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Watchmen by Alan Moore

Watchmen (original 1986; edition 1995)

by Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons (Illustrator)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
12,649341188 (4.34)350
Authors:Alan Moore
Other authors:Dave Gibbons (Illustrator)
Info:DC Comics (1995), Paperback, 416 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

Watchmen by Alan Moore (Writer) (1986)

  1. 210
    V for Vendetta by Alan Moore (FFortuna, monktv)
    monktv: These books have the epic storytelling and interesting meaning in common.
  2. 190
    Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller (McMinty)
  3. 100
    The Absolute Sandman Volume One by Neil Gaiman (JapaG)
    JapaG: After the Watchmen, Sandman is probably the graphic novel that has most influenced the adult comic scene today. It has similarly deep storyline about humanity from the perspective of one outside of it. Also the magnificent art contributes to the great collection.
  4. 90
    DC Universe: The Stories of Alan Moore by Alan Moore (artturnerjr)
    artturnerjr: Includes two earlier Moore/Gibbons collaborations.
  5. 80
    From Hell by Alan Moore (sturlington)
  6. 60
    Supreme: The Story of the Year by Alan Moore (one-horse.library)
    one-horse.library: Like Watchmen, this is a superhero story. But it is the complete polar opposite of Watchmen; this is Alan Moore's love letter to the silver age superhero.
  7. 50
    Batwoman: Elegy by Greg Rucka (sweetiegherkin)
    sweetiegherkin: I enjoyed the back stories in both, seeing how regular people end up as costumed vigilantes.
  8. 50
    Supreme: The Return by Alan Moore (one-horse.library)
  9. 50
    The Authority: Relentless by Warren Ellis (MyriadBooks)
  10. 50
    Astro City: Life in the Big City by Kurt Busiek (FFortuna)
  11. 62
    Kingdom Come by Mark Waid (jpers36)
  12. 30
    Those Who Walk in Darkness by John Ridley (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: Which is another superhero deconstruction along these same lines.
  13. 31
    The Satires of Juvenal by Juvenal (bertilak)
  14. 21
    Icon: A Hero's Welcome (New Edition) by Dwayne McDuffie (FFortuna)
  15. 11
    Greyshirt: Indigo Sunset (Greyshirt, 1) by Rick Veitch (kxlly)
  16. 22
    American Flagg! : Definitive Collection Volume 1 by Howard Chaykin (LKAYC)
  17. 11
    Winter Men by Brett Lewis (IamAleem)
  18. 11
    Atomika Vol 1: God Is Red by Sal Abbinanti (IamAleem)
  19. 25
    Essential Spider-Man, Volume 1 by Stan Lee (artturnerjr)
    artturnerjr: Comics creator Steve Ditko was a central influence on Watchmen. This volume, created in collaboration with scripter Stan Lee, contains some of his finest work.
  20. 25
    Watchmensch by Rich Johnston (one-horse.library)
    one-horse.library: Watchmensch is a parody of Alan Moore's seminal work, Watchmen. It takes place in New York, starring Nite Nurse, Spottyman, Silk, 1700 Broadway Manhattan and Ozzyosbourne in a race to discover who is killing them, a cloned creature about to be dropped onto NYC and a conspiracy in the comic book industry--the movies it spawns and the creator it tramples over on its way to the bank.… (more)

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» See also 350 mentions

English (333)  French (2)  Dutch (1)  Danish (1)  Catalan (1)  Swedish (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (340)
Showing 1-5 of 333 (next | show all)
I saw the film before I read this and liked them both about equally. The comic is probably better but I got more out of the film (loved the soundtrack). Also, though neither ending makes much sense, the one in the film is more satisfying. I just couldn't take the space squid seriously. I'm sorry, I think that ending actually is more LOGICAL, just... why'd it have to be a squid-thing? ( )
  humblewomble | Oct 19, 2014 |
Excellent! ( )
  KatieEmilySmith | Sep 23, 2014 |
Realistic and dark and gritty. One of my all time favorite graphic novels. The characters are well developed and the situations are realistic. The interweaving stories of each of the heros was amazing to read and watch it play out into the plot. Worth it. ( )
  Rosenstern | Sep 14, 2014 |
Now I know why people say this book changed how graphic novels were written.

