Watchmen: I don't understand the hype/big circle jerk

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Postby wonkabar on Mon Aug 13, 2007 10:03 pm

Did you get a copy yet Raul?
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Postby RaulMonkey on Mon Aug 13, 2007 10:16 pm

Not quite yet, but I'm pretty sure they have it at this bookstore right by where I work. I'll check it out tomorrow. Thanks for the encouragement.
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Postby magicmonkey on Mon Aug 13, 2007 10:29 pm

DDMAN26 wrote:I appreciate challenging complex work but sometimes you can too far.


Dude!!! It's a comic!!! Stay away from books yo?!
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Postby DDMAN26 on Mon Aug 13, 2007 10:52 pm

I think you just don't go into Watchmen blindly. I think you actually have to prepare yourself to read it. There were several times where I had to read the same panel three or four times just to see if I understood what I was reading.

And I read plenty of books and I make it through most of them. Some do take longer to read and to absorb. The only book I tried to read but gave up on was Dune.

Correct that it there was a second book-The Similarion. If you made it through that I envy you.

Okay back to the topic.
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Postby Blondie on Mon Aug 13, 2007 10:54 pm

Thats sounds like really hard work :wink:
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Postby Pacino86845 on Tue Aug 14, 2007 3:24 am

Word on the street is that Blondie read Dune at least five times, and has written two books on the subject, analysing the minutae of Herbert's universe.
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Postby RaulMonkey on Mon Aug 20, 2007 1:20 am

wonkabar wrote:Did you get a copy yet Raul?


RaulMonkey wrote:Not quite yet, but I'm pretty sure they have it at this bookstore right by where I work. I'll check it out tomorrow. Thanks for the encouragement.


All right, I did indeed pick it up the day after these posts. I've read Chapter One and appreciate it so far, but I've got about four books on the go right now, so I've decided to plow through the rest of DEATHLY HALLOWS before anything else.
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Postby DennisMM on Mon Aug 20, 2007 1:39 am

The book definitely gains value with additional readings. I read it in serialized form and the first issue took about an hour to read, which was roughly the amount of time I spent on the first issue of Dark Knight and the first few issues of American Flagg!. The difference is that DK #2 took about half an hour and Flagg! became a quicker read after the first story ended and I knew how to read its unusual layouts, multiple typefaces and overlapping dialogue. Watchmen didn't get much easier. In fact, as each issue came out I would read the entire series to that point so I was up to speed each month.

After all, everything in the book means something - but not everything means very much. (Alan Moore, paraphrased)
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Postby Chilli on Fri Jan 04, 2008 7:16 am

I finally read this book through... then read it again... and again.

Want to know how much I dig it? I teared up slightly when Moloch died, and found the final part between Mother and Daughter absolutely jaw-droppingly beautiful. One of the best things I've ever read, and so far beyond certain structurally complex works out there that its hilarious.

The hype IS justified, and I'll try and do a full review, of everything, later.
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Postby Fawst on Fri Jan 04, 2008 11:50 am

Nice, Chilli! Glad to hear that you enjoyed it as much as (if not more than) a lot of us :) I plan on reading it again a few more times before the film comes out.
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Postby Chilli on Fri Jan 04, 2008 4:56 pm

Watchmen

I remember being told about this book for years. About how brilliant it was, about how literary it was, about how Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (and Frank Miller) helped shape the comic-book world we see today, adding complexity, textuality, and structure (both emotional, cognitive, and in terms of psychoanalytical meaning) that hadn't really been done before in the context of a deconstruction of the superhero genre (at least to my knowledge, if you know of a way then feel free to prove me wrong), and revolutionised a genre.

It did this for the good, and the worse. There's been a lot of bad imitators over the years, a lot of characters needlessly given complexion when their stories were only ever designed as ecapist fluff. That only reinforces that works must be taken on their own merit, and a stylistic function shouldn't be shoe-horned into a piece of writing, or art, without careful thought.

