Considering Watchmen: Poetics, Property, Politics

Considering Watchmen: Poetics, Property, Politics

Considering Watchmen: Poetics, Property, Politics

Considering Watchmen: Poetics, Property, Politics

Synopsis

Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons's Watchmen has been widely hailed as a landmark in the development of the graphic novel. It was not only aesthetically groundbreaking but also anticipated future developments in politics, literature, and intellectual property.
Demonstrating a keen eye for historical detail, Considering Watchmen gives readers a new appreciation of just how radical Moore and Gibbons's blend of gritty realism and formal experimentation was back in 1986. The book also considers Watchmen's place in the history of the comics industry, reading the graphic novel's playful critique of superhero marketing alongside Alan Moore's public statements about the rights to the franchise. Andrew Hoberek examines how Moore and Gibbons engaged with the emerging discourses of neoconservatism and neoliberal capitalism, ideologies that have only become more prominent in subsequent years.
W atchmen's influences on the superhero comic and graphic novel are undeniable, but Hoberek reveals how it has also had profound effects on literature as a whole. He suggests that Watchmen not only proved that superhero comics could rise to the status of literature--it also helped to inspire a generation of writers who are redefining the boundaries of the literary, from Jonathan Lethem to Junot Déaz. Hoberek delivers insight and analysis worthy of satisfying serious readers of the genre while shedding new light on Watchmen as both an artistic accomplishment and a book of ideas.

Excerpt

Time magazine’s October 24, 2005, issue included a one-page feature titled “10 of Time’s Hundred Best Novels.” This piece consisted of “surprises” from an online list of the one hundred best English-language novels published since the magazine began its run in 1923. the first item on the list was indeed a surprise: Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s 1987 graphic novel Watchmen, which beat out such prestigious works as Art Spiegelman’s Maus (whose first volume was published in 1986) and Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth (2000) to become the only graphic narrative on a list including literary heavy-hitters such as Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway (1925), Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita (1955), and Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow (1973). Lev Grossman, who compiled the list with his fellow Time critic Richard Lacayo, wrote that Moore and Gibbons’s “story of a ragbag of bizarre, damaged, retired superheroes reunited by the murder of a former teammate … is told in fugal, overlapping plotlines and gorgeous panels rich with cinematic leitmotifs. a work of ruthless psychological realism, it’s a landmark in the graphic novel medium. It would be a masterpiece in any.” a cynical reader might note that Watchmen, which was first published serially between September 1986 and October 1987 and then collected as a twelve-chapter volume in 1987, was then as now owned by dc Comics, a subsidiary since 1989 (when Time Inc. and Warner Communications merged) of Time Warner and that Grossman was simply cross-promoting another product in his company’s portfolio. But there is something more interesting going on here, and I begin with Time’s 2005 list in order to ask what . . .

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