Just, damn. So good. ( )
  owlbeyourfriend | Sep 2, 2014 |
It's hard to know where to begin to talk about Watchmen Alan Moore's "Graphic Novel" about heroes and individuals and society. (Artwork by Dave Gibbons)

I mean the thing is a comic book, fa' Pete’s sake - garish four color printing in little boxes arranged in crowded little nine by nine grids on pages of cheap paper.

But it’s also a book with a lot on its mind.

Quick synopsis: it's 1988. Richard Nixon is still president. America has won the Viet Nam War, but the "Cold War" between America and Russia is still simmering along.

Guys (and gals) used to run around in absurd costumes and "fight crime" (Some of them anyway)

A paranoid government fearing the power of a group they cannot control has forced most of the "masks" underground.

"Dr. Manhattan" is one of the few "super" heroes with real power - and he has the power of a god. As the result of a lab accident he has become the atomic powered “ultimate weapon” The fact that he is more or less on the side of America is what keeps the Cold War from going over to "Hot Hot Hot".

(But perhaps his radiation causes cancer - - - doesn’t everything?)

As the book opens, "The Comedian" - one of the few "masks" operating openly - is found murdered. Rorschach another costumed vigilante suspects a "Mask killer" is on the loose – maybe from the government?

Rorschach is particularly unlikeable - he's paranoid and vulgar and prone to violence and not too fussy about personal hygiene. But he puts on his mask (one of the few times he is seen without it he cries out "Where is my face?") and goes out and tries to put away the bad guys. He's Batman without Bruce Wayne's money.

He tries to take responsibility for his share of the mess. His mask is an oily ink blot that shifts and changes shape like the smoke over a burning city.

But then there is Dr. Manhattan – does “Power corrupt”? Well in this case at least power isolates - creates distance. Dr. Manhattan who can see the past and the future in a single gestalt can see no reason to involve himself in the silly trivial affairs of mere mortals - (yes they talk like that) - and sits lonely on the moon and wearily waits for the rest of the universe to catch up. He's abdicated his responsibility – at least for now. Dr. Manhattan is cool blue – naked - invulnerable – untouchable.

And Adrian Veidt - who does have Bruce Wayne's money - has hatched a scheme to end the war and bring about a peaceful world - whether you like it or not. Maybe he’s right – but he doesn't care a rap if YOU think he's right or not.

I think Moore is fascinated by the concept of the individual as opposed to the hero - or perhaps the individual as hero.

These characters and others swirl around in past and present and we see some very vivid and complex character studies.

Why, indeed does a person wear a mask?
How do people "change the world"? By rescuing people from a burning building? Or by burning down the building to kill the mice?

The Dark Knight movies (which owe a lot to “Watchmen”) give us an idea of how people would really behave if some psycho in a costume suddenly showed up and started throwing his weight around.

The title comes from the Roman poet Juvenal – someone who knew something about decaying empires – and goes “Who Watches The Watchmen? Who guards us against the Guardians?”

To which Moore replies: Society consists only of the actions taken by responsible indivdual human beings. What do you think about that?

It's only an accident of history that George Zimmerman wasn't wearing a mask and cape on his "Neighborhood Watch" Bat-patrol in Florida.

Book Circle colleagues complained about the book being hard to read - I guess my eyes have grown accustomed to the form. But the little square cells and the obsessive detail is deliberate - part of Alan Moore's way of telling a story. We're used to literature giving us sly allusions and references that we may get and may not get. Why can't a "Graphic" literature do the same?

Like any new genre it takes time to learn the idiom. I would submit that taking the time has its rewards.

