Fearful Symmetry

Film. Books. Comics. TV. Music.

Close To Midnight – Watchmen and the magic of Alan Moore

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(Originally published in Vector, Nov 2001)

“The War And Piece of comic books” — Terry Gilliam

Blood in the gutter

Blood in the gutter

Close-up of a red splattered yellow smiley badge. Zoom out. The badge lies in a red river — blood flowing in the gutter (1) of a New York street. Caption: “Rorschach’s Journal October 12th 1985: Dog carcass in alley this morning, tire tread on burst stomach. This city is afraid of me. I have seen its true face.”

And so begins Watchmen.

For a brief period of time, during the middle of the eighties, it was not only perfectly acceptable to be seen reading a graphic novel on public transport but actually quite trendy. Works such as Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and Bryan Talbot’s The Adventures Of Luther Arkwright were at the forefront of this boom in comics targeted at a more adult audience. But leading them all was Watchmen, the first graphic novel to win a Hugo (in the ‘Other Forms’ category). So influential, that its version of the classic smiley became the badge of choice on many a lapel. Why? Because it told a gripping story using brilliant characters, was packed full of social commentary revolving around power and control, plus, and most crucially, it also examined and deconstructed its own genre.

Watchmen was illustrated by Dave Gibbons (best known for 2000AD’s Rogue Trooper and DC’s Green Lantern) from a script written by Alan Moore (2). Moore was born in 1953 in Northampton where he has lived ever since. The son of a brewery worker, he was brought up in complete poverty. He was expelled from a conservative secondary school (allegedly for dealing LSD), was not accepted anywhere else, and so gained no formal qualifications whatsoever.

In 1971, unemployed, he began publishing the magazine Embryo, with some friends. Eight years later, he was working as a cartoonist for the weekly music magazine Sounds, producing a detective story Roscoe Moscow under the pseudonym Curt Vile. However eventually Moore concluded that he was a poor artist and decided to focus his efforts on script-writing for comics instead. He contributed to Doctor Who Weekly and, like many of his contemporary British comic writers and artists, including Dave Gibbons, to 2000AD. Moore created many notable strips here including The Ballad of Halo Jones, SKIZZ and D.R. & Quinch. He went on to work for Warrior were he started Marvelman and the exceptional V For Vendetta for which he won the British Eagle Awards for Best Comics Writer in both 1982 and 1983. This brought him to the attention of America and Moore wrote a number of stories for DC. He revitalised The Saga Of The Swamp Thing, breaking new ground by adding extra depth and maturity to the series, creating plots involving gun control, racism and environmentalism. In 1985 Moore submitted a proposal involving characters from Charlton, a defunct comic company that DC had bought out. When this fell through, Moore modified his proposal, creating new characters based on the Charlton originals, for a new twelve-part stand-alone comic series to be called Watchmen. The story would go on to achieve its real fame when it was published as a compilation graphic novel in 1987.

Original cover

Original cover

Watchmen is set in a contemporary alternative universe. The world is on the brink of nuclear annihilation. America won the Vietnam war, there was no Watergate (Woodward and Bernstein were found dead in a parking garage) and Nixon is still president, having changed the law to enable him to serve more than two consecutive terms. But the main change in this world is that superheroes exist. In the story’s present they are now onto their second generation but most have been outlawed, except for a couple of officially sanctioned government operatives.

At first glance the plot is simple (3). One of the ‘watchmen’ is murdered. Soon other heroes (and an old villain) are put out of the game. A ‘mask-killer’ is on the loose: who is he and why is he doing it? But Watchmen is much more than that, because within that basic plot, Moore has added layer after layer of complexity to create a true epic. The story covers three weeks in October 1985 but flashes back to cover over forty years of history.

