Our pal Seth Hahne, of GoodOKBad fame, came up with this 31 Days of Comics challenge, one of those things where each day of the month you're given a different category that you then make a choice of a comic to fill that category. I figured it would be a fun bit to do, so here we are! Click here to see each of the categories so far!
We conclude with Day 31, which is A Comic You'd Hate to Leave Off a List of Comics.
Read on for my pick and then you can share yours!
I'm going with Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen.
To give you an idea of how much of a game changer Watchmen was, note that the PROOFS for the issues were passed around the DC offices – that’s how much even the other DC employees were enthralled in the story that Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons were producing. Everyone knew that this comic was special, and now nearly thirty years later, it remains a very special story.
A remarkable aspect of Watchmen is the fact that, past the fairly straightforward plot about an older superhero getting murdered, with his former teammates investigating his murder only to find out that it is all tied to a mysterious conspiracy, there is just so much detail and nuance.
Of course, most importantly, it opens with a Bob Dylan song lyric...
You can examine a single scene and get something new out of the scene practically every time you read it.
And that’s even counting all of the famous scenes that are awesome just on a straightforward reading of the book, like Ozymandias’ famous “I did it 35 minutes ago” line...
or Rorschach’s fight against the police...
or Rorschach's first meeting with his prison shrink...
Dave Gibbons does not get enough credit for his amazing artwork in this series. There’s a sequence set in the past when the heroes were still all pretty naive (Rorschach was not even using his scary voice as of yet), and Gibbons gives us, ALL IN THE BACKGROUND, a beautiful depiction of Doctor Manhattan flirting with the Silk Spectre, all while his wife is right next to him. As the panels go by, not one doesn’t show some sort of interaction in the background of the panel – all of it is important to their characterizations, but none of it is central to the main story being delivered in those panels – so Gibbons basically was giving us two stories at once. The one Moore is telling with the speech balloons at the “front” of the panel, plus the one Gibbons is telling in the “back” of the panel through body language.
Granted, as great as Gibbons is, Moore DOES work full script, so while I am praising Gibbons, I have to make sure I do give Moore credit for the details, as well.
All in all, there is a reason that this was one of Time magazine’s Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century – it’s a masterpiece of comic book fiction, both in story and art – and decades later, it is STILL influencing comic book writers, so I wouldn't feel right doing this 31 Days of Comics challenge and not working in Watchmen at some point.