Friday, February 27, 2009

Watchmen - Alan Moore and a Baby Quilt!

Title: Watchmen
Author: Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
Date Finished: Feb 27, 2009 #9
Published: 1985 Pages: 416
Rating: 4.5/5

Wow. What to say, what to say. I went into this reading with a little bit of excitement and a whole lot of fear. The only graphic novel that I've read is Persepolis, and this, to me, seems far more intense. Just flipping through the pages left me greatly overwhelmed. But what can you do--just take it one page at a time.

I became curious about this book when I first saw the movie preview. I have to admit that I hadn't heard of it before then. But now that graphic novels are all abuzz I started to see it listed more and more. Someone actually suggested it for the "future" classics list last year--I still hadn't heard of it then.

What is Watchmen? Watchmen begins with a murder and then an exile. It appears that someone is targeting heroes (most of whom retired when the US banned vigilantes) and killing them one by one. A few of the old Watchmen group get together at first to save themselves, but it may not just be themselves who are in danger. You know I hate summarizing...and really, the less you know, the better. :)

Several things surprised me about this book. First, I am astounded at the complexity that the author and artist achieved. The book contains twelve volumes, and at the end of each volume is a little snippet of secondary information. Sometimes journal entries, sometimes bits from a retired hero's book, sometimes interviews. But even though those few pages at the end of each volume added needed background information, the actual picture text part is where the depth comes from. The book is multilayered, switches points of view, is at the same time poetic and frightening. Really--compelling.

The most difficult thing I had to overcome while reading the book was my impatience. I couldn't decide if I should read the text first and then look at the pictures or visa versa--it was very difficult for me to take in both at the same time. This sometimes created a choppiness that I didn't really like (because I was impatient for more!), but on the other hand, it was hard not to get caught up in everything single little thing that was going on. One of the things that I loved about the illustrations was how a picture would focus on something small, then the next frame would zoom out, and finally it would zoom enough to get the entire shot. Words are failing me while writing this review...but there is just so much!

The other thing that really surprised me was how interested I was in the content. I don't read action books. I don't like conspiracy. I don't like end of the world type stuff. I don't like unrealistic, science fictiony, hero swoops in to save the day, etc etc. Really--if that dang movie preview hadn't been so fantastic, and if I hadn't seen this book around the blogosphere, I probably would never have given it a second glance. But once I started reading, I was hooked. This was not fast reading for me. Each volume took me about an hour to read (28 pages plus 5 of non-picture text). But, I loved everything about this book except for the story within the story, which I found most of the time distracting and way over my head. :)

Is it for you? I don't know. It is absolutely, completely, utterly different from anything I have ever experienced before. I don't know that it has universal appeal, and there is a little bit of s*x and a lot of gruesome violence. But none of that "Pow!" "Bam!" "Holy Jeepers, Batman!" stuff one might expect from a comic book. Am I even allowed to call it that? Pick it up and read the first volume. You'll get a pretty good idea if you'll like it or not. I know that I'll read it again one day and gain an entirely different perspective.

In other news...

Last night we welcomed to the world my niece, Emma Cathryn. She's absolutely breathtakingly beautiful. Both she and my sister are doing great. Below is the quilt that I made for Baby Emma. It took me about a month, but I'm thrilled at how it turned out. I hope Emma will love it one day as well. I machine sewed and hand tied the quilt. It is about 3.5x3.5 feet. The checked pattern is actually little butterflies (I think you can click on picture to enlarge).

And to Hawaii (Oahu) for a week! Aloha Aloha. :)


Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your new niece! The quilt is beautiful. My in-laws are heading to Hawaii next week, too.

Tasha said...

Watchmen sounds good, both the graphic novel and the movie. Lovely quilt - perfect for a baby niece. I hope you have fun in Hawaii.

Chrisbookarama said...

Aw, congrats! Beautiful quilt. Have fun in Hawaii.

Amanda said...

1) This book is on my list for this year, so it's good to know you liked it.

2) That quilt is so beautiful! Yay for new nieces!

3) Have fun in Hawaii and take lots of pictures. :)

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

*Bermuda - Thanks! Where are your in-laws headed?

*Charley - Watchmen is good--but very different. I think you'd like it.

*Chris - Thank you!!

*Amanda - I'll be really curious as to what you think of the book. I know your graphic novel experience has been kind of shaky so far. In terms of content I liked Persepolis better, but this one also had so many great points from a literature type perspective (which just seems so weird to me!).

Anonymous said...

