Monday, July 16, 2012

Watchmen: Chapter VII - page 16


Panel 1:  Where Dan’s dream-self is looking at a female figure – The Twilight Lady from the picture Laurie found earlier, reflected in his glasses – as his subconscious processes the evening’s events, particularly his inability to make love to Laurie.

Panels 1-17:  On this page, Dave Gibbons, masterfully modifies the 9-panel grid utilized throughout the story to evoke an emotional response from the readers.  Here, he doubles up the panels – until the final one – in order to bombard us with information, even as Dan is being bombarded in his dream.  We see him rush to the Twilight Lady, for whom Dan presumably had a strong affection.  They rip each other’s clothes off, so they are standing against each other, nude.  They then peel away each other’s skin (a metaphorical mask) to reveal Dan’s true self (Nite Owl) and the one he truly wishes to be with (Laurie in her Silk Spectre outfit).  As the two kiss, in their costumes, a mushroom cloud explodes behind them and washes over them, burning away their bodies so that they are nothing but skeletons embracing – a visual explanation of Dan’s overriding fears in the real world, that the mask killer is real and the events of the past days portend a devastating end for the human race.

The final panel brings us back to the present, and it is a standard size panel, which, when placed against the smaller panels that preceded it, makes us unconsciously linger on it a bit longer.  It gives us time to process the previous sixteen smaller panels, which, as an effect of their smaller size, would most likely be read quicker, meant to evoke a feeling of being overwhelmed by all that information in such a small amount of space (or a short amount of time, as the size of a comic panel is one way in which artists manipulate time for a reader)

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