Quis custodiet ipsos custodies? Tulsa and Watchmen on HBO.

by Bob Schwartz

Watchmen, the acclaimed graphic novel, was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 best novels of the 20th century. Many, including me, agree. In fall 2019 it was transformed into an HBO series.

It is a complicated story, an alternative history of contemporary America. It is about the role of police and superheroes in turbulent times. It is about the ways we deal with the “others.” It is about the power we grant to authorities so that we can be (or feel) safe, and from that emerges the question alluded to in the title, the question asked in ancient Rome: Quis custodiet ipsos custodies? Who watches the watchmen?

As with all transitions from page to screen, creative layers were added for TV. The HBO series is set in Tulsa, and begins with a harrowing depiction of the tragic Tulsa race massacre of 1921, an event that is suddenly receiving renewed and deserved attention.

Watch Watchmen, at the very least the opening scene. Read Watchmen, even if you don’t think of yourself as a graphic novel person. You will come away with new perspective, which is what we ask of art.