ever done.


message 28: by Meghan (new)

Meghan | 93 comments Well said Paul. I am a comic girl and I love the super hero ones. So for Moore to write a story that pretty much strips the "heros" of all that makes them glorious is a bold and rather shocking move. But in another sense, he humanized what otherwise was mere fantasy.

But I also think the undertones of his thoughts on government and big business were quite interesting, especially considering modern times--like Abu Ghraib. If those photos hadn't come out, would the world have ever known about what went down there? So who is responsible in making sure that the government doesn't overstep its bounds? Where's the line of what is "classified" for national security sake and "classified" for covering one's behind? These are interesting questions Moore raises.


message 29: by Michael (new)

Michael (bigorangemichael) | 188 comments I have to say I find it chilling to look at how the tragedy of what Oxymedias does brings humanity together--at least for a little while. And it makes me think about the national and world-wide reaction to 9/11....

Eerily similar.


message 30: by AK (new)

AK Mama Reads (reniazen) | 5 comments Richard wrote: "I enjoyed the graphics, but thought the story was simplistic, dull and stylistically overbearing. The only reason I finished the book is because it was supposed to be an important milestone... but ..."

I would suggest the Sandman series or Fables, both are great versions of old mythologies and fairy tales. While I myself quite enjoy Alan Moore's comics (though From Hell and V for Vendetta are higher up on my list than Watchmen), I do understand it can be difficult to read.


message 31: by Amy (new)

Amy (amyhageman) | 60 comments Michael wrote: "I have to say I find it chilling to look at how the tragedy of what Oxymedias does brings humanity together--at least for a little while. And it makes me think about the national and world-wide re..."

Michael, I was thinking about those similarities also. I first read the Watchmen this year - I thought the parallel to 9/11 was kind of spooky, in a book published in the 1980's. I think my perspective on this book would have been different had I read it pre-9/11.


message 32: by Katie (new)

Katie Verhaeren | 4 comments While I'm not a graphic novel expert by any means, I really enjoy the form and the possibilities for storytelling it presents. My students and I actually argue about whether or not graphic novels can be considered "novels." I read this partly because of the discussion here, partly because I was interested based on the discussions I had heard related to the movie. I think the look into the unglamorized psyche of "superheroes" is what makes this novel fantastic. When you really think about it, you have to be really screwed up to put on a mask and silly outfit and go fight crime and its no surprise that some characters only end up in a mental downward spiral.


message 33: by Meghan (new)

Meghan | 93 comments I think it takes a certain mentality for anyone to get into law enforcement/military--otherwise we'd all do it. And just reading the newspapers or other novels about it, if you're surrounded by the lowest of the low all the time, it starts to wear on you, whether you want to let it or not.

I think graphic novels are indeed "novels". Anyone else read Persepolis 1 The Story of a Childhood (which has been adapted into an animated movie by the author)? It's a viable device in storytelling--I think you just have to find out what your genre is. Graphic novels aren't solely for the superheros. Ghost World or American Splendor deal with the everyday man.


message 34: by Stuart (new)

Stuart (stuartellis) | 28 comments Reading this thread, the phrase "show, don't tell" popped into my head. Graphics novels are brilliant for showing ideas, distilled into a few images. Google produced a comic recently, to explain their new Web browser, and I think that it works pretty well.

It's interesting that Alan Moore decided to use text sections in Watchmen, so I guess that it demonstrates the different strengths of comics and prose - he must have felt that some things worked better when presented in text.


message 35: by Andrew (new)

Andrew (dad-man) | 6 comments I think this was the most amazing graphic novel i've ever read, and I have an exstensive collection. It well deserves it's place on Time's 100 greatest novels list.


message 36: by Meghan (new)

Meghan | 93 comments I'm a huge fan of this website, ted.com, and they featured Scott McCloud as one of their speakers. I knew him from his DC stint, but he's done a lot in other areas of the comic genre. I thought this was a little relevant to our discussion of graphic novels/comics and if they're really "novels".

Here is his speech at a TED conference:

http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/sc...

And if you're interested, here's his official website:

http://www.scottmccloud.com/1-webcomi...


message 37: by Brad (new)

Brad (judekyle) | 1636 comments TJ wrote: "I read this series when it first came out - as it was coming out - which means a month or more between the 12 issue series. At the time I was a big comic-book reader, and I can say that this serie..."

As much as we call it a graphic novel now, as TJ mentioned The Watchmen was first published as a twelve part "maxi-series." (I actually have them wrapped up and boarded to keep them as close to mint as possible.) I think this is an interesting fact because The Watchmen came out in twelve parts monthly. It wasn't crafted the way some graphic novels are today, as one solid piece, but as a periodical. Interesting that once it was "turned into" a graphic novel it became one of the greats, and certainly furthered the graphic novel genre more than many of the true graphic novels that preceded it.

I have read The Watchmen countless times since its release, and I've taught it (alternating it with V for Vendetta), in my Intro to Literature classes for a decade. It gets better EVERY time I read it. There is so much depth in those pages. My views of the characters have changed over the years, sometimes altered by class discussion, sometimes altered by the shift in me as I age, sometimes altered by my mood at the time of reading.

And I think also that the Watchmen has altered me.


message 38: by Robinhj (last edited Mar 19, 2009 02:25PM) (new)

Robinhj | 28 comments I have tried most of the graphic novel 'classics' and on the whole I don't see the attraction of graphic novels. Many of them just try so hard to be clever and arty that they become unreadable and pretentious but...........

Watchmen is one of the few exceptions. Other exceptions include 'From Hell' and 'The Killing Joke'. Maybe I am just a Alan Moore fan.

I saw the film yesterday and the first 80% is surprisingly good and faithful to the book even if they do expand out a few of the scenes. Unfortunately the last section somehow lost the the whole feel and became just another superhero action film but I will still be keeping an eye out for the DVD release.


message 39: by JuliAnna (last edited Mar 19, 2009 04:29PM) (new)

JuliAnna | 53 comments I think Watchment is well suited to a classroom, given all the cultural, historical and scientific references. Somehow this kind of forum doesn't lend itself to discussing those aspects as well as I wish it did. Still, my reading definitely benefited from what I did learn here from folks who knew more about the history of comics and the context in which Watchmen was written.


message 40: by Libby (new)

Libby | 271 comments Just going this discussion - mid-way through Watchmen and I'm pretty amazed. I will certainly have to read this a few times. There is simply layer, upon layer of thought provoking material. I'm reading it by "chapter" in order to get the comic series feel of it. I just finished the chapter with Manhattan discussing the past/present/future. Quite powerful. I bet it makes for brilliant classroom discussion - so many different cultural and ethical issues.


message 41: by Brad (new)

Brad (judekyle) | 1636 comments Libby wrote: "Just going this discussion - mid-way through Watchmen and I'm pretty amazed. I will certainly have to read this a few times. There is simply layer, upon layer of thought provoking material. I'm rea..."

The real trick I've found when using it in the classroom is avoiding getting bogged down by discussion of plot. Things are so intricate that people often want to focus on the "what" of the book (as in what's happening) and not the more interesting cultural, ethical and historical issues. But if the conversations can be kept on track...wow. Some great stuff happens.



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