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PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2009 5:21 am 
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On more than one occasion in the section of the book devoted to Walter Kovac's early life and sojourn in prison, he is described as being 'ugly', 'fascinatingly ugly' by Malcolm, and his appearance, as hinted at by Kovacs later, is a factor behind his comfort in using a mask, and part of the reason he's presumably adopted the resort of a somewhat blank attitude toward sex. He describes his mask as something "he can bear to look at in the mirror". However, exactly how unnatractive, by normal standards of the word, is Kovacs? Dead on average to look at except with a few interesting characteristics, his only real physical problem is his recurrently referenced bad hygiene and possibly pathologically bad smell. And he doesn't do himself much favours with his horrible eating habits, noisily munching on cold beans and raw eggs. Droopy eyes and slightly slack skin, but not exactly a contender with Shane MacGowan and Timothy Spall.

This brings me to my query (and don't worry, I'm not assuming this thread will survive for much distance). If Moore and Gibbons had wanted to make Kovacs actually spot on ugly, they could have done more with his physiognomy than just make him look a bit old (but not for his age - he's 45) and give him some freckles and spiky red hair. Since he's the only character I've noticed with bright red, as opposed to orange, hair, this gives him a bit of a difference, which may have been a cause for his being disliked in his childhood: but many people find red hair attractive, so it's a bit of a specious point.

Can anyone think of a valid reason why his supposed ugliness is mentioned quite a few times, and is doubtlessly a factor in the makeup of his own psychology, when Moore and Gibbons could have easily actually made him that way, instead of depicting him in the artwork as a physically average but not especially unattractive man?


Last edited by Phoenix on Fri Feb 13, 2009 4:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2009 9:17 am 
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I still stand by my theory that he looks like a little kid.
Someone in that thread pointed out that Walter shares a lot of the same design elements as Disney's cute creatures (large head, prominent ears, squared-off nose) and it makes him very non-threatening in appearance.

Look at the others. Dan was probably quite a looker before he went into emotional and physical withdrawal after losing the Hero fix. Eddie as a young man was dark and handsome, still a good-looking older man despite the scar. Adrian and Doc? Not my cup of WUB! but by societal standards both impressive physical specimens.
So of course Walter's going to feel out of place. He's the average guy in a room full of above-average.
Malcolm probably felt that aura of life-long unworthiness blasting off of Walter and integrated it accordingly into his responses to how the man looked. You know, ugly on the inside and all that prattle.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2009 9:39 am 
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The large head thing is weird because as Sam Jackson points out in 'Unbreakable' it's usually a sign of a villain in comics, but it's also considered to be a "cute" feature. I was the guy who said Rorschach had similar features to Bambi, but I don't think either has an (for their age) unusually large noggin. Northrop Frye said that in Blake's metaphysics the ugly man represents the human reason, the strong man represents the human sublime (Doc?) and the beautiful man represents the human pathetic (Ozzy?) for whatever that's worth. I don't really think Rorschach is ugly in any case.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2009 10:16 am 
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Of course, everyone knows here that I don't finve Kovacs ugly in any way. However, looking at the other physicality of the Minutemen and Crimebusters, Rorschach is really the odd one out. They're all stunningly beautiful (Sally, Laurie, Silhouette, Ozy) to classically handsome (Comedian, Metropolis) to downright cute (Dan, Hollis, Mothman) to the physically perfect (Ozy, Manhattan, Hooded Justice). Rorschach fits none of these exteriorly...or interiorly. To the average person, he's unremarkable looking -- short and runty stature, facially angular, sharp cheeks, tight skin, dead eyes, tiny eyes that are set low on the head, large forehead, blemishes and freckles, greasy hair, bad hygiene (such as his odour) and even more bad habits (such as his eating habits), etc. However, one can't say he doesn't look at a mirror. He doesn't seem like a man who goes to the barber, so he probably cuts his own hair, which you need a mirror for. We know he shaves (and has a wierd habit of using other people's razors) whenever he gets a chance to and goes out of his way to steal a few splashes of Dan's Nostaglia colonge, so he must be aware of his smell. We're not sure if he bathes, but I assume he does occasionally and he does have white teeth for a man who chews sugar cubes. I seem to think that his odour stems primarily from his costume -- the pinstripe suit and trenchcoat -- which has a habit of hiding next to garbage bins in dark alleys.

Then again, can you really take a masked vigilante seriously if he smelt like Snuggles?

