This Doomsday Clock is based on a real NuclearDoomsday Clock. It is referred to occasionally throughout the graphic narrativeof Watchmen, where it signals the proximity of a war between the Soviet Unionand the United States.
It stands one minute closer to midnight and isincreasingly covered in blood. On the back cover of the first issue, the clockstands at twelve minutes to midnight, and at the close of the story with thetwelfth issue, midnight is struck. Together, the repetitions of the doomsdayclock-face and the titles of the issues/chapters create a circular structurethat serve to summarize and bookend each chapter of the graphic narrative muchlike literary texts employ chapter headings or a blank page to frame and delineatechapters in a print novel. The same concept of an imminent catastrophe is shownin the clocks which sporadically appears in the background displaying the hour11:55 and in the famous painting Thepersistence of memory hanging from a wall (Chapter IV, p18).
Clocks and watches are used throughout Watchmen toimplement symbolism. The first time such symbols appear, is in the form of a smileyface badge. Blake was wearing the badge on his night robe when he was attackedin his apartment. When Blake was beaten the night of his murder, blood from hisnose and mouth stained the badge in its famous pattern: a single line of bloodacross the badge’s right eye.
One interpretation is that the stain representsthe minute hand of a clock, pointing at 12 minutes to the hour, particularly inan implied connection to the Doomsday Clock, which represents how close theworld is to “catastrophic destruction”. It can also symbolize a tainton superficial appearances that everything is well: in the same way the bloodstains the happy smile, the world isstained by the uncertain foundation of the blood and falsehood it was built on.A good example of shrewd symbolism can be analyzed in Watchmen by Alan Moore, my favorite graphic novel. The storyis set in the United States, 1985, during the Cold War, in an alternate historywhere costumed adventurers are real and the country is getting closer to anuclear war with the Soviet Union.
It tells the story of a group of superheroesand their predecessors and the events surrounding the mysterious murder of oneof their own, Eddie Blake, whose superhero name is the Comedian. The recurrence of visual symbols has been cleverly deployedin 20th century mass media, such as graphic novels and movies, in order toexpress abstract contents, which can’t always be translated into words. Suchreferences can only be understood depending on context, and culture andknowledge of the viewer/reader about the subject.