Your quilt is beautiful. I have only succeeded in making doll quilts so far.

I am not sure that I have ever read a book like this. It sounds really intriguing. I want to reas Skeleton Creek for the same reason. Not your same old novel.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful quilt! What satisfaction to do that. I haven't a clue how to quilt. Have fun in Hawaii! So, so jealous! Even though our family lives there we don't go often enough. You'll literally be a stones through from my grandparents home if you're at Waikiki. We can walk to the Waikiki beach from their house.

CJ said...

What a beautiful birth day gift! Your niece will absolutely love it when she's older; how could she not.

So, it's -8F here at the moment. Most of the student population are off to parts unknown for spring break and here I sit... freezing my nose off...

And you're heading for Hawaii!


Have a good time.


Thoughts of Joy said...

Congratulations, Auntie Trish! And . . . the quilt is beautiful. It's a very thoughtful gift.

I think I just saw this book at Target the other day. The cover really caught my eye. With a 4.5/5 rating, I might look into this, but superhero books are really not my thing. I've been surprised before, so we'll see. :)

Happy Vacationing!

Madeleine said...

Such a beautiful quilt!

I bought WATCHMEN last week along with PERSEPOLIS and BLANKETS.

Have not read any yet

have a wonderful vacation!

Laura said...

I think I'm still too intimidated by graphic novels--I do really want to see the movie though!

I love love love the quilt you made for Emma! It's so soft! I want to pet it some more.

I hope you have a fantastic Hawaiian adventure and I'm looking forward to hearing all about it when you get back!

Lisa said...

I just have zero desire to read a graphic novel, no matter how well reviewed.

The quilt is perfect! Look at all your little pinwheel points!

Have a great trip, think of us while you're gone. You know, those of us with SNOW ON THE GROUND.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

*Jennifer - This is only my second quilt. The sewing isn't difficult, but I'd really like to learn how to machine quilt rather than tying. The book is really intriguing and really intense. I've heard lots about Skeleton Creek lately.

*Natasha - How nice to have relatives in Hawaii! This is our first trip--do you get to go often?

*CJ -8?? I don't think there is anything I can say to possibly make you feel warmer. Hopefully spring will be here soon enough (March will fly by, right??)

*Joy - I really couldn't say if I think you'd like this one or not. It is definitely not my thing, but I was so intrigued that I found myself always wanting to read more. I'll be really interested in hearing what you think!

*Madeleine - I hope you like them! I loved Persepolis and I think it is easier to read than Watchmen. Haven't heard of Blankets, but I'll have to look it up.

*Laura - It is really intimidating...and it took a lot longer than I thought it would to read. I watched the preview again after finishing the book and it looks really good! We're sitting in the San Francisco airport right now.

*Lisa - LOL. If you had asked me 6 months ago I would have said the same about graphic novels. It still isn't a genre that I'm racing for at the store, but I have to admit that I am interested. Thank you about the quilt. After my stepmom saw it she said, "I never realized you were such a perfectionist until now." Yup. Now I just need to figure out what to make next!! Any ideas?? :)

samantha.1020 said...

The quilt turned out beautifully! Congratulations on your niece and have fun in Hawaii!

Debi said...

Congratulations on a new little baby to love and spoil!!! The quilt you made her is absolutely gorgeous, Trish! I'll bet Emma's mama loves it, and I'm sure Emma will, too!

After Nymeth's review, I figured I needed to read this book...and now I'm even more convinced. I'm glad you enjoyed it so much, Trish!

And Hawaii...hope you have the time of your life!!!

Debi said...

Oops, meant to tell you to e-mail me when you get home (rdagmstevens at frontiernet dot net)...I need your snail mail address as you won that scrapbooking book. :)

Stephanie said...

Congrats, Auntie! :) Beautiful quilt, and have a GREAT time in Hawaii!

Melody said...

I'm hoping to watch Watchmen soon. My hubby was talking about it the other day when we saw the trailer on TV...

Wow, that's a beautiful quilt! Congrats and hope you've fun in Hawaii! :D

Darlene said...

Welcome to the world Emma. Baby girls are so precious. I'm glad baby and mom are doing well. Trish, the quilt is just gorgeous. Beautiful colors and so well done-awesome job! Have a great trip!

tanabata said...

The quilt is lovely! Congratulations on your new niece.
I've been hearing a lot about Watchmen lately because of the movie coming out. I wasn't sure about it but I think you've convinced me to at least try the first one.
Hope you have a wonderful time in Hawaii!

