Sunday, May 20, 2012

Watchmen: Chapter V - page 21


Panel 1:  Echoing the “stinging spray” in the final panel of the previous page, the news vendor is hanging a covering over his newsstand as it begins to rain.

Also, his statement, “don’t it ever let up,” is juxtaposed against the “Black Freighter” caption box, which tells us that the shark eventually died – it finally let up.

Panel 2:  More juxtaposition of the dialogue from Moore as the “Black Freighter” caption states that the shark “stopped swimming” as the news vendor complains that his job is like “paddling against the tide.”

Panel 3:  More (or is it Moore?) narrative juxtaposition as the news vendor asks Joey, a driver for the Promethean Cab Company, if the Promethean is “still bringing light to the world,” as the “Black Freighter” caption reads, “relief was fleeting, my prospects still dark.”

Panel 4:  The news vendor tells Joey, in response to her dire comment, that “Afghanistan’s a long way away,” which is juxtaposed against the “Black Freighter” caption box that says, “sharks circled closer than was comfortable.”

Panel 5:  This panel is focused on vulnerability as readers get four comments upon this aspect.  The news vendor feels Pakistan is the country that should be worrying about Afghanistan as “they’re wide open,” followed by Joey saying, “we’re all pretty vulnerable,” while she opens up her copy of Hustler to see the centerfold (a nude woman holding her hands over her exposed crotch, a classic image of vulnerability), all of which is echoed by the “Black Freighter” caption in which the sailor relates that the other sharks worried at his raft, which he hoped “would satisfy them” otherwise he would become far more vulnerable than he already is.

Panel 6:  Joey asks if the news vendor could put up a poster for her so that it wouldn’t “get torn up,” which mirrors the commentary from the “Black Freighter,” in which the sailor states that the sharks departed and “for the moment, [he] was safe.”

Panel 7:  This panel is a close-up of the panel readers saw as they “looked” over the young Bernie’s shoulder in the previous panel.

We get more narrative juxtaposition as the “Black Freighter” caption reads, in part, “I would have chuckled at the inversion of natural roles” as the sailor supped on the shark that had attacked him earlier.  This is echoed by the news vendor’s remark to Joey, “Gay Women Against Rape?” (an inversion of expectation)  “Is this a joke?” (echoing the “chuckled” from the caption). 

The “inversion” can also be seen as a commentary upon the image in this panel, which shows the shark’s reflection (reinforcing the thematic overview of the chapter) in the ocean as an inversion of itself.

Panel 8:  We get more word play as Joey threatens the news vendor with “alter[ing] [his] looks” if he does not put the poster up, mirroring the sailor’s thought that, “[his] raft grew increasingly grotesque, reflecting (thematic reinforcement) my own gradual transformation.”

Also note the triangle motif is part of this poster, as Pink Triangle – a band – is the headline act for this benefit concert featured on it.  

Panel 9:  Again, the two narratives juxtapose with one another as the “Black Freighter” caption reads that the sailor drifted “into the dawn” as the news vendor, in response to her bullying, makes a sarcastic remark to Joey, “bring light to the world.”

The ad on the back of Joey’s Hustler magazine is for the cigarettes readers have seen Laurie smoking, and the ad is “For Smokers With Balls.”

Also note that the news vendor in this panel – as he puts up the poster using his right hand – is a mirror image of the first panel on this page – in which the news vendor was putting up the covering on his newsstand with his left hand – again reinforcing the reflective and symmetrical imagery throughout this chapter.

This panel – laid out with the vendor in the background on the left of the panel putting up a poster that has a triangle as its centerpiece, the young Bernie in the lower left corner middle-ground with his cigarette lit and burning to the right of his image, and in the foreground at the right of the panel Joey, with a toothpick in her teeth pointing toward the left of the panel, walking toward the reader looking down at the magazine in her hands – transitions directly into

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