How Does Rorshach’s Mask Work?
Welcome to Animated Times, where we love comics more than I want a trailer for the live-action Titan series. This past Wednesday DC Comics released issue #4 of Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s Doomsday Clock series and I won’t be getting into details or spoilers yet.
But I will say continue to focus on Rorschach, which not surprisingly really has my Watchmen gears turning. Like many of you, Rorschach is my favorite Watchmen
So, for today let’s do something a little different and take a look at one of Rorschach’s main features his mask and what makes it work. Believe it or not, his mass function is explained in the original Watchmen title issue 6 to be exact.
Now, I know some of you remember that but I’m sure a bunch of you don’t or have
just never read the original Watchmen series, to which I say head over to your local comic shop right after this article. The first thing you need to know is that Walter Joseph Kovacs aka Rorschach refers to it as his face.
To him this is his real face, but how did it come to be and more importantly how the heck does it work well?
It all started with his extremely terrible childhood, his father was NIA, and his mother was a prostitute who hated him called him ugly and would tell him that she should have had an abortion. So he didn’t have the ideal childhood, and eventually, he ended up in a children’s home by 1956.
When Walter was only 16 he left a children’s home and became an unskilled worker for a garment company. It was there that he would discover the fabric that eventually became his mask, then in 1962 a special order came in for a dress, and the fabric that the dress would be made of had viscous fluids between two
layers of latex.
These fluids were in constant motion, and their movement and pattern were affected by heat and pressure, with that said the black and white colors never combine to form grey because the patterns made would also always maintain a constant and consistent symmetrical pattern down the middle of whatever shape the fabric has been cut and formed.
Into long story short the dress was made but, the Italian who ordered it thought the dress looked ugly. However, Rorschach didn’t think so and he says ”Wrong! not ugly at all” He took the dress and said ”Nobody wanted! it meant for me” took it home, learned to cut it using heated implements to reseal
latex. He goes on to say when I cut it enough it didn’t look like a woman anymore.
We then see that he’s telling all of this to Dr. Malcolm, and he goes on to tell him ”soon became bored fabric had no use, left it in a trunk, forgot about it.
Two years later he sees in the paper that the woman who ordered the dress was killed, while neighbors watched. Rorschach goes on to tell the doctor ”she was raped, tortured and killed outside her own New York apartment. Several neighbors heard and even watched! yet nobody helped, no one even called the cops.” You see, to Rorschach, his mask is his true face, or real face because the fluids in it react to his expressions and heat signature. However, Rorschach the man without his mask
aka Walter never really shows any facial expressions or emotion except anger or indifference.
It’s just a fascinating concept that explores the effects of the ugly side of humanity on the individual, and what we do to mask how we feel or what we think. It’s also interesting that I like most masks which are simply meant to cover the face and hide emotion. Rorschach’s mask is meant to constantly display the emotion he feels in the moment, which is pretty awesome.