Unanticipated Complexity

Our recent Disassembly assignment shed some light on the details authors consider when creating a graphic novel. The conclusions I came to focused on pretty basic aspects, such as the importance of speech bubbles, shadows, and character placement. All of these things play a large role in allowing the reader to understand the narrative. After reading and discussing Watchmen in class, I realized many authors put a lot more complex ideas and details toward a graphic novel than what I had originally thought.

One of the first things I noticed (and admired) were the alternating colors. It was interesting to see the distribution not only inside of each panel, but among every panel on the page. Analogous colors alternated with their complementary counterparts. This color scheme was often used to distinguish scenes from each other on the same page, indicating shifts in time/place. An example of this is found in the first few pages when the audience is shown the murder of Edward Blake. The dark red, pink, and purple colors compose an intense encounter between Blake and his murderer. It contrasts from the green, yellow, and orange colors that make up the investigation in Blake’s apartment after the crime. The alternating scenes found throughout the book are a compelling storytelling method, because they help set the tone as the plot continues.

It wasn’t until our class discussion that the recurring motifs and symmetry were brought to my attention. I foolishly assumed the graffiti, signs, and shadows were just fun things for the viewer to find as they read. I now realize these details were strategically placed and often allude to deeper connections. This is my first time reading Watchmen, so I’m thankful for the time we spend deconstructing sections that I would have otherwise overlooked. I find the story’s mischievous and dark tone enjoyable and I anticipate finding more cryptic traits in the future chapters.