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Googling 'Vice-President Ford' and the 'Keene Act': The discovery of Watchmen's uchronical universe, twenty years after publication

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Having grown up entirely within the Franco-Belgian comics tradition, I confess that I read Watchmen for the first time in 2009. On page 2, I realized that I would need to look up several historical facts and names in order to make sense – more than twenty years after publication – of the complex background of gloomy Cold War tensions against which the action takes place. (Vainly) desiring to get the full picture and bridge the cross-cultural gap(s), I Googled terms like 'Vice-President Ford', 'KT-28' and 'Keene Act', which made me realize that Watchmen, to my surprise, has its own 'Wiki', and more important, that it displays a uchronia, or alternate history. Different scholars have fruitfully studied Moore's playing with the narratological levels of story and discourse. While they have focused on the manipulations at the discourse-level, this article divides the story in separate levels to probe the mechanisms of reading 'uchronical' comic stories. Partially inspired by Wolf Schmid's narratological model (2008), I hypothesize the level of 'uchronical Geschehen'. Comparing Watchmen to some other uchronical works, I try to explain why Alan Moore's gradual disclosure of the alternate-historical information generates two particular 'uchronical reading pleasures'.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: July 1, 2011

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  • Studies in Comics aims to describe the nature of comics, to identify the medium as a distinct art form, and to address the medium's formal properties. The emerging field of comics studies is a model for interdisciplinary research and in this spirit this journal welcomes all approaches. This journal is international in scope and provides an inclusive space in which researchers from all backgrounds can present new thinking on comics to a global audience. The journal will promote the close analysis of the comics page/text using a variety of methodologies. Its specific goal, however, is to expand the relationship between comics and theory and to articulate a "theory of comics". The journal also includes reviews of new comics, criticism, and exhibitions, and a dedicated online space for cutting-edge and emergent creative work. 
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