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The Last Laugh: A Look Into Moore And Gibbons’ Characterization Of The Comedian

2040 words - 8 pages

Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ graphic novel Watchmen is unconventional in the comic book genre, because it was the first to veer away from the simplistic plot of superheroes with superpowers in a fictional world and lean more towards a complex narrative of multiple characters that are more “human than super” in a realistic setting (Moore, “Mindscape”). The authors cover the dark issues of rape, war, and violence in Watchmen’s world where the characters’ lives soon end in their own demise. The most important concern the rhetors focus on is deciding what is truly right or wrong and this question of morality is present throughout the novel, shown through the character the Comedian (Edward Morgan Blake). Moore and Gibbons use ethos to characterize Edward as a despicable character in Watchmen, but towards the end of the novel the audience sees his humanistic qualities that helps them to sympathize with this character. Moore also uses dialogue and symbolism to show the Comedian’s humanity behind his initially evil guise. The authors continue to characterize the Comedian by employing flashbacks along with stylistic choices of color and drawings in the panels to create a mood of disgust and pity towards his persona. Moore and Gibbons rhetorical devices produce pathos so that the audience develops an emotional tie to the Comedian that leads them to reflect on their own morality.
To understand Moore and Gibbons use of pathos we look to how they introduce Eddie’s character in the text as someone the audience initially detests. The Comedian’s character is noted as being “ruthless and cynical” which can be shown in a flashback when Eddie tries to rape Sally Jupiter (Watchmen). Moore uses dialogue to directly convey to the audience how merciless the Comedian’s action can be when Laurie Juspeczyk describes Eddie’s beatings on her mother, “You know he broke her ribs? You know he almost choked her?” (Moore and Gibbons ch. 1, 21). Eddie is merciless, because he is to blame for advancing on Sally when she did not want him to. Then after Sally tries to defend herself he retaliates by beating her to the ground and still tries to take advantage of her position when she is lying half unconscious on the floor (Moore and Gibbons ch. 2, 6-7). The Comedian’s actions continue to perpetuate his image of being evil, leaving the audience to distrust his morality.
Colorist of Watchmen, John Higgins, uses dark color washes in the background of the panels of the flashback to signify an important scene different from the other panels in the chapter where the coloring is bright using a color wash of pastels in contrast. Higgins uses a pitch black background to exhibit the evil actions in everyone. The colorist also uses distorted images to display the impulses of human actions seen in the third, fifth, and seventh panels in chapter two, page six. The sixth panel in chapter two, page seven has a red color wash that imparts a mood of anger. Gibbons drawing also...

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