Comics, as a medium, is unique in that the ‘mainstream’ is not real-life but super-heroes. In Watchmen Moore asked the question — what would the world really be like if there actually were superheroes? The usual treatment is to consider the world as being essentially unchanged by their presence, the heroes themselves eternal and static — like the characters in any television series which has no long-term arcs. Heroes do not age and they do not, often, die — even when they do it is almost always transient, as in the ‘death’ of Superman. They never really change the world, their endless conflicts as meaningless as the clashes of the muscle-bound clowns of the World Wrestling Federation. This offered the reader of comics the same comforts as the watcher of soap-operas. Watchmen said to hell with that. Here superheroes are presented as real beings, and their presence has produced a world that has diverged greatly from ours. The blue-skinned Dr Manhattan, a former nuclear physicist who was transformed after being trapped in a misfiring experiment, is America’s walking nuclear deterrent — the weapon that enabled them to win the Vietnam War. He has complete control over molecular structures enabling him to do almost anything from teleportation, to synthesising elements like lithium, to actually seeing fundamental particles like gluinos. His very existence, along with such ‘brains’ as Ozymandias, has led to a massively increased advancement of science allowing, for instance, electric cars to become the norm and the creation of flamboyant architecture — the geodesic domes shown in every cityscape shot. However this does not, of course, mean all of mankind’s problems are over and the down-side is political and military uncertainties caused by the superhero’s presence.

Unlike most comic characters, then and now, those of Watchmen, like people in real-life, are not clear-cut heroes and villains. Even thought superheroes, these are real fully-rounded people — they even go to the toilet! However Moore does realise that superhero characters do tend to fall into clear arch-types. He acknowledges this, then twists them, playing with the reader’s expectations. For instance, the character murdered at the beginning of Watchmen is The Comedian, a retired ’super-soldier’ who was employed by the government. However we soon learn, via flashbacks, that instead of being heroic in the Captain America mould, the Comedian was a completely amoral vicious thug and sadistic killer. Gibbons has said The Comedian’s name and character were inspired by Graham Greene’s novel The Comedians — the title refers to the tontons macoutes, the death squads run by the Haitian dictator Jean-Claude ‘Papa Doc’ Duvalier. Gibbons had a lot of input into the appearance of Watchmen’s characters and came up with the idea of the smiley as The Comedian’s — and hence Watchmen’s — symbol.

“I came up with this image of a sort of a very muscular Groucho Marx. Because there seemed to be something about Groucho Marx that made me think of people like G. Gordon Liddy. You know, with moustaches that make a man look kind of interesting. So, I ended up with this fearsome looking figure dressed in black leather. Kind of like a Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD, but kind of a super patriot incarnate, Arnold Schwarzenegger kind of character. How could we offset this? I know, give him one of those smiley face badges.”(4)

Dr Manhattan comes from a long line of superheroes with immense and varied powers such as Superman. However unlike Superman, who is always in touch with his own and everyone else’s ‘humanity’, Dr Manhattan is so powerful, so different from those around him — not least becomes he lives in the past, present and future simultaneously, like Billy Pilgrim from Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five — that eventually he seems scarcely ‘human’ in any sense. He certainly has no Clark Kent aspect. Episode IV, which showcases Dr Manhattan, is Moore’s personal favourite issue of the series and it is obvious that this character is one of the main key’s for unlocking Watchmen.

If Dr Manhattan is Superman then Batman is represented in Watchmen by two different characters. The second Nite Owl is a dilettante whose riches have allowed him to construct a number of gadgets. Costumed, he was a true hero — but when he was forced to retire he became weak, flabby and literally impotent. His ex-partner was Rorschach, the representative of the darker aspects of Batman. Rorschach is arguably the most interesting, and strangely enough likeable, character in Watchmen. His name derives from the Rorschach ink-blot test, a psychiatric tool used for detecting psychosis consisting of abstract symmetrical ink-blot patterns which the test subject is asked to interpret. And Rorschach is psychotic. As Moore said in a recent television programme:

