Alan Moore’s Watchmen was my first graphic novel, and I must say that it surpassed all of my expectations. I’d heard good things about it from a few folks beforehand:
“Told with ruthless psychological realism, in fugal, overlapping plotlines and gorgeous, cinematic panels rich with repeating motifs, Watchmen is a heart-pounding, heartbreaking read and a watershed in the evolution of a young medium.”
Time Magazine, 100 Best Novels: 1923 to Present
“Remarkable … The would-be heroes of watchmen have staggeringly complex psychological profiles.”
New York Times Book Review
“Watchmen is fucking awesome.”
Dash, Who Often Dresses Up As Rorschach
First of all, Watchmen had an unexpectedly cinematic quality that impressed me. Check out the transition on the opening page, for instance, which makes use of a zoom-out effect very similar to the opening of a film (click for more detail):
Dave Gibbons’ illustrations also make great use of color. I was a big fan, for instance, of his use of red-tinted panels during flashbacks of fight scenes, and of his use of color as a transition device.
I also loved how, just as in any good piece of writing, every single detail was there for a reason. Advertisements, graffiti, the headlines on the newspapers blowing around the corners of each panel — you name it, you’d better pay attention ot it. This richness of detail did seem to decrease as the novel progressed (although then again, that maybe have just been because I was so engrossed in the plot that I stopped noticing).
I’m definitely going to have to read it again anyway to catch all the hidden clues and artistic choices I missed the first time around. For instance, did you know that the panels in Chapter V, “Fearful Symmetry,” are a mirror image of themselves, with the line of symmetry halfway through the chapter on page 14-15? I didn’t. Brilliant.
I don’t know what else I can say without spoiling anything, except: Go read Watchmen. Now.