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Breaking: Watchmen is ‘pretty dark and cynical’

From "Watchmen"

From "Watchmen"

At conservative media-watchdog site Newsbusters, the rapid approach of the Watchmen movie leaves writer Warner Todd Huston gnashing his teeth over the “anti-American nihilism” of the Alan Moore-Dave Gibbons miniseries:

Graphically, it isn’t very well drafted. It does have the benefit of being created in the semi-realist style that began to be popular in the 1980s though. which instantly makes it better than today’s comics drawn in that horrible Japanese Anime/Manga style that has so pervaded the comic book industry of late. Thankfully, Watchmen’s was not yet an era infected by this regrettable, current trend in US comic art.

As to subject matter, it wasn’t “just a comic book.” It hit all the 80’s hot-button issues. Homosexuality, rape, war with Russia and “the bomb,” crooked US politicians, corruption, murder, sexual impotency, welfare mammas, and homicidal maniacs were all aspects of the story line. It even indulges in demonization of Nixon directly, and Ronald Reagan by inference. But it’s philosophy of nihilism and anarchy was its underlying message.

Now I’ve read plenty of criticism of Watchmen, but I don’t believe I’ve ever seen it described as not “very well drafted.” (I’ll ignore Huston’s broad critique of the art in “today’s comics,” because, well … aside from being ill-informed, the use of words like “pervaded” and “infected” hints at a bit more than a longing for superheroes to be drawn like they were when he was 12.)

“It’s all pretty dark and cynical,” Huston writes, certainly shocking anyone who’s viewed the trailers for the movie, or even read about the landmark comic.

Why, oh why, couldn’t Moore have used his powers for good? Take it away, Mr. Huston:

One wishes that writer, Moore, could have used his considerable talents to produce uplift as opposed to depression, to reach for the sublime instead of the prosaic, to inspire by taking the high road instead of the low. But, unfortunately, with the influence of the political view from the left upon him all he could do was take the low road. If all one can do is see the worst in man, claim nothing is ever worth the effort, and that western ideas have destroyed any vestige of light in man then you are doomed to stay on that low road. So, we end up with despair and darkness in our art, too many artists having taken the low road.

Just as sadly, we see that the political Left hasn’t learned much since 1986. They still see the west as causing all of the world’s problems, still see capitulation to our enemies as the right course of action, and still feel that Patriotism and right and wrong are words with meaningless distinctions or, worse, even dangerous concepts.

Moore has lamented that his work with Watchmen had “started a whole genre of pretentious comics or miserable comics,” but since he insisted on taking that low road, but what could he expect? His politics, if emulated, ends up at this very place.

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12 Comments

If Watchmen is all about nihilism, this journo obviously missed the bit at the end. You know the bit I mean. The one where Veidt and Manhattan “fix” the world between them. I wonder if Huston finds himself identifying with Rorschach? As we all know, he should, since their views of the word seem somewhat similar.

Personally, I wish more writers would seek to emulate Alan Moore. That way we’d get much more fiercely intelligent, denseley (sp?) written comics, rather than everything being a 10 minute read.

C

Thank you, Warner Todd Huston, for showing that Watchmen is just as relevant today was it was in 1985.

While I agree that Watchmen is dark and nihilistic, it’s supposed to be. That’s the primary point. It’s SUPPOSED to be dark and nihilistic. Writers didn’t emulate him as much as they parroted him. What we got was a generation of super-hero comics that were needlessly dark and self-indulgent, instead of stories that explored the darkness.

And while I think Moore is vastly overrated (I’ve used the word ‘hack’ in the past, but that’s due more to his propensity to redefine other properties rather than develop something from whole cloth), there’s no arguing that Watchmen is the defining super-hero work of the eighties, and may very possibly be the best western comic story of all time.

This is the second time in 24 hours that I’ve seen poorly thought-out, poorly written criticism aimed at America comics, specifically super heroes. The other was linked over at The Beat – if you haven’t read about it, go take a look. It’s laughably immature.

http://pwbeat.publishersweekly.com/blog/2009/02/16/die-pamphlets-die/

Better make sure this poor little soul never comes across a copy of Brought to Light, I guess. If Watchmen has him “gnashing his teeth,” presumably Brought to Light would actually cause him to explode from reactionary overload. (Particularly given its additional additional sin of employing non-representational “decadent” art.)

So others (comic writers) would read Moore’s work and emulate it? So we’d get a bunch of “Watchmen-lite”, poor copies of his work?

Well of course they would.

Is that any different then all the comics that copied Superman in the 1940’s, giving readers tons of books depicting super powered flying costumed heroes. Or how about all of the patriotic red-white-&blue clad heroes that followed in the footsteps of Captain America?

It always happens in forms of entertainment, comic books are no different.

Read Chapter 10 of WATCHMEN and tell me it’s nihilistic. I double-dog dare you.

Damn, those righties sure are idiots…I went to that site and I couldn’t stomach those comments

Good. Now go read Supreme and tell me that’s too depressing.

Seconding Steven, above. It is amazing how many of the blithely-dismissed “80s hot-button issues” Huston mentioned are still with us. You barely have to change the names.

Seconding Steven, above. It is amazing how many of the blithely-dismissed “80s hot-button issues” Huston mentioned are still with us. You barely have to change the names.

By the way, it’s ” ’80s ” not ” 80’s “. Somebody get him a proofreader.

I’m too lazy to follow the link, but am I correct in assuming the above piece was written on the back of a STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE napkin in “Dandelion” Crayola and boogers?

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