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Secrets behind your favorite on-screen heroes!

COMICS GO

Storyboards
for DCs
THE NEW
FRONTIER
The following preview is by the editors of
THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR BACK ISSUE ALTER EGO
ROUGH STUFF DRAW! WRITE NOW and

TWOMORROWS PUBLISHING
All Ages Admitted

THE
JOKER:
From
Comics
To Film
JEPH LOEB
on writing
for HEROES
and MARVEL
The unseen
X-MEN FILM
JACK KING
KIRBY IN
HOLLYWOOD
art gallery,
and more!

WELCOME TO FREE COMIC BOOK DAY,


FROM THE INDUSTRY AUTHORITY ON
COMICS HISTORY AND CREATION!
Since 1994, TWOMORROWS
PUBLISHING has been celebrating
the art and history of comics
with its award-winning line of
magazines and books about
comics. By covering all aspects
of the creative process, and
documenting the fascinating
history of comics, weve
established ourselves as the
industry authority on the inner
workings of the medium.

TABLE OF
CONTENTS
COMICS GO
HOLLYWOOD
STORYBOARDING THE
NEW FRONTIER . . . . . . . . . . 1
by Mike Manley, editor of Draw! magazine

JEPH LOEB INTERVIEW . . . . . 7


by Danny Fingeroth, editor of Write Now!
magazine

THE UNSEEN X-MEN


FILM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
by Roy Thomas, editor of Alter Ego magazine

JACK KIRBY HOLLYWOOD


ART GALLERY . . . . . . . . . . . 18
by John Morrow, editor of The Jack Kirby
Collector magazine

THE JOKER, FROM


COMICS TO FILM . . . . . . . . . 23
by Peter Sanderson, contributor to Back Issue
magazine
COMICS GO HOLLYWOOD, 2008 Free Comic Book Day
edition. Published annually by and 2008 TwoMorrows
Publishing, 10407 Bedfordtown Drive, Raleigh, NC 27614, USA.
919-449-0344. All rights reserved. John Morrow, Publisher,
Editor, and Designer. Single issues: Free at your local comic book
shop on May 3, 2008. All characters and artwork are TM &
2008 their respective owners. All editorial matter is 2008 the
respective authors. First printing. Printed in CANADA.

Cover art/colors by Mike Manley.

Now, for FREE COMIC


BOOK DAY, our regular
magazine editors have assembled
to produce this all-new 32-page
guide to comics influence in
Hollywood, created just for this
giveaway! In it, DRAW!
magazines MIKE MANLEY (a
key artist for DC and Marvel
Comics) gives you a look behind
C o l l e c t o r
the scenes of storyboarding for
the hit DVD JUSTICE LEAGUE:
THE NEW FRONTIER! WRITE
NOW! magazines DANNY
FINGEROTH (a major Marvel
Comics writer) presents an interview with HEROES and comics
scribe JEPH LOEB! ALTER EGO
magazine editor ROY THOMAS
(former Marvel Comics editor-inchief and top writer) unveils his never-produced X-Men screenplay
(co-written by veteran comics writer GERRY CONWAY)! PETER
SANDERSON, regular contributor to BACK ISSUE magazine, documents
the history of the Joker from the comics page to the big screen. And
I (as editor of THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR magazine) proudly
present a special Jack Kirby art gallery, showing some of the many
pieces he created for Hollywood-influenced projects over the years.
We also publish ROUGH STUFF magazine,
showing preliminary and unpublished art by
top comics pros (along with their commentary
on it), and BRICKJOURNAL magazine for
LEGO enthusiasts. So sample the features presented here, and get a taste of what
TwoMorrows is all about. If you see something
that whets your appetite for more, consider
ordering it from your local comics shop, or
online from us at www.twomorrows.com. We look forward to having
you as a customer for years to come!

JOHN MORROW
Publisher

TwoMorrows. Celebrating The Art & History Of Comics.


TwoMorrows Publishing 10407 Bedfordtown Drive Raleigh, NC 27614 USA 919-449-0344 FAX: 919-449-0327
E-mail: twomorrow@aol.com Visit us on the Web at www.twomorrows.com

By DRAW! Magazine Editor Mike Manley

John Jones, Slam Bradley TM & 2008 DC Comics

ING

have to say, most days, drawing comics is a pretty cool job, and its also great training; very demanding in
not only disciplines like composition, drawing, and inking, but also storytelling. You also have to get up to
speed if you are drawing a monthly comic and produce a consistent volume of workits great crosstraining. Since the late 90s, Ive worked in animation doing storyboards, bringing to life the exploits of some
of the same characters I drew in comicsonly now in the medium of animation. It seemed like a natural
step to go from drawing comics featuring Batman and Superman into animation, doing storytelling in the
medium of film.

2008 Warner Brothers Animation

In late October 2006 I got a phone call from an old animation buddy, Dave Bullock, who was leaving
working on Clone Wars for LucasFilm to head back down to Los Angeles to direct the adaption of the 2004
DC Comics mini-series The New Frontier by Darwyn Cooke, which was being produced by Warner Brothers.
The project was also being headed by Bruce Timm and Stan Berkowitz, part of the dynamic team behind
most of the great DC cartoons from Batman, Superman, and Batman Beyond to the recent Justice League. I
had worked as a storyboard artist for
Warners in the past on Batman and
Superman and did background work on
Batman Beyond. Both Dave and I worked
on several other shows together as well,
like Kim Possible, but this was the first
time we had really gotten to work closely
together.

Top: A story sequence which clearly shows


how close the storyboard artists tried to
stay to the staging in the comic.
Left: The crowd watches as the Flash
makes his entrance.

2008 Warner Brothers Animation

John Jones, Slam Bradley, Batman, Flash, Superman, Wonder


Woman, Green Lantern TM & 2008 DC Comics

One of the things I always find interesting about adapting stories from comics to TV or movies, is how
the writers have to work to compress, eliminate or rework entire chapters to make the story flow better as
film, and the restrictions we face in that medium due to the budget, the length of the movie/show, and
issues like the infamous TV censors. One of the first notes I received before I started boarding on The New
Frontier was that the word came down to eliminate all of the smoking by the characters. It seemed Warners
didnt want to promote smoking even though there were plenty of characters lighting up in the comic. You
can also see where, as often as possible, we tried to match the set-ups Cooke had in his panels. In this case
there was a scene I boarded that was pretty close to what Cooke did in the comic featuring John Jones and
Slam Bradley in Jimmys bar having a few drinks, and watching the Flash withdraw from public life as the
crowd in the bar turns ugly in their comments. The designs of the bar came right out of Cookes drawing,
but the sequence was also slightly expanded and a bit longer than in the comic to help play up John Jones
decision to leave the Earth and return to Mars.
The next section I worked on featured John Jones meeting Batman in the Batcave and informing him
that hes going to leave Earth and return home to Mars. This sequence is not in the comic but expands much
more the difference between the two detectives/crime fighters attitude toward the changing public opinion
against the superheroes.

Top: Another setup


taken directly from
the comic.
Right: An earlier rough
model for John Jones,
and the final model
design.