“I think the most popular character in comics was the Wolverine character from the X-Men, who was a self-confessed violent psychopath. And I thought ah, they really really like the totally psychopathic vigilante character. You know, those driven revenge obsessed Batman figures — these creatures of the night. And I thought it would be kind of interesting to show what it would be like psychopathically to be that sort of person. You would be the next best thing to a serial killer. Nothing would interest you apart from your mission. You would be living in complete squalor. You would not have any friends. You would probably have a personal hygiene problem. You would have a horrible personality that would alienate everybody. You would just be obsessed with revenge and violence and punishing criminals.” (5)

Which in the case of Rorschach is totally true. An obvious influence is the character Travis Bickle, memorably portrayed by Robert De Niro in Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. Compare this extract from Rorschach’s diary, which directly follows the quote above: “The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown.” with Bickle’s narration/diary: “All the animals come out at night… Someday a real rain’ll come and wash all this scum off the streets.” There is also a later scene where Rorschach’s dejected walk through a red light district is very reminiscent of a similar scene in Taxi Driver, to the extent of copying De Niro’s posture and background detail in a still from that scene that was used for the movie’s poster.

Given that, why is Rorschach the most likeable character? Probably because he is such a straight arrow. Unlike all the other characters who are either two-faced, weak, or compromised (although some eventually achieve redemption), even “in the face of Armageddon” he will not compromise. He may be misguided (6) but he never/will never retire in his fight against crime. Rorschach survived a terrible childhood and there is evidence that deep down he does really care, there are times when he shows compassion to the deserving. Plus he also has a very dry witty sense of humour.

For Watchmen Moore also produced interesting female superheroes. The second Silk Spectre is a woman who is bitter about her mother denying her a normal childhood by training her up as her replacement. Confined to a nursing home, the original Silk Spectre is vicariously attempting to continue an adventurous life through her daughter’s exploits. She is also somewhat proud of the ‘cheesecake’ image she had in her youth, something her daughter hates.

Comic within a comic

Comic within a comic

Much of the action of Watchmen takes place around one particular, but average, New York street intersection. Here, in contrast to his ’super’ characters Moore presents us with a variety of normal people, in particular a newsagent and a youth who hangs around his news-stand, both coincidentally called Bernie. During Watchmen, most of the other characters will pass by them. The youth reads a pirate comic, The Tales of the Black Freighter, which forms the comic within a comic which Moore uses to reflect and refract the main plot.

This is another area where Watchmen goes from the ordinary into the extraordinary. In certain scenes Moore checkerboards the page — panels alternate between the actual Black Freighter comic and the real world that surrounds the comic reader Bernie at the time he is reading (or at other times they alternate between flash-back and present). The dialogue and other captions from each narrative stream overlap and comment on each other. As Moore himself says:

“What it comes down to in comics is that you have complete control of both the verbal track and the image track, which you don’t have in any other medium, including film. So a lot of effects are possible which simply can’t be achieved anywhere else. You control the words and the pictures — and more importantly — you control the interplay between those two elements in a way which not even film can achieve. There’s a sort of ‘under-language’ at work there, that is neither the ‘visuals’ nor the ‘verbals,’ but a unique effect caused by a combination of the two.

“A picture can be set against text ironically, or it can be used to support the text, or it can be completely disjointed from the text – which forces the reader into looking at the scene in a new way. You can do this to some extent in film, in terms of striking interesting juxtapositions between the imagery and what the intent of the characters may be, but you cannot do it anywhere near as precisely as you can in comics. Here the reader has the ability to stop and linger over one particular ‘frame’ and work out all of the meaning in that frame or panel, as opposed to having it flash by you at twenty-four frames per second in a cinema.” (7)

In addition to using the pirate comic to comment on the immediate events of Watchmen Moore also uses it to comment on the whole work. In fact you have to look here to decipher and, using a couple of clues elsewhere, extrapolate the — possible — ‘real’ ending of Watchmen that will occur beyond the last page.

Each chapter of Watchmen ends with a post-modern inclusion of an extract from an inventive text, such as the first Nite Owl’s autobiography, which allows Moore to create extra levels of depth to his characterisation and adds to the impression that Watchmen takes place in a real complete world.

