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Tlön, Uqbar, Custodis Tertius.

Rorschach v. Rorschach.

30+ New Watchmen Photos

I finished the book, I gave it to my agent, and I said, “I want this on Henry Selick’s desk.” Henry sent me a script. My notes to Henry’s first script were, “It’s too faithful, Henry.” My notes to Henry’s second script were, “Yeah, that’s pretty good.”

Neil Gaiman (on Coraline)

Snyder says his adaptation of Warner Bros. Watchmen, slated for release next March, is more true to the source material than was the Oscar-winning No Country for Old Men.

300 director brings Watchmen to Comic-Con

Minor villains.

Watchmen’s Axis of Evil has a Dangerous “Package

To stand inside the Owl Ship... and to smell the Comedian’s cigar, to have the Comedian slap me on the back and proudly show me his guns... I was completely thrilled.

Dave Gibbons

Centuries and centuries of idealism have not failed to influence reality. In the very oldest regions of Tlön, it is not an uncommon occurrence for lost objects to be duplicated. Two people are looking for a pencil; the first one finds it and says nothing; the second finds a second pencil, no less real, but more in keep with his expectation. These secondary objects are called hrönir and, even though awkward in form, are a little larger than the originals. Until recently, the hrönir were the accidental children of absent-mindedness and forgetfulness. It seems improbable that the methodical production of them has been going on for almost a hundred years, but so it is stated in the eleventh volume. The first attempts were fruitless. Nevertheless, the modus operandi is worthy of note. The director of one of the state prisons announced to the convicts that in an ancient river bed certain tombs were to be found, and promised freedom to any prisoner who made an important discovery. In the months preceding the excavation, printed photographs of what was to be found were shown the prisoners. The first attempt proved that hope and zeal could be inhibiting; a week of work with shovel and pick succeeded in unearthing no hrön other than a rusty wheel, postdating the experiment. This was kept a secret, and the experiment was later repeated in four colleges. In three of them the failure was almost complete; in the fourth (the director of which died by chance during the initial excavation), the students dug up—or produced—a gold mask, an archaic sword, two or three earthenware urns, and the moldered mutilated torso of a king with an inscription on his breast which has so far not been deciphered. Thus was discovered the unfitness of witnesses who were aware of the experimental nature of the search... Mass investigations produced objects which contradicted one another; now, individual projects, as far as possible spontaneous, are preferred. The methodical development of hrönir, states the eleventh volume, has been of enormous service to archæologists. It has allowed them to question and even to modify the past, which nowadays is no less malleable or obedient than the future. One curious fact: the hrönir of the second and third degree—that is, the hrönir derived from another hrön, and the hrönir derived from a hrön of a hrön—exaggerate the flaws of the original; those of the fifth degree are almost uniform; those of the ninth can be confused with those of the second; and those of the eleventh degree have a purity of form which the originals do not possess. The process is a recurrent one; a hrön of the twelfth degree begins to deteriorate in quality. Stranger and more perfect than any hrön is sometimes the ur, which is a thing produced by suggestion, an object brought into being by hope. The great gold mask I mentioned previously is a distinguished example.

—Jorge Luis Borges, “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius

In 1985, DC Comics acquired a line of characters from Charlton Comics. During that period, writer Alan Moore contemplated writing a story featuring an unused line of superheroes that he could revamp, as he had done in his Miracleman series in the early 1980s. Moore reasoned that MLJ Comics’ Mighty Crusaders might be available for such a project, so he devised a murder mystery plot which would begin with the discovery of the body of The Shield in a harbor. The writer felt it did not matter which set of characters he ultimately used, as long as readers recognized them “so it would have the shock and surprise value when you saw what the reality of these characters was.” Moore used this premise and crafted a proposal featuring the Charlton characters titled Who Killed the Peacemaker, and submitted the unsolicited proposal to DC managing editor Dick Giordano. Giordano was receptive to the proposal, but the editor opposed the idea of using the Charlton characters for the story. Moore said, “DC realized their expensive characters would end up either dead or dysfunctional.” Instead, Giordano convinced Moore to rework his pitch to feature original characters. Moore had initially believed that original characters would not provide emotional resonance for the readers, but later changed his mind. He said, “Eventually, I realized that if I wrote the substitute characters well enough, so that they seemed familiar in certain ways, certain aspects of them brought back a kind of generic super-hero resonance or familiarity to the reader, then it might work.”


June, 1959.

Jon Osterman and Janey Slater pose for a significant photo.

The photograph is in my hand.

In the second panel, the dialogue is word-specific; that is, “the words provide all you need to know, while the picture illustrates aspects of the scenes being described” (130). Word-specific captions are often used to compress time—slap “thirteen years later” on any picture and there you are, thirteen years later—but here Moore uses them to move us back and forth through time. Without the captions, the transition from the first to second to third panel would seem occur via action-to-action, because the panels follow a single subject in a series of actions: Dr. Manhattan holds the photo, drops it, picks it back and sits down. (Keep in mind for later: were that the case, we would have inferred actions not actually pictured.) The word-specific captions inform us that the transition is actually scene-to-scene.
McCloud defines scene-to-scene as “transitions across significant distances of time and/or space” (15). Moore deliberately confounds that expectation in order to prepare the reader for twenty-six pages focused on a character for whom:
  • the year 1959 (mentioned in the first panel) is no more significant a distance in time than twelve seconds from now (depicted in the second panel)
  • Mars (depicted in the first three panels) is no more significant a distance in space than the Gila Flats (mentioned in the third panel and depicted in the fourth)

