Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Chapter X
Chapter XI
Chapter XII



Non-Comic Information

World of the Watchmen



Historical and Social Changes in the World of the Watchmen

This section summarizes the differences between our world and theirs. I am ignoring certain obvious changes, such as the super-heroes, major differences in technology, and the different consumer products and magazines. (Mmeltdowns don't exist in our world, but that's not really worthy of mention.)

  1. HEINZ: In 1892 the founder of the Heinz corporation decided on the slogan "57 varieties;" in our world. In their world, it's "58 varieties" (See issue #1, 10:8).
  2. VIETNAM: In our world and theirs, US attempts to oust the Viet Cong led to US troops being sent there. In our world, these attempts were unsuccessful, and troops were eventually withdrawn. In their world, Nixon promised in 1968 (to ensure re-election) to send in Dr. Manhattan, and did so in 1971. He brought about Viet Cong surrender in just two months. In 1985, Vietnam became the 51st state (See issue #1, 4:3).
  3. SPACE: In our world, treaties prohibit nuclear weaponry in space. This is not true in their world, apparently, because the US Congress approved the building of nuclear silos on the moon (1:14:5; "Congress Approves Lunar Silos," a Gazette headline). (These could possibly be grain silos, but that seems unlikely.) This also indicates much more space travel than in our world.
  4. GENETIC ENGINEERING: Besides the obvious (Bubastis) it's apparently produced four-legged, wingless poultry (See issue #1, 25:4).
  5. SOCIAL ATTITUDES: Whether this is signifcant or not, we see two men embracing in public in issue #1, 25:4. Also, the accepted term for homosexual females is "gay women," not "lesbians." This change came about in the mid-'70s (See issue #9, page 32).
  6. WORLD WAR II: In their world, the Nazis had costumed saboteurs in the US (Screaming Skull and Captain Axis). There is no evidence that the second nuclear bomb was used on Japan in Nagasaki in their world, but there's no evidence against it either.
  7. COMIC BOOKS: In our world, the most prominent comics were super-hero comics in the '40s. They diminished after WWII ended, and crime and horror comics rose to prominence in the '50s, led by EC Comics; a public outcry led by Dr. Fredric Wertham led to the founding of the Comics Code Authority, which put the kibosh on most horror books. Superheroes came to prominence again in the very late '50s and early '60s, with DC's revitalization of their old characters (Flash, Green Lantern, etc.) and the rise of Marvel, beginning with the Fantastic Four in 1961. Superhero comics continue to dominate the industry.
    In their world, Action Comics #1 (with the first appearance of Superman) helped touch off the masked hero craze. Superhero comics continued for a while (the Flash existed, possibly as "Flash-Man") but dwindled in popularity due to the existence of real "superheroes." The '50s led to pirate titles dominating the market, led by EC. The anti-comic sentiment came to nothing; the government came down on the side of comics to "protect the image of certain comic book-inspired agents in their employ." In 1960, DC premiered Tales of the Black Freighter by Max Shea and Joe Orlando [who exists in our world, and has worked with Alan Moore], which proved to be groundbreaking. Pirate books continue to dominate into the mid-'80s, until the "alien" comes to New York; horror comics become more popular after that.
    Note that pirate comics have never been popular in our world; with the exception of Classics Illustrated's adaptation of Treasure Island, I can't think of a single one offhand. (EC may have published one as part of their "New Direction.")
  8. NIXON: In our world, Nixon was Eisenhower's vice president from 1953-1961, and was defeated in the 1960 presidential election by John Kennedy. In 1962 he lost in a bid for the governorship of California. In 1968, he was elected President, and was re-elected in 1972 with the widest victory margin up to that point. However, a series of scandals (beginning with the revelation of a break-in to Democratic campaign headquarters in the Washington, DC Watergate Hotel on 6/17/72) led to his resignation on 8/9/74.
    In their world, Nixon involved Dr. Manhattan in domestic and foreign affairs, enlisting his aid in winning the Vietnam War and bringing about economic prosperity. This led to great popularity on Nixon's part; in 1975 his administration sponsored a repeal of the 22nd amendment that would have limited him to 2 terms in office. He was re-elected in 1976, 1980, and 1984.
  9. MILK: Milk is still available in glass bottles in their world; it's more commonly found in cardboard cartons or plastic jugs in ours. (See issue #2, 20:7).
  10. DRUGS: A popular street drug is KT-28, which doesn't exist in our world (at least as such).
  11. THE NEW YORK TIMES/GAZETTE: Between 1945 and 1966, the major New York newspaper, the Times, has changed its name to the Gazette. (There can be no doubt that it's the same paper, though; the name is in the same typeface, and the first page header layout is similar. The appearance of a Times in issue #1 can probably be regarded as a fluke.)
  12. PUBLC TRANSPORTATION: Blimps/dirigibles are not a common form of transport in our world, but they are in theirs. They've replaced other forms of mass transportation; nowhere in the series does a bus appear, and subways are only referred to in the past tense. Taxis are the only form of public transportation common to both worlds.

Watchmen is a trademark of DC Comics Inc., © 1999. These annotations © 1995 by Doug Atkinson. They may be freely copied and distributed, provided the text is not altered.
The annotations are maintained at this location by R.J. White.