Watchmen Bestiary

Chapter 1, page 23, panel 7 of Watchmen. Dr. Manhattan is manipulating machinery and says, "I think I'm close to locating a gluino, which would completely validate supersymmetrical theory if we could include it in the bestiary."The Watchmen Bestiary is an ongoing project, in which I examine the sources mentioned in The Annotated Watchmen v2.0, and write essays examining the connections between these texts and Watchmen itself.

Why “bestiary”? It’s a concept that shows up in Watchmen with a couple of different meanings. First, it’s a collection of items that underpin the universe, which Dr. Manhattan examines in order to better understand the workings of that universe. That’s exactly what these essays are working to do, one exotic and breathtaking specimen at a time. The other Bestiary in Watchmen is “where the real heavy-duty thinkin’ gets done” by the Gila Flats crew in Jon Osterman’s early days as a physicist. It’s the on-base bar where the various residents find themselves “at play amidst the strangeness and charm.”

That meaning works perfectly for me too, because these essays are my way of extending the tremendous strangeness and charm that Watchmen exerts over me and millions of other readers. And doing so is just plain fun for me, which is why I keep doing it.

Here are the episodes so far:

1. The Black And White Panther (Pink Panther movies)
2. There’s A Ship… (“Pirate Jenny” by Bertolt Brecht & Kurt Weill)
3. The Old New Comics (Essay anthology from The Comics Journal)
4. You’re A Better Man Than I Am, Walter K (“Gunga Din” by Rudyard Kipling)
5. The Gods Now Walk Amongst Us (Gladiator by Philip Wylie)
6. Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? (Satires by Juvenal)
7. There’s Nothing To Get (“Neighborhood Threat” by Iggy Pop)
8. Fifteen Men On A Dead Man’s Chest (Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson)
9. The Secret Team (“Shadowplay: The Secret Team” by Alan Moore)
10. The Comedians Of Tragedy (The Comedians by Graham Greene)
11. No Voice Is Eternal (Diva, directed by Jean-Jacques Beineix)
12. Part 1: Ditko Fever (Charlton “Action Heroes” comics written/drawn by Steve Ditko)
12. Part 2: Who’s Down With O.P.C.? (Charlton “Action Heroes” comics written/drawn by others)
13. In The Form Of A Question (Denny O’Neil’s run on The Question)
14. Across The Universes (various DC comics crossover series)
15. The End Of The World As We Know It (The biblical book of Revelation)
16. Let’s See Action (Action Comics #1)
Housekeeping, and Some Notes on Method
17. The Superhuman Crew (“Desolation Row” by Bob Dylan)
18. A Real Rain (Taxi Driver, directed by Martin Scorsese)
19. Comin’ For To Carry Me Home (“Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”, traditional spiritual)
20. Absent Friends (“The Laughing Sun” by Gilbert Hernandez, and more generally Love & Rockets by Los Bros Hernandez)
21. The Last To Know Who’s Fooling Who (“The Comedians” by Elvis Costello)
22. Costumed Cut-ups (Nova Express and the cut-up trilogy by William S. Burroughs)
23. King Mob and Queen Mab (Historical exploits of the King Mob art/activism collective. Also Romeo and Juliet.)
24. How The Ghost Of You Clings (Pin-up art by Alberto Vargas, and “These Foolish Things (Remind Me Of You)” by Eric Machwitz and Jack Strachey)
25. Whose Mind Is Pure Machinery (The symbol of Moloch in the Bible, Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, and Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl”.)
26. Tears Of A Clown (Pagliacci by Ruggiero Leoncavallo)
27. The Righteous With The Wicked (The biblical book of Genesis)
28. Mutiny, I Promise You (Many versions of Mutiny On The Bounty)

You can also find all the posts by searching on the bestiary tag.

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