Watch closely. And don’t! blink!

No mask but truth to cover lies
As to go naked is the best disguise ( )
  magicians_nephew | Aug 25, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 333 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (18 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Moore, AlanWriterprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gibbons, DaveIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Higgins, JohnColoristmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Orlando, JoeIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bárány, FerencTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wein, LenEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Quis custodiet ipsos custodes. Who watches the watchmen? Juvenal Satires, VI, 347, quoted as the epigraph of the Tower commission report, 1987
With special thanks to Neil Gaiman, Mike Lake, Pat Mills, and Joe Orlando.
First words
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.
[spraypainted on wall] "Who watches the Watchmen?"
"Looked at the sky through smoke heavy with human fat and God was not there. The cold suffocating dark goes on forever and we are alone. Live our lives lacking anything better to do. Devise reason later. Born from oblivion; bear children hell-bound as ourselves; go into oblivion. There is nothing else. Existence is random. Has no pattern save what we imagine after staring at it for too long. No meaning save what we choose to impose. This rudderless world is not shaped by vague metaphysical forces. It is not God who kills the children. Not fate that butchers them or destiny that feeds them to the dogs. It's us. Only us." (Ch. VI, pg26)
"All this, it could be gone: people, cars, T.V. shows, magazines...even the word 'gone' would be gone." (Ch. V, pg12)
"Why do we argue? Life's so fragile, a successful virus clinging to a speck of mud, suspended in endless nothing." (Ch. VI, pg28)
"We're all puppets, Laurie. I'm just a puppet that can see the strings." (Ch. IX, pg5)
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Some consider Absolute Watchmen to be a notably different work from Watchmen. There is currently a discussion in Combiners! discussing whether or not this separation is needed. Please join the discussion. Please do not combine the two works until this is resolved.
Before separating check ISBN because there are bad titles
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0930289234, Paperback)

Has any comic been as acclaimed as Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen? Possibly only Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, but Watchmen remains the critics' favorite. Why? Because Moore is a better writer, and Watchmen a more complex and dark and literate creation than Miller's fantastic, subversive take on the Batman myth. Moore, renowned for many other of the genre's finest creations (Saga of the Swamp Thing, V for Vendetta, and From Hell, with Eddie Campbell) first put out Watchmen in 12 issues for DC in 1986-87. It won a comic award at the time (the 1987 Jack Kirby Comics Industry Awards for Best Writer/Artist combination) and has continued to gather praise since.

The story concerns a group called the Crimebusters and a plot to kill and discredit them. Moore's characterization is as sophisticated as any novel's. Importantly the costumes do not get in the way of the storytelling; rather they allow Moore to investigate issues of power and control--indeed it was Watchmen, and to a lesser extent Dark Knight, that propelled the comic genre forward, making "adult" comics a reality. The artwork of Gibbons (best known for 2000AD's Rogue Trooper and DC's Green Lantern) is very fine too, echoing Moore's paranoid mood perfectly throughout. Packed with symbolism, some of the overlying themes (arms control, nuclear threat, vigilantes) have dated but the intelligent social and political commentary, the structure of the story itself, its intertextuality (chapters appended with excerpts from other "works" and "studies" on Moore's characters, or with excerpts from another comic book being read by a child within the story), the finepace of the writing and its humanity mean that Watchmen more than stands up--it keeps its crown as the best the genre has yet produced. --Mark Thwaite

A Q&A with Dave Gibbons on the Making of Watchmen

Question: You were tasked with drawing new illustrations of key shots from the new Watchmen film. Was it a difficult challenge to re-imagine your work in this movie format?

Dave Gibbons: I don’t think that I actually did many key shots from the film. I had to actually imagine them rather than exactly recreate what was going to be in the movie. But as far as the drawings I did for the licensing purposes, accuracy was the real key so that they looked exactly like the movie. Whereas doing the graphic novel was creating stuff afresh and being very creative, this was more the case of interpreting something that already existed. So it was rather more a commercial art job than a creative thing.

