I haven't read many graphic novels, apart from those you read in your school days. Neither am I a great fan of them. However, I just finished reading Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, on a recommendation by a friend.
This book has been figuring in the Time Magazines 100 best novels and among few graphics novels to gain entry here. I must say I do not subscribe to this list. There are more controversy as this novel is now being made into a movie scheduled for a 2009 release. Alan Moore has been very vocal about this as you can see here.
Originally released as 12 monthly releases, this book as been later compiled and republished. The story is set in 1985, where costumed adventurers are back at work, against criminal syndicates after one of their co-member is killed. Soon, the event takes a serious turn as another of them was shot, but escaped ; one was tricked and was arrested; and another was forced to leave earth to his home in Mars. While the remaining people are trying to regroup and identify the culprits, the suspicion turns to one among them. The fear of marking and eliminating masked superheros are in the air and soon it becomes a game of superiority.On the other hand the word political scene has gone through some of the worst time and the imminent world war III is looming over the world populace, after the invasion of Afghanistan by the mighty USSR.
There are two periods of activities in discussion here. One when the masked adventurers were at the prime of their eventful existence, and one when they are already an outcast of the society and trying to re-establish themselves through working on small time offenders. There are conflicting and a bit confusing plots of the murder of the masked warriors and of the nuclear war and the destruction there off. There is also an attempt to capitalise on the popularity of these superheros by the toy/doll business group trying to sell their replica.
Fictitious Biographies, retrospectives, journals and other reading including another graphic story within this novel is all there. The structure is also has some documents, memoirs, collective data and other at the end of each chapter. Illustrations and the colouring are superb, and the structure and the narration are a bit odd ( may be I am not so used to such fiction). There is also a quote from a literary work or of a writer at the end of each chapter, which I found quite interesting and out of place.
It was an interesting experience personally for me, and have opened the possibilities and capabilities of this narrative medium in the world of fictions. However, I still do not think that this can move beyond the crime fiction category.
More reads : Jai Arjun , Alan Moore interview