The Watchmen is poised to be the biggest comic book movie yet, and the advertising is in full tilt, most notably in this week’s Entertainment Weekly magazine, which is a mag known to be very comics friendly, for it’s regular reviews of new comics, news on creators etc.
This week EW have exclusive rights to advertising The Watchmen Motion comics, which are available through iTunes. So is the headline here: “major film studio, major comics publisher, major digital media supplier and major magazine ALL work together on putting out a hypercomic”?
Uh no. No it’s not.
The first problem is, well it’s not a comic. Or even a hypercomic. It’s a comic who’s artwork has been broken up into tiny chunks and animated, it’s been dissected and pulled out of focus or pushed far into the background. sections of drawings are dragged along the picture plane, to facilitate animation. Pieces of hair are magic wanded out and made to sway in the wind. Broken glass which, in the source material, hang in the air as if caught in a photograph are animated to exit the frame, pink slivers smoothly expanding out of the scene and taking all the energy with them.
So if it’s not a comic, or hypercomic, then maybe at least it’s an animation? Well, in the sense of a dictionary definition yes, it moves. But even here it fails, due to it’s source material. Each scene, cut apart and stitched back together with movement only serve to remind you that it was re-purposed material. You want to pause the thing, to see how well it was drawn. You want to take time out of the temporal mandate that animation serves and pour over the drawings. You want exactly the kind of freedom that visual narratives alone can provide.
In making it an animation they’ve served to make you wish you were reading a comic.
It also suffers all of the usual pains you would expect, a brooding soundtrack with celery-crunching foley sounds, word bubbles with tails that follow the character around the scene, voice actors that read exactly what you’re already taking the time to read, except for when they forget words.
All in all the headline should most likely be, “Major comics publisher and friends take enjoyable and brilliant comic book and ruin it using frankenstein’s methods: Will soon expect you to pay for it”