Time in the Gutter: Temporal Structures in Watchmen

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In 1986 writer Alan Moore and illustrator Dave Gibbons produced a graphic novel called Watchmen. In 2005 Time Magazine produced a list of the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to the present. To many surprised readers a comic book was among the top ten. It was Watchmen. The story of former crime-fighters brought out of retirement to solve a world destroying mystery is told with a ruthless realism. The style is cinematic with repeating motifs, flashbacks and overlapping subplots. One of the characters in Watchmen, Jon Osterman, as a result of a nuclear accident, receives typical superhuman powers; more importantly to the character he begins to live in a quantum consciousness in which events occur simultaneously rather than sequentially. In chapter four of Watchmen, Moore and Gibbons brilliantly use the sequential art medium to express the subjective and personal nature of that consciousness. This paper will explicate and analyze the way they simulate Jon Osterman's non-temporal consciousness.


Journal for the Study of Time



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