Wednesday, May 16, 2007

More Moore

One more comment on Sean's Alan Moore posts, which is actually tangential to Sean's point but speaks to the quote from the more interview that Bruce Baugh quotes in the e-mail that Sean quoted:

I think it's interesting to look at which parts of Watchmen influenced the super-hero comics that followed it and which part didn't. We can see its grim 'n' grittiness (Identity Crisis), its meticulous "coded" structure (Arkham Asylum, Seven Soldiers), its taking-apart of the super-hero comic book (Animal Man, Seaguy), and its super-heroes in the "real world" perspective (two very different takes: Astro City and Supreme Power). What we don't see much of, though, are super-hero comics that have been influenced by Dave Gibbons's contributions to Watchmen. I've said this before, but I think what Gibbons does is show us super-heroes - who, archetypically, are (most?) famous for being able to defy gravity - who are bound by the laws of gravity. That's my cute way of saying: the super-heroes in Watchmen (with one exception) look like normal people and have realistic non-idealized bodies. They're flabby and sagging and scared and wrinkled. They don't strike poses: they just kind of stand around like normal people.

This aspect of Watchmen has, to my knowledge, never shown up in a super-hero comic since them, except when occasionally played as a joke (i.e. Blue Beetle gaining too much weight in the Giffen/DeMatteis/Maguire-era Justice League books).

This is Watchmen's central visual idea and I think it tends to get the short shrift in discussions about the book because it is visual and it tends to be more fun and rewarding for us word-crazy intellectual-types to decode/interpret symbolism than to write about what is actually right there on the page, staring us in the face.

Hey (and this isn't tangential to Sean's comments): while I definitely agree with his point about Moore's "Important Statements", it's Moore's collaborators who really put those books over for me. I wish more people would talk about the art of Watchmen, V for Vendetta, and From Hell (Eddie Campbell shouldn't be the only person doing detailed analysis of these pages).

I've brought this up before and received dismissive comments along the lines of "the artists are just doing what Moore tells them to do" or "they're just following his detailed scripts", but I'm completely willing to accept that and it doesn't change what I'm trying to get across: that even though Moore's scripts are "coded" and (to a certain extent) closed-off, the art opens them back up by grounding the symbolism and clockwork structure within specifically-observed and realized worlds.

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