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This Doomsday Clock is based on a real Nuclear
Doomsday Clock. It is referred to occasionally throughout the graphic narrative
of Watchmen, where it signals the proximity of a war between the Soviet Union
and the United States. It stands one minute closer to midnight and is
increasingly covered in blood. On the back cover of the first issue, the clock
stands at twelve minutes to midnight, and at the close of the story with the
twelfth issue, midnight is struck. Together, the repetitions of the doomsday
clock-face and the titles of the issues/chapters create a circular structure
that serve to summarize and bookend each chapter of the graphic narrative much
like literary texts employ chapter headings or a blank page to frame and delineate
chapters in a print novel. The same concept of an imminent catastrophe is shown
in the clocks which sporadically appears in the background displaying the hour
11:55 and in the famous painting The
persistence of memory hanging from a wall (Chapter IV, p18).

Clocks and watches are used throughout Watchmen to
implement symbolism. The first time such symbols appear, is in the form of a smiley
face badge. Blake was wearing the badge on his night robe when he was attacked
in his apartment. When Blake was beaten the night of his murder, blood from his
nose and mouth stained the badge in its famous pattern: a single line of blood
across the badge’s right eye. One interpretation is that the stain represents
the minute hand of a clock, pointing at 12 minutes to the hour, particularly in
an implied connection to the Doomsday Clock, which represents how close the
world is to “catastrophic destruction”. It can also symbolize a taint
on superficial appearances that everything is well: in the same way the blood
stains the happy smile, the world  is
stained by the uncertain foundation of the blood and falsehood it was built on.

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A good example of shrewd symbolism can be analyzed in Watchmen by Alan Moore, my favorite graphic novel. The story
is set in the United States, 1985, during the Cold War, in an alternate history
where costumed adventurers are real and the country is getting closer to a
nuclear war with the Soviet Union. It tells the story of a group of superheroes
and their predecessors and the events surrounding the mysterious murder of one
of their own, Eddie Blake, whose superhero name is the Comedian.

The recurrence of visual symbols has been cleverly deployed
in 20th century mass media, such as graphic novels and movies, in order to
express abstract contents, which can’t always be translated into words. Such
references can only be understood depending on context, and culture and
knowledge of the viewer/reader about the subject.

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