Student Research Projects

Watchmen and Pax Romana: Quid est tempus narrativum?

Student Andrew Mullen ‘14
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department English
Course English 489: Senior Thesis Workshop


With the rise of postmodernist ideas within comic books during the 1980s, creators such as Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, who wrote and illustrated the graphic novel Watchmen, started to challenge these stereotypical views of what a comic book could achieve. Titles like Watchmen and Hickman’s Pax Romana employed certain postmodernist ideas and methods to start rethinking the way that comics could portray time throughout the narrative. By stylizing the rotation, positioning, shape, size, and spacing of panels as well as creating characters that are not affected by time, Moore, Gibbons, and Hickman found ways to break away from the older, more rigid styles of commonly accepted narratives and design within comic books. As such, through researching the works of Scott McCloud and Umberto Eco, I have developed the idea that Watchmen and Pax Romana introduce new ideas on the relationship between narrative time and time of narration in comic books of the post-Einsteinian age, which suggests that the narrative is not restricted by time. These titles force audiences to read comic books in a new way, adopting a methodical yet enjoyable style of active reading that allows them to breakdown the progression of literary time as it moves across the page in new and innovative styles that include stopping and focusing