Comics are, of course, both words and pictures and Watchmen is stuffed full with visual symbolism. The most obvious is its own version of the ’smiley’. This is the hippie badge mired in the blood of violence as the idealism of the sixties had been soured by the cynicism of the seventies and eighties — free-thinking socialist anarchy mutating into the nightmare of yuppie eighties Reaganomics. The smiley reappears many times, sometimes disguised and sometimes represented by just the ’splatter’ shape. It is also reminiscent of another reoccurring symbol: the clock-face, time approaching midnight. Each episode, apart from the first and last, begins with this symbol. The time starts at eleven minutes to and advances by one minute per episode. As the time gets closer to midnight, an ominous red stain descends. The obvious interpretation is the clock from The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists which used the time as a current estimate of the chance of a nuclear war. Midnight represents Armageddon. The closest is has been in our world was seven minutes to midnight during the Cuban missile crisis.

A subtle touch regarding nuclear war is the appearance of references to Fat Man and Little Boy, the two atom bombs that ended World War II. The crucial event that leads up to the transfiguration of Dr Manhattan is a ‘fat man’ smashing his girlfriend’s watch. We first see the fat man in the same panel as a ‘little boy’. Also as Rorschach takes his walk through the red-light district he passes a porno show featuring ‘Enola Gay and the Little Boys’

Another repeated visual theme is symmetry and broken symmetry. For the most part the layout of the page is the multiple-symmetrical nine-panel grid which is then occasionally broken for effect.

Fearful symmetry

Fearful symmetry

Symmetry is most obvious in chapter V, titled ‘Fearful Symmetry’ (8), the true heart of the book, if not its literal centre, which is largely concerned with Rorschach — himself masked in an always changing but always symmetrical ink-blot mask and who uses a reflected ‘R’ as his signature. The whole chapter is symmetrical, both in layout and theme, arranged around a V-shape. This refers back to V for Vendetta — whose eponymous hero renames himself ‘V’ after being imprisoned in ‘Room Five’ in the experimental block of a death camp.

Watchmen uses almost no ‘whoosh’ lines to show movement — Moore and Gibbons have other tricks for that — or sound effects. Gibbons also does an exceptional job in one of the often little noticed aspect of comics, the lettering. Rorschach and Dr. Manhattan have their own style of balloon indicating the peculiar qualities of their voices. The normal balloons used in the ‘present-day’ of Watchmen are polygons formed from ‘hard-edged’ line segments whist those in the flashbacks are all-curved fluffy clouds, indicating a kinder, simpler, more gentle, more juvenile past.

Following Watchmen’s success, Moore became a celebrity, mobbed at conventions. One story — possibly apocryphal, but by no means exaggerated — tells of Moore being followed into the toilets by star-struck fans. He hated all this attention and withdrew from comics fandom.

After Watchmen, Moore initiated many new projects but most of these ideas have failed to be realised and many series remain unfinished. His most cherished proposition, the many-charactered, fractal-maths inspired, contemporary set, Big Numbers looked like a potential masterpiece but only two issues where produced. There were rumours that the FBI was chasing artist Bill Sienkiewicz and that he had fled into the night on seeing the script’s terrifying difficulties (9). He has not worked in comics since. Moore eventually fell out with both DC and Marvel and recently set up his own company comic series, ABC — America’s Best Comics. Moore is now writing a large number of titles. The results have been mixed. Top Ten — essentially Hill Street Blues in a precinct where everyone (and everything including the cats and mice) is a superhero — is good, but not up to Watchmen’s standards. The League of Extraordinary Gentleman has an interesting idea — a ‘super-team’ made up of Victorian fictional characters including the Invisible Man, Jekyll/Hyde and Allan Quatermain from King Solomon’s Mines, but the opening issues were let down by a slow plot. Other series feel ordinary — just another comic, not an Alan Moore comic. There is a feeling that possibly Moore is overproducing — the problem of many a comic writer. Moore actually refers to it in Watchmen — in a fictional end-of-episode article on the writer of his fictional pirate comic. And the reason for this prodigious output? Well, it’s a kind of magic.

