Usually, graphic novels are simple escapism into worlds filled with charismatic heroes and detestable villains that we can hop into for an hour and enjoy. But sometimes, something quite special comes along, and that’s exactly what happened when Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons released the masterpiece that is Watchmen 32 years ago, in September and October 1986.
Covering themes of power, corruption, and the idea of superheroes really walking among us, the series focused on a group of relatable (if not always likeable) heroes in an alternate world where heroes exist but have been outlawed. The novel is famed for making fantastic use of the medium, with images truly popping out of the panels and the layout of the story on the page having a real impact on how you read the story. The idea of following dislikable heroes was also taken to new heights – we’d followed antiheroes before, but here we were presented with a complex set of characters trying to do the right thing, but clashing over how best to save the world and more often than not facing failure. It’s engaging, thought-provoking stuff, earning the novel a place in Time‘s Top 10 Graphic Novels of All Time.
Since adapted into a 2009 feature film by Zack Snyder, as well as a 2008 motion comic and 2009 video game, it is the original graphic novel that has best stood the test of time, with its biting criticism of Reagan-era America just as powerful then as it could be of Trump’s America now. It is a behemoth of the graphic novel landscape, and one that rightly deserves to be celebrated.
Remind yourself of the groundbreaking graphic novel’s 2009 adaption by watching the trailer below: