Upon hearing of Alan Moore’s soon-to-be retirement from comics, I found myself at a loss for words. Alan Moore has been a central part of the comic book world since he burst upon the scene in the 1980s. With popular works such as WATCHMEN and V FOR VENDETTA, he has become a household name and has comics featured in stores around the world. But beyond his success in the industry, Moore’s comics have had a profound impact on my life, especially WATCHMEN. Prior to reading WATCHMEN, I had a shallow understanding and love for comics. I simply used them to escape reality. I found it easy to lose myself in the adventures of my favorite superheroes and follow them through endless calamities that threatened the world as we know it. But I didn’t maintain this mentality for long.

My First Love

Image courtesy of DC Entertainment

The first Alan Moore comic I ever read was WATCHMEN.  I can remember flipping through the pages, seeing Dave Gibbons’ entrancing art and immediately diving into the story. Although I had already read comics for multiple years, WATCHMEN obviously carried more significance than the stories I previously loved. My intuition screamed at me that this comic was different.

As I started reading WATCHMEN, I was hoping for nothing more than another source of escape, another world that I could throw myself into that was superior to our own. I simply loved the unique colors, interesting characters, and flow of the story. Despite not truly understanding its significance and hardly following the plot, WATCHMEN quickly became my favorite comic and my first love.

The Decision

I decided to re-read the comic around my sophomore year of college, which was an extremely transitional phase for me. To properly convey the full impact of my decision, allow me to provide some insight into my state of mind in this period of my life.

I had recently quit playing water polo, a sport that was the focal point of my life for almost ten years. I lost a critical aspect of my identity, with nothing else to take its stead. Choosing a major was an endless mystery; I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. My major was Political Science, but I hated it. I was stumbling through life with no direction and very low aspirations. I could feel depression creeping out from deep within me.

It’s possible that this dark and heavy mentality consuming me was a strong reason why WATCHMEN impacted me so deeply. Alan Moore once said in an interview that the impact of WATCHMEN was a result of “A bad mood” that he was in at the time of writing the comic. Due to my deteriorating state of mental and emotional health, I quickly found a connection in Moore’s “bad mood.” But somehow, the comic’s daunting story-line didn’t instill any negative emotions within me; it only captured my attention.

Something Different

As I re-read WATCHMEN, I was immediately filled with a sense of nostalgia from the colors and images that enamored me so effectively years before.  I instantly recalled my love for Rorschach and the unique color schemes that hypnotize the reader. While the art initially pulled me in, the narrative dragged me deeper and deeper until I found myself drowning within the story. I became a man obsessed.

The dynamic of unwanted ex-heroes in a world on the brink of nuclear war brought something new to the table. Most of the comics that I had previously read were about superheroes with flawless morals and motives fighting villains with entirely evil objectives. Although I loved this basic equation for a plot-line, I had no idea how repetitive it had become. Moore not only distanced WATCHMEN from other comics through his unparalleled character development but also through the story’s strong statements about society and politics.

A fundamental message within WATCHMEN is corruption, which is exemplified through the state of American politics in the comic. Despite the events of Watergate occurring in 1972 and WATCHMEN’s story taking place in 1985, Nixon remained as President. This suggests that the events of Watergate never occurred, or at least the events never became public.

This discrepancy in the timeline is due to the involvement of “superheroes,” such as The Comedian. Moore exploits this character’s involvement with the government to argue the government’s corruption. A flashback scene of an honorary party for The Comedian suggests that he had a hand in both preventing Watergate and the assassination of J.F.K. WATCHMEN’s argument regarding the government’s misuse of heroes suggests the probable outcome of super-powered beings if they truly existed.

Image courtesy of DC Entertainment

Watchmen’s Impact on Me

When I decided to re-read WATCHMEN, I had no idea what path I was going to follow for my career. Any profession I contemplated doing felt like an inevitable failure. However, since I enjoy comics as much as I do, I always wanted to pursue a career writing them. But on the other hand, I also wanted to contribute to and promote change. I had always seen injustices in this world and longed for a voice that could help resolve or at least shed light on issues in our society. Yet, writing comics would never provide me with that capability, or so I had thought.

At the time, I was searching for an identity to better understand both myself and my goals in life but had no idea where to begin. I never would have imagined that I’d find my answer through literature, especially not a comic book.

I realized that comics were more than just children’s literature by reading WATCHMEN and finding such meaningful messages behind the story. WATCHMEN opened my eyes to the corruption of society and the truth behind every person’s actions. But even more so, it showed me that literature was more than a form of escapism.

Prior to reading Watchmen, I was under the impression that I would never be capable of making a difference in the world. Furthermore, the career I truly wanted to follow had no meaning aside from helping a kid escape a bad day. I was convinced that I had to be miserable in any career that I chose. Luckily for me, Alan Moore eradicated that belief when I read WATCHMEN. After finishing the comic book, I knew I could make a difference through the medium that I loved.

Finding Myself

When I heard Alan Moore was retiring from writing comic books, I felt like I had lost a part of myself again. Not because he is directly a part of my identity, but because a comic he wrote changed me so drastically. Alan Moore helped me find my dream in life. He showed me the path I was meant to walk when I was completely lost in life. He helped me find myself. I owe so much identity and aspirations in life to a man whom I have never and may never meet.

Who knows where I would be today if I never re-read Watchmen at such a pivotal time in my life? One thing is for sure: Alan Moore changed my life through a comic book. Since his retirement is close at hand, we’re left to wonder which creator will be next to change lives through their comics. But regardless of who that is, I know that nobody will ever replace Moore. My gratitude for what he has done for me is endless. I will always appreciate his showing me my destiny. And he did so from the last place I ever would have expected, a comic book.

You don’t know me, but you have had a greater impact on my life than any other author. So thank you, Alan Moore. I will forever be grateful for your contributions to both the medium I love and my life. From all of us here at ComicsVerse, thank you for everything you’ve done for comics. We wish you nothing but the best.

2 Comments

  1. Goatllama

    April 3, 2019 at 7:29 am

    “the probable outcome of super-powered beings if they truly existed”

    Yeah, it’s somewhat terrifying. And now we’re somewhat immersed in the age of realism, to the point that the campy hero stories of old are perhaps more in-demand. I’m happy either way, honestly, so long as people are writing challenging, thought-provoking narratives. Thank you for this article, and thank you, Alan. We all look forward to your future endeavors!

    Reply

  2. Joe

    April 2, 2019 at 11:57 am

    Very nicely written. Deeply personal. And very effecting. Good work.

    Reply

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