Psychogeography’s Legacy in From Hell and Watchmen

in European Comic Art
Alex Link Alberta College of Art and Design

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Although a fluid concept, ‘psychogeography’ retains consistent themes from its Lettrist and Situationist beginnings to its present-day British vogue. Despite this commonality, some of psychogeography’s key elements are absent from From Hell’s fourth chapter, which dominates discussions of it with respect to Alan Moore’s comics. Psychogeography is better represented by several other elements in From Hell in light of its consistent semiotic and political themes. Furthermore, new ways of reading spatial relations in Moore’s other work, such as Watchmen, appear when one considers psychogeography in a manner consistent with its history. A preliminary analysis of the role of psychogeography, as constructed in light of its French legacy in these two graphic novels, reveals deep structural similarities between them. These similarities include a celebration of the everyday citizen, comparable to the Situationist psychogeographers’ own rejection of fine art as a specialised cultural category removed from the aesthetic practice of everyday urban life.

Contributor Notes

Alex Link is chair of the School of Critical and Creative Studies at the Alberta College of Art + Design in Calgary, Canada. His research has appeared in Representing Multiculturalism in Comics and Graphic Novels (Routledge), and in journals such as Contemporary Literature, Gothic Studies, and The Journal of Popular Culture. His research and teaching focus primarily on American popular genres such as comics and the gothic. He is also the coauthor, with artist Riley Rossmo, of the comics Rebel Blood and Drumhellar, available from Image.

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