December 1st, 2005


Watchmania: Catch it! plus, High on fumes

In 1989 I titled my M.A. thesis from the University of Georgia's School of Journalism and Mass Communication 'Reinventing the Wheel: A Multi-Perspective Analysis of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Graphic Novel 'Watchmen'.' (All theses have to have a colon in their title, don't you know.) I was/am a huge fan of comic book writer Alan Moore, especially during the 1980s (although more recently, his two 'League of Extraordinary Gentlemen' series are very, very fun, too).

I've been unaccountably late to the 'Watchmen' anniversary/resurgence, though. 'Time' magazine put it on its 100 best novels of the century (although they started counting I think from when 'Time' started publishing, like in the early 20s, eliminating stuff like 'Ulysses' and earlier works). 'Entertainment Weekly' had a retrospective article about 'Watchmen's' creation, comparing it to the likes of Citizen Kane, The Sopranos and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band as landmark/high watermark works in their respective media. And Slate, as if in response to those, has a much more skeptical piece.

Even though this IS the internet, I won't blather on about the numerous places I think it's wrong and the few where I agree with it (although I do like the stylistic comparison to Phillip Glass). I'll only point out that it sort of sets up a false premise: it asks at the outset "Did the comic book need to grow up?" or something like that, half-mocks the book for quoting Nietzche and the like (it's hard to say if the writer's seriously objecting to the book's literary references, or just "kidding"), and implicitly and unfavorably compares it to 'The Incredibles'. 'The Incredibles,' however:
1. Owes a debt to 'Watchmen' in its portrait of restless, outlawed superheroes in middle age; and
2. Is a perfect example of the cool, mature storytelling you can get when comic books DO "grow up." Sure, there's lots of rousing robot-fighting in the second half, but it's also a great metaphorical story about marriage, family, compromise, mid-life crises and all that stuff. 'The Incredibles' disproves the very point the article is (supposedly) trying to make. So there.

Gas was $1.89 a gallon at the pump when I filled up last night (which is still supposedly 10 cents more than the average price per gallon last year -- and my neighborhood Chevron station usually prices below the average).

Because of the novelty of such low prices, the other gas consumers at the pumps and I got so giddy, in fact, that when we suddenly make eye contact, we spontaneously stopped filling our cars. Then someone shouted "Fuel fight!" and started squirting each other with the nozzles, ducking behind our vehicles and hiding from each other as much as the length of the hoses would let us. We laughed and laughed -- if not for the fire, it would've been great.
  • Current Music
    "All Along the Watchtower," Jimi Hendrix