Watchmen - Art and Composition - Structure

Structure

Structurally, certain aspects of Watchmen deviated from the norm in comic books at the time, particularly the panel layout and the coloring. Instead of panels of various sizes, the creators divided each page into a nine-panel grid. Gibbons favored the nine-panel grid system due to its "authority". Moore accepted the use of the nine-panel grid format, which "gave him a level of control over the storytelling he hadn't had previously", according to Gibbons. "There was this element of the pacing and visual impact that he could now predict and use to dramatic effect." Bhob Stewart of The Comics Journal mentioned to Gibbons in 1987, that the page layouts recalled those of EC Comics, in addition to the art itself, which Stewart felt particularly echoed that of John Severin. Gibbons agreed that the echoing of the EC-style layouts "was a very deliberate thing", although his inspiration was rather Harvey Kurtzman, but it was altered enough to give the series a unique look. The artist also cited Steve Ditko's work on early issues of The Amazing Spider-Man as an influence, as well as Doctor Strange, where "even at his most psychedelic would still keep a pretty straight page layout".

The cover of each issue serves as the first panel to the story. Gibbons said, "The cover of the Watchmen is in the real world and looks quite real, but it's starting to turn into a comic book, a portal to another dimension." The covers were designed as close-ups that focused on a single detail with no human elements present. The creators on occasion experimented with the layout of the issue contents. Gibbons drew issue five, titled "Fearful Symmetry", so the first page mirrors the last (in terms of frame disposition), with the following pages mirroring each other before the center-spread is (broadly) symmetrical in layout.

The end of each issue, with the exception of issue twelve, contains supplemental prose pieces written by Moore. Among the contents are fictional book chapters, letters, reports, and articles written by various Watchmen characters. DC had trouble selling ad space in issues of Watchmen, which left an extra eight to nine pages per issue. DC planned to insert house ads and a longer letters column to fill the space, but editor Len Wein felt this would be unfair to anyone who wrote in during the last four issues of the series. He decided to use the extra pages to fill out the series' backstory. Moore said, "By the time we got around to issue #3, #4, and so on, we thought that the book looked nice without a letters page. It looks less like a comic book, so we stuck with it."

Read more about this topic:  Watchmen, Art and Composition

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