Wednesday, March 04, 2009

When Words Collide: Following Watchmen

Really, this week's "When Words Collide" probably isn't geared for you. If you're a regular reader of this blog, you are smart enough to know all about any possible recommendations I might make about what you should suggest to your friends after they've read "Watchmen."

BUT, it might be a chance for you to tell me how wrong I am.

People love doing that, right?

So take a look at my suggestions for "Following Watchmen," consider what prospective readers I target, and come back here and tell me everything I should have included. Tell me everything I was an idiot for mentioning.

Let's debate these suggestions, and have a massive verbal throw-down.

Because I have been hearing worse and worse reports about the quality of the "Watchmen" movie, so if you leave lots of contentious comments, at least I'll have something to look forward to this weekend.


Matt Jacobson (formerly Ultimate Matt) said...

I haven't read your column yet, but I have a related question. I would put it at my blog, but noone reads it.

Does anyone really think Watchmen is the comic to lure in new readers? Have you ever tried it?

Because I have, and they seem to be pretty instantly turned off by it. It's a very insular comic, meaning that it really appeals to comic book and superhero fans who are in on the premise and the "joke", if you will.

Kris Krause said...

In response to Matt, I have tried it before. My one friend at first had no interest in superheroes or comics but eventually I got him to read Watchmen. He liked it. Not to the degree I liked it, but I believe he then started borrowing my Fables collections and ultimately started looking into and buying Ex Machina on his own as well as more comics.

Tim, you've made a list full of a lot of great comics, but despite the good number of Morrison works you've included, I think the big one that's missing is Animal Man. I knew several people in college who weren't regular comic readers, but for whatever reason, all of them had read both Watchmen and Animal Man and had high opinions of both.

I also expected to see Casanova on this list when I clicked the link, considering you compared it to Watchmen about a year or so ago, and also because it's a damn good comic.

But it is a nice list of good/respected comics that at least narrows it down a bit for anyone who is truly new to an entire medium full of both good and bad stories that needs to see more of the good before they write off Watchmen as a 20+ year old exception.

James said...

When embarking on The Authority (via der Klocken) I started with Ellis' Stormwatch, but I really don't think it's necessary; especially for someone new to the medium/genre. It's much more rooted in Wildstorm Universe continuity, and it doesn't give any vital background for the events in The Authority. Relentless would be a much more appealing standalone proposition for a new reader, I'd think, and it does a great job of introducing the characters/scenario etc.

CONTENTIOUS COMMENT: Anyone who likes the Watchmen movie is a knuckle-dragging cretin titillated by the idea of superheroes who maim, murder and rape, and has no grasp on the complex merits of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' graphic novel. (NOTE: I have not seen the Watchmen movie.)

Timothy Callahan said...

Matt: In my experience Watchmen works well for people who kind of vaguely read comics in their youth, but gave up on them years ago. It probably wouldn't work for someone who had never read a comic in their life.

Kris: Yeah, I had to draw the line somewhere, and Animal Man would have been TOO MUCH MORRISON (is such a thing possible? Not to us!). And Casanova would have been a good addition, and I just left it off the list for no good reason.

James: Watchmen is a cinematic masterpiece. Snyder captured the nuances that Moore left on the cutting room floor. Snyder is a visionary! (NOTE: I have not seen the Watchmen movie, either.)

Matt Jacobson (formerly Ultimate Matt) said...

I may just have dumb friends. They might like Northlanders.

I'm glad to see I'm not the only one annoyed at Snyder being referred to as a "visionary" for someone else's vision.

The Damaged Life said...

I don't know that I'd recommend O'Neil's run of The Question. It's a little dated, and just plain weird in places. Plus, Vic Sage has the worst hockey hair...Also, Doom Patrol is more accessible than The Invisibles.

I've seen Watchmen, and the one thing that will receive widespread applause is the credit sequence. It's a great series of snapshots that will stimulate interest in the golden age. I imagine that DC could sell lots of copies of Cooke's New Frontier, as a shinier, happier version of the same era.

Matt Jacobson (formerly Ultimate Matt) said...

I agree, I'd trade out The Invisibles for Doom Patrol, especially since it's been recently reprinted. It's also my favorite Morrison run of anything, ever (which pretty much makes it one of my all-time favorite runs), so I'm biased.

Born Again is a good call. I disagree with Iron Fist, though - at least not as a follow up from Watchmen. It's definetly a comic I would use as a gateway comic for new readers, but I'd go with something like Tarantino movies as a closer reference point.

Also, I recently used Scalped as a gateway comic for a new reader who was completely floored by it. I would add that to the list for readers who were shocked by the depth of character and theme in a "mere comic", like Preacher.

Jose said...

Matt: I HAVE tried Watchmen, many times, as a gateway comic, and I can say it's honestly always worked. I've given it to I believe six or seven people with very different tastes, and they all loved it, and maybe only half of them were familiar with the superhero genre.

I also advise trying Top Ten, which has never, ever failed me.