Michelle said...

I have never read a graphic novel, but I like you have been intimidated with them as well. I am not sure that I will go out and read one anytime soon, but someday I am sure I will!
The quilt is absolutely gorgeous! I love it! I really want to finish Emmory's now...

Have a great time in Hawaii!!!!!

Ana S. said...

I'm so happy you enjoyed it, Trish :D And I loved your review. About the impatience...I really think it gets better with practice. You develop a rhythm of your own. I used to feel like that when reading comics, but not anymore.

And as for this: "But none of that "Pow!" "Bam!" "Holy Jeepers, Batman!" stuff one might expect from a comic book. Am I even allowed to call it that?": I want to make it my mission in life to make people stop expecting that from comics, and stop seeing the word "comic" as somehow pejorative :P I mean, of course that "Pow!" "Bam!" "Holy Jeepers, Batman!" comics exist, but I don't think they're any more representative of the medium than the more serious ones. They haven't been for a very long time.

I hope you're having a wonderful time in Hawaii, Trish! And congrats on becoming an aunt :D I love the name Emma, btw.

Kim L said...

Great review! I enjoyed this one as well. I was newbie to graphic novels last year, but I really like them because of how quickly I can breeze through them. I feel so much more accomplished now!

Enjoy your vacation and know that I am terribly jealous :-)

joanna said...

I've been very curious about this - so many bloggers have raved about it, but like you my only experience with this genre is Persepolis. Great review though, it makes me want to leave work right now to get it! :-)

Anonymous said...

"Watchmen" was only the second graphic novel I've read since "Fun Home" (also incredibly wonderful), and I was very, very impressed. One of the things I liked at "Watchmen" was that it definitely commands respect for the genre and it shows you just what a graphic novel can do that other mediums can't or don't. I.e. You get a much more story than you would in a standard two hour film, and you get a whole lot more visual stimulus than you would with a standard novel. Case in point: the zooming in effect you mentioned.

Anyways, I'm glad you liked it! I'm totally excited to see the movie when it comes out his weekend!

Congrats on becoming an aunt and have a whole lot of fun in Hawaii. I'm going there myself in June for the first time and I can't wait! = )

Serena said...

my husband continues to urge me to go see this movie with him. I guess I may have to go and check out the movie...then maybe I will move onto the book.

great review as always.

Harry Markov said...

To be honest you would have to be a fan of the medium and the genre to fully understand its magnificence, because most of what makes it superb has to do with being the opposite of the "Boom/Pow". There are quite some themes and ideas that you can see if being a comic book junkie like me and I don't mean it in a snobbish kind of way. Just like being in the field and knowledgable. You got the core of it and that is what matters.

Stephanie said...

Well...hope you had a great week in Hawaii!!

I never did read The Watchmen. Been meaning to, but never got around to it. I did, however, see the movie yesterday and thought it was incredible!! Now...I MUST read the book!!

Great quilt, BTW!

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

*Sam - Thanks! It's great to be back home now, but we're exhausted!

*Debi - The book is really great--the movie was too much for me. There were whole scenes where I kept my eyes shut for the violence. :( Oh well. I just shot you a quick email--so excited!!

*Stephanie - Thank you thank you thank you. :)

*Melody - If you haven't seen the movie yet--be warned that it is incredibly violent. For some reason the book didn't bother me as much, but the movie was pretty darn graphic.

*Dar - Thanks so much for the kind words! :) We are all so excited to have a new little baby--my nieces and nephews on my husband's side are all too far away to see often.

*Tanabata - Hope you like the book. I'm still really impressed by the complexity. The movie, though, I could have passed on (see some of my comments above about violence). I'll be interested in hearing what you think of the first volume.

S. Krishna said...

Congratulations on the birth of your niece! I read Watchmen as well, and enjoyed it too. It was actually the first graphic novel I've ever read.

My review

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

*Michelle - If you do decide to grab a graphic novel, I'd really recommend Persepolis. It is the memoir of a lady who grew up in Iran during the revolution. Finish Emmory's and post pictures!! I'd love to see what you're working on!

*Nymeth - I think you're right about developing a rhythm. I started to find it about a third of the way through. Maybe because of all the layers of the book and because the way the material was presented, it almost felt like watching a movie and being able to see how all the pieces fit that way. Do you watch Heroes? I saw a big similarity in the feel. And I was amazed at how well the movie stayed true to the book--even down to the smallest focus frames. I didn't like the movie as much, but I can't stop thinking about the book!!