2008 Warner Brothers Animation

In this case Cookes drawing style was naturally


suited to the adaption of the project as Cooke was
another former WB alum, having also worked on
several episodes of Batman, so it was old home
week, and I think everything seemed to click well.
Even though I didnt get a chance to storyboard a huge sequence on the DVD, I really enjoyed
the part I did do and Im really happy to lift the
curtain a bit and
feature some of the
production art which
most fans never get
to see.
Best,

Top left: The Model sheet for The Flash.


Top right: A storyboard featuring Bradley
watching John.
Above: The final design for Slam Bradley.
Right: An earlier design for Slam Bradley.

2008 Warner Brothers Animation

Top: The Batcave design by Paul Rivoche.


Top right: More storyboards featuring Batman and
John Jones.
Right: Batmans model sheet design.

Top and Below: The model


designs for Wonder Woman,
Superman and Green Lantern.

2008 Warner Brothers Animation

Left: More storyboards showing


John Jones facing an ever stern
Batman in the Batcave.

2008 Warner Brothers Animation

Above: The rough and the final character design for The Martian
Manhunters natural form.
Right: More storyboards. Here I really tried to push the acting,
even though I didnt have a voice track to listen to, to nuance the
acting and catch the actors vocal performance.

Mike Manley is editor of TwoMorrows Draw! magazine, and an art


instructor at Delaware College of Art and Design. He has drawn for major
publishers like Marvel, DC and Dark Horse, including titles such as Batman,
Captain America, and The Power of Shazam!. Hes been an animation
storyboard and background designer on Kids WB shows The New
Batman/Superman Adventures and Batman Beyond, Spy Groove for
MTV, Spawn for HBO, and ABCs One Saturday Morning and Clerks:
The Animated Series.
6

LOEB IS A MANY
SPLENDORED THING
Jeph Loeb interviewed by Danny Fingeroth, editor of Write Now! magazine
Conducted via e-mail, October 29, 2008
Copyedited by Danny Fingeroth, Robert Greenberger, and Jeph Loeb

eph Loeb writes comics, he writes and produces television, he writes and produces
JA Superman
movies, he writes and produces animation. He does material like Batman: Hush and
for all Seasons that mine heroes classic mythos for neglected gems.
From his days at Columbia University film school, where he studied with the likes of
Paul Schrader (writer of Taxi Driver and writer/director of American Gigolo and
Affliction) and Milos Forman (director of Amadeus and One Flew Over the Cuckoos
Nest), to his work in Hollywood with people like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Michael J.
Fox, to his much-lauded run as a supervising producer and writer on Smallville, to his
time as a writer/producer on Lost, to his current gig of Co-executive Producer and writer
of Heroes, Jeph has worked constantly since leaving film school.
The fact that in addition to his screen work, his comics work, both in quality and
quantity, rivals that of anyone who has ever worked in the industry is simply astonishing. The X-Men, The Avengers, Superman for All Seasons, Spider-Man: Blue, the sales record-setting Batman: Hush,
the deeply personal Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America, and his latest much-anticipated series, Ultimates and
The Hulk, are just part of his comics resume. Tim Sale, Jim Lee, Ed McGuinness and Michael Turner are just some of
the superstar artists he has been paired with. Jeph has won four Eisner Awards and five Wizard Fan Awards.
Jeph has devised a career for himself where he has a variety of options in a variety of media, which for a working
writer is the best of all possible worlds. Here, he speaks, among other things, about his role in and his feelings about
the runaway success that is Heroes.
DF
DANNY FINGEROTH: Jeph, do you or Tim Kring (or anyone
else) come to a writers meeting at the beginning of a season
with an agenda/outline for that season?
JEPH LOEB: We have a pretty good idea where we are going
for the next three seasons. Obviously, year three is clearer than
four, etc. But, as were doing this interview, only the fifth
episode of year two has aired and were working on episode
17. So the lead-time is pretty fantastic. The biggest change
this year was Krings idea of incorporating the volumes into a
season. So now the viewer isnt waiting for 23 episodes to
find out who killed Hiros Dad. It will all be cleared up and
dealt with by Episode 11. The next volume begins with 12
and ends with 18. The last podwhich we are talking about
now, is 19-24. More like arcs in comics that become trades.
Its working great.
DF: Was there a bible for the series before you started writing
it, or did the bible come about as you were writing?
JL: There were lots of notes and pages of meetingsand
that all got incorporated in a bible that is constantly being
updated. The truth is that the folks at Heroes Wiki
(http://heroeswiki.com/Main_Page) are about as good a
source as we are!

The cover to Hulk #1, written by Jeph.


The art is by Ed McGuinness.
The new series features an energetic take
on the incredible one, complete with
a red version of the character.
[2008 Marvel Characters, Inc.]

DF: Tim seems to see Heroes as his vehicle to influence


the world in a positive way. Do you (and the shows other
writers) share that outlook and sense of purpose? Does it
spill over to the actors?
JL: Absolutely. Its part of the job. Kring has an agenda to
make a differenceboth politically and environmentally
and we pepper that in very carefully to what were trying to
accomplish. It makes for a kinder atmosphereand hopefully
a better world.
7

Hayden Panettiere was one of Heroes breakout stars, playing Claire, the indestructible cheerleader. The catchphrase, Save the cheerleader, save the world,
helped propel the series into the forefront of pop culture. In the new season,
shes once more a cheerleader, now in California, and still gaining new understanding of how her amazing abilities work.
[2008 Universal Studios. All rights reserved.]

DF: Youre
Co-executive
Producer as
well as a
writer on
Heroes. What
exactly is a
Co-Executive
Producer, at
least as far as
Heroes is
concerned?
JL: The same
thing as
everybody
elseI work
to make the
best show we
can. That
starts with an
idea, then the break, the outline, the script, the production meetings, the casting, the production itself, post
with music and f/x and finally delivery. Kring has set up
a system where while everyone works on every script,
the name of record (the credit) takes it through every
step of the way. Its an enormous responsibilitybut a
terrific chance to work your craft.

does comics, or a comics writer doing work in


Hollywood, or something else altogether?
JL: I consider myself a storyteller. My dad was a stockbroker for 35 years, never sold a story in his life, but he
was a storyteller. So was my son, Sam. Its what we do
and folks seem to like it.
DF: In a comic, the final product, even with input from
editor and artist, is pretty much what the writer hands
in. Is it frustrating at all to go through the TV series
group writing process?
JL: Well, Id argue that for most writers, the process in
comics is very hands off. They dont have the
relationship with the artist or editor that I strive for,
largely because most comics need to just get done. The
deadline kills the creativity. Its part of the reality of
comics. But, its also why there are so many bad comics.
Sorry, minor rant there. Television needs the writers
room. Particularly at Heroes. Its just such a group effort,
I cant see it any other way. The greatest.
DF: One problem the X-Men comics had to deal with
is the proliferation of mutants, so that being a mutant
stopped being special. Do you have to, or think you
might at some point have to, deal with a similar issue
with Heroes?
JL: Well, if we had 40 years of Heroes I might agree. Ha!
Talk to me after Season 5. Besides, we kill them almost
as quickly as we introduce them too! [laughs]

DF: Do you consider yourself a Hollywood writer who

DF: You are, needless to say, extremely disciplined, as


evidenced by all the stuff you write. Any tips for writers
who may not be so blessed with time and energy management skills?

Marvels Ultimates, volume 3, features the


Ultimate universe version of the Avengers, and is written
by Jeph, with art by Joe Madureira.
[2008 Marvel Characters, Inc.]

