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20091201-930 Watchmen, Chapters 1-3 (Group 5)

Page history last edited by Paige Wartko 10 years, 8 months ago

Summary

 

     Today we talked about the first six chapters of Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.  One of the first things we went over was the "typical" characteristics that make a hero, and those of heroes we've seen so far this semester.  We also talked about characteristics that are more specific to comic book heroes, as Watchmen is a graphic novel.  Those characteristics include costumes, fighting super villains, alter egos, etc. However, the main characters in Watchmen are anti-heroes.  

     Anti-heroes are protagonists in the story who do not fit the mold of a typical hero, like Superman.  Most of the vigilantes in Watchmen pursue their lives of "heroism" for selfish reasons, such as fame and personal fulfillment.  Other anti-heroes from texts this semester include Satan, Medea, and Hedda Gabbler. At times they can seem very amoral, and essentially the opposite of Superman as far as their qualities go. For example, The Comedian is still considered a "hero" in Watchmen although he attempts rape, and kills women and children. It can be seen that the anti-hero is tragically flawed in comparison to Superman. This is also true with Rorschach, as he appears flawed in the sense that he is mentally unstable and will use absurdly violent means to achieve what he believes is right.

      We also talked about the visuals of the novel and the ending excerpts of each chapter. The words and the artwork work together in Watchmen to portray a the bleak world view displayed by the creators.  This, along with the ending excerpts, work to capture a more realist appeal from the author linking us back to post-modernism. This depressing, gritty perspective is revealed not only by the pictures, but also through text.  It takes the classical comic approach and adds a very real aspect to the story. 

 

 

Word Count: 300

 

Passages

 

Chapter 2, Page 2

 

"I mean, without your health, where are you?"

 

In chapter two, the panels flashed back and forth between the scene with the two Silk Spectre's, and the scene at the Comedian's funeral.  Laurie and her mother are talking in California, but their words are carried over and apply to the scene at the funeral.  Here, Laurie's mom is promoting the importance of sunny weather, and asks the above question.  However, her words carry over into a frame from the funeral, where Blake is being lowered into the ground.  It reiterates the fact that without health (or here, life at all), a person doesn't have anything.  It also keeps with the bleak outlook present throughout the novel.  This technique is used purposefully and shows how much the visual aspect of the novel is important.

 

Chapter 6, Page 28

 

"We are alone.  There is nothing else."

 

These words are spoken by Malcolm.  At the beginning of the chapter he is described as upbeat, and is easily tricked by Rorschach to believe that Rorschach is getting better.  After hearing about the horrors that Rorschach has seen, however, he grows more pessimistic and by the end of the chapter he is repeating Rorschach, and joining him in his bleak world view.  Malcolm is one of the few characters we had seen with a positive attitude. The fact that even he becomes depressed when he sees what the world really is emphasizes the dismal perspective portrayed in Watchmen.

 

Chapter 1, Page 1

 

In a panel with blood draining into a gutter in the street and a smiley face pin with a drop of blood on it: "Dog carcass in alley this morning, tire tread on burst stomach.  This city is afraid of me.  I have seen its true face."

 

This passage is taken from Rorschach's Journal and comprises the very first panel of the novel.  As you see the smiley face button in the gutter with blood on it you pick up on the symbolism and forshadowing as Rorschach explains "I have seen its true face."  It is as if the button is the face everyone wants to think the city has but really the streets are covered in blood and the city is much darker than it appears.  From the beginning, the reader has a very dark and seemingly hopeless, vulgar realism presented to them.  This sets the tone for everything that is to come.

 

Terms

 

hero:  A person that people admire with just and desireable characteristics.  Helpful in nature and willing to risk their lives for what is right.

anti-hero: Protagonists who do not fit the mold of a typical hero, such as Superman. They pursue a life of "heroism" for selfish reasons, such as fame and personal fulfillment, and often are less concerned with morals than a typical hero.

realism: A form of expression revealing the world for how it truly is, rooted in objectivism

Comments (2)

pattyparade said

at 7:31 pm on Dec 2, 2009

I added the bit about the flaws in the Watchmen. I hope it relates pretty well to the rest of the notes.

Brian Croxall said

at 12:15 pm on Dec 7, 2009

These are really strong notes for the first day of Watchmen. I'm glad to see you covering the concepts of anti-heroes, realism, and how the text melds dialog with visuals. You've picked good passages to demonstrate each of these points, and you've written about them accurately in the summary. If it were possible to bend the time-space continuum and get more words into a 300-word summary, I would have liked to see you comment on the revision of prior generations of superheroes, which we linked to Nite Owl I and postmodernism. I was also surprised to not see a hint of *how* Moore and Gibbons make us start to sympathize with someone like Rorschach through his narration, backstory, and perspective despite being very obviously a very disturbed person that we aren't all that comfortable with. I'm also not sure that your definition of "hero" is quite right, since we've been establishing throughout the semester that we're really not all that sure what one is.

But overall these notes are very good.

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