*Kim - I think it actually took me just as long to read this one as a regular book. Maybe because there was so much detail--but I also found myself having to re-read things. Do you have any others to recommend?

*Joanna - This one is *very* different from Persepolis. I think I like Persepolis better, but this one in some ways has much more depth. Hope you like it!

*JS Peyton - I completely agree that Watchmen demands or "commands" respect from the readers. I was absolutely blown away and definitely curious to read more. I'll have to check out Fun Home. Which island will you be going to? We had a blast, but the weather was a little icky.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

*Serena - I'll be curious to hear what you think of the movie. It was a little too violent for me (for some reason the book didn't bother me as much, although it is equally as violent), but I still enjoyed it.

*Henry - LOL--snobbish, huh? :) I'm not sure that I agree that one needs to be an expert or a fanatic of graphic novels or this type of genre in order to fully "get" what is being presented. I've studied enough literature to be able to truly dig into any type of work. Sometimes I just can't find the words that I'm looking for (in the limited time I give myself to write my posts) to express the more literary side of the things I read--it's easier/quicker for me to talk about my raw feelings. I know you weren't making a dig at me, and I can kind of see your argument, but I don't know that I agree (I'll disagree respectfully). :)

*Stephanie - if you liked the movie you HAVE to read this book! The movie follows pretty closely with the book, but the book is fantastic. I think you'd really get a kick out of it!

*S. Krishna - The only other graphic novel I've read is Persepolis, but I really loved it. A very different kind of book. I've heard great things about some others as well--definitely loving the personal discovery of this genre!

Harry Markov said...

Eek, I am sorry if it sounded that way. Reading it back I guess I didn't formulate what I wanted to say correctly. I meant that to an insider more lovely surprises will pop up, considering that they know where to look. This was it. Simple and more bubbly, but not a dig on you. You do fantastic reviews, so I know you got the brains.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

*Henry - Thank you for your response--I've been a little concerned that what *I* said came across differently than I had intended. I wasn't offended by what you said and sometimes I forget that my tone doesn't always come out the way I want it to through typed words (by nature I'm a pretty playful and sometimes sarcastic person--this doesn't always translate). I wasn't trying to be snarky back to you and I DO understand what you are saying. And after thinking about it after I posted my comment back to you, I do agree with some of what you say. I think with *any* genre there are things that a more seasoned reader will pick up more than a newcomer. I think what I was trying to say is that I did really appreciate Watchmen--especially for some of the nuances that I hadn't expected to find. *Sigh!* Anyway, no harm, right?? :D

Harry Markov said...

No harm indeed. This is a great comment to summarize what we both wanted to say. :)

PS: I just wanted to mention that my name is Harry and not Henry. *grin*

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

Ahhhhhh!!! Well, now I feel like I complete ass! :) Thank you for letting me know.

Harry Markov said...

No big deal. It amused me. To share a secret I Talked with an author and thought he was a she, because I read Daniel as Danielle...

Jess said...

I loved Watchmen as well. If you are still feeling adventurous, then you should read Epilepsy by David B. It is fantastic.

Susan said...

Congratulations on your new niece! gorgeous quilt too :-D and I'm reading Watchmen right now :-D It's surprisingly good, isn't it?

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

*Harry - I hope you have a wonderful evening (or morning, I guess). :) I will DEFINITELY not get your name mixed up in the future.

*Jess - I'll have to put it on my list! I don't think I've heard of Epilepsy, but I'll be sure to look it up.

*Susan - Thank you. :) We're all very excited here. And yes, Watchmen was fantastic. Glad you're enjoying it.

Unknown said...

Welcome to the world little Emma.

I've very interested in reading The Watchmen, though I have no desire to see it. I'd rather read a long book than watch a long movie, most of the time.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

CB - The movie was good, but I wouldn't go see it again and I would recommend it with great reservation. Although, I might just be a prude? There was a rather lengthy, gratuitous sex scene and some scenes of violence that made my stomach turn (I had to literally close my eyes). It was just too much. The book, while still pretty darn violent, is still such a compelling read!

Literary Feline said...

I really liked reading Watchmen too. I probably said way more than I should in my own review, but I was having trouble knowing where to stop.

Wouldn't this make an interesting book club pick? There's so much too it.

I am glad you enjoyed it.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

*Lit Feline - I'll be over soon to read your review--really curious what you think! It would be a great one for a book club, but I know some of my members would need to be convinced to read outside of their comfort zones!