Masi Oka portrays Heroes Hiro Nakamura, a fan of American comic books and
science fiction, who embraces his newfound powers. Hiro recognizes that his
power comes with responsibility, and that awareness inspires his actions.
[2008 Universal Studios. All rights reserved.]

JL: Please. Im the worst. Call Geoff Johns. Hes the only
one Ive ever met who can come to the office, sit down,
say hes writing this much today and do just that. Me? I
just wait until the last minute and flush it out of me!
Gah! That sounds awful!

DF: How is
working on
Heroes similar
to working on
a big comics
crossover
story? How is it
different?
JL: Its not
really similar.
Big crossovers
are still trying
to get the
monthly book
to follow a
single plot.
Heroes has at
any given time
six-to-eight stories going. Eventually they will collide, but
at first its mosaic storytelling. I like the differences.

DF: What keeps you writing comics? I would imagine


you could make more money with your time if you, say,
got involved with another TV series or a feature film. Or
am I wrong about that?
JL: Absolutely a ton more money in TV and film. But I
do comics out of love and its fun. It doesnt take nearly
as long. It cantgiven how much money I make in TV
and the responsibility there. But, Im very, very lucky that
[Publisher] Dan Buckley and [Editor-in-Chief] Joe
Quesada at Marvel put up with my other career. Its why
putting me on a monthly book isnt such a good idea,
and why I work with guys who are so slowit works in
my favor. Now, with Hulk, were going to test the system because that has to be monthly. I guess... [laughs]
DF: You manage to work with a lot of different people
and some reputedly difficult personalities (Im talking
about in comics here), yet get along well with just about
all of them. Whats the secret to that?
JL: I treat everybody with respect (or try to). If you are
hired to do a job, then do it. I will cheerlead for my
crews/teams because I believe in them. In comics, the
worst stuff Ive done is when I dont know the artists
fill-ins in particular which is why I wont do them anymore. I believe in the talented people weve assembled.
And Im lucky to have Richard Starkings and Comicraft
with me as my lettering and design team from the
beginningthey save my ass about every day. Thanks,
Rich!

DF: If you had to give up comics writing or TV writing,


which would it be? Why?
JL: I dont know... what would I be doing instead? If the
answer is sleeping then... see ya!!
DF: Is there any type of writing (subject, medium, genre,
etc.) that youd like to try that youve never done?
JL: Theres a novel in me somewhere... a play... but Id
really have to walk away from comics and movies and
television to have that kind of commitment. Someday.
Im not cooked yet.
DF: Any inside info you can give about the Heroes
Graphic Novel?

So it helps to have great heads to knock around your


stupid ideas. Unfortunately, Geoffs got a movie, Allan is
on Greys Anatomy and Ive got Heroes, so we dont see
each other as much as we did. But, were still working to
get Clea free from the Nameless Ones, dont you worry!
DF: Youve managed to channel the grief from the loss
of your son into inspirational, creative work. Is there
anything you can say to people going through their own
loss or grief, especially anyone trying to be creative and
inspired through an intensely trying time?
JL: Yikes... Im not the person to ask about that. Its an
entirely personal experience for everyone. I miss Sam
more every day. So... I do my best to incorporate our
love for each other in my day-to-day. Its never going to
get better. The trick is making it less worse.
DF: Anything else youd like to say about Heroes or
writing?
JL: Just that Im very lucky to have an audience for my
stories. Ive never taken that for granted. I love what I
doif I had to work in an office and hope someday
that I got a window to look out... Id kill myself... just
BLAMMO.

Stan Lee made one of his famous cameos in the


Heroes episode, Unexpected.

DF: Anything you want to plug?


JL: Some really fun comics are coming. Joe Madureira
and Chris Lichtners work on Ultimates is astonishing.
Ed McGuinness is killing on the Hulk, and when we get
done with Ultimatum, well, itll be pretty wild whats
happened to the Ultimate Universe. I still cant believe
theyre going to let us to do it! So much fun! Over on
the other side, I wrote the fall finale of Heroes,
Episode 11that ties it all up just before Christmas. Its
a total you cant do that on television episode and
Im very proud of the work the team did and that Allan
Arkush, the director, did on the show. Its something
folks will talk about for a while.

[2008 Universal Studios. All rights reserved.]

JL: Well, that its not a graphic novel! Ive tried to get
this clarified, but the media just took off with it. Its a
collection of the stories that were done online. But
theyve been all digitally remastered by Aspen (Mike
Turners company) and the book has covers by Jim Lee
and Alex Ross. Its like 400 pages long. Ive seen an
unbound copy and while I didnt have a great deal to do
with it, Im really proud of the work. Aron Coleite and
Joe Pokaski really ran that showand with JG and Rich
at Comicraft, Aspen, WildStorm, Nanci Quesada and
Chuck Kimit all came together pretty sweet.
DF: Heroes has a very elaborate web presence. Can you
discuss the overall web strategy for the series a little?
JL: Its tied together from Day One. Tim and Jesse
Alexander hatched it and weve all tried to keep up with
it. Since online material is a flashpoint for the WGA
[Writers Guild of America] right now (this interview is
being done on the eve of what might be a writers
strike), its hard to be very positive about the work since
it is so fantastic... but it pays very little or nothing at all.
I brought Mark Warshaw over from Smallville and he
runs transmedia [the usage of material in a variety of
outlets] initiative. Its an enormous undertakingeverything from action figures to Christmas ornaments to
novels to the online experience, that falls now to Mark.

Heroes, as if we had to tell you, airs Monday nights on


NBC, and is also viewable on line at
http://www.nbc.com/Heroes/video/episodes.shtml

DF: I believe you share a writing studio with a couple of


other writers. While its common for artists to share a
studio, writers are generally more loner types. How
did you end up in a studio situation, and how do you
think it benefits your work?
JL: Empath? Its a treehouse. A magic clubhouse. Its
kind of like Doc Stranges Sanctum Sanctorum. You cant
really see it unless youre one of the few. Its me,
Geoff Johns, and Allan Heinberg. Brian K. Vaughn has a
Jr. Empath card to come by anytime. Seriously, we just
go there and knock around ideas. Writing alone sucks.
10

Danny Fingeroth is editor-in-chief of


TwoMorrows Write Now! magazine, author of
Superman on the Couch, and co-author of How to
Create Comics
From Script to
Print. He was
Group Editor of
Marvels SpiderMan line and
has written
numerous
comics series,
including
Darkhawk and
Deadly Foes
of SpiderMan. He teaches comics writing at New York
University and
The New School.

