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The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
Walter Kovacs
of the Crimebusters in the Watchmen limited series

Walter Kovacs, better known as the costumed vigilante "Rorschach," is one of the central characters in the acclaimed limited series Watchmen, written by Alan Moore with art by Dave Gibbons. Watchmen quickly became one of the most influential comic books ever published, and Rorschach is thus remarkably well known within the world of comic fandom and even beyond, despite his relatively few appearances. He only appeared in the 12 issues of the Watchmen series, which most people now read as a single collected volume or "graphic novel."

Rorschach was based on the classic Charlton comic book her known as "The Question." Alan Moore has been very forthcoming about the source of his inspiration for Rorschach, and the similarities are too blatant to ignore in any case. Moore orignally wanted his Watchmen series to be about the actual Chartlon characters, including the Question, but he didn't get permission from DC Comics, which had purchased the characters from Charlteon, to use them. So Watchmen features clear analogs to the characters.

The Question was created by Steve Ditko, who as a devout Objectivist. Ditko was the creator or co-creator of many classic characters (including Spider-Man and Doctor Strange), but the Question was the major character that Ditko most overtly used to embody his Objectivist beliefs. Ditko's original portrayal of the Question made it clear that the character himself was an Objectivist.

Because Rorschach is based on the Question, it is a simple matter to deduce that Rorschach is also an Objectivist. And yet, many of Rorschach's behaviors seem to run counter to pure Objectivist doctrine. The reason for this is that Watchmen writer Alan Moore rather despised Objectivism and the teachings of Ayn Rand. Rorschach is an attempt to take the beliefs and characteristics of the Question (including his Objectivism and his paranoia) and make them even more extreme.

Rorschach is thus a remarkably complex character and is certainly not an ideal exemplar of Objectivism. The reaction that readers have to Rorschach is also complex. Many people view Rorschach as a disgusting, deplorable, vile character. Other people see Rorschach as the most admirable and ultimately the most beneficial character in the entire Watchmen series.

Given the popularity and influence of Watchmen, it is not surprising that there have been dozens of essays, articles, websites, etc., published dedicated to discussing Rorschach, including many which pointedly ask the question about whether he is an Objectivist. The question is not so much whether Rorschach is or is not an Objectivist. Clearly, his genealogy is Objectivist and he is a manifestation of Moore's views of Objectivist teachings. The real question is: In what ways does Rorschach embody or fail to embody Objectivism? To what extent does the character actually believe in Objectivism?

Below are references to just a few of the numerous pages, forum discussions, etc., that discuss Rorschach and Objectivism.

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Webpage created 30 July 2007. Last modified 30 July 2007.
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