Eruditorum Press

Don’t look at the future. We drew something awful on it.

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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later.Support Elizabeth on Patreon.

14 Comments

  1. Scurra
    July 24, 2015 @ 1:59 am

    The nature and scale of this backstory forms another key element of Watchmen’s overall success and brilliance.
    For me, this is a key reason why I rank Watchmen alongside The Lord of the Rings in terms of literary achievement: the "artefacts" are the equivalent of the poetry. As you note, people can skip all the text stuff in Watchmen and not miss anything of real narrative significance, and the same is true of the poems in Tolkien. But they both provide a significant depth and breadth to the mythos that makes the foundations seem far stronger than rivals – no matter whether that's an illusion of course! Skipping them seems to me to be wilfully missing the point. (Mind you, I didn't think the conceit worked nearly as well in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen but that's a different argument.)

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  2. IG
    July 24, 2015 @ 2:36 am

    I think those of us who read the comic as it came out ended up reading the text pieces during the interminable wait for the next issue! I did enjoy them though, and there were a few clues in there as to what might happen later on in the story…

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  3. C.
    July 24, 2015 @ 3:43 am

    the toughest text piece is Dreiberg's essay on owls, which I think Moore intended to be dense and purple—don't think I've made it through that in its entirety & it's been nearly 30 years.

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  4. timber-munki
    July 24, 2015 @ 9:15 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.

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  5. timber-munki
    July 24, 2015 @ 9:17 am

    I never read the text pieces in any comic in the first read, sometimes never. The exception would be Gillen's Über, which are more a commentary on what I've just read rather than an abrupt swerve and change of pace in the narrative. When I'm re-reading Watchmen sometimes I'll read them, sometimes I'll skip them.

    The one thing that stays with me is how much of an insufferable coke bore Doug Roth was. I'm only tangentially familiar with Rolling Stone of the time but his interview with Osymandius really catches the narcissistic solipism that makes punk a perfectly sensible & sane reaction to music in the mid seventies. I'm not much of a fan of the pointless exercise of committing violence against fictional characters but I really could never get tired of punching his smug 'A coke joke! Adrian Veidt, Ozy-freakin'-mandias himself has just told me a coke joke!' commodified counter-culture self insertion to the story face. (It still vexes me so much I've just found out I can't underline something in a post so every cloud and all that…)

    I suppose it's another reason to re-read Watchmen just to check if he was in the New York at the end of #11, possibly to review the Pale Horses gig…

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  6. Ice
    July 24, 2015 @ 3:25 pm

    Dreiberg's essay is so dry it's almost unreadable. But, that really highlights the character's nature. I've never thought about this before reading this post and your comment. But, Moore really sacrifices some readability for the sake of making the text pieces seem authentic.

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  7. Kit
    July 24, 2015 @ 3:51 pm

    Worth noting that Moore's direct influence for the use of the 9-panel-grid was Eddie Campbell's autobiographical works under the Alec umbrella title.

    Also that Under The Hood was intended to be the only text feature, just to fill space until letters arrived on the first issue; by the time they reached issue 4, Moore had become excited by the possibility of showing further contextual richness for the story's world.

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  8. Roy Batty
    July 24, 2015 @ 4:18 pm

    Christ, I hate Watchmen so much. Your write up of it is fantastic and very illuminating but it can't change how much I hate the original text.

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  9. elvwood
    July 25, 2015 @ 7:34 am

    I know I did – after all, there's only so many times you can pour over the issues to-date, so you might as well extract every ounce of goodness from them.

    Watchmen is the series that has most worked as an Event for me – there might have been individual issues of other comics I anticipated more, but never a sustained run. It's also one of only two series where I bought two copies of each issue (although the first two were "after the fact", once I realised how much I was obsessed with it) – one for re-re-reading and one for bagging and admiring from a distance. This eventually transmuted into "one signed and one unsigned"…

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  10. Josiah Rowe
    July 27, 2015 @ 5:23 pm

    Apparently Ted Cruz has named Rorschach as one of his favorite superheroes. Says so much, doesn't it?

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  11. Daru
    August 8, 2015 @ 3:13 am

    With you on this Scurra. I for myself find them not to be skippable, but texts that add more to the characters and give layers of understanding to the world we are reading.

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  12. Daru
    August 8, 2015 @ 3:16 am

    I wasn't for some reason buying the issues at the time (think I was two years away from leaving school, my peak period of comic buying was to come). But I loved these text pieces when I got the trade and had never seen anyone do this in comics before, I was then 17 I think.

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  13. Daru
    August 8, 2015 @ 3:17 am

    I agree, as with the other text pieces, they tell us more about the characters.

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  14. Daru
    August 8, 2015 @ 3:21 am

    "Put simply, it mattered that Moore and Gibbons were conducting an apocalypse of superheroes at the company that had invented the genre, and their apocalypse was deliberately designed to engage with the history of that company."

    And such an immersive world (including the text pieces for me) for it to happen in. The book grabbed me immediately when I read the trade as a kid. I loved as an artist immediately the very careful and designed nature of Gibbons' work, with the whole story told through symbols and design.

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