Best graphic novel of all time?
Most over rated?
Okay, yes, I read Watchmen, not when it came out...
I was reading comics way back in the 1900 and 80's.
Actually the mid to late 80's were the twilight of my comics youth.
By that time, I was in high school, and fast finding other distractions.
I recall, clearly, one of the last times I bought comics outside a comic shop, at a local 7-11, an issue of the original X-Factor... at least a few issues in... and the clerk looked at it, then me, and said "really?!" (or similar) with such disdain.
But, fuck her, I bought GI Joes til I was 16, that didn't put me off comics.
Just teenage trappings like, cars, friends, girls (or at least the fruitless pursuit).
Anyway, I remember Watchmen coming out, and all the buzz, and the graphic nature of it, looking at the first issue (I might have bought it, don't think so)...
It wasn't really for me.
You see, I always came at comics from a visual, visceral angle, and Watchmen, while being an amazing feat of writing, and art... just doesn't do much for me.
I'd rather sit with a book for 5 minutes and get my rocks off, not toil over the pages and dialogue... study the subtext, re-read, reassess...
There are too many other comics to get to.
So, I don't read books, and I don't generally like my comics literal.
Fast forward a decade, and I've gotten back into comics, having rediscovered them circa 1995, and my appetite is veracious (years away have me fully reinvested)... I go to all the area cons, buying stacks of dollar and quarter bin books, and I come across long boxes full of Watchmen... so, what the hell? Never read it, it's a classic, scoop em up.
And I read it, and I really liked it, just, not that much.
I see what all the critical favor is about mind you.
I appreciate the intricate nature, the symphony between writer and artist, the groundbreaking nature of it all.
But shit, it's a tough read, and, Ozymandias is the bad guy?!? Really? That's the big twist?? That's it?!
Okay, I mean, surface, high level, it's pretty straightforward, and sure there's all these other levels, and bigger messages and comments, and layers, but here's the main thing... the characters are all boring, unrelatable, and uninteresting.
Rapists, psycho's, naked blue gods, impotent middle aged men?
Wait, that does sound interesting?
But, it all just floats by, not really engaging me. Gibbons art is nothing short of amazing, but his style doesn't excite me, and the work is too dense, so all I have left are the characters, and they fail me...
Watchmen ultimately fails to engage me.
Now fast forward another decade and Zack Snyder, director-god, who's previous efforts, the incredible remake of Dawn of the Dead, and the bombastically bad ass 300 comic adaptation were some of my favorite movies in recent memory, he's going to be adapting the long unfilmable Watchmen?!?
Cool!!!Now, I saw the movie Saturday, anxiously waiting for it to come out, and my chance at the theater, and let me tell you, it's a great movie, and an amazing effort at adapting the most dense graphic work out there, but as much as I liked it, I still didn't love it. It still skims by, keeping me at a distance. Nothing really draws me in; the Comedian, as cool as he is, is irredeemable, and dies in the opening after all, and the only other awesome character, Rorschach, still wears the god awful trenchcoat and fedora... so you know, he can only be so cool. I mean, he's based on the fucking Question, lamest looking character ever...
Is it good, yeah, sorta.
Is it great, well, maybe.
I'd really like to see the director's cut, and Black Freighter, and really get a proper look at it.
But most of all, aside from the failings of the characters, and cast (because Nite Owl and Silk Spectre are as boring and lifeless here as they are in the comic), my main problem with the whole thing is the utter failings of the soundtrack.
From the mostly nonexistent score, to the horrible on-the-nose AM radio pastiche they try to pass off as clever.
All Along the Watchtower?!?
I guess it was referenced in the comic, but damn, that was utterly played out 23 years ago, let alone now.
I guess if you have no recall for those things, or no experience with the usage of the music, or don't care for music, it could work for you.
But shit, that was terrible.
Luft Balloons? That's the best you could do?!?
Come on, this is a huge budget epic, give me sound to go with it!
Dark Knight, they kicked your ears in with sound and score.
Great movies need a great score!!!!
Okay, so there ya go.
Watchmen and all it's personal baggage for me, and I still mostly enjoyed it, and look forward to repeat viewings and expanded versions.
And I still recommend it, as it's a challenging translation of a challenging work that's certainly of merit and quality, that may just click on more cylinders for you than I.
And hell, I'll probably even read the book again some day.
But, I've got boxes full of those, so don't hold your breath...