Although I like the concept of superheroes and the accompanying artwork, I find it really difficult to get enthusiastic about reading comics from this genre. I tried to find cheap versions of the books listed, but it was not an easy challenge. I also searched my local library database and none of the books were listed!
As I had already purchased Watchmen, I decided to pick this as my first choice to analyse in term of narrative and visual style.
(Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons DC Comic, 1987)
I thought it was inspired decision to make all the heroes in Watchmen flawed, which is putting it mildly when referring to some of the characters’ behaviour! I also felt that the tension created between the characters in an uneasy alliance was very well portrayed both through their actions and choice of words. I also liked how the reader is gradually informed of details so that the story builds up and you can start to form connections between the characters’ backgrounds. I thought that Watchmen had an underlying theme of impending threat and doom.
I read about the praise for this comic before starting it, so I had quite high hopes. To be honest I have found it really difficult to persevere with reading it. It is quite wordy and I found the story quite complicated to follow and to maintain an interest in the characters. Additionally, even though I think it is generally good for characters to have flaws, I found myself not particularly caring about any of them, which added to my waning enthusiasm. My opinion is probably considered sacrilegious by most people!
I was, however, much more taken by the visual style of Watchmen. I liked how the pacing of the story could be controlled by the content of the panels, adding time by spreading a sequence over a page or two rather than condensing it down into a few panels, which helps add to a sense of suspense.
The colour palette was very interesting and unexpected. There were strong combinations of various colours, but they seemed to work really effectively together. I found the considered choice of applying a particular colour scheme to certain panels (sometimes alternating between two contrasting schemes across a double page of panels) visually connecting them, really helped to follow the narrative. The mood of selected panels was also enhanced by the colour choices.
I particularly liked the panels where no text was involved and I could just absorb the quality of the visuals and what was being implied. The use of either ‘zooming in’ or zooming out’ on a particular character or scene across several panels was also an effective tool and added a sense of depth and scale.
The use of a nine panel grid allowed for the rhythm of the story to be controlled. It also provided the option of merging the panels in various combinations to effect, for example vertically to suggest the imposing height of a character, or horizontally when establishing a new location or a group scenario.
I thought the running theme of a page with a clock on a black background counting down to midnight between the chapters, with blood progressively oozing down the page, was effective at adding to the impending sense of doom. I also found it interesting how there was the concurrent use of having a comic book story being read (and therefore depicted in panels) in the story by one of the characters.
I have not yet reached the end of Watchmen, so I am fairly intrigued to find out what happens in the end.
The only comic listed that genuinely appealed to me and I was hoping to read/buy was All-Star Superman, as I am a fan of Superman, so I am hoping to find a copy at some point.
I also will continue to try and find cheap copies of some of the other examples.
Wikipedia, (n.d.). All-Star Superman. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All-Star_Superman [Accessed 10 December 2021].
Wikipedia, (n.d.). Fantastic Four. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fantastic_Four [Accessed 10 December 2021].
Wikipedia, (n.d.). Planetary (comics). [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planetary_%28comics%29 [Accessed 10 December 2021]..
Wikipedia, (n.d.). The Authority. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Authority_%28comics%29 [Accessed 10 December 2021].
Wikipedia, (n.d.). Ultimates. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultimates [Accessed 10 December 2021].
Wikipedia, (n.d.).Watchmen. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watchmen [Accessed 10 December 2021].