When I first read Watchmen, I thought it was pretensiously up its own ass and monsterously infuriating. There were bits I liked, but it felt so alien in terms of its intent. Whereas others saw a story with maturity and intextutality, I saw something which sat on the page and sporadically spat out dialogue which read like a sledgehammer to the face in terms of coherent meaning, as well as some writing choices which felt thrown in to make it feel darker. In short, I was incredibly disappointed that I didn't enjoy it, as well as disturbed that the comic-book had become something the majority of fans saw as a classic. It was similar to my first experience of reading an LXG comic-book, where I felt it was cold and distant to the eye, something which I couldn't relate to in any way, shape, or form because it was so based in a literary approach.

Then I posted a (less wordy and paraphrased) version of the above here, and people disagreed. They told me why they disagreed, but I couldn't agree with them. I vowed to re-read it, to figure out where I went wrong, but couldn't. It never came alive. To me, it sat there expecting me to do the hard work, not wanting to reward me with anything other than a symbol or a short snatch of superb dialogue (of which there was some, second time around.) I actually recall getting in some incredibly heated arguements about it. I'm a naturally volatile chap, so it doesn't take much to get me going, especially when my opinion was being questioned. Now I realise that wasn't the case at all, rather that people wanted to make me see that while I didn't like it, dismissing it wasn't the right idea because it had such meaning and layers beyond what you see.

In The Prestige, we're advised to look closely, to see beyond the world that we're being shown and peer into the cracks that are evident. I didn't do this first or second (or even third, fourth and fifth) time, but then I went on a trip through the New Year to Italy, and it led me to one of the best reading experiences of my life, a catharthic moment that made me fall in love with a piece of art.

Watchmen, if you push for it, is a tale of such beautiful complexity that it will send a shiver down your spine. Its a story that is designed to challenge your conceptions of right or wrong, to make you question morality, to make you think about moral ambiguity, and political, sociological and psychological viewpoints beyond their terminology and into their representation. To think about religion, extremism, fascism, totalitarianism, dictatorships, politicians, romance, heroism and what being a vigilante means. Not just why something is done, or for what reason, but how a mind can rationalise that the decision made is made for the right reasons. About how a child is born; a one in a million occurance where the birth of a child comes about against all odds, against all logic, against every moralistic fibre of society which tells us that we aren't allowed to feel a certain way, but someone felt it anyway and it crystalised itself in a miracle.

It also contains great moments. Moloch dying, the death of Edward Blake, the moments with Laurie and Jon on Mars, Laurie and her Mother at the end. The book connects these into a hole, every single fabric of the story merged into a whole that pulsates with life, with meaning, with the nature of a full-blown society within a comic-book page. It gets better, moral standpoints presented and none chagrined, just shown as they are and revealing complexities behind characters in the form of flashbacks, time distortion, world creation and destruction at the hands of a man who sums up the brilliance of the work.

Adrian Veidt does something so insanely, amazingly evil that in any other comic-book he would be a sinner, a monster, someone who our heroes would kill and be right to kill. But the masterstroke, the thing that makes this more than a mere comic-book, is that just for a second... one second... it makes him right. It makes him the saviour of the entire universe, a hero, a man who singlehandedly ended the wars that threatened to destroy the Earth. And even better still, it doesn't matter if you think he's ultimately right, because the comic-book doesn't condone his actions. The heroes MIGHT understand them, but they don't comprehend them, and they realise that the moral quandry they are in is more than man was meant to go through, a point emphasised near the end when Jon tells Veidt nothing ends, and we get that awesome panel of Veidt realising that this peace won't last, and eventually he will become a forgotten figure, a footnote in the lower texts of history.

So we have terrific characters, a story that goes against the nature of the genre, and a rich history that is so damn good and well-written that it makes even minor characters such as Byron intriguing enough to make you almost wish they'd tell another story, while retaining the knowledge that Watchmen is the best start to end comic-book story of all time, a work that is so symbolic, so resonant, and so fantastic that we are able to sympathise with a man who tried to commit rape, who shot a pregnant woman, who killed kids, and yet couldn't understand (until it was too late) the concept of peace through killing.

