Dal protettore al controllore. Uno sguardo sociologico sulla letteratura disegnata a tema supereroistico

Pier Paolo Zampieri


1938: a flying man with an S on his breast appears in the sky of an American metropolis, catapulting cartoon mass entertainment into a new dimension. 1986: a spot of blood on a Smiley icon (Moore, 1986) puts an end to the innocence of an entire narrative genre. The two logos, which share a great retroactive symbolic impact, are presented as the two great epistemic divides (Foucault, 1966) of the superheroic cartoon literature. This paper is aimed at offering a sociological view on a whole genre, made up of pure visual grammar and accounted as being particularly suitable for the representation of the implicit tensions of contemporary societies (Di Nocera, 2000). The paper offers genealogic systematizing and discussion of the implications inherent to Watchmen’s, mature and conscious production. Starting from the title, Watchmen (Moore, 1986) stands as a deliberate investigation of the archetype on which the whole genre rests. In the end, in more and more complex systems and societies, “who controls the controllers?”


superheroes; Watchmen; cultural studies; image; social control

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Im@go. A Journal of the Social Imaginary - Biannual - Edizioni Mimesis