Tuesday 4 November 2008

Thinking About The Watchmen

At the moment you could be excused for thinking that that the world is divided into two people: those that have read Watchmen and those that want to. It's always been a best-seller but since the trailer for the movie first did the rounds earlier in the year, worldwide sales have spiked to phenomenal heights. To give you some idea, a look at Diamond sales figures for America this year had shown Watchmen selling 2,000-3,000 copies a month. The number one book each month is often pushing 10,000 and is never the same book two months in a row. In July Watchmen recorded sales of 19,000 and in August it was 43,000.

Two things strike me when I consider this: Firstly, people that have never read a graphic novel before are reading this book. Think about that. Your only experience of reading comics is when you were a kid and now you're reading a complex piece of work like Watchmen. So what percentage of those readers are going to find the experience a revelation? How many people are going to be hungry for more? What's next?

Which makes me think that it's such a shame that once again Alan Moore is distancing himself from a movie. Here we have the chance for a highly respected author to step into the limelight and champion the medium. His name should be synonymous with the project. He should be on television and in the newspapers telling everyone about the potential of sequential art urging people to read Promethea, V for Vendetta and From Hell. And then to read ... who? Windsor McKay? George Herriman? Daniel Clowes? Mike Mignola? These are names that people should be aware of if they have any interest in the medium, just as we all know classic authors regardless of whether we have read anything by them.

The second point is that Watchmen the movie will be the first graphic novel adaptation that a significant portion of the audience will have already read. Not simply familiar with the character, as with Spider-Man and Batman and co. but actually judging the movie based on another level other than just as a piece of entertainment.

No real point to make on that other than its a milestone reached. And that the pressure's really on Zack Snyder. SLS

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