An outstanding piece.
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Postby DinoDeLaurentiis on Mon Jan 07, 2008 11:50 am

Very nice post paisan... very nice inna'deed.
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Postby Chilli on Mon Jan 07, 2008 3:21 pm

Only thing that bugs me is I didn't delve into Doc Manhattan as much as I could've, but that could've dragged things on a few pages too many.
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Postby DennisMM on Mon Jan 07, 2008 4:46 pm

Chilli, the book is so full of points to discuss that you just can't do it in a short review or analysis. Don't feel bad.

Wanna discuss dogs and their symbolism in Watchmen? You first!
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Postby Chilli on Mon Jan 07, 2008 4:53 pm

Heh, a challenge.

Well the dead dogs are the catalyst for the change in Rorschach's personality on the surface, but if you dig deeper you can see them as the innocent victims fighting for scraps of the dead; fighting for territory. Which is what all the superpowers end up doing throughout the book, only stopped when a man takes charge and proceeds to stop them fighting each other and fighting a common foe.

They're caught between the bad (the murderer) and the good (the first incarnation of Rorschach), in the same way that the people who died are caught between people who think they're in the moral right (the superpowers), and a man who kills the few for the many.
Bison: [to his architect] The temple above us was the wonder of the ancient world. Bisonopolis shall be the wonder of my world. But I think the food court should be larger. All the big franchises will want in.
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Postby DennisMM on Mon Jan 07, 2008 5:02 pm

Include "dead dog in gutter this morning, tire tread across burst stomach." and win bonus points!

I probably screwed up the quote. Gimme a bit. I'm at work and need to get to my break so I can think on this.
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Postby Chilli on Mon Jan 07, 2008 5:06 pm

'Dog carcass in alley this morning, tire tread on burst stomach.'

I have The Watchmen by my laptop. Replete with scrawlings on page one I did trying to see whether it can be visualised and prepped script-wise for an adaptation.
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Postby DennisMM on Mon Jan 07, 2008 7:37 pm

Immediately after mentioning the dog, Rorschach writes that the city fears him, as he has seen its true face. He truly became Rorschach after he investigated the horrible kidnapping and killed the dogs. Did he see something, in the dogs, that we're not privy to? On page one is he practicing haruspicy via the entrails of the hated dog? Rorschach makes a dire prediction for the city, but that wouldn't require much thought on his part.

Rorschach butchers the dogs in a frenzy - I think because the victim was a young child. An older girl would have repulsed him. Women are whores, after all. It seems unlikely he'd have given special thought to a butchered adult after ten years of crime fighting. So the dogs are truly victims, on the surface and deeper, of Rorschach's rage and psychosis. They become victims because a man who loves them loves nothing else. Rorschach becomes a victim for the same reason. His mind cannot contain that a man so devoted to his dogs could discard a little girl.

I need to look for dog references. I remember that while searching Veidt's office, Dreiberg and Rorschach have an exchange about Veidt and Hitler both being vegetarians. Is there a Hitler loved dogs reference somewhere? Hurm.

Chilli, if you've come to enjoy the book as much as it seems, and you have a little cash, get yourself a copy of the Absolute edition. Sweet stuff, if not so sweet as the leather-bound edition from the late '80s.
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Postby Alex DeLarge on Mon Jan 07, 2008 9:49 pm

Hey Dennis I'd love to read your essay, you seem to have an interesting and well thought out take on Watchmen.

As for if it lives up to the hype: OF COURSE. Watchmen connects with me emotionally, and challenges me intellectually and philosophically, like no other comic and my appreciation and love for it is on par with any of my favorite novels.
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Postby DennisMM on Mon Jan 07, 2008 10:19 pm

Alex, it's posted in the Watchmen movie news thread, here. I hope you enjoy it.