Q: How many scenes from the original graphic novel did you redraw in the new "movie" format?

DG: I kind of did them piecemeal, these licensing drawings. I did do a section of storyboarding for Zack Snyder. There is a part of the movie that isn’t in the graphic novel and he wanted to see how I would have drawn it, if it had been in the graphic novel. So I redid the storyboards as three pages of comic on the nine-panel grid, also getting it coloured by John Higgins so it looked authentic. But I think there were probably only 3 or 4 scenes that I drew, which were from the movie.

Q: What was your working method for producing these new illustrations from the film? And how has it changed from when you originally illustrated Watchmen?

DG: When you’re producing things from existing material, you have to look at and assemble the references... you know, keep looking backwards and forwards to make sure what you’re drawing is accurate to what’s in the photos. I did have lots of photos from the movie and in some cases I had more or less the illustration I was going to do in photo form, which made it a lot easier. On others I had to construct it from various references: really just the usual illustrator’s job of drawing something to reference. And on the original illustrations of Watchmen, I was free to come up with exactly the angles and exactly the costumes and everything that I wanted to. When you’ve designed a costume and drawn it a few times, you actually internalize it and you find you can draw it without having to refer to reference at all. So in some ways it’s more creative and in some ways it’s easier!

Q: In Watchmen: The Art of the Film, there are concept designs by other artists of their visions of your iconic characters. What do you think of their versions and did you offer any guidance while they were working on these?

DG: It’s always really interesting to see versions of your characters drawn by other artists. You tend to see things in them that you hadn’t noticed before. So I really enjoyed looking at those. I certainly didn’t offer them any guidance. The purpose of getting those kinds of drawings done is to get a fresh perspective on what exists. I noticed actually that they really stuck more closely to my original designs than those, but I really enjoyed seeing them.

Q: Watchmen: Portraits is Clay Enos’s stunning black and white collection of photos of each character from the Watchmen movie. What was it like looking through this book at all the characters you had conceived years ago now being brought to life by actors?

DG: It’s rather interesting; you know if you look at the Watching the Watchmen book you can see these characters as fairly sketchy rough conceptual versions. Then when you look at Clay’s book you can actually see them right down to counting the number of pores on the skin on the end of their noses! It’s incredible high focus! It’s like zooming in through space and time to look at the surface of some moon of Saturn or something. I thoroughly enjoyed his book... it had a real artistic quality to it that was really so good. And of course to see these actors who so much are the embodiment of what I drew, that it’s a tremendous thrill to see them made flesh!

Q: Watchmen: The Film Companion features some stills from the animated version of The Black Freighter. What do you think of the look and design of this animated feature?

DG: It looks really interesting! Although I drew my version in the comic book in a kind of horror-comic style, these are very much in a savage manga style. I think they work really well... they’ve got the kind of manic intensity, which I think that work should have and I really can’t wait to see the whole feature. I’ve seen the trailer for it and that looks great and again they’ve used a lot of the compositions that I came up with but just translated them to this kind of very modern drawn animation.

Q: How much time did you spend on the set of Watchmen? Was it a surreal experience to see your work recreated like this?

DG: I was on the set of Watchmen for a couple of days and it really was surreal to walk through a door and then suddenly be in the presence of all these people in living breathing flesh! I was there for what you would call the Crimebusters meeting where they were all there in costume in the same room, which was incredible. They had obviously planned that so I would get to see everyone. It was surreal though quite a wonderful experience to see it come to life.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:46:39 -0400)

This stunning graphic novel chronicles the fall from grace of a group of superheroes plagued by all too human failings. The concept of the super hero is dissected and inverted as strangely realistic characters are stalked by an unknown assassin. Originally published as a 12 issue series in 1986 and 1987, WATCHMEN remains one of DC Comics' most popular graphic novels.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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