Halloween in Translation – Book Five: Watchmen by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons
by Lee Cross
If you are familiar with our Halloween Bookshelf, right about now (assuming you’re aware of Watchmen) you should all be thinking the same thing – isn’t Watchmen an English language title anyway?
…and yes, you’re right, I am referring to what I’ve heard described as ‘the greatest graphic novel of all time.’ It’s a statement I can’t really confirm or deny, which brings me to why I’ve added Watchmen to my translated reading list.
I don’t read comics, never have before (in the interest of disclosure: I read The Sandman recently but that was purely out of love for Neil Gaiman) and doubt I’ll ever go out of my way to immerse myself in the genre.
Please don’t think me down on Comics or their worth. It’s completely the opposite, just because I don’t understand the craft and skill required to create them, it doesn’t lessen my respect for their particular magic.
I just prefer to create my own visuals; I don’t read words so much as I see the lines on a page and weave them into a tapestry of images, that come together as a coherent stream in my mind’s eye.
Quite obviously comics don’t allow you to do that, the images are there on the page and need to be followed, they are an essential part of the storytelling process.
While I was reading Watchmen (I tend to read in coffee houses / bars), I was approached on three separate times and asked if I was reading, “a comic,” with derision. My response was, “yes but…” which is why I want to point out that I have major respect for comics and their writers. I should have been like “yes [FULL STOP]”. No justification was necessary, the idea is insane, offer a Telly-Addict reasons for reading something as classy as Watchmen???
So, please forgive me comic fans, I’m on your side and will try to do better in the future, even if your medium will always remain somewhat of a mystery to me.
To the review: Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons – It gets mentioned in top 100 lists of the greatest novels of all time and it’s easy to see why. It’s a truly great piece of storytelling; really, really wonderful.
I’m not the sort of reader who’s much interested in quotes but I must have written a dozen separate lines down, determined that I will remember them forever. They just perfectly sum up the way of the world; both in the era of the Watchmen and our own post Brexit.
Special mention has to be given to the chapter in Watchmen (five I think) dedicated solely to Doctor Manhattan. For me, it stands up there with the greatest chapters (I suppose rightly it is called an ‘issue’) ever written, a technically perfect piece of storytelling that answers every question you have about the character and how he sees the world before you’ve even fully formed them.
I loved Watchmen. It was brilliant, insightful and used the power of silence better than any other book I’ve ever read. If you are wondering why I’m recommending to our Halloween Bookshelf; keep wondering because I’m not going to tell you.
Please read it yourself and then tell all your friends about it.