Warning: Lots of typos.
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Postby Vegeta on Tue Jan 08, 2008 12:16 am

Chilli and Dennis, you're recent exchange in regards to Watchman have inspired me to go and pick it up this week.
Thanks!
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Postby Chilli on Tue Jan 08, 2008 3:35 am

I probably will, Dennis. Need to save up a fair bit first (there's a graphic novel also containing all Frank Miller's Daredevil I want to get), but its definitely worth it.

Favourite part is how each character has a totally different philosophical mindset. Not many have that in comics. They try to, but its usually a minor difference. Here, you can't imagine any two characters reacting the exact same way to a situation. Hence Dan wanting to talk and Rorschach wanting to kill Veidt at the end.
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Postby Pacino86845 on Tue Jan 08, 2008 9:56 am

Excellent review Chilli. I'm glad you gave Watchmen another shot, and even more glad that you enjoyed it so much!
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Postby Chilli on Tue Jan 08, 2008 10:20 am

Cheers boss. Looking forward to seeing how it works filmed.
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Postby DennisMM on Tue Jan 08, 2008 11:56 am

I'd very much like to hear Rorschach's voice. Are they going to dub it as if there's nothing over his face, as the Wachowskis did with V? I've thought for some time that the creepiness of R's voice was at least in part due to it being muffled. You'd have to strain and concentrate to listen to him. Since he's always Rorschach, even without his face, I'd imagine that way of speaking carries over to when he's not in costume. I hope they stick with the flatness and lack of affect described in the book. The only emotion Rorschach knows is rage, and even that is muted by his exacting methods.
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Postby Chilli on Tue Jan 08, 2008 11:58 am

There's a great YouTube video where Alan Moore reads some of the dialogue in the voice he intended. Granted its difficult to enjoy the accent in terms of the character, but the little pauses he uses add a lot to the character.
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Postby DennisMM on Tue Jan 08, 2008 12:00 pm

I'll have to look for that. Thanks, Chilli.
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Postby WalterBunny on Tue Jan 08, 2008 12:44 pm

Looking for the Alan Moore video, I came across this little gem...

I wonder if the guy was trying to be serious or not. Coz I laughed.

Hard.
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Postby DennisMM on Tue Jan 08, 2008 2:35 pm

I really hope the movie's R looks better than the test shot Snyder dropped into the 300 trailer. The mask may just pull over the head, but it can't look that way. It has to follow the line of the jaw, under the chin, or the head loses definition.

That was rather funny. I doubt R is a Kansas fan. Decadent pigs.
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Postby Chilli on Tue Jan 08, 2008 2:37 pm

I just hope we don't wind up with the group being called 'The Watchmen' instead of the group names used in the graphic novel.
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Postby DennisMM on Tue Jan 08, 2008 2:41 pm

Last I knew, if they are using the Tse script, the 1960s "New Crimebusters of America" that never came together in the book are considered to have been a team in the '70s, called The New Watchmen. Variations on that idea go all the way back to the Hamm script.

ETA: At least Tse stayed with Laurie as Silk Spectre rather than use the Slingshot identity Hayter created.


ETA2: We probably should keep movie talk in the movie news thread.
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Postby Chilli on Tue Jan 08, 2008 2:51 pm

Makes sense.

Okay - so who do people think is right in the comic-book?
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Postby WalterBunny on Wed Jan 09, 2008 1:55 am

Chilli wrote:Okay - so who do people think is right in the comic-book?


Certainly not Veidt. His "solution" was a bit too much "Final Solution" for my tastes.

I identify with Dan Dreiberg. A guy who's trying to do the best he can while secretly holding on to a past that could almost be considered glorious.

That, and the fact that women in costume does it for me...
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Postby DennisMM on Wed Jan 09, 2008 2:52 am

Yes, but Dreiberg comes to the conclusion that he cannot reveal Veidt's machinations for fear the world will topple over into nuclear war.

