Monday, March 19, 2018

WATCHPANELS, Part the Third


One compulsive reader’s observations ...

after gazing into Watchmen for the umpteenth time


All right, I’ve got photons in my teeth and my wrist brace on ...

            In panel 1, we encounter the first excerpt from the Tales of the Black Freighter comic book.  Being someone who is sometimes analytical and often obsessed with the WRONG minutiae, I wondered, “Where is Davidstown,” the home that the “Marooned” sailor is so desperate to save from the supernatural evil of the pirates?  Here’s our first clue, “the yellow Indies sky.”  So, which Indies, the West (centered on the Caribbean), or the East Indies, the seas around South and Southeast Asia?

            And, by the way ... Where is Davidstown?

            Our information points are

·         The just-noted “Indies sky.”

·         the sailor sails his ghastly raft “east, borne on the backs of murdered men” (5:9:4).

·         When he arrives home, a few miles from Davidstown, the sun is setting behind him (10:12:1).  This means he arrived from the west.

·         He views the moneylender and his doxy “through a curtain of whispering maram grass” (10:12:3).  According to Wikipedia, “marram grass” (the common spelling) is found in the US, the UK, and Australia. 

            Putting these clues together ...

            My guess is that Davidstown is located on the western edge of Australia.  The western half of the continent was designated the “Swan River Colony” in 1829.  If this is correct, then the atrocities of The Black Freighter represented the last gasp of the Pirate Rounders, who plundered the valuable treasure ships of the East Indian Sea.

            In Annotated Watchmen, Leslie Klinger makes a kind of boneheaded suggestion.  He theorizers that the magazine closest to the head of Bernie the newsdealer is titled Home Baker.  It is a lot more likely to be Home Maker, don’t you think?  Especially since there was a Homemaker magazine in the UK in the 1960s, and nowadays too.

 In the comic, the chapter name is in quotation marks, with the credits underneath.  The bound versions contain no credits, and have no quotation marks around title. 
In this and subsequent chapters of the bound editions, the chapter title is printed in a larger font, filling the same width as “title + quotation marks” in original.

           At the end of Laurie’s fight with Jon, we have this non-response from Ol’ Blue-Butt:  “If you think there’s a problem with my attitude, I’m prepared to discuss it.”
            It’s sort of the same answer that Dr Malcolm Long gives his wife in 6:13:7-8.
            And both of these scenes remind me of HAL’s words in 2001: A Space Odyssey, as Bowman is beginning to decerebrate him:  “I know I’ve made some very poor decisions recently, but I can give you my complete assurance that my work will be back to normal.”

             When Janey Slater talks about “three packs a day,” she is smoking a ball-pipe – do you suppose she’s talking about “three packs” of the little balls of tobacco which go into the bowl of the pipe?

           Dan’s clock is on 24-hour time, it’s 18:03 = 6:03PM.  This is only notable because a later chapter depicts the clock using 12-hour time.

            Here’s one of the Briticisms in Watchmen that sounds odd coming from an American – when the lock guy says that now Dan is “safe as houses.”

            In the comic, there’s no black bar at the bottom of page 28.
            In bound editions,  the added black bar contains the scripture, its citation, and a clock face.

             On the last page of the comic, the “next month’s Milton Glass” clipping is not in bound editions.

            Thanks for stopping by.  We have nine chapters to go!
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© by Mark Alfred