Essay #4. Discovering Watchmen

Image of Milhouse holding "Watchmen Babies" comic.

In a Simpsons episode titled "Husbands and Wives," Milhouse asks Alan Moore to sign his copy of Watchmen Babies: V for Vacation.

1. The graphic novel Watchmenwas originally published as twelve separate issues. Each issue represented a different chapter in the story. The fifth issue, “Fearful Symmetry,” is particularly intriguing. In the first part of this assignment, you will uncover the secret logic that propels this issue.

  • Draw a line down a piece of binder paper to create two columns. Label the first column “front,” and label the second column “back.”
  • Look at the very first illustrated panel on page 1. Jot down a one line description in the first column.
  • Look at the very last illustrated panel on the final page of this issue. Jot down a one line description in the second column.

  • Look at the second illustrated panel on page 1. Jot down a one line description in the first column.
  • Look at the second to last illustrated panel on the final page of this issue. Describe.
  • Look at the third illustrated panel on page 1, and the third to last illustrated panel on the final page.
  • Rinse, lather repeat. (In other words, keep doing this for several pages. When you think you have figured out the pattern, skip around, and see if it holds up.)

Based on your notes, write a short paragraph that explains your discovery and speculates about what it means.

2. On a fresh sheet of paper, draw three columns. Pick any three issues of the comic, excluding issue #5. These three issues will be your data sample.

  • In one sentence, at the top of the first column, describe the cover.
  • In one sentence, slightly lower in the first column, describe the first illustrated panel of the issue.
  • In one sentence, further down in the first column, describe the last illustrated panel of the issue.
  • Speculate on the meaning and symbolic significance of what you’ve noticed.
  • Further down in the first column, jot down the title of this issue.
  • Next, look at the words that appear in the very final panel of this issue. In one sentence, explain how they connect to the title.
  • Repeat with all three issues.

Write one paragraph for each of the three issues, using your notes as a rough outline. Remember that each paragraph should start with a topic sentence that summarizes the argument of that paragraph.

3.     In a concluding paragraph, reflect on what you discovered and the potential implication of these discoveries. How do these things connect to the narrative of the book itself? What are the potential implications for sequential art and comic books? (It is OK to use first person in this paragraph.)

4.     After thoroughly proofreading your paper for writing mechanics and organization, upload your fourth essay to TLEARN. You should also post a copy to your personal blog, but not to the class blog. This essay is due before class on Friday, 2/10.

The grading rubric for this essay is composed of five items, and each item is worth five points, for a total of 25 points. The final score will be multiplied by 4 to calculate your grade out of 100.

  • Essay has a unique, descriptive title. Author uploads essay to TLEARN and posts a copy on his or her personal blog.
  • In first paragraph, author explains what he has discovered about Chapter 5 (“Fearful Symmetry”) and speculates about the significance of this discovery.
  • In next three paragraphs, author investigates three additional Watchmen, and each paragraph begins with a topic sentence summarizing the argument of that paragraph (e.g. “Multiple clues in Chapter 15 of Watchmen reinforce the message that great power requires great responsibility.”)
  • In concluding paragraph, author reflects on her discoveries and speculates about the potential implication of what she has found. How do these things connect to the narrative of the book itself? What are potential implications for sequential art and the comic book medium? (It is acceptable to use first-person in this paragraph.)
  • Mechanics: Author proofreads thoroughly for grammar and spelling.
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