THE 1984 X-MEN MOVIE


THAT
MIGHT
HAVE
BEEN
by Roy Thomas,
editor of Alter Ego magazine

AN X-RATED MOVIE
ep, thats right. The X-Men screenplay
Gerry Conway and I wrote in 1984 for
what couldve become a major Hollywood
movie a decade-and-a-half before the 2000
big-budget blockbuster might easily have been
rated X for: extraordinary exciting
exuberant excessive exaggerated
exasperating exceptional expressive
explosive
Execrable? We hope not.
And, finally exterminated. Cause, like
the vast majority of screenplays written
even purchased, as this one wasby motion
picture producers, it never got made.
Between 1981 and 1985, Gerry and I cowrote eight screenplays for a variety of
production companies and studios. Only two
of those were filmed in any form: the animated
Fire and Ice (1982), produced by Ralph Bakshi
and Frank Frazettaand Conan the Destroyer
(1983), starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and
Grace Jones, for which we scripted the first
five drafts and received Story by screen
credit. We two veteran comic book writers/
editors found the experience (another X!)
of writing an X-Men script to be all the above
adjectives, at one time or another all over a
period of a few months in 1984. Still, as a
snapshot of what it was like, in the midTop: Gerry Conway and Roy Thomas in the 1970s. Above: The entire
1980s, to be working on the screenplay of a
run of Neal Adams-drawn X-Men issues from 1969-70 was reprinted in
potential studio movie at a time after most of
the 6th volume of the Marvel Masterworks: X-Men series. Heres an
the Christopher Reeve Superman films, but
early-80s poster by Mr. A. of the New X-Men.
before Tim Burton took on Batmanand in
[2008 Marvel Characters, Inc.]
an era when Marvel had had zero success in
waves, destructionand the birth of a new island.
getting any of its properties transmuted to the big
Meanwhile, as Prof. Charles Xavier (who is not wheelscreenwe thought you might enjoy listening in on
chair-bound in this film) is being interviewed on TV about
Gerrys and my recent phone conversation. You can read
the coming emergence of a new, special-powered race,
more about our X-Men screenplay in Alter Ego #58. Now:
young teenager Kitty Pryde suddenly discovers she is
one of those mutantswhen she angrily kicks the TV and
X-MEN: A BARE-BONES SUMMARY
her foot phases through the screen without harming
OF THE 1984 SCREENPLAY
it. Her friend Bernie is amazed.
by Gerry Conway & Roy Thomas
In the Pentagon, Presidential scientific advisor Dr.
Danielle Cross persuades Xavier to gather a team of
A ray of light from a pulsating green crystal rips a
mutants to investigate the menace which the recent
vast trench in the Pacific Ocean floor, causing tidal

11

Here weve juxtaposed the opening scene of the


7/20/84 Revised 1st Draft of their screenplay
for X-Men with a great piece of art by Brent
Anderson & Terry Austin. This was the wraparound cover of George Olshevskys ambitious
1981 Marvel Comics Index, Vol. 1, No. 9A.
[Art 2008 Marvel Characters, Inc.;
screenplay 2008 Gerry Conway & Roy Thomas.]

called Pangaea, which will take over the


planet in the name of homo superior, the
next stage of evolution... operating from
Easter Island. (At present, Proteus is siphoning the energy of a captured albino mutant
named Nickelby, but when he is drained, a
new source of living power will be needed.)
That night, Carmilla turns her date,
Harry, over to her fatherwhose jaws open
shark-like to close over the young mans
face. Stonewell is energized by the life force
of his victim, but Carmilla does not seem
to have any special talents and seems
innocent of wrongdoing.
Xavier gathers American Scott
Summers (Cyclops), Canadian Logan
(Wolverine), German Kurt Wagner
(Nightcrawler), Russian Peter Rasputin
(Colossus), pretty Tokyo pop icon Yoshi
Akia (Circe), and Kenyan goddess
Ororo (Storm). (Yoshi can change objects into different
statesas she reveals when she turns a glass of water
into granite.)
Xavier has only two days to train them, at a brownstone in Manhattan. Kitty manages to become an unofficial
X-Man. Suspecting Stonewell (whose mind he could
not telepathically penetrate) of being linked to Proteus,
Xavier sends the youths to infiltrate Stonewell Industries.

catastrophic events may pose to mankind. They also meet


corporate tycoon Marcus Stonewell and his beautiful
daughter Carmilla, who disagree with Xaviers theory
about a new race. Moments later, TV all over the globe
is interrupted by the image of a jewel-like sphere, an
amorphous entity made up of faces, faces, FACES
this is Proteus, an entity which declares the island will
expand over the next ten days into a new continent,
12

The X-Men hijack the Master Matrix, a device being shipped


to Easter Island to control the chain reaction begun in
the films initial scene and the exuberant X-Men then
celebrate with a cookout which aids in their bonding.
The malcontent loner Wolverine, however, leaves
the group and is soon seduced by Carmilla into working
for her father. He agrees to help Stonewell regain the
Master Matrix, as long as no one is harmed. He leads a
team of Proteus agents which defeat several X-Men and
blow up the brownstone, carrying off the Master Matrix
(with Xavier a prisoner inside it). Kitty saves Storm from
being killed in the blast.
On Day Nine, a new and gigantic stone head
appears on Easter Island. The X-Men (minus Colossus,
who was injured in an earlier incident) and Danielle
Cross again invade Stonewell Industries and steal a
mentally-controlled jet called Blackbird. They head for
Easter Island as tremendous storms rage. Green beams
flash from the giant head, but Storm brings the jet to a
safe landing and holds the local weather in check so the
other X-Men can operate.
Nickelby finally collapses within the Master Matrix
and is devoured by Stonewell, who takes his place
within it. Storming the citadel, the X-Men battle Stonewells
right-hand man Krueger and other agents. Wolverine
learns that Carmilla is as much an evil mutant as her
father, and the two lock in deadly combattill Logan
pushes her out of the huge head through its yawning
nostril! Xavier gets free, but is zapped by the Matrix.
As a second Blackbird-style jet arrives bearing
Danielle, Kitty, Bernie, and a recovered Colossus, the
latter protects the other X-Men from laser firelong
enough for Cyclops to overcome Proteus green beam
with his own optic powers. Cyclops blast then smashes
the stone head and its control room.
Stonewell, however, has used Proteus to transform
himself into a half-crystal entity of tremendous power.
Kitty uses her phasing abilities to tickle Stonewell, disrupting
his beam long enough for Circe to turn the crystal to ice.
Wolverine shows up and strikes the frozen crystal with
his Adamantium claws, causing
an explosion that destroys
Stonewell. Xavier guides
Cyclops in using his eyebeams to seal the fault on the
ocean floor and bring an end
to the chaos. The X-Men
including Wolverinewill stay
together as a team.

went into production. And he got the call, or he was


negotiating with or talking to people at Orion, and our
names came up. Unfortunately, they didnt want to pay
our rates, so we made a sweetheart deal with them that
turned out not to be as much of a sweetheart deal as
wed hoped. [mutual laughter]
THOMAS: But at least we got paid... something. [mutual
laughter] Do you recall if Michael Hirshs company was
already called Nelvana by that time?
CONWAY: Yeah, Im pretty sure it was. He had that
animation company up in Canada.
THOMAS: I had heard of him because hed co-written a
book about Canadian comics, and Nelvana was a
Canadian comic book character as well as an authentic
folk legend. I only recently remembered the name of the
other person involved in our plotting. Or, more accurately,
I accidentally ran across the name on the back of another
card in my Rolodex file: Jane Kagen. So was it at her
house that we had the meetings?
CONWAY: No, I think it was the partners housethe
attorney. Remember there were three of them? He had a
house in Santa Monica where we met, and I guess she
was in Malibu.
THOMAS: I still have no memory of the attorney. We
dont have photos, so I dont have any picture in my
mind of any of them and probably vice versa. Do you
know what their arrangement with Orion was?
CONWAY: I think theyd sold the project to Orion, or
had some kind of an option on it. And we were their last
chance to get it off the ground, as I recall.
THOMAS: Why were we their last chance?
CONWAY: Because they had run through all their development money.
THOMAS: [laughs] So maybe we werent the first people
to try writing that X-Men movie for them? Well, if not
the first choicethe last choice, anyway.
James Marsden as Scott Summers/Cyclops
and Hugh Jackman as Logan/Wolverine, in
scenes from X-Men 2or did they mostly
just call that one X2? We havent yet seen
the third movie, but trust it was the specialeffects extravaganza that the first two were
with a convoluted plot that would do our
ol buddy Chris Claremont proud!
[Photos: Kerry Hayes/TM & 2008 20th Century-Fox. All
rights reserved. X-Men character likenesses TM & 2008
Marvel Characters, Inc. All rights reserved.]

