I got Alan Moore’s watchmen for the holidays and read it in two days. I don’t think I’ve ever really read a comic book or graphic novel straight through before and I enjoyed it. Generally the blood and guts stuff doesn’t appeal to me, but while there was some blood and guts in this, it was more about the narrative. The plot was interesting, with some cool twists. The characters were well developed, with chapters devoted to each one’s backstory. There were some interesting repeated symbols an themes and an allegorical comic-within-a-comic. There were some interesting non-comic pages at the end of each chapter, excerpts from various fictional books that are mentioned in the main text, police files, etc. I also liked how the story was set in a history that was basically the same as ours but with a few subtle changes, it made me wonder about which events were fictional and which I just didn’t know about.
In the end, though, I was left with the feeling that it was still a comic book, albeit one that was trying really hard to be more than a comic book. Even though everything, including the ending, was a lot more complex than most comic books I’ve encountered, it was still about superheroes and it still had the blood and guts and grittiness. Sometimes all of the literary devices that were thrown in made it seem like it was trying just a bit too hard. I guess I was expecting a novel with some pictures, but what I found was half way between a comic book and a novel. That’s not a bad thing, just not what I was expecting. It was certainly enjoyable to read, and it’s gotten me excited to see what else is out there in the world of graphic novels.