I will attempt to make a case that Watchmen is not as a comic book but a novel through the clever use of argumentum ad verecundiam. Ready? Watch. In 1988, Watchmen received the Hugo Award. In 2005, the editors of Time Magazine placed Watchmen on the ALL-TIME 100 Novels list. The list of the best novels written between 1923 and the present. More recently, Entertainment Weekly placed Watchmen at number 13 on its list of the best 50 novels printed in the last 25 years. And just in case that hasn’t convinced you, a few more soundbites:
“A work of ruthless psychological realism, it’s a landmark in the graphic novel medium.” — Time Magazine
“Watchmen is peerless.” — Rolling Stone
“Remarkable … the would-be heroes of Watchmen have staggeringly complex psychological profiles.” — New York Times Book Review
“A brilliant piece of fiction.” — The Village Voice
So, all of these authorities say Watchmen is great literature. So it must be true! The point here is that none of this matters. Watchmen is a story — a dense, complex story with social, psychological and structural elements worthy of more traditional literary examples. Originally published by DC Comics in 1986 and 1987, Watchmen is a twelve-issue series created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. I am reading it in a collected form: the so-called graphic novel. Alan Moore has stated that the initial premise for the series was to examine what superheroes would be like “in a credible, real world”. That premise shifted as the story developed and grew in complexity. Watchmen grew to encompass the idea of “power and about the idea of the superman manifest within society.”
Compelling storytelling takes myriad forms: song, theater, novel, poem. Why not this?