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2009 1:45 pm 
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DogWithHeadSplitOpen wrote:
Of course, everyone knows here that I don't finve Kovacs ugly in any way. However, looking at the other physicality of the Minutemen and Crimebusters, Rorschach is really the odd one out. They're all stunningly beautiful (Sally, Laurie, Silhouette, Ozy) to classically handsome (Comedian, Metropolis) to downright cute (Dan, Hollis, Mothman) to the physically perfect (Ozy, Manhattan, Hooded Justice). Rorschach fits none of these exteriorly...or interiorly. To the average person, he's unremarkable looking -- short and runty stature, facially angular, sharp cheeks, tight skin, dead eyes, tiny eyes that are set low on the head, large forehead, blemishes and freckles, greasy hair, bad hygiene (such as his odour) and even more bad habits (such as his eating habits), etc. However, one can't say he doesn't look at a mirror. He doesn't seem like a man who goes to the barber, so he probably cuts his own hair, which you need a mirror for. We know he shaves (and has a wierd habit of using other people's razors) whenever he gets a chance to and goes out of his way to steal a few splashes of Dan's Nostaglia colonge, so he must be aware of his smell. We're not sure if he bathes, but I assume he does occasionally and he does have white teeth for a man who chews sugar cubes. I seem to think that his odour stems primarily from his costume -- the pinstripe suit and trenchcoat -- which has a habit of hiding next to garbage bins in dark alleys.

Then again, can you really take a masked vigilante seriously if he smelt like Snuggles?


Probably has the occasional smell of whiskey about him. Even though we have no idea if Walls drinks, I think he might have a nip now and again.

I think he was made to look average in appearance to two reasons: A.) so no one would suspect him being anything other than a 'harmless' (scoffing noise) doomsday prophet. B.) there was mention on another thread here about Kovacs' middle name, Joseph. We all know how common it is in everday speech, average joe being one of them.

So, my theory: Average joe = Walter Joseph Kovacs.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2009 4:33 pm 
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Phoenix wrote:
but not exactly a contender with Shane MacGowan



Shane isn't that bad, especially when his mouth is closed!

Interestingly, though, both Shane and Walter have those big ears and and overall goofy appearance- I think Kovacs is just supposed to be odd looking, especially in comparison to the other masked adventurers (which has been pinted out).

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2009 4:49 pm 
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Lady_Rorschach wrote:
Probably has the occasional smell of whiskey about him. Even though we have no idea if Walls drinks, I think he might have a nip now and again.
I don't think he drinks alcohol at all! I think, to him, alcohol is a vice, with the same addictive properties as drugs and sex, which he abhors. We do know he drinks coffee. He stole a cup of coffee from Dan's apartment and he actually BOUGHT a cup at Gunga Diner while waiting for Moloch's message.

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I think he was made to look average in appearance to two reasons: A.) so no one would suspect him being anything other than a 'harmless' (scoffing noise) doomsday prophet. B.) there was mention on another thread here about Kovacs' middle name, Joseph. We all know how common it is in everday speech, average joe being one of them. So, my theory: Average joe = Walter Joseph Kovacs.
Makes sense. He looks so harmless as Doomsday Prophet. Big Bernie knows him enough to strike a conversation with him. Very "regular joe" to me. We can't all be Bruce Wayne!

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2009 7:02 pm 
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DogWithHeadSplitOpen wrote:
Lady_Rorschach wrote:
Probably has the occasional smell of whiskey about him. Even though we have no idea if Walls drinks, I think he might have a nip now and again.
I don't think he drinks alcohol at all! I think, to him, alcohol is a vice, with the same addictive properties as drugs and sex, which he abhors. We do know he drinks coffee. He stole a cup of coffee from Dan's apartment and he actually BOUGHT a cup at Gunga Diner while waiting for Moloch's message.


Seconded. The only way that Rorschach could be any more straight-edge is if he started listening to Minor Threat and drawing Xs on the backs of his hands with a Sharpie.

(OTOH, he does seem to have a crippling sugar cube addiction...)

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2009 7:55 pm 
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And a salmonella-inducing taste for raw eggs.

I second the observation that he looks like a kid. There's an obvious allusion to his emotional development going on there. I will say this. Out of the guys, from both the Crimebusters and the Watchmen, he has the most stylish costume, obviously because he needs it to hide behind. Ozymandias' just screams vanity, while Dan's makes him look like a nerd, with the snowsuit version just plain silly.

Laurie does look nice, however, in her underwear under that transparent shift.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2009 10:47 pm 
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I always saw the red hair deal as representing the outcast, redhead kid--the bastard child. It's a common archetype.

And there was a mention of his costume being 'stylish'...reminds me of the fact that he was a dressmaker...

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2009 11:54 pm 
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Why the fuck is there a thread on exactly how well Kovacs' description matches his drawn appearance? Do you think there's something symbolic in you not thinking him ugly, but people calling him that?


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 14, 2009 12:19 am 
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Ticonderoga wrote:
I always saw the red hair deal as representing the outcast, redhead kid--the bastard child. It's a common archetype.

And there was a mention of his costume being 'stylish'...reminds me of the fact that he was a dressmaker...


About the stylish pinstriped suit, I noticed that in the police files in Chap. VI there is a picture of young Walter arriving at the Charlton Home in a pinstriped suit (I'm guessing someone from child protective services gave it to him). This was probably the first time he felt proud in his appearance (previously, it looks like he was wearing threadbare rags). Maybe, for him, the pinstriped suit represents something like self-respect. . .

