Spirituality and Comics in Hugo Pratt, Alan Moore, and David B.

Esotericism as “Unsettled Knowledge”


  • Francesco Piraino

Parole chiave:

popular culture, comics, spirituality, esotericism, Hugo Pratt, Alan Moore, David B.


This article describes the artistic production and intellectual and spiritual life of three of the most important artists in the field of comics and graphic novels: Hugo Pratt, Alan Moore, and David B. These artists share a common interest in esotericism: they have participated in esoteric and alternative spirituality groups, and in their artistic works they reproduce esoteric symbols, narratives, and doctrines. Scholars in religious studies have already described the connections between contemporary art and esotericism, arguing that artists are “spiritual seekers” who represent their spiritual quest. This article goes beyond such a perspective by describing how esotericism has changed in contemporary societies and, in particular, within the frame of comics and graphic novels. Esotericism is generally understood as a “rejected”, “absolute”, and “stigmatised” form of knowledge, characterised by elitism and secrecy. The esotericism of these artists (both in their life and in their artworks) is not “rejected”; on the contrary, it has become mainstream, with best-seller publications and museum exhibitions. Furthermore, it is not “absolute” or “hidden”; rather, it reveals doubt and deconstructs religion and spirituality, sometimes even challenging or mocking them. For these artists, esotericism is a form of “unsettled knowledge”, a never-ending quest for transcendence and a means of learning about the unconscious and humankind. It finds its legitimisation in religious texts, revelations, and religious movements, but mainly in the power of storytelling. This article argues that the blurring between reality and narration does not imply a process of disenchantment, nor a “hyper-religion”, instead representing another form of spirituality in contemporary societies. Finally, this “unsettled knowledge” is also unsettling for the reader, who is challenged by these artworks and finds in them wondrous, dazzling, and dreamlike experiences.




Come citare

Piraino, F. (2023). Spirituality and Comics in Hugo Pratt, Alan Moore, and David B.: Esotericism as “Unsettled Knowledge”. Mediascapes Journal, 22(2), 52–77. Recuperato da https://rosa.uniroma1.it/rosa03/mediascapes/article/view/18600

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