I’ve gotten quite a bit further through the funnybook masterwork that’s on everyone’s minds this week, and I have a few more thoughts.
- I don’t care for Alan Moore. I respect him somewhat, but like? No. From his creations, and from what I’ve seen him write editorially, my opinion is that he takes himself too seriously, he’s too angry, he’s too screed-prone, and … just, no. He’s too much made of things I don’t like. I appreciate that a lot of people whose opinions I generally agree with (Gaiman) like him, but … no. Not today. (Heck, Neil likes the Dresden Dolls, too — the man’s not perfect.)
- Part of my reread is informed by a far better grasp of political beliefs than I possessed at the time of my first reading. That helps me appreciate what Moore’s trying to do a bit better, but it doesn’t make me like those parts of the story any more.
- Rorschach is (intentionally) the worst distillation of every hard-line conservative xenophobic 2nd Amendment disciple I’ve ever met; the sort of people I’ve spent the last year arguing with on an almost daily basis. He sucks the joy out of every panel he’s in for the first half of the book. Perhaps Moore does something genius in creating someone I dislike intensely and – very slowly and very slightly – bringing him back to a place where he can be a guy you can almost root for. OR… Moore was just really really angry for the first four issues or so, and he finally calmed down enough to start dealing with the narrative.
- The New Frontiersman isn’t a parody anymore; it’s mainstream right wing media. I watched Sean Hannity ‘interview’ Ann Coulter on Faux News last night — by comparison, the New Frontiersman is weak sauce in the Barking Moonbat competition. The fact that it lacks punch isn’t Moore’s fault — he’s writing about the future, a role in which everyone is an inaccurate haruspex — his predictions about electric cars outstrip our achievements, but his joke right-winger paper has been far surpassed.
- Nixon as president for life is not remotely as terrifying a concept as the President we endured from 2001 through 2008. In the one scene he’s been featured, Nixon displays a level of reason and maturity that puts W to shame. Again, like the New Frontiersman, what America DID to itself it worse than what Moore imagined we might have done.
- The interstitial pieces in the book are utterly wasted on me. Utterly. The sections of the autobiography, the newspaper clippings; even and ESPECIALLY the pirate-story that the kid is reading beside the newspaper stand, whose narrative gets intermixed with what’s going on on the street? I skip all of it. It all either bores or annoys the hell out of me. I challenge anyone to point out a page or panel I’ve skipped that substantively adds to the story in any way that I didn’t already pick up from the ‘real’ story, in context.
- With that said, once we get into the middle of the book, things really start to cook. The characters are more engaging, the narrative more … umm … present. After thrashing around his studio with a claymore for the first quarter of the book, Moore takes a breath, looks around, and starts constructing a really amazing piece of art out of the shattered bits lying around the room. The story doesn’t get any lighter, but it does clarify quite a bit, in a cooking sense.
- There are large chunks of the thing that I feel could be lifted out whole cloth — which would, in their absence, not only leave the story unharmed, but actually leaner, healthier, and more accessible. That said, this book inarguably deserves to be on the Desert Island list of anyone who has even the slightest amount of respect for stories told in this medium. It’s a hell of a yarn, and a pioneering effort. I’m totally roped in at this point, hanging on each new page, and I can’t wait to enjoy(?) the depressing, down-beat ending.
- Also, I’m very much looking forward to the movie. (If only because I’m pretty sure they had to cut out the pirate story.) As I read, I keep seeing panels from the book that look exactly like the scenes from the previews. Even from that, I can tell they nailed it. It’s too bad that Moore himself will probably never watch it.