The Graphic Novel



Right now, the upcoming Watchmen film ought to be the least of my worries; but I’ve seriously considered not watching Zack Snyder’s apparently faithful adaptation of the seminal graphic novel. You see, a comic geek scorned is a force to be reckoned with.

The first comic book I remember falling in love with was an issue of Batman (a Man Bat story arc) sometime around 1993. Frequent trips to India allowed me to source comics from airport stalls. Ever read the now discontinued and forgotten Thunderbolt? I have. And I remember specific frames from the book. Perhaps it was an escape from my relatively drama free childhood or maybe it was a rite of passage every young boy went through; whatever it was, I never got over the medium.

Third year of college. Holed up in that room, Watchmen convinced me that the comic book was far more than just colourful frames with conversation bubbles. The Comic Book had become The Graphic Novel. Characters had become morally ambiguous all of a sudden, heroes had become fallible and lofty ideals seemed suspicious. The Superhero concept had been deconstructed. Alan Moore joined the ranks of Faulkner and Fitzgerald and Dave Gibbons that of Rembrandt and Picasso. (Oh yes, comic book nerds are known to make wild exaggerations.)

I’ve been reading the book again; taking in every frame, digesting every line and assimilating concepts, some of which still strain my primitive frontal lobe. The book is an assault on the senses like no other; a work that perhaps was best left untouched.

However, I am mildly curious to see how Snyder translates something this complicated. 300 wasn’t exactly a brilliant film. If he does pull it off, will audiences be able to sit through 3 hours of an uncaring superman, an impotent vigilante and a masked anti hero who goes by the name Rorschach?


10 Responses to “The Graphic Novel”

  1. I’m looking forward to this movie. Although it definitely will be interesting how Snyder handles the particular challenges this graphic novel poses.

    Anyway, I thought that 300 was brilliant (you apparently didn’t), both as a movie and as an adaptation of the graphic novel, so I’ll have faith in it until I see it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. 2 ramblingperfectionist

    “If he does pull it off, will audiences be able to sit through 3 hours of an uncaring superman, an impotent vigilante and a masked anti hero who goes by the name Rorschach?”
    Are you kidding? Just about everyone I read on teh interwebs has been looking forward to this for AGES. Admittedly a biased sample, but it includes enough “mainstream sources” that I don’t think it’s TOO biased. As long as it doesn’t totally suck, and the trailers suggest it won’t, it’ll more than recoup whatever the production costs were.

  3. @kalafudra I thought 300 was pretty but empty; but then again not Snyder’s fault. The source material wasn’t all that great. I’m a huge fan of his first film though – Dawn of the Dead.

    I have way too much invested in the book; I might not retain my cheerful optimism and all round awesomeness if the movie turns out to be crap.

    @ramblingperfectionist Negative reviews have started pouring in. Most of them complain about the length of the film, the meandering plot line and inaccessibility to non-fans. I may cry.

    The comic book nerd crowd is very vociferous online; hence all this apparent excitement.

  4. 4 Swen

    I remember that turning point from Comic Book to Graphic Novel. And your attempts to explain it to people, needless to say, unsuccessfully. Except for those few other Comic Book Nerds you know. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. @Swen Meh, you read it only last year. ๐Ÿ˜

  6. The worst that Snyder can do is make a direct adaptation. There is no way that he can destroy the film. From the trailers, the behind-the-scenes and set visit articles, it looks like he has done a wonderful job interpreting the visual atmosphere of the graphic novel. His choice of Phillip Glass and Smashing Pumpkins for the previews, his track record – particularly Dawn of the Dead, and his obsession with comic books, all convince me that he can pull it off.

    Plus, he seems to be very very aware of the backlash he could get.

  7. 7 Anil

    Unfortunately, so far, none of Alan Moore’s works adapted for the screen have been given the respect and proper treatment they deserve. Both V for Vendetta and From Hell (leave alone the execrable League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) are far lesser works than their source novels even allowing for the difficulty of translating such material to the screen. So I’m not entirely hopeful about the film version of Watchmen. If 300 is the yardstick by which a successful translation of a graphic novel to the screen is measured then it is pretty poor yardstick indeed imho. That way I thought Sin City, Ghost World, American Splendor, The Dark Knight (and even Hellboy) were brilliant screen adaptations of their source materials.

    300 was visually stunning and had perhaps the best trailer I’ve ever seen but the inherent racism and constant West over East theme really pulled down the film for me. And since the film was basically at heart one long testosterone fuelled heavy metal video I’m not sure how Snyder will handle the many subtle and difficult themes of Watchmen. I’d love to be proven wrong though.

  8. @The Mute Oracle If early reviews are anything to go by, the film suffers because it’s a little too faithful to the book. Also, I always saw Watchmen as a broad satire, a lampooning of the superhero set. The film sadly seems to overlook this aspect of the book. Will be watching the film tonight. Fingers crossed.

    @Anil I got around to reading V for Vendetta only after the film and found the book far superior to the already brilliant film. Watchmen is different from all other Moore adaptations because it has the audacity to recreate the visuals frame by frame which in hindsight may not seem such a good idea.

    Good to know someone else thinks American Splendor was a brilliant adaptation. Hellboy was pretty great too; sadly very underrated and misunderstood. Ghost World, I have to be honest was a bit of a let down for me though I remember savoring Buscemi’s performance.

  1. 1 Watchmen - Zack Snyder (2009) « Couch Critics
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