Comic over comic? Comic about comics? Or a comic within a comic?
When I first started reading Watchmen, it reminded me of Ulysses by James Joyce. They are both similar in a way because you had to first understand The Odyssey by Homer. Ulysses is considered high (modernist) literature. Likewise, in order to better interpret Watchmen’s meaning, readers have to also analyze “The Black Freighter” comic because it is there for a reason. There are several points and visual images that are positioned intentionally so that readers can foreshadow the ending. So, is it literature?
Hoberek is questioning if Watchmen is considered a work of literature. Moore and Gibbon’s work is different than other graphic novels, complicating its superhero genre and rebelling against comic book codes. For instance, it is about a book that interrogates the definition of heroism. Moore and Gibbons challenge the comic book code by inserting police files, a poem, excerpts, papers, quotes at the end of each chapter and even quotes from the book of Genesis. Also, the reader is confused because of the different perspectives and constant flashbacks that represents and symbolizes Watchmen’s complex world. The author is psychologically placing that effect on our minds to confuse its readers. So, the question is that if this novel includes the same literary elements as a work of literature, then is it equated with any work of literature?
Van Ness is a critic who wrote about Watchmen in her book however, she doesn’t ask “how the nonverbal elements of the graphic novel complicate a definition of literature formulated with reference to print fiction, or how popular or journalistic counts of Watchmen as literature might differ from academic ones” (4). In relation to the “déclassé genre of the superhero story”(8), it makes critics question where this novel should be positioned and compared to other works. All in all, Hoberek believes that Watchmen is not literature. In an interview for Entertainment Weekly, Moore stated that his book is a comic book. “Not a movie, not a novel. A comic book” (25). But,Hoberek argues that it is a graphic novel because it can not be read in one sitting as he suggested in his interview.
Reasons for discussing Watchman as a work of literature:
#1: (historical) “a time dominated by the domestic realism of the minimalist school, and at the most nonrealistic end of the spectrum, by the magical realism of a few other authors” (11).
#2: “historically significant role in this transition from serialized comics to the graphic novel” (12).
#3: It’s “self-conscious relationships to the literary traditions of realist representation and the formal experimentation celebrated by modernism” (14).
#4: “uses the literary as a way of modeling his own creative agency and ownership in an industry structured around the work-for-hire employment of creative talent” (25).
Hoberek’s introduction is from his novel titled, “Considering Watchmen: Poetics, Property, Politics. Even though Hoberek wrote this book on Watchmen and believes in its influence on other writers and works such as Junot Diaz, he still questions why it is considered literature. Why do you think it is a hard question for Hoberek to answer?
Hoberek believes that Watchmen is not conventionally literature. Do you agree with his view? Which genre would Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s masterpiece belong to? Why? Are they challenging the concept of literature? How? Provide examples from the book.
Last week, we discussed Klock depicting Watchmen as a “revisionary superhero narrative.” With this concept in mind, do you agree that Watchmen, the only graphic novel on Time magazine’s list, is accurate or a category mistake as Hoberek suggests?
- Charles Hatfield states that “the study of comics must be truly multidisciplinary.” How can we as readers analyze Watchmen according to this statement?
P.S: Watchmen was revised for a children’s Saturday cartoon show. If interested definitely watch it!!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDDHHrt6l4w