On his fortieth birthday in 1993 Moore declared himself a magician. Since then, like Blake (10), William Burroughs and Clive Barker he now actively uses magic to facilitate his work. He claims it gives him a “hack hyperdrive, where you can write five books a month… and you don’t even get that tired” (11) Moore sees magic as a system to understand the ‘cold mechanics’ of an area beyond scientific reach, a ‘landscape of the imagination’. For a while, leading up to his conversion he had been exploring a theory that the consciousness is a space — the ‘ideaverse’ where the raw materials of all creativity are located.

“The question that everybody asks writers is: ‘where do you get your ideas from?’ It seems like a banal question, but it’s the only important question: where do ideas come from? For me, getting into magic was just a way of answering that.

First, there’s nothing there, and then there’s a vague unformed idea in the mind of the artist or writer. Then the idea takes on a little more form, and then, suddenly, it’s a finished script or a finished drawing. Something has come into being out of nothing. It’s the rabbit from the hat. That to me is the definition of magic. It covers a lot of other ground in that everything anyone has ever said about magic is true, it’s a very rich landscape to explore and it certainly has an effect in some way or another on everything that I do.” (12)

When an idea is created, Moore claims, like his fellow comic Grant Morrison — writer of The Invisibles, it becomes real. As he says:

“I read an interview with [cartoonist] Carol Lay recently where she mentioned that she had to take care not to draw anything too negative in her scripts because it would probably happen. Robert Crumb had agreed with her on this. He said that it’s really a kind of mind over matter thing, you draw something and then it happens, which is why Crumb always draws his sex fantasies…

“You’ll find yourself writing about events that haven’t happened yet, and at the same time, you’ll also find all kinds of eerie feedback between your text and life. When I started to notice that sort of stuff becoming predominant in my work, I realised I had a choice — I could either ignore it and assume that it is a product of my overtired perceptions, or I could explore it and see if there is anything interesting there…

“At the same time, I found that I couldn’t progress any further with writing by strict rationality. If I wanted to go further with my writing, make it more intense, more powerful, make it say what I wanted it to say, I had to take a step beyond technique and rational ideas about writing, into something that was trans-rational if you will, this being magic.” (13)

Not coincidentally, according to Moore, the gods of magic in many ancient pantheons are also the gods of writing. For early man, writing, or creating new ideas would be akin to magic — a connection that is still with us. For instance we still ’spell’ out words.

Moore retains the awareness that this is a highly unconventional world-view:

“I should imagine that, very reasonably, most of them would assume that all of this I’ve just spoken of is nothing more than the ramblings of a disintegrating mind, or that it’s just some sort of glorified new age way of talking about the work that I do.” (14)

But Moore takes an essentially practical approach to his magic. Even if it only exists in his head, and as long as he remains “as creative and as functional as I was before I began my investigation and experimentation, then it’s okay.” (15) To Moore’s surprise, he has become even more productive since he began to experiment with magic. “Not that I think that the standard of the work is better, necessarily… It’s a way of understanding your creativity.” (16) Ultimately, Moore wants to use his magic to work out the rules of the post of the post-rational, post-industrial age he sees coming.

From Hell

From Hell

From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell cover Something that points the way to this is From Hell, his most critically acclaimed work since Watchmen. This exploration of one the most notorious unsolved crimes in criminal history, the infamous 1888 Whitechapel murders by ‘Jack the Ripper’, was drawn by the Australian artist Eddie Campbell and took ten years to come out in serial form. From Hell was massively researched as Moore’s extensive footnotes testify. But this is more that just a scholarly journal. Moore humanises characters that have been caricatured into obscurity for decades; the murdered prostitutes become real people. As for the identity of Jack the Ripper himself, Moore points the finger at Sir William Gull, Queen Victoria’s physician. The murders conceal a conspiracy that reaches to the highest level of society. Moore suggests that Prince Albert ‘Eddy’ Victor had fathered an illegitimate child, and when four Whitechapel prostitutes attempted to exploit this information, they were executed (the fifth victim was a case of mistaken identity).