(Now, Roy and Gerry discuss


the evolution of the screenplay, in these excerpts from
Alter Ego #58:)
ROY THOMAS: Do you know
how we first got in touch with
the people for whom we did
the film? Was it [our agent]
Dan Ostroff who wouldve
lined it up for us?
GERRY CONWAY: Yeah, it
was Dan. As I recall, it was
right after our Conan script
13

This was while our first draft of the second Conan movie
was still floating around Hollywood, and producers
were seeing that script and asking us why Dino
[DeLaurentiis] didnt make the movie based on our
script instead of the 18th draft written by Stanley
Mannand we couldnt answer them, because we very
much agreed with them.
CONWAY: Even Arnold [Schwarzenegger] asked us that.

CONWAY: Yeah, it is. I dont recall what the reasoning


wasif there was, in fact, any reasoning. It might have
been that the producers felt mutant had negative connotations, that they didnt want to associate it with their
super-heroes, so thats possible. But I dont know how
we could have avoided it. [laughs]
THOMAS: We kept using terms like extraordinary
powers, but the word mutants is entirely absent.
Another thing I cant imagine was our idea is the notion
that Xavier is not wheelchair-bound.
CONWAY: Yeah, I dont think that was ours.

THOMAS: Right. I remember him saying, I liked your


script da best! at the party at Dinos gourmet fastfood restaurant in Beverly Hills. Well, Arnold was a
politician, even then. [laughs]
CONWAY: He was that.

THOMAS: Maybe they decided a wheelchair wasI dont


knowunglamorous. Bad decision.
CONWAY: They hired us for our expertise and then
proceeded to ignore it.

THOMAS: [laughs] I know we finished the X-Men script


around the time Orion started having its real financial
problems, with which Im not too familiar. And Orion
sankmaybe not without a trace, but it sank soon
thereafter. Was that given as the problem, or was it just
they didnt like our script or the approach or something?
Do you recall?
CONWAY: I think Orion just sort-of faded out. I think
they had other things on their mind, and they knew [by
that time] they couldnt finance a film as expensive as
this one would have been.

THOMAS: Dino did the same thing on Conan, as you


know. He didnt want our ideas, and he had none of his
own. [laughs] He just wanted to watch soccer, so we
had to sit there with him watching TV in his cabaa at
the Beverly Hills Hotel till things got dull in the game,
and then he would talk to us for a few minutes. Crazy
way to make a movie.
CONWAY: I remember we had bitter fights with Michael
Hirsh because he would take our outlines and give them
to his animation story editors to give notes on, and we
were like, What are you doing? First of all, they
werent even American animators. [mutual laughter]

THOMAS: I hadnt re-read the full X-Men screenplay in


years. I keep wondering whether Michael and Jane had
some idea already in mind for that particular story
before we started. Because there are things in there,
when I started looking over it, that dont read like the
approach wed have come up with ourselves.
CONWAY: Right. As I recall, we went through like a
couple of drafts of the outline, maybe three, in which we
started out with what we wanted to do; and then, as we
were developing it, we would get pushed in different
directions.

THOMAS: They were Canadian animators, right?


CONWAY: They were the second team, you know?
[laughs] Its like, What is that about? And I know,
with Michael Hirsh, there was a lot of hostility after the
first few meetings.
THOMAS: Even if these things start off well, they often
go badly later. But it was such a long time ago that I
dont recall all the fights. Theyre par for the course,
anyway. I remember a sign I drove by for years outside
some production company in L.A.: In love and film,

THOMAS: And they would tell us what they would let


us do.
CONWAY: Yeah, pretty much. And I think we got probably more in it than not, but it certainly
wasnt as representative as, say, the first
Conan script was of what we would have
wanted to do with a script like that. I
know we got some stuff in that we were
pretty happy about. Ive always been particularly fond of the Easter Island scenes,
and where I guess Wolverine comes out of
the nose of one of the giant heads.
THOMAS: It was actually the villainess,
Carmilla, who came out the nose. But that
was my favorite scene, too! [laughs]
Which says something about us, I guess,
when the Kon-Tiki statue blowing its nose
was our favorite scene!
The word mutants doesnt appear
anywhere in the script. Mutie is used
once, but its almost as if we were avoiding the word mutant, and I dont recall
that. It seems rather strange to have used
mutie and not mutant.

Charles Xavier and his X-Men in the second film. Patrick Stewart (once
Captain Picard, of course) as Professor X; Famke Janssen as Jean Grey; James
Marsden as Cyclops; Halle Berry as Storm is there anybody we missed?
[Photos: Kerry Hayes/TM & 2008 20th Century-Fox. All rights reserved.
X-Men character likenesses TM & 2008 Marvel Characters, Inc. All rights reserved.]

14

Okay, so its a crude joke. But Gerry and Roy still love the scene of Carmilla (who
was named after Sheridan le Fanus female vampire in his 1871 pre-Dracula novella
of that name) spewed out through the left nostril of the mammoth new head on
Easter Island. At top of page is artist Mark Gliddens rapturous rendition of same
juxtaposed with the page of the lads screenplay on which the scene occurs.
[Art 2008 Mark Glidden; screenplay 2008 Gerry Conway & Roy Thomas; X-Men TM & 2008 Marvel
Characters, Inc.]

a script and then I accidentally pulled


the plug on the computer.
THOMAS: Oh, was that on this
script?
CONWAY: I think on that outline.
[mutual laughter] The whole thing
just vanished into the ether. From
that time on, Ive had the compulsion
to save every three or four minutes.
THOMAS: I dont recall much about
the process of deciding which X-Men
to use. Obviously, the most popular
of the new X-Men were primarily
going to be the group, including
Kitty Pryde, who was relatively
new then.
CONWAY: I know we wanted to
put in Colossus, because I think we
wanted, as much as possible, to
have an international feel to the
team. That was, as much as anything else, motivation in picking some of the characters.
everything is a fight! I recently sent Michael an e-mail
about this project for Alter Ego, but he never responded,
so I presumed he didnt want to talk about it, and thats
his right.
Along with the two drafts of the screenplay, I ran
across a copy of our outline, written in January 84. Its
very detailed116 pages long. It starts out with a
scrimmage football game between the mutants.
CONWAY: You mean, the extraordinary people.
[mutual chuckling] Yeah, I remember that.

