Every culture has its old romantic hero. To name a few, Japan has its samurai, Europe has the Viking, and America has its cowboy. Although they all have their unique and interesting traits, the American hero stands a little bit apart from the rest. What makes the cowboy different is that he doesn’t fight for a lord, government, or silver. He fights for himself, for what he thinks is right, giving out his own brand of justice, his way. Thinking of the U.S.’s history, it isn’t much of a surprise that the rebel was our style. Still, most people believe we have developed beyond that old worn out lone hero and have developed new types and preferences. Have we really? The content from which we want to see our heroes come from is definitely darker as the blogger ksanborn so accurately pointed out in their article “A Cheery Ball of Sunshine and Pain”. But there have been many popular themed movies/stories about one man against the world, taking the law into his own hands to inevitably save people (etc.), which still are fairly popular. The preference of the day can almost always leads back to the American cowboy. That is why I believe the reason Rorschach became so popular was an effect of that old American preference. Alan Moore had not intended Rorschach to be so well liked within his fan base. In his interview with Comics Britannia (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKebCtCTbCA ) Alan Moore stated that Rorschach was supposed to be what he thought batman would be like in the real world. A vigilante psychopath man with a “king size” death wish who eventually just realized he wanted an “honorable way out”. Crazy, violent people are not normally supposed to be taken as heroes. However, as Moore wrote the Rorschach character giving him his violent tendencies and extremely dark and pessimistic view of the world, he also gave Rorschach unbending, though maybe a little skewed in some places, morals and a strong drive for justice “no matter who orders him to look the other way” (ch 6 p15).
Rorschach described his drive by simply stating “We do it because we are compelled” and is willing to die, and ultimately does, because he is unwilling to waver.Those traits have always been admired and romanticized in the American culture, add to that the desire from the past decade to have a dark style, Rorschach became the modern-day equivalent to a tortured, pessimistic, admirable cowboy which is the nicely balance equation of old roots and modern tastes.