Article on Watchmen: Did comic need to grow up?

Discussion in 'DC Comics Films' started by hulkamania85, Dec 11, 2007.

  1. hulkamania85 Registered

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    http://www.slate.com/id/2131269/

    Now I don't want this to become a flame war or anything. I don't think he's completely ripping Watchmen to shreds or anything, just making a couple of points about comics. I agree with him on a couple of points. Watchmen is a great book, one of the best, but at the same time, stories that are just there for entertainment are great too, and there has been a trend in comics to have stories that are bit more negative. I like the different philosophies represented in Watchmen, and it does make you think, which is good, but at the same time, I don't think it's something to get too wrapped up in, and it isn't the kind of thing I'd want in every comic or story I read.
     
  2. StorminNorman Registered

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    Honestly an objective essay along this same topic would be incredibly interesting to read. However, and I may be imagining it, I found the author to be bitter about the story. By creating questions of execution (and thus the quality) of some aspects of the comic (like the time sequences) he is hurting the credibility of his essay (since he as a simple entertainment writer has none as a writer). It would be as if College Freshman wrote a report criticizing Mark Twain's writings - no one is going to accept it.

    I don't understand his message though either. I read an issue of Batman - and I don't see any Nietzsche. I read an issue of Superman - no questions of the mental health of Superheroes.

    Watchmen made Graphic Novels respectable literary pieces, it didn't make Graphic Novels too serious.
     
  3. ThatDamnNinja Registered

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    Watchmen didn't make graphic novels respectable literary pieces: it is, in itself, a literary masterpiece, and inspired truckloads of self-important, pretentious "dark" bull*****. Comics were never that great in terms of literary quality, but they didn't take themselves too seriously either. Mainstream comics have essentially maintained the same level of quality, but have become so glossy and pseudo-philosophical I want to vomit, but more importantly, the authors seem to believe that their work is the next Watchmen. I'm still waiting for the next great comic (and yes, I've read Wanted).

    Frank Miller is a great comic book author, but not a great author. The same can be said for Neil Gaiman, and those two are the only guys with any name recognition whose names even deserve to be mentioned, with the exception of course, of Alan Moore, who is in a class of his own in the comics world. Of course, when put up against authors of real literature, you'd be really hard pressed to put Moore in the Top 100 Authors. I may even be overestimating him there, given that Watchmen and V for Vendetta are probably his only real masterpieces (though his other work is still very, very good).

    Watchmen revealed the potential for comics to be a serious art form, but they still have yet to get there, at least in the mainstream. If there are indie comics that are up-to-par with good literature, I don't know about them.
     
  4. Punch Registered

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    Saying he has no credibility because of the publication he writes for is just plain silly.
    And You're right, you don't understand his point. He's saying that the only people who read Nietzsche are teenagers. So including references to him in a comic geared towards adults is pointless.( I disagree )
    He's saying adults have no time to ponder such things and want entertainment that is fun.
    Watchmen is a masterpiece, but some of it's storytelling techniques are heavy handed.

    And as for your example, if the critique of Twain was well written and well thought out, then yes it will be accepted, doesn't have to be agreed with.
     
  5. ROOR Registered

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    Honestly, I read Watchmen for the first time earlier this year, and I didn't find it to be 'distinctively underwhelming' but I do see where he is making some of his points, even if I don't agree with them.
     
  6. hulkamania85 Registered

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    Thanks, you said it a lot better than I could have. Watchmen itself was a fantastic book, but it inspired a lot of unnecessary attempts at being dark and philosophical by future writers. I've read interviews before where writers felt disappointed that they would never be able to do something like Watchmen. Well then, don't. Not every film can be a Godfather or Citizen Kane or even come close, but that doesn't mean:

    a) Movies made to tell a fun story can't be well done and worthwhile

    or

    b)People want to see vain attempts at copying the themes of a classic

    Same goes for comics and just about every entertainment form.

    I don't mean to say that comics have to go back to the simple storytelling of the 50's, but I really wish a lot of comics would lighten up and be fun again. Invincible is a comic that can have its darker moments, but for the most part it's just a fun read.
     
  7. ThatDamnNinja Registered

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    I think there is such a thing as "elevated light-reading," which is a novel (or graphic novel) that really has no deeper literary value, but is very well-written for what it is. Stephen King is elevated light reading. Jane Austen is elevated light-reading. J.R.R. Tolkein is elevated light reading. I think that pursuing this end, rather than spouting off their college Philosophy/Creative Writing Major bullsh**, might be more worth the time of comics authors.

    Also, I want comics artists to quit it with the overly glossy, manufactured-looking art. I'm looking at you, Ultimate Spider-Man!
     
  8. StorminNorman Registered

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    I would argue Neil Gaiman has proved himself to be not only a great comic book author, but a great author in general.

    While Watchmen itself did not earn any more respect for the industry - it inspired writers that did. Neil Gaiman's Sandman won many respected literary awards for example. It made people take a different look at what you could do with the medium - producing talent that can be mentioned as not only great Graphin Novels, but great works of literature.
     
  9. StorminNorman Registered

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    Do you consider a High School Paper writer who criticizes the Godfather for being a less than fantastic movie seriously? No. If he wants to seriously address the topic he should do so more objectively than the piece he posted.

    And for him to base his criticism on the need for Watchman on something so superficial and trivial as its quoting of Nietzsche is an example of why his article has no credibility. As even you admitted, this is nothing short of a stupid point to make - the fact he harps on it leads to me dismissing him.

    And if adults want simple entertainment and do not want to deal with thinking about larger issues, then whats the point of making deep and thought provoking movies, novels or any other sorts of literature? Quite simply its a stupid argument to make.

