panel reading

The idea of recollection is written into Watchmen. As in connections made to what has come before. The big ideas have to do with mirrors, which play with both hidden and revealed structures. We’ve talked a little in class about “reflection” in the text, Laurie reflected in coffee, Jon reflected in the mirror as he dresses for the press conference. Chapter 5 is a major section in the story. 5.12/8 plays with this mirroring (symmetry) again, this reflection of multiple narratives. The carry over dialogue of the newsvendor reads, “See, news-vendors understand. They get to see the whole picture.” Like Osterman?

In the panel, the seaman is staring at his reflection in the mirror. He says, “Lightheaded, I gazed into the inverted world beneath, where drowned gulls circled. A madman with blood-caked lips gazes back at me.” Panel nine, he says, “His eyes, his nose, his cheeks seemed individual familiar, but mercifully I could not piece them together. Not into a face I knew [Rorschach’s face is recalled here too].” Bernie says, continuing his own thought, “It’s our curse, we see every damned connection. Every damned link.” Bernie’s claim is similar to Osterman’s stitching in chapter 4 and corresponds to the larger narrative of Watchmen, Rorschach trying to connect all the links and solve the Commedian’s murder. Osterman is also cursed with the “whole picture,” but in a different sense. This also relates to the reader’s ability to “make the connections” between visual congruity and symmetry and narrative.

Veidt in panel 7 of page 13 brings up “spiritual discovery” in his conversation with the aide, again, recalling the dialogue of the former panels. Page 14 and 15, the symmetry just explodes from the panels.

The man holding the sign in the backgrounds of the panels featuring Bernie and the reading-kid on page 12 is Rorschach. In succeding pages, he wanders back and forth, checking the trash.

Simultaneity/symmetry of narrative. Amazing.

1 thought on “panel reading

  1. Mark

    Rorschachs’ mask forces reflection upon those who encounter him. When starring an ink blot in the face you see what you want to see, maybe not as obvious as the mirror or cup of coffee, but a form of reflection nonetheless. The symmetry in panel placement on the page is important as well. Use of alternating cool and warm colors make some of the pages (as seen in the aforementioned coffe cup and mirror scene) works of symmetrical art unto themselves, which adds to both the feeling of structure and timeline.

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