THOMAS: We left out Marvel Girl, or Jean Grey. She


didnt add that much, and we didnt want to get into
the whole Phoenix thing.
CONWAY: Right. Or had Phoenix even been done at
that time?
THOMAS: Im not even sure, without checking. This
was 1984. The date is on the screenplays, or I wouldnt
have been sure about that. Mostly, we used the new
X-Men, including Cyclops. I dont think we ever really
considered using The Angel or The Beast or Iceman.
CONWAY: No, I dont think so. I think the characters we
picked were also ones we thought could be done more
easily. Colossus would basically have been some kind of
make-up and prosthetic. And Kitty appearing and disappearing was pretty easy.

THOMAS: Oddly enough, in the treatment Professor X


is in a wheelchairso I guess we were still being
allowed to follow our own best instincts at that point.
Do you remember anything else about the treatment?
CONWAY: Not really. Most of my memories about the
project were around the experiences of dealing with the
people, and like the time we spent an entire day rewriting
15

THOMAS: Yeah. It mustve been the producers reasoning


that led to the Japanese girl who was suddenly shoehorned into the group.
CONWAY: Yeah, the international thing. They figured,
maybe Japan would be a big market for the film, so lets
put a Japanese person in.
THOMAS: But they didnt want Sunfire, who was
already around.
CONWAY: I dont know what the deal was, but [the
female Japanese mutant] was certainly in response to
that. You know, I think its safe to say that if theres
anything in the script that is a false note, [Roy laughs]
it wasnt you and I.
THOMAS: Maybe we did a few questionable things on
our ownbut if theres something in there that seems
so really off that you think, How could anybody who
ever wrote The X-Men do this? its probably because it
was not the people who wrote the X-Men screenplay
that insisted on it being in there.
CONWAY: Exactly.

when he mesmerized someone in Star Wars. Michael


Hirsh kept expressing a fear that George Lucas wouldnt
like our having a line from Star Wars in our movie.
[chuckles] The funny thing is that now, more than twenty years later, a lot of people would still recognize that
line, I think, if you did it the right way. And certainly in
1984 they would have.
I remember Michael wanted a whole mess of changes
in the rewrite, and he kept pushing to take out that
particular line. I recall telling him finally: Hey, if you
really want us to work hard and get this done on short
noticelet us leave the line in. So they kind-of backed
off on it. But it probably would have come out sooner
or later, somewhere along the line.
CONWAY: Yeah, after they fired us.
THOMAS: After they fired us and got Stanley Mann in
to do the next five drafts. [mutual laughter] That great
scene near the beginning of the script of a surfer willingly
riding the tidal wave, or tsunami, to his own death
that was yours, wasnt it? Because you usually started
our screenplays youd write the first few pages.

THOMAS: We ended up calling the Japanese


mutant girl Circe, which is kind-of a strange
name for a Japanese. But it fit with The X-Men.
Of course, we had Storm, too. Probably Proteus
was our name for the group that wanted to rule
the world. Do you know why we wouldnt have
gravitated, say, toward Magneto as the movies did
a few years ago?
CONWAY: Again, it may be related to why the
word mutant doesnt appear in the script.
Magnetos big thing was The Brotherhood of Evil
Mutants, you know. [laughs] And, if I remember
rightly in terms of the new X-Men, he wasnt as
big a part of it at this point. He had been more of
a first generation X-Men villain.
THOMAS: I was amazed to see scenes of the
villains jaws opening up like a sharks. I had
remembered them as more like psychic vampires,
but this is really a bit bloodier even though it
was supposed to be a family film!
CONWAY: Yeah, although we probably started
out one way, [Roy chuckles] but I think that they
wantedagain, this is the development process,
as you know. You start out with the right ideas,
and then people have their own.
THOMAS: And the same with Danielle, the
non-mutant woman, who I guess was there to
be Xaviers love interest.
CONWAY: Right, somebody that normal people
could identify with. I think the name Danielle
probably came from you. [laughs]
THOMAS: Maybe, though I never think of Dann
as being close to Danielle [my wifes name].
Lets see, we were talking about arguments we had The last time Roy T. worked on an X-Men comic, he got a chance to
script his 1969 co-creation Sunfireeven if the Japanese mutant had
with the producers. I remember we put in a line
been temporarily co-opted by the NGarai. Reprod from a photocopy
that was used humorously when Xavier hypnoof the original Karl Waller art, with Roys balloon placements, from
tizes someone: These are not the droids you
the 2000 weekly limited series X-Men: Black Sun #3. Plot by Chris
want. That was a quote from Obi-Wan Kenobi
Claremont. [2008 Marvel Characters, Inc.]

Mark Gliddens slight re-conception of Ororo,


based on a reading of the screenplay.
[Art 2008 Mark Glidden; Storm TM & 2008 Marvel
Characters, Inc.]

anything for love. It always turns out you


dont get the love and then you dont get the
money, either. [mutual laughter]
THOMAS: I guess thats why they do pay
decent money to writers, to some extent. I
mean, to you and mewell, okay, so we
wrote that script for a lousy $40,000. There
are people whod kill to write something for
that kind of money. [mutual laughter]
Including us, a year earlier. But still, by that
time, we had a higher rate, so we wanted it.
CONWAY: Yeah, we basically took a hit
because they assured us they were going to
treat us with respect, in effect. And, in fact,
they treated us with enormous disrespect.
[laughs]

CONWAY: Yeah, and I think that one probably was a lift


from Lucifers Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry
Pournelle. There is a bit in their novel where, after the
path of the meteor hits the Earth, I guess in the middle
of the ocean, theres this surfer who ends up surfing
and I always loved this and I always wished that, of all
the meteor movies, they had made Lucifers Hammer
but this guy is surfing a tsunami wave into the middle of
L.A. and ends up smashing into like the Transamerica
Building. [laughs] But its like the best ride of his life!

THOMAS: Sure! Because, heywe were writing for half


our rate! [mutual laughter]
CONWAY: Yeah. They didnt respect us because we
didnt hold out for our price.
THOMAS: I think the stuff about the financial deal and
all of itI think thats at least as interesting as the other
stuff. Dr. Johnson was right. He said anybody who
writes for anything but money is a damn fool. [laughs]
Who would write a second movie or TV script for the
love of it? A first one, yeah, but not a second.
CONWAY: Of course, if youre going to do it for love,
you want to get love out of it, you know? But we didnt
get that.

THOMAS: After Orion opted out, do you recall if they


[the producers] were still trying to shop the project
around anywhere else, or was it pretty well dead in the
water at that point?
CONWAY: They probably did try to shop it around, but
we were not connected with it by that point. I guess its
something theyd invested some of their own money in,
so they wanted to try to get it back and maybe get
somebody else to pick up this script.

THOMAS: No, not on that project. Its funny, I remember


it as not being real pleasantI just dont remember the
unpleasantness as vividly as you do. Wed had projects
that were more fun, where we felt a bit more supported,
perhaps, than that one.
CONWAY: Well, for all the ups and downs, at least it
was a pleasant experience in certain ways, just because
we were kept involved for a long time.

THOMAS: Do you remember anything else youd like to


add?
CONWAY: Well, I remember that we signed on to do
one draft, our first draftremember, we were getting
like half our rate. We got $40,000 for that job, and our
regular rate at that point was like $75,000. And we said
wed only do it if all we had to do was a first draftno
outlines, and no rewrites. So we ended up doing three
outlines [Roy laughs] and two drafts. [NOTE: While this
interview was being edited, I ran across a deal memo
from that period which called for a treatment and firstdraft screenplay so it looks as if that no-outline
notion died an early death. Theres no mention of a
rewrite of the first draft, however. Roy.]

