Swipe File: The Birth Of A Nation And The Dark Knight Returns

The Birth of a Nation  (1915)

All credit to SeqArt for putting this together, with a little help from Alan Moore…

'the origin of capes and masks as ubiquitous superhero accessories can be deduced from a close viewing of D.W. Griffiths' Birth of a Nation' – Alan Moore.

horse-1Although not the first to make the connection.

Both Birth of a Nation and The Dark Knight paint a gloomy picture of a lost community, descending into the pit of disorder and decay. Birth shows us the paradise lost, while Knight begins after the fall (appropriate enough for a less sentimental era). In both communities, a malevolent force steps in from outside as a manifestation of all the repressed fears and buried animal instincts of the townspeople: in the silent work, it is Silas Lynch – mulatto politician who enfranchises the freemen of the South; in the modern work, it is Joker whose diabolical pranks empower and compel people to make life-or-death decisions.


In Swipe File we present two or more images that resemble each other to some degree. They may be homages, parodies, ironic appropriations, coincidences or works of the lightbox. We trust you, the reader, to make that judgment yourself? If you are unable to do so, please return your eyes to their maker before any further damage is done. The Swipe File doesn't judge, it's interested more in the process of creation, how work influences other work, how new work comes from old, and sometimes how the same ideas emerge simultaneously, as if their time has just come. The Swipe File was named after the advertising industry habit where writers and artist collect images and lines they admire to inspire them in their work. It was swiped from the Comic Journal who originally ran this column, as well as the now defunct Swipe Of The Week website.

About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.

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