Great Job, Internet!: The story behind Watchmen’s iconic blood-stained smiley face

The first thing you see when you open a copy of Watchmen, the legendary comic series from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, is a little yellow smiley face sitting in a pool of blood. The smiley image recurs throughout the book and went on to become its signature motif, adorning T-shirts and coffee mugs and pins on messenger bags the world over. But hearing Gibbons, the series’ illustrator, describe its creation in a recent Entertainment Weekly interview, you might be surprised to learn it was practically an afterthought.

Art: DC Comics

Watchmen fans know the face is actually a badge belonging to The Comedian, the violent, cynical crime-fighter whose murder is at the center of the story. In trying to distance him from The Joker, Gibbons and Moore created the character to be a “toughened-up version of Groucho Marx” rather than a demented clown. As his costume evolved into something …

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