As I wrote in my essay, I can't say for certain that Veidt was wrong. Yes, he killed three million people. However, they were random New Yorkers rather than members of a race, creed or culture, so he's not guilty of genocide, just murder on an unimaginable scale. Three million goes into six billion 2000 times. So Veidt killed one-twentieth of one percent of the population to save the other six billion.

And he knows he's damned. He dreams the Black Freighter is coming for him. He will continue to enjoy the fruits of his labors, but he feels every death, though in a shallow manner. He's become a monster, but I can't say that given the circumstances I wouldn't consider the same option.

Dreiberg is the identification character, though Moore claims he was not meant to be. Notice, however, that Dreiberg has no biographical chapter. We can impose on him meaning and motivation more than on the other characters.

Rorschach announces that humans make our world. "This rudderless world is not shaped by vague metaphysical forces. it is not God who kills the children. Not fate that butchers them or destiny that feeds them to the dogs. It's us. Only us." Manhattan believes in predestination and free will at once. "Perhaps the world is not made. Perhaps nothing is made. Perhaps it simply is, has been, will always be there ... a clock without a craftsman." These two characters are at such removes from the typical human that they cannot speak much sense in the bizarre situation.

The closest anyone came to being right, I think, was Blake. He sees what is happening, what Veidt means to accomplish, and it puts him over the edge. He knows the situation on Veidt's islan is too absurd for his superiors to believe, too big for Blake to stop with a small team, too dangerous to allow him to confront Veidt. So he drinks himself half into the grave, accepting the inevitability of Veidt's plan.
Blake, before his death, admits he doesn't understand what's happening. It's so far outside his experience that he literally can't handle knowing about Veidt's plan. "I mean, what's funny? What's so goddamned funny? I don't get it. Somebody explain ... somebody explain it to me." Blake also reaches a point where he's forced to admit his powerlessness. But he tries to use some of his power, even if that sentences him and Moloch to death.
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Postby WalterBunny on Wed Jan 09, 2008 2:55 am

Wow. I didn't put in anywhere near that much thought into it. All I was doing was going for a crappy joke.

Now I feel like an ass. :oops:
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Postby DennisMM on Wed Jan 09, 2008 3:13 am

I thought your response was thoughtful, though brief. And a joke often is a good extra.
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Postby Chilli on Wed Jan 09, 2008 5:03 am

I think the fun is that we could call anyone 'the hero' of the piece, because in the confines of Watchmen there is no clear cut good and bad, which is what makes it so good. Veidt isn't a traditional hero, but he ends world peace; whereas Rorscach is the costumed vigilante who loses concept of the law and kills anyone who gets in his way (including several cops). It turns things on its head so much its scary.

As for Dan... the arguement that he's a bored rich guy looking for a fix, and that he could have helped humanity a lot if he spread his wealth around is a fascinating one.
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Postby CeeBeeUK on Sat Jan 12, 2008 7:57 pm

DennisMM wrote:Chilli, if you've come to enjoy the book as much as it seems, and you have a little cash, get yourself a copy of the Absolute edition. Sweet stuff, if not so sweet as the leather-bound edition from the late '80s.



Chilli, if you are interested, Forbidden Planet have the Absolute Edition in the sale for £39.99. I'm not sure of the usual price but looking at the binding and such it looks like quite a good deal.
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Postby DennisMM on Sat Jan 12, 2008 8:52 pm

That is about publisher's list price. Last autumn I managed to find several copies on the net described as new for just over £25, plus shipping. After some mix ups I bought a copy through the US site half.com, which is an ebay affiliate. If there's an equivalent in the UK, I'd take a look there before going the mainstream retail route. It took a little searching, but I saved £15 in the process.
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Postby Chilli on Sun Jan 13, 2008 6:06 am

Cheers chaps. I'll look into it.
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Postby Vegeta on Fri Jan 25, 2008 9:55 pm

I just finished WATCHMEN and first impression is, yes, it lived up to the hype.