Roy Thomas is the editor of TwoMorrows Alter Ego


magazine and is the
author of The AllStar Companion,
Volumes 1-3, as
well as other books
examining comics
history. He began his
career in comics as
Stan Lees right-hand
man at Marvel
Comics in 1965,
becoming their star
writer in the 1970s,
and eventually
editor-in-chief of
the company. He still
writes numerous
comics today.

THOMAS: I have copies of an outline, the first draft,


and the rewrite, so we did a lot more than we were paid
for. But thats just us. [laughs] Its like the old joke
about the screenwriter who tells a producer: Ill write
the movie for free but I want $5000 a meeting.
Hed come out way ahead!
CONWAY: Yeah, its taught me a lesson: never do
17

JACK KIRBY IN
TINSELTOWN
by John Morrow, editor of
The Jack Kirby Collector magazine

ack Kirby (1917-1994) is known as the King of comics due to his amazing
output during a 50-year career as a comic book artist. Hes the creator or cocreator of Captain America, the Boy Commandos, Romance comics, Kid Gang
comics, the Marvel Comics Universe (including the Fantastic Four, X-Men, Hulk,
Thor, Silver Surfer, and more), the New Gods, and many others. But he began
his career in the 1930s, working on Popeye and Betty Boop cartoons, and after
leaving the comics field in 1978, he returned to a career in animation, working
on such TV series as Thundarr the Barbarian and Super Friends. But Kirby also
had numerous opportunities to work on Hollywood-related projects over the years. Heres just a few examples of
the impact he had on the entertainment industry.

Kirby created the Silver Surfer for Marvel Comics in


the 1960s, and his work on the 1977 Silver Surfer
Graphic Novel (below) was the springboard for a
proposed 1970s Surfer film. It was never
made, but the character finally hit the
big screens in 2007s Fantastic
Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.
[2008 Marvel Characters, Inc.]

18

Top: Kirby drew literally


thousands of animation
concepts pieces from
1978-1985 for RubySpears Productions and
other studios, but his one
big hit was Thundarr the
Barbarian, shown here in
a Kirby battle scene.
Right: Kirby co-created
the Hulk at Marvel in the
1960s, and even had a
cameo as a police sketch
art in one episode of the
1970s live-action TV
series starting Lou
Ferrigno. The character is
slated for a new big
budget film in 2009.
[Thundarr TM & 2008 RubySpears. Hulk TM & 2008 Marvel
Characters, Inc.]

19

Above: Jack got to use his penchant for


science-fiction during his newspaper
strip adaptation of Disneys 1978 film
The Black Hole (shown above).
Left: Marvel Comics attempted a
comics adaptation of the 1960s hit TV
series The Prisoner, commissioning
Kirby to draw the first issue. But the
comic was never published.
[Black Hole TM & 2008 Walt Disney Productions.
Prisoner TM & 2008 ITV.]

Next page, top and center: Kirby


concept boards for never-produced
animated series of Hawkman and
The Phantom.
Next page, bottom: In 1978,
DePatie-Freleng produced a wellremembered Fantastic Four animated
series, replacing the Human Torch with
Herbie the Robot. Kirby drew the
storyboards for many of the episodes,
such as the one here, guest-starring
Magneto, another character who
(along with the Fantastic Four) Kirby
co-created in the 1960s.
Following page: Kirby
also produced an adaptation of the
film 2001: A Space Odyssey for Marvel
Comics in the 1970s, followed by a
related 2001 comic book series.
[Hawkman TM & 2008 DC Comics. Phantom TM
& 2008 King Features. Fantastic Four, Magneto
TM & 2008 Marvel Characters, Inc. 2001: A Space
Odyssey TM & 2008 Turner Entertainment.]

20

21

John Morrow is publisher of TwoMorrows Publishing, and editor of their Jack


Kirby Collector magazine, which began as a 16-page hand-xeroxed newsletter, and
has now morphed into an internationally-distributed tabloid-size magazine, celebrating
the life and career of the King of comics. The magazines 50th issue, which was
produced as a book for the anniversary, is entitled Kirby Five-Oh!, and documents
the Best Of Everything from Kirbys 50-year career in comics; its now shipping.

Support the Jack Kirby Museum: www.kirbymuseum.org


22

THE JOKER REBORN:


FROM CLOWN PRINCE OF CRIME
TO HOMICIDAL MANIAC
by Peter Sanderson, contributor to Back Issue magazine
magine that you
are in the year
1966 and someone
asked you who the
Joker was. Whether
you were a comics
fan or not, the
image you would
probably come up
with is that of actor
Cesar Romero,
disguised in a
green wig and
whiteface makeup,
laughing merrily as
he concocts a new
way to trick his
enemies, Batman
and Robin, on one
of Americas most
popular new
Latin lover Cesar Romero (left)
hopped from the big screen to the
television series.
boob tube on ABC-TVs Batman
Through the
(19661968).
Batman television
1966 Greenway Productions. Joker 2008 DC
series
of the midComics.
1960s, the idea of
camp humor went mainstream. The show made
affectionate but condescending fun of super-hero comics
through deadpan presentations of absurd dialogue and
ludicrous situations.
The Joker turned up on the show on a regular basis,
and seemed a rather likable arch criminal. Just let him
rob banks and hed be happy. Oh, sure, he wanted to
kill Batman and Robin, but nobody else, and he never
succeeded in harming anyone. But was he really anyones
favorite villain on the show? Werent Frank Gorshins
giggling Riddler and Burgess Merediths quacking
Penguin both funnier and nastier? The TV show Joker
was a rather pleasant chap who came in third compared
to those two.
The Joker wasnt always like that, however. When
he made his debut, in the very first issue of Batman
in 1940, the Joker was not funny at all. He was a coldblooded serial killer who, when readers first saw him,
was not even smiling. This grim-faced figure, with his
eerily chalk-white skin and green hair, looked like
death warmed over, and when he did smile, it was a
macabre sight.
In the course of this first story, the Joker commits a
series of murders, daringly warning the victims and the
police ahead of time of his intentions. He will predict
that his intended target will die at the stroke of midnight. Somehow, no matter what precautions are
takena locked room, or a police guardthe Jokers

prophecy comes true, and the victim, poisoned, falls


dead, his features paralyzed in a ghastly grin that imitates
the Jokers own.
The man who originated the idea for the Joker was
Jerry Robinson, who was then Bob Kanes assistant on
the art for Batman; that first Joker story was drawn by
Kane, inked by Robinson, and written by Bill Finger, the
unsung hero in co-creating so much of the Batman
mythos.
In part, the Jokers face is inspired by the traditional
Joker imagery on playing cards. But Robinson was also
inspired by a 1928 silent film called The Man Who
Laughs, adapted from a novel by the great 19th century
French author Victor Hugo (best known for Les
Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame). The
principal character, Gwynplaine, played by Conrad Veidt,
is disfigured in such a way that he appears always to be
smiling. Certain stills from the film make Gwynplaine
look menacing indeed, the
image of the Joker come
to life. (Readers who saw
the Cartoon Network
Justice League two-parter
featuring the Joker will
now understand why his
front organization was
dubbed Gwynplaine
Entertainment.)
The Jokers modus
operandi in this first story
seems to derive from an
early talkie, The Bat
Whispers, which was in
turn based on a stage
melodrama, The Bat. As you
The Man Who Laughs,
might expect from the title,
a Joker template.
this film, with its mysterious
1925 Universal Studios.
figure garbed as a bat, was
one of the inspirations for Batman himself. But the Bat
in this movie is actually the villain, who, as the Joker
would, sends his victims warnings, mysteriously murders
them at the time he predicted, and leaves behind a calling
card. The Bat leaves cards with a bat insignia; the Joker
would leave Joker playing cards.
Throughout the Golden and Silver Ages of comics,
the Joker never had a true origin story: We never
learned his real name or saw what he looked like without the garish, clown-like coloring on his face and
hands. Indeed, early Batman readers must have assumed
he was wearing makeup like an actual circus clown.

