I have a question… (UPDATED)

§ April 17th, 2007 § Filed under watchmen Comments Off on I have a question… (UPDATED)

…inspired by something I saw on another site.

Assuming you’re a comic book fan (a relatively safe assumption, since you’re reading this site), are you aware that the characters in Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen are inspired, to a certain extent, by the old Charlton Comics superheroes?

I’ll explain why I’m asking this in a little while.


I think it was Jon Stewart on The Daily Show who made a joke about the Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star” being the first video shown by MTV…specifically that it’s an obscure bit of trivia that EVERYONE KNOWS.

That’s how I sort of feel about the fact that Watchman‘s characters were based, in part, on the Charlton superheroes. My brief, highly unscientific, and remarkably skewed poll in my comments section would seem to bear this out, at least among internet-capable funnybook fans.

Now, I’m not trying to bust anyone’s chops here…I’ve no beef with Toupydoops (in fact, you can read Johanna’s positive review, and here’s a generously-long preview of a forthcoming collection). However, that sequence of panels Dirk posted in today’s Journalista column features one of the stars of Toupydoops using his knowledge of the Watchmen/Charlton connection to put some fanboy “poseurs” in their place. That just struck me as a slightly false note, particularly given the way the fanboys in question were presented. If they’re into comics as much as they’re shown as being, even if it is just superhero comics, and that they think Watchmen is the best comic ever, it seems very unlikely that they wouldn’t know about that connection. That just seems like another piece of general fannish trivia that most of us fanboys and fangirls would have floating around in our heads (along with “The Hulk was grey in his first issue,” “Stan Lee’s real last name is Lieber,” and “Swamp Thing is the best comic book character ever”).

Some caveats:

1. When asked if they knew about the connection, one of the fanboys did say “yes,” which was disbelieved by the star of the show. So it’s possible that they did know, but just couldn’t be convincing about it.

2. As some of the folks in my comments noted, they didn’t know about the connection initially, but they did find out eventually…a few years after the fact, or even during the original run of the series, but they did find out. It’s very possible that this confrontation occurred prior to those two fanboys making this discovery…and that this is how they found out.

3. Other folks have noted that the fanboys may be caricatures of two funnybook-fan comedians, Patton Oswalt and Brian Posehn, and thus this may be the cartoonist’s specific criticism of these two men.

4. Or it could be a bit of characterization for the lead character…he smugly tosses off a common bit of comic book trivia and treats it as arcane knowledge, which makes him the jerk.

Speaking of being a jerk, I think I’ve way overanalyzed this bit of dialogue enough. (And focusing on the trivia presented misses the point, I realize, of the actual argument being made…that Watchmen is overrated by superhero fanboys, but that’s a post for another day, I think!) Again, here’s that Toupydoops preview for you to check out, and hey, take it easy on Dirk…he’s a good guy!

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