Moore not only looks at the crimes themselves and the events around them with a forensic detail but also on their influence since, bringing in more recent notorious murderers, such as Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper, and Ian Brady and Myra Hindley. He also includes events as diverse as the birth of Hitler, Blake’s visions and the advent of tabloid journalism in the contemporary reporting on the crime. John Merrick, The Elephant Man, also appears; his hospital sanctuary was a stone’s-throw away from the first murder.

Cambell’s scratchy ink drawings evoke a dark and dirty Victorian London, where you can almost taste the soot. The East End is a literal hell-hole, overcrowded and crime-ridden. The influence of Freemasonary, and hence Freemasonary inspired magic, not just on the upper reaches of society but on the actual architecture — the literal substance of London — is also highlighted.

For one chapter, step-by-step, in a small, hellishly hot, room, Moore takes us through the murder and dissection of Mary Kelly — the Ripper’s final atrocity. But our fascination with Jack the Ripper, Moore hypothesises, is a reflection of ourselves, and the society that we have become. Gull, in a fugue state that transports him to contemporary London, chastises us for allowing ourselves to become numb and soulless, whilst he engages in one of the most horrifying and bloody murder scenes ever.

In an epilogue — Dance of the Gull Catchers — Moore looks at the history of investigations and inquiries into the Ripper and concludes we will never really know the truth. The ‘Ripperologists’ themselves are shown as an ever-growing mob of manic men carrying huge butterfly nets, and Moore himself eventually joins their ranks. Finally, as throughout, Moore turns the spotlight on victims. On the last page he (and us) watches a stripper at the Whitechapel Pub where the prostitutes drank.

“That’s what From Hell’s about in the end — a pallid little Goth dancing for men down from the City, with pictures of the victims on the walls. It’s about how vulnerable we make women, and why.” (17)

Ironically, after the film version of Watchmen has languished in development hell for many years — Terry Gilliam was attached at one time, though he now says it would be impossible to portray the depth and breath of the work outside of a mini-series — we now have From Hell coming to our screens, starring Johnny Depp as ripper-hunter Inspector Abberline and Nigel Hawthorne as Gull.

Although his output has varied, From Hell proves that Moore is still the genius of his field.

As for Watchmen, although the book ends where it began with a red-splattered smiley badge and Rorschach’s diary, as indicated above, it is obvious that its true end is beyond the last page. And its influence has also extended long after its appearance. It did inspire a lot of rubbish — the worst excesses of the so called ‘dark age’ of comics, the age that let heroes kill. Watchmen was not really about violence, but it has been used to justify books that are, which is something Moore regrets. On the other hand, Watchmen also led to smarter comics and kick-started the ‘British Invasion’ that gave us the best work of Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Garth Ennis and Warren Ellis. Watchmen proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that comics as a medium were capable of handling material, both in terms of subject and complexity, which was previously regarded as the exclusive domain of prose novels or cinema.

Watchmen is fifteen years old, the cold-war is over, though its brinkmanship threatens to return courtesy of President ‘Dubya’ Bush’s anti-missile defence system plans. CCTV will soon be able to store the ‘enemies of the state’s’ faces, thus leading to mass arrest after protest. Fewer people are bothering to vote. The political status quo has become ever more reactionary. Watchmen’s epitaph: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes — Who watches the watchmen? (18) is a question as relevant now, if not more so.

