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Analysis of Characters and Episodes in Watchmen, Fun Home, and Maus

Analyzing Character Development in Watchmen

1. Choose One (1) character from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen and analyze her/his development.

  • Discuss THREE (3) significant episodes involving the character you choose.
  • Explain how each episode affects the character.
  • Explain how each episode contributes to our understanding of the character.

2. Choose one episode from Watchmen and analyze it using terms and concepts from Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics. You can approach your analysis in a number of ways: consider the Form – page layout, facial expressions, character designs, etc.

Consider the Idea – narrative structure, dialogue, relation to larger themes, etc.

Rorschach’s stay in prison (pages 179-206, and/or 252-267)

Laurie’s visit to Mars (pages 281-308)

The confrontation with Ozymandias (pages 349-376)

The Tales from The Black Freighter story (interspersed throughout)

An episode of your own choosing.

3. At one point, Rorschach refers to his mask as his face (p. 162), and even writes in his journal about abandoning his disguise (as Walter Kovacs) to become himself. When the police later apprehend the vigilante they remove his mask, at which point Rorschach shouts: “NO! MY FACE! GIVE IT BACK!” (p. 172). It is pretty clear that he considers the squiggly mask to be his true self.

With all of that in mind, answer this simple question: Why does Rorschach take off his mask before telling Dr. Manhattan to go ahead and kill him (p. 406)?

4. Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home: A Family Tragicomedy is a personal memoir relating the author’s experiences growing up and discovering herself. The graphic novel is also a meditation on her family and how deeply her parents have contributed to who she is. The sudden loss of her father at a relatively young age haunts the narrative, and Bechdel states in a matter of fact manner that Bruce Bechdel committed suicide. However, she goes on to undermine that declaration in various ways throughout the graphic novel.

Did Bruce Bechdel really commit suicide? Decide whether or not you think he did and provide THREE (3) reasons for why you believe so.

5. As a narrator and author, Alison Bechdel thinks a lot about how she and the people she encounters demonstrate gender. She calls herself “butch,” for example, whereas her father is “a sissy.” Discuss THREE (3) examples of gender and its representation in Fun Home.

6. Art Spiegelman’s Maus is a challenging text in many ways, from its depiction of the Holocaust to its more subtle representation of a deeply dysfunctional family’s interpersonal dynamics. The form itself is also challenging as a Holocaust memoir that is presented as a comic featuring anthropomorphic animals.

Analyze and discuss how Spiegelman’s use of comics contributes to – or detracts from –his father’s story. Is it appropriate? Is it inappropriate? How so? In your analysis, include three(3) episodes from the text to support your position.

7. Maus is critically acclaimed and has won an American Book Award and even a Pulitzer Prize, possibly the most prestigious and coveted award for a work of literature. And, of course, academics like ourselves study the book and its contribution to contemporary culture.

What makes Art Spiegelman’s Maus significant?

8. Come up with your own topic based on one or more of the course texts cited above (Watchmen, Fun Home, Maus).

Please note, if you are interested in this option you must get my approval. 

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