30 years ago today: ‘Watchmen’ changed comics

Who watches the Watchmen?”

It was 30 years ago that the comic that would change comics first hit shelves. Watchmen issue #1 had a cover date of September 1986 and got unboxed in a lot of stores in late August that year.

The Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons limited series, which ran for 12 issues, deconstructed and reinterpreted the superhero genre and also proved to a wider audience that comics aren”t just for kids. Now Watchmen is taught in college courses.

Watchmen demonstrated the power of the medium of comics. In Art of the Comic Book: An Aesthetic History, Robert Harvey wrote that Moore and Gibbons “had demonstrated as never before the capacity of the medium to tell a sophisticated story that could be engineered only in comics.”

Watchmen was in good company in 1986 – it was also the year Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and Maus debuted.

After several attempts to adapt Watchmen to film, Zach Snyder”s movie finally debuted in 2009 and proved divisive among Watchmen fans, to say the least.

Moore objected to the adaptation of his work, just as he did to the adaptation of his series The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and V for Vendetta. His disinterest in Hollywood, though, hasn”t stopped numerous creators of both screen and page content from counting Moore as an influence – among them, Joss Whedon, Neil Gaiman, and Damon Lindelof.

Other notable August 31 happenings in pop culture history:

• 1957: Elvis Presley performed what would be his final concert outside of the U.S., at Empire Stadium in Vancouver, B.C.

• 1963: The Angels song “My Boyfriend”s Back” topped the U.S. singles chart.

• 1973: The Rolling Stones released their album Goats Head Soup.

• 1987: Michael Jackson”s Bad hit record store shelves. The album produced a record five no. 1 singles – the only other album to achieve that feat since is Katy Perry”s Teenage Dream. Also on this day, the video for the song “Bad” premiered on CBS during the special Michael Jackson: The Magic Returns.

• 1991: Metallica“s self-titled album hit no. 1 on the U.S. album chart.

• 2001: The final episode of Mister Rogers” Neighborhood aired on PBS, after 31 seasons on the air. Fred Rogers passed less than two years later, in February 2003.

• 2005: The Constant Gardener, which earned Rachel Weisz an Oscar, opened in U.S. theaters.

• 2007: Rob Zombie”s Halloween reboot opened in theaters.