ComicFest Essentials: Watchmen and Before Watchmen

index6QVUNI12If there’s one graphic novel that has been credited with changing the idea of what super hero comics, and comics as sophisticated works of fiction, could be it is Alan Moore’s Watchmen. Derived from old Charlton comic characters, Watchmen became one of the first self-contained series to re-imagine super hero myths and tropes, reflecting a modern and cynical distrust and suspicion of authority, that has continued through to the dark preoccupations of similar graphic novel authors to follow in Garth Ennis, Grant Morrison, Warren Ellis and more recently, Mark Millar. No super hero comic of modern times has been more influential.

Released last year, the new Before Watchmen series peer back into the murky pasts of eight seminal Watchmen related characters in Rorschach, Doctor Manhattan, Comedian, Nite Owl, Crimson Corsair, Silk Spectre, Ozymandias and the Minutemen.

Each examines their character minutely and deftly, and despite Alan Moore’s reluctance to endorse the project, the results are generally faithful and illustrated and written by current comic faves like Darwyn Cooke, Brian Azzarello and Swamp Thing creator Len Wein.

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Len Wein acted as original editor on the Watchmen and worked intimately with Alan Moore. He writes the pivotal Ozymandias story for Before Watchman and in the podcast below from the Nerdist.com website, he discusses his involvement, personal connection to the project and the influence Watchmen has had.

It’s a fascinating discussion with two other comic writers and well worth a listen – Link here!

Let’s not forget the frankly fantastic film of the same name from from 2009 – perfectly acted and gorgeously shot and few comic-film adaptions are so well made.

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Taken together, this multi-media snapshot of the Watchmen phenomenom should inspire some debate and mildly serious consideration hopefully but as the candid Dr Manhattan once said ,’All we ever see of stars are their old photographs.’

The same might be said of 27 year old comic books…