Finally, Moore message is this: although he writes about superheroes, it is to ourselves that we should be looking for rescue. He wants more inspirational, truly heroic, heroes to motivate the young — Moore says that his strongest moral example in childhood wasn’t his parents, “It was Superman.” (19) However, he also wants us to use our own potential, to become our own heroes. Although the presence of Dr Manhatten changes the world, adding lots of scientific marvels, it does not become an intrinsically ‘better’ place. Watchmen is as much a story of humanity saying it does not need superheroes as anything else. As Moore says:

“One of the prettiest things Aleister Crowly ever said is ‘Every man and woman is a star.’ I believe that…

In the human mind, the number of possible connections that can be made between neurones greatly exceeds the number of atoms in the universe. And most people watch EastEnders. I didn’t start with any obvious genetic or financial benefits. I was not promising. I believe anybody could do this if they believed they could. We could be so much more potent than we are.” (20)


1. And already Moore is playing with us. The ‘gutter’ is also the technical term for the white space that separate a comic’s panels from each other. As Scott Macleod says in Understanding Comics: “Here in the limbo of the gutter, human imagination takes two separate images and transforms them into a single idea.”

2. The majority of comics are written from a script — similar in layout to a film script — which describes the scene to drawn by the artist(s) and the dialogue to be added by the letterer. Moore scripts are much more detailed than the majority.

3. And derivative. Moore’s acknowledges that Watchmen’s climax is an interpretation of ‘The Architects of Fear’ an episode from the classic sf TV show The Outer Limits. Moore does, however, take the program’s main concept a lot further than the original did.

4. Quoted in Watching the Detectives: An Internet Companion for Readers of Watchmen.

5. Channel 4’s SF-UK

6. You cannot help thinking that if Moore was writing this today he would have Rorschach supporting ‘Oklahoma Bomber’ Timothy McVeigh.

7. Comic Book Rebels: Conversations with the Creators of the New Comics. Stanley Wiater and Stephen R. Bissette.

8. Taken from Blake’s ‘The Tyger’

9. Interview, He does it with magic. Nick Hasted The Guardian 1st June 2000

10. Blake is one of Moore favourites. He contributed to the recent Tate retrospective on the artist.

11. Interview, He does it with magic. Nick Hasted The Guardian 1st June 2000

12. Interview, Alan Moore, Practicing Magician. Matt Brady on the AnotherUniverse Website (Return)

13. Interview, Alan Moore, Practicing Magician. Matt Brady on the AnotherUniverse Website (Return)

14. Interview, Alan Moore, Practicing Magician. Matt Brady on the AnotherUniverse Website (Return)

15. Interview, Alan Moore, Practicing Magician. Matt Brady on the AnotherUniverse Website (Return)

16. Interview, Alan Moore, Practicing Magician. Matt Brady on the AnotherUniverse Website (Return)

17. Interview, He does it with magic. Nick Hasted The Guardian 1st June 2000 (Return)

18. Juvenal, Satires, VI, 347. This, as noted in Watchmen itself, the quote was also used as the epigraph of the Tower Commission report in 1987 – the investigation into the ‘Arms to Iraq’, arms-for-hostages, scandal of the Reagan years. (Return)

19. Comic Book Rebels: Conversations with the Creators of the New Comics. Stanley Wiater and Stephen R. Bissette. (Return)

20. Interview, He does it with magic. Nick Hasted The Guardian 1st June 2000 (Return)


Written by Fearful Symmetry

July 22, 2009 at 10:24 am

One Response

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  1. […] I’ve written about Watchmen in the past, but for the uninitiated: the comic-book (and film) takes place in an alternate reality where, for several decades, costumed vigilantes have battled costumed criminals. It’s the 1980s and Nixon is sat in the White House, able to extend his presidency past two terms on the back of the single truly super-powered individual in the world, Dr Manhattan – a nude, bright blue, post-human demi-god, the result of a scientific experiment gone wrong, who can control all matter and see past, present and future simultaneously – enabling the US to win Vietnam. But the Cold War has not gone away and the world stands of the brink of nuclear armageddon, and the costumed vigilantes – now officially banned – have either retired or gone underground. Then the Comedian, a super-soldier, is murdered; thrown through the window of his high-rise New York apartment by an unknown assailant. Is a ‘cape-killer’ gunning for the ‘Watchmen’ or is a more subtle and sinister plot in effect? […]

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