—Scott Eric Kaufman, “How to teach comics responsibly in a composition class

There are no nouns in the hypothetical Ursprache of Tlön, which is the source of the living language and the dialects; there are impersonal verbs qualified by monosyllabic suffixes or prefixes which have the force of adverbs. For example, there is no word corresponding to the noun moon, but there is a verb to moon or to moondle. The moon rose over the sea would be written hlör u fang axaxaxas mlö, or, to put it in order: upward beyond the constant flow there was moondling. (Xul Solar translates it succinctly: upward, behind the onstreaming it mooned.)
The previous passage refers to the languages of the southern hemisphere. In those of the northern hemisphere (the eleventh volume has little information on its Ursprache), the basic unit is not the verb, but the monosyllabic adjective. Nouns are formed by an accumulation of adjectives. One does not say moon; one says airy-clear over dark-round or orange-faint-of-sky or some other accumulation. In the chosen example, the mass of adjectives corresponds to a real object. The happening is completely fortuitous. In the literature of this hemisphere (as in the lesser world of Meinong), ideal objects abound, invoked and dissolved momentarily, according to poetic necessity.

—Borges, op. cit.

The most obvious sense in which Watchmen is tethered to comics is the fact that it’s specifically about comics’ form and content and readers’ preconceptions of what happens in a comic book story. Beneath that surface, though, it relies on being a comic book for its crucial sense of time and chronology. The amount of time the reader has to spend working through the story isn’t the same as the amount of time the events in the story encompass—it’s longer—and the direction in which the reader experiences the story isn’t linear but keeps skipping backwards to revisit the past, as the narrative does.
Perhaps somebody at some point has read Watchmen straight through, but one of the joys of reading it is flipping back to see how images and scenes have been set up.

—Douglas Wolk, Reading Comics

Worry not, fans of brutal superheroes: The rape that’s central to Watchmen’s complex character dynamics will be featured in the movie without any censorship. Maybe just the opposite, in fact.
Talking to MTV, Jeffrey Dean Morgan—who plays the Comedian in Zack Snyder’s movie adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ classic comic—said that the scene where his character is discovered raping Carla Gugino’s Silk Spectre wasn’t an easy one to shoot:
It was a three-day process shooting that particular scene, and it was hard... It was three of the hardest days of filming I have ever had to do. It was really very violent.
Violent, you may be thinking? Wasn’t it kind of... understated in the original comic? Well, yes, but certain liberties have to be taken in adapting things into movies, Morgan explained:
When you’re looking at the comic book you only get a couple panels so there is a lot of stuff there that needs to be filled in, so we fill in the blanks there between three and four panels, and it turns out to be one hell of a violent scene. And it’s all intact, [Hooded Justice] comes in and interrupts the attempted rape—it’s all there. We stayed very loyal to it, and I haven’t actually seen the scene yet, but I did see a piece of playback when we were filming it and it’s a lot... It’s rated R for a reason.

—“Watchmen’s Rape Scene is Intact... And Violent

The squid.

Watchmen fans were thrown into a tailspin over the weekend when fans reporting in from the film’s first test screening in Portland carried out with them shocking news. In the version they saw, Zack Snyder had changed the ending of the comic. If you don’t want that ending spoiled for you, then read no further because this entire page will be devoted to nothing but an in depth discussion of what it might mean for the future of Watchmen, if the ending really does play out as reported.

—“Great Debate: Does Watchmen Need A Giant Squid?

The big question: What have you got against the squid?!
Zach Snyder
I had a bad calamari experience as a child! Look I’ve got nothing against the squid. When I sat down with the studio and talked about the film, we had to make a decision about what stuff we included and what stuff we wouldn’t. For me Watchmen is all about the characters, whereas if we included the squid, I would have to illustrate it in the story and cut out some of the character. So I wanted more character and less story.
So we came up with something else—no one knows yet what we’ve done but we hope it’s similar in philosophy to the ending of the graphic novel. I mean the end is all about taking a superhero all the way—you know it’s the bad guy who is the one who wants world peace. It’s a moral dilemma for all the characters involved.
Dave Gibbons
The tone of the graphic novel—the message, the moral ambiguity—has still been left intact. Also it’s not a squid; it’s a fifth dimensional phalymapod!

—“Director Discusses Watchmen Squid

About 1944, a reporter from the Nashville, Tennessee, American uncovered, in a Memphis library, the forty volumes of the First Encyclopedia of Tlön. Even now it is uncertain whether this discovery was accidental, or whether the directors of the still nebulous Orbis Tertius condoned it. The second alternative is more likely. Some of the more improbable features of the eleventh volume (for example, the multiplying of the hrönir) had been either removed or modified in the Memphis copy. It is reasonable to suppose that these erasures where in keeping with the plan of projecting a world which would not be too incompatible with the real world. The dissemination of objects from Tlön throughout various countries would complement that plan...

—Borges, op. cit.


Were you disappointed that Alan Moore didn’t want to be involved?
Alan asked if his name could be removed from the film and not to be mentioned at all in relation to it—
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