Impossible Adaptation

March 14, 2009 at 10:45 pm (Adaptation, Books, Graphic Novels/Comics, Originality, Pop culture) (, , )

“The question of essences remains at the heart of the adaptive act: how to make a second version of a first thing, of a book or film or poem or vegetable, or of yourself, that is successfully its own, new thing and yet carries with it the essence, the spirit, the soul of the first thing, the thing that you yourself, or your book or poem or film or your pre-pickle mango or lime, originally were.”

Salman Rushdie

“To read the comic is to see the illusion of something actually happening before your eyes; to go back and appreciate the fruit of three twelve-hour days is to—what? Look? Perceive? Read differently? —Whatever it is, it’s definitely a key component of comics, a thing we can do there and take advantage of nowhere else. ‘The most obvious sense,’ says Wolk, ‘in which Watchmen is tethered to comics is the fact that it’s specifically about comics’ form and content and readers’ preconceptions of what happens in a comic book story. Beneath that surface, though, it relies on being a comic book for its crucial sense of time and chronology.'”

Kip Manley

“[N]ow I want to focus on Snyder.   I’m less concerned with his film than its conceit: that through slavish imitation Moore and Gibbon’s novel can transition from page to screen. The central concern in Watchmen is with the experience of reading comic books.  The scene of reading is of obvious import: the youth reading Tales of the Black Freighter reminds the reader that the thing in their hands was shaped by an escapist tradition.”

Scott Eric Kaufmann

“And so my problems with the film can be reduced to two major differences it has with the book: the characterization of Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, and the ending, because between the two of those, it meant that not only did the film have no plot, it didn’t understand the question it was meant to investigate.”


“Why is this significant?  Because it demonstrates that Snyder never grappled with his source material in formal or structural terms.  The narrative techniques that contributed to his own sense of the book’s significance went unrecognized; in their place is the kind of fanboy literalism that compels people to write open letters to Peter Jackson accusing him of assaulting Tolkien.”

Kaufman, again. (Tolkien link included in original.)
(see “How to teach comics responsibly in a composition class” for an example of the techniques used in Watchmen.)

“But I wouldn’t be surprised if the same problem crops up over and over—Moore writes plots that don’t make sense unless you don’t shy away from the radical political implications, and who has the guts to do that inside the major studio system?”

Amanda Marcotte

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