And I think that Walter/Rorschach only makes himself uglier than he has to be. . . He's not ugly physically, just average (with bad habits, like people have mentioned). I don't see red hair and freckles as "ugly" traits, but that's just me. . . :D


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 14, 2009 9:55 am 
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SmilingSymmetry -

This thread has nothing to do with the fact that others in the book have said he is ugly and I don't see him as being especially so. There is, granted, nothing remotely symbolic in that. However, I find it significant that others heretofore have been in agreement with me here. And it's significant that there seems to be a disparity between how he's sometimes pysically portrayed in speech and how actually average looking heevidently is. If it had been the intention to actually have him as, unquestionably, a physically ugly man, he would have been drawn that way, quite easily. So I'm assuming, and others agree, that this has something to do with how others' exterior perceptions of him mirror his perceptions of himself.

It is the fact that the people offering constructive comments on this thread are among a few that have voiced my points before, in other unrelated threads, that has led me to put this thread up. And as I've already mentioned, I beileve it's a given point that there is meant to be a disparity between how Kovacs is described in the book and how he is actually drawn.


Last edited by Phoenix on Sat Feb 14, 2009 2:50 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 14, 2009 12:35 pm 
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I think there might be a fine line between between making a character look ugly and making him look comical or stupid. Rorschach needs to be taken fairly seriously, and I believe it was a creative choice to be slightly restrained on the ugliness factor and not go with full-blown disgusting.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 14, 2009 1:44 pm 
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Last edited by People Must Be Told. on Sat Jan 30, 2010 5:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 14, 2009 2:53 pm 
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Now that's a reply I wanted. In fact, I totally agree. And Rorschach does look like Howdy Doody, but somewhat taller and not with someone's hand stuck up his arse.


Last edited by Phoenix on Sat Feb 14, 2009 8:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 14, 2009 7:27 pm 
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Rorschach has average to poor looks. No real flaws nor any great features. While he is definetly not the everyman of the story (Nite Owl is) his image is to state that he is no god-like superbeing. Moore, who loves Veidt is trying to make the reader be sympathetic to Veidt's good looks and automatically view good things about his aryan persona. Moore, who hates Rorschach tried to make him ugly since he didnt want the reader to like him.
But the real trick is this...who found out who Rorschach was before he was unmasked? I did...but I did it in the pages leading up to it. For the longest time I thought that the sign dude was a villian...but no hes the hero!

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 14, 2009 7:43 pm 
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Real Life Rorschach wrote:
Rorschach has average to poor looks. No real flaws nor any great features. While he is definetly not the everyman of the story (Nite Owl is) his image is to state that he is no god-like superbeing. Moore, who loves Veidt is trying to make the reader be sympathetic to Veidt's good looks and automatically view good things about his aryan persona. Moore, who hates Rorschach tried to make him ugly since he didnt want the reader to like him.
But the real trick is this...who found out who Rorschach was before he was unmasked? I did...but I did it in the pages leading up to it. For the longest time I thought that the sign dude was a villian...but no hes the hero!


I figured out that Rorschach was the homeless man instantly (when the detectives are talking about him and get a chill).

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 14, 2009 11:51 pm 
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Real Life Rorschach wrote:
Moore, who hates Rorschach tried to make him ugly since he didnt want the reader to like him.
But the real trick is this...who found out who Rorschach was before he was unmasked? I did...but I did it in the pages leading up to it. For the longest time I thought that the sign dude was a villian...but no hes the hero!


Yeah, there's one scene where he looks particularly menacing when he's asking Bernie for the newspaper, then his portrayal instantly changes to unthreatening in the corresponding panels.

But I don't think Moore hates the Rorschach character by any stretch. His views are certainly different, but I think this character was written and portrayed with great care.

TheShoulderOfPallas wrote:
I figured out that Rorschach was the homeless man instantly (when the detectives are talking about him and get a chill).


Sure you did. ;)

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 9:44 am 
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i think the reactions of other people are a clear case of "ugly is as ugly does" - a point that is hammered down by the fact that dr. long, who is the most vocal about this (in his notes) believes himself to be a very good man at the start of his interview with walter.
so, we have the old cliché (which is also part of traditional comics) smashed into our face once more: bad guys look ugly, good guys look handsome, and vice versa. in polite society, rorschach´s action are considered bad, hence the righteous people (dr. long, the police) feel it necessary to mark kovacs as "ugly".

another thing is that criteria of what makes a man attractive are much more varied than they are for female beauty. more often than not, a man will be considered attractive even when he has less than perfect looks - because he has a certain way, a fascinating character etc. this gets blended with the pure physical aspects. there is much ugliness in rorschach´s/walter´s habits, so, once again, it´s easy to call him ugly.


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