Brave and the Bold #6: ‘Bigly’

There are two things that I know to be true:

  1. Comic books are a perfect expression of politics, history and culture.
  2. Watchmen exemplifies this idea better than any other comic.

The seminal work by Dave Gibbons and Alan Moore has been praised, scrutinised, analysed, revered, parodied, put on film, and is the only graphic novel on the ALL- TIME 100 Novels list. Set in a world where the Vietnam War ended in a quick American victory due to the intervention of the superhuman Dr. Manhattan, where Nixon is still president in 1985 due to the repeal of the 22nd Amendment, where morals are skewed, where the keys to power are killed for, and where the very idea of the American dream has become an American nightmare, Watchmen still stands as a horrifying mirror to a world that might have been and a world that may well be happening now.

If you have been living under a rock you will not know about a recent event that has happened in American politics. Everybody else will know about this, but for you rock dwellers here is Donald J. Trump:

Now, Donald is a corrupt, morally skewed, power hungry, sexist, pig, and the current president of the United States after his inauguration yesterday. I do not have any positive views of him and the fact that he got into power confounds me to this day. He is a bully and a charlatan who got to his position by appealing to the lowest common denominator, and insulting (and even threatening) anyone who got in his way.

‘What does this have to do with Watchmen?’ I hear you ask. Well, my good friend Arlen Schumer, illustrator and comic book historian extraordinaire was hired by The Outline to illustrate a new parody of Watchmen called Who Watches the Men? that fits in to and comments on the new United States of Trump:

YOU CAN READ THE COMIC HERE.

The story is only one page and it is fairly simple, set on January 20th 2017, Anthony Weiner (replacing Rorschach) walks past Trump tower and writes in his journal his feelings of sorrow at the political events taking place. The dialogue used does not differ to greatly from the original Rorschach test, references and jokes replace some of the lines but it still reads the same. This feels like a missing Watchmen page and probably the closest thing to a modern Watchmen sequel.

The writing is what you would expect from a political satire, an exaggeration that is a little cheesy but it works. The main centrepiece of it though is the artwork. Schumer not only depicts the characters perfectly (just look at that ‘Bigly’ panel and tell me that should not be a protest sign), but he also manages to pay tribute to Gibbon’s art whilst still having his own style.

There are some brilliant touches in terms of the artwork too, especially on Trump himself. The golden cape is something that I would have no way have been surprised by if it was worn by Donald himself, the terrifying close-up of his sweaty face as I mentioned in the previous paragraph is like something out of a horror comic and really elevates the feeling of dread a lot of us feel due to this event. The final panels really sell it though. A sorrowful Ted Cruz bathed in the light of his small television screen looks on in shock, as were and are many of us.

There are some drawbacks though of course, as popular and pervasive as Watchmen is, this would only really work for an audience that recognises the graphic novel and its artwork. I also think that the finished colouring is a little washed out, and I understand that they were going for that authentic Watchmen look but having seen the original colours that Arlen wanted the finished product does not have the same energy.

To round this off here is a final illustration by Arlen, and if you haven’t already please check out his Silver Age of Comic Book Art book.

What are your thoughts on Trump, political satire and/or this parody comic? Please leave your comments!

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