I will put my thoughts on it into something resembling a cohesive post sometime over the weekend, but for now... WOW!
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Postby Vegeta on Mon Feb 04, 2008 9:10 pm

Watchmen…

The book is a lot to take in. After I completed it about a week or two ago, I’ve reread many parts of it several times. I enjoy the writing, the artwork, the alternate take on history, and the moral ambiguity quite a bit. Like I said, a lot to take in…

So, where to begin with a review beyond saying it’s a stellar piece of work? I guess, with how Watchmen ends, I have a lot of questions. Which I think is the point. The ending is intentionally vague… does Viedt’s plan create the long lasting peace he had hoped for? In the very short term it appears that it had, however it seems our heroes (with the exception of Rorschach) seemed to miss the obvious motivation for Viedt. Profit… especially of the monetary variety. Veidt had the numbers worked out for how to be “ahead of the curveâ€
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Postby DinoDeLaurentiis on Tue Feb 05, 2008 11:06 am

Vegeta wrote:Also, I absolutely loved Rorschach and was very sad to see him go, but more on that another day.


Yes... anna the Dino, he is afraid that a the 2 hour movie, she just a will a not have a the time a to develop a the character so as a to make a his a death have a the impact it did inna the printed page, eh?

But, as a someone said, what a we get now, we get, eh? I will a not a complain anymore about a the lack of a the 12-part HBO mini-series... the HBO that is owned by a the Time Warner, eh? Who inna turns owns a the rights a to alla the DC properties... which would a make a the thing a the goddamn slam dunk... with a the 1 issue, 1 episode sort of a the thing... which a they could have a sold for a the premium price onna the DVD when alla is a said anna done... anna then a double-dipping later on anna getting alla the putzes a to buy it again...

Goddamn...
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Postby Pacino86845 on Tue Feb 05, 2008 11:25 am

Dino, an HBO series could've ended up being the greatest comic adaptation that we've seen, assuming that suitable talent would be brought to the project.
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Postby Vegeta on Tue Feb 05, 2008 11:28 am

You're right Dino, HBO would've been the way to go (are they still doing Preacher?). Well, let's just hope the movie is good (I have high hopes).
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Postby bacci40 on Thu Feb 07, 2008 6:54 am

im jumping into this discussion rather late, but let me posit some thoughts.

watchmen was a book for its times. its probably more difficult for those who did not grow up in the 60s and 70s to relate to it.

its also more difficult for those who have grown up with edgier comics, to understand how revolutionary the comic itself was.

sure, there were indys and underground books then, but no mainstream comic had ever allowed the creator to so destroy the superhero mythos.

i had given up on collecting during the 70s, when most of the stuff was crap (excepting xmen and teen titans) it was watchmen, dark knight, sandman and mark verheidens the american, that got me collecting again
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Postby DennisMM on Fri Feb 08, 2008 2:17 am

The American. That deserves a write up in The Zoner Comics Library thread. It and Strike! employed such similar devices but were so different in their stories.
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Postby Leckomaniac on Fri Feb 08, 2008 2:25 am

A good friend of mine, and probably the most intelligent female I have the privilege of knowing, decided to give this book a go after I kept hyping it up. She never read a comic before in her life...calls me at like 3 am to tell me she had been reading for 5 hours straight and was absolutely head over heels. She has asked for any other material I think she might like.

Gosh I love this book and how it has the ability to deeply effect every person who reads it.
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Postby darkjedijaina on Wed Feb 20, 2008 2:01 pm

I just finished reading Watchmen today. I've been reading it pretty non-stop over the past few days. I thought it was brilliant. I especially liked the small little side stories in between the bigger picture, like the kid reading the pirate rags. I was drawn to Rorschach and Dr. Manhattan, both kind of polar extremes. I thought they were both wonderfully done... I'm really anxious to see how they'll handle the movie and how they can fit it all in...
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Postby DennisMM on Wed Feb 20, 2008 2:07 pm

Another convert. I get the free toaster!
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