Friday, June 29, 2012

Watchmen: Chapter VI - the Back-Matter

The Back-matter:

As with the past few chapters, Moore again offers up a very different text pieces as a means to flesh out this chapter’s narrative.  With Chapter VI focusing on Dr. Malcolm Long’s attempt to rehabilitate Walter Kovacs (Rorschach), it is only fitting that we should get a glimpse into the file Long had on his infamous patient.  We get the police report, a summary of Kovacs’s life from the New York State Psychiatric Hospital, two essays – with accompanying artwork – from Kovacs’s time at boarding school, a photo of a young Kovacs, and a note from Dr. Long expressing his enthusiasm to commence his work with Kovacs.  These shreds of Kovacs’s personal history, like the moments chosen in the main narrative by Moore & Gibbons, provide, when combined, a relatively broad view of Kovacs. 

Most of what is found on these few pages speaks for itself, recounting – and in some instances expanding slightly – events already seen in the main chapters of the story.  But there are a few things of note that can be taken away from these documents.  The essay title, “Dream 5/27/63” and the accompanying artwork emphasize how scarred Kovacs was by his mother’s prostitution.  The second essay, “My Parents,” provides better insight into Kovacs’s fixation with President Truman – attributing it to his father, as recounted by his mother.  Of course, realizing that President Truman did not take office until a few years after Walter’s father had already left, one must question his mother’s motivation for sharing such a fallacy with her son.  She could have been confusing Kovacs’s father with one of her johns, or it might have been fabricated on a drunken whim.  You can draw your own conclusions as to that, but it’s these little pieces of humanity (even the sadder parts of humanity) that add depth to even the most minor characters in this story.  And the police report provides the names of the detectives working this case, Detectives Fine and Bourquin, who have gone nameless up to this point. 

Perhaps most interesting, though, is the name of the boarding school Kovacs attended, as noted on the letterhead of the stationary used for his essays.  The Charlton House.  Originally, the story that became Watchmen was initiated by Moore as a treatment for the Charlton characters DC had recently acquired – characters such as Blue Beetle, Nightshade, and the Question.  But when DC editorial realized how radical Moore’s story was going to be, they balked at utilizing the Charlton heroes.  So Moore & Gibbons were free to create their own characters for this story.  The letterhead on this stationary is a recognition of that. 

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