    And while yes, a well thought out and executed critique of Twain would be worth contemplating - this piece does not share those qualities.
     
  10. Punch Registered

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    re: your high school writer example it depends on the writer's argument. I don't have to agree with what's said, it's about the way the argument to is presented.
    Same here. You and I agree that we don't agree with what this writer has to say about Watchmen. I just don't see anything in his article to invalidate his opinion. He's certainly not the only one who feels that way.
    I also can't dismiss him for what publication he writes for.
     
  11. arman200 Registered

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    I dig Neil gaiman as an author. Good omens was good. Alan moore can be considered one of the best authors, seeing as he's the only graphic novelist to receive the Hugo award.

    I've never read anything from moore that I didn't like. It's because he doesn't abide by deadlines, but takes as long as it takes to perfect a book.:yay:
     
  12. ThatDamnNinja Registered

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    I don't want people to take what I said out of context as a dig against Neil Gaiman... the Sandman series is a masterpiece of comics, and holds up well as literature. However, if you rank him as an author, and the piece, against literature as a whole, you find that he's not an elite author, and none of his work really deserves recognition as great literature of the 20th century (as Watchmen does).
     
  13. StorminNorman Registered

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    I believe if you look at modern authors- Gaiman certainly stands along the elite. He is a far more skilled author, for example, than JK Rowling.
     
  14. ThatDamnNinja Registered

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    Hey, don't diss on Rowling. Her writing style IS simplistic, but that's not where the strengths of her story lie. Her portrays teenagers more accurately and thoroughly than 95% of non-fantasy fiction about teens, and the story is extremely well-crafted and well thought-out. Each piece is written in with purpose and deliberation. It's easy to hate on Rowling for writing fiction for an audience that consists primarily of children, but that doesn't diminish the value of her work.

    That said, Neil Gaiman is definitely among the best modern writers, but I'm not talking about modern writers. I'm talking about literature as a whole. You compare him to guys like James Patterson, Dan Brown, Tom Clancy, Dean Koontz or whatever, and of course he's among the best... not up to par with the Pulitzer Prize winners exactly, but still, for all intents and purposes, an elite modern writer. When placed against literature as a whole, he doesn't stack up so well. Hell, let's just look at 20th century literature. Sandman (which IS his best work, period; his novels just don't compare to his graphic novels) isn't in the same league as Lolita, Catch-22, A Passage to India or The Crying of Lot 49. A strong case can be made that Watchmen is in that league. Again, I'm not dissing on Gaiman. There are worse authors than him that I enjoy tremendously, and I'd say he's better than Steinbeck, who is kind of heavy-handed and obvious in his writing style.
     
  15. Cadetak Registered

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    I think comics could stand to grow up a little more honestly...the crap their putting now seems to be made by a bunch a highschoolers in English class.

    I just wish comics were written more like real literature sometimes. But most of the time its just a mess. Or just something other then an ill concieved 'epic event', random death and revival, or something outlandishly ******ed.
     
  16. ThatDamnNinja Registered

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    My thoughts exactly, albeit a little more concise.

    Perhaps comics are going through an elongated version of the human life cycle? Golden Age was like childhood, Silver Age like late childhood, and modern comics are like adolescence. Hopefully, that means that they'll eventually grow into actual adulthood.
     
  17. Sandman138 Registered

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    http://www.fantagraphics.com/

    One of us! One of us!
     
  18. Sandman138 Registered

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  19. brobdingnag Registered

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    I would say Golden Age = Childhood, Silver = Teen Years, Early Modern (Early 80's - Early-Mid 90's) = Adulthood, anything past mid 90's = second childhood.
     
  20. ThatDamnNinja Registered

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    Now, the best comics WERE produced in the 80s-90s, but make no mistake of it, mainstream comics were AWFUL. That's when comics decided that they needed to be 'extreme' or some bullsh** like that, and went all MTV and Mountain Dew on us so they could appeal to Gen X'ers. So, while we got the goods, like Watchmen, Dark Knight Returns, Year One, Killing Joke, and such, most of what we got had more in common with Gambit, Venom, The Death of Superman, Spawn, and other utter crap that was driven by "kewl" visuals rather than actual content. That's why I equate that period of time with middle school: because middle school boys are the type who really went nuts over that sh**. Now, comics are in middle-to-late teen years, and with that comes pretension, darkness, and "seriousness."
     
  21. UltimateJustin The Hype's Black Purist

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    I honestly stopped reading right about there, because I know that you are correct.
     
  22. hulkamania85 Registered

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    I guess though I prefer immature writing of action stories over immature writing of trying too hard to be deep and serious.
     
  23. StorminNorman Registered

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    I love the Harry Potter books. Rowling creates great characters and she created an amazing world. She has, however, great weaknesses. For example - her attempts at romance are...well, horrible. She is a good writer that has a fantastic book series. She, however, is no Neil Gaiman.

    Its hard to compare modern litterary works with a historical perspective. We shall see just where (and if) Gaiman is listed in the lists of great writers.
     
  24. Comic Book Boy Producer/Writer/Director

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    Have you ever heard of Will Eisner? No? How about Art Spiegelman? You do realize that there are some comic books that don't involve superheroes right?

    And yes. Alan Moore would be in the top 100 authors list. WATCHMEN was in the top 100 novels list made by TIME, the only graphic novel on the list.

    And what is this "real literature" you speak of? Does that make the graphic novel "fake literature?"
     
  25. sad lieutenant Registered

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    Actually, I owned some fake literature once. It purported to be the autobiography of Jack Niklaus. When opened, however, one was shocked to find the pages glued together, and the middle of each page cut out. instead of text, one would find a bag of drugs. Or, at least, a slightly pungent odor indicating that drugs were there in the past.
     

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