THE MAN IN THE RED HOOD


The closest the Joker came to an origin story was
The Man Behind the Red Hood (Detective Comics
23

The Jokers Happy


Victims, (above right)
a miniature Batman
comic produced in
1966 and distributed
as a giveaway inside
Kelloggs Pop Tarts
breakfast treats,
exemplifies the
silliness of the
Silver Age Joker.
Art by Carmine Infantino
and Murphy Anderson.
2008 DC Comics.

#168, Feb. 1951), the tale of a criminal, garbed in a


hood that completely concealed his face, whom Batman
had failed to capture early in his career. In this story, the
Red Hood returns years later, and Batman captures and
unmasks him only to discover he is the Joker. Then it is
revealed that the Joker used to be a criminal gang leader
whose sole departure from convention was to wear a red
hood to conceal his identity. In his clash with Batman,
the Red Hood fell into a pool of chemical wastes, which
permanently dyed his skin white, his lips bright red, and
his hair green. Seeing his garish new appearance, the
Red Hood created a new criminal persona for himself,
the Joker.
The enormous success of the Batman TV show of
the 1960s pumped up the sales of the comics, and since
the show used costumed criminals every week, editor
Julius Julie Schwartz put villains like the Joker and the
Penguin into the comics more frequently than he had
before. But the camp treatment of Batman was really no
more than a single joke that quickly wore out its welcome.
The fad ended, the show was cancelled with its third
season, and super-hero comics sales collapsed.
Schwartz had already successfully revitalized the
Batman series in the early 1960s, discarding dated, more
juvenile concepts like Batwoman, Bathound, and BatMite, and taking a more serious, realistic approach in
both the stories and artwork. Now, with plummeting
sales, Schwartz found himself faced with the challenge
of revamping the concept again, and yet again he succeeded brilliantly. This time he and his writers, now
including Denny ONeil and Frank Robbins, went not
only for a more adult approach to the series, but one far
darker in tone than the frivolous television series. Robin
was packed off to college, and Batman returned to his
roots from the late 1930s and early 1940s. He was again
the Batman, the lone, driven avenger, prowling a
world that combined film noir with Gothic horror. This is
the version of Batman that we see not only in the
comics, but in film and television today.
Perhaps to make it clear that the comics were
divorcing themselves from the television version,
Schwartz initially did not use any of Batmans rogues
gallery of costumed villains in these new adventures. But
longtime comics readers know that concepts essential to
a long-running series may be discarded, but they eventually, inevitably work their way back. The Joker was an
essential part of the Batman mythos, and soon Schwartz
would find the means to fit the Clown Prince of Crime
into Batmans once more grim and somber world. As

with Batman, the key would be to return the Joker to


the original concept back when he made his debut in
1940.
THE JOKERS FIVE-WAY REVENGE
The story that set the Joker on his new path was
The Jokers Five-Way Revenge, in Batman #251 (Sept.
1973), and written and drawn by the now legendary
team of Denny ONeil and Neal Adams.
Five-Way Revenge has a plot somewhat
reminiscent of Fingers original Joker tale. The Joker is
out to murder, one by one, five people who crossed him
in the past. Of course, for decades the Joker had never
actually succeeded in killing anyone in the comics. But in
this story he didthis Joker wasnt just playing games
anymore. The Jokers ultimate target is, of course,
Batman himself. The story climaxes with the Joker
entrapping Batman in a tank with a man-eating shark.
As the Joker notes, and as Adams shows us so well, he
and the shark have the same sinister, toothy grin. Whos
laughing now?
After over 30 years, Denny ONeil understandably
does not recall exactly how the decision to do the story
that became Five-Way Revenge came about. I wasnt
taking notes. I was just working week to week. In those
days we didnt even have contracts or steady assignments. I would go in on a Thursday, stick my head in
Julies office, and he would give me an assignment. It so
happened that 164 of those were Batman assignments,
but I was never the Batman writer.
Did editor Schwartz propose the idea of doing a
Joker story, or did ONeil suggest it to him? Lord
knows, ONeil replies. Was Neal Adams involved in the
plotting? To the best of my memory, I wrote a script
with no discussions with Neal. There was not in those
days that much interaction between the writer and
artist. In fact, ONeil does not recall even knowing who
would end up drawing the story. I think that Neal did a
brilliant job, but it was a script that was done without
really thinking about who was going to do the art,
because in those days you never knew, or if you thought
you knew, it might change.
Neal Adams agrees that he did not have any input
into the plot, but otherwise he remembers the origin of
this new Joker story very differently. It seemed as
though when I started to do [Batman] that people were
taking my rap seriously, and I wanted to do serious
Batman stories, Adams says. But then he discovered
that people thought, as Adams puts it, you wouldnt
24

want to do the Joker and TwoFace, theyre too cartoony. The


idea was that the costumed villains
like the Joker were too associated
with the cartoonishness of the
television show. And of course, I
said, No, no, the characters are
great. I mean, Im not a big fan of
the Penguin, but the Joker is a
fantastic character if taken a little
more seriously. The Joker is a
serious character and a good
character. I dont consider him a
cartoon even though he acts like a
cartoon, and Id love to do a more
serious, more deadly Joker. Once I
said that, Denny and Julie were off
and doing the Joker.
ONeil came up with a Joker
story that was considerably more
serious than Adams had expected.
The Joker went around killing
people, which I perhaps thought
was a little bit heavy-handed,
Adams says. But, by golly, it
turned out to be pretty good.
So, Adams sums up, my
contribution was more like a
coachman: Go!
Gee, I have no idea at this
point, so many years later, where
the actual plot came from, ONeil
says. Probably out of my head. I
dont remember Julie having much
to do with it, though I wouldnt
say he didnt. We worked so
closely in those days. Neither of us
thought that people would be
The ONeil/Adams Joker of Five-Way Revenge made Cesar Romero a
asking us questions about it
distant memory. Courtesy of Shane Foley.
twenty [years later].
2008 DC Comics.
But certainly ONeil can
reconstruct his overall method of
story in particular, in which he is a very cunning, maniaconstructing the story. It was just a question of trying
cal killer seemed to me a lot better than the sort of
to do my basic trick when I begin to work with an
watered-down later versions. I mean, Batman against a
established character that I think has lost its way. [It] is
guy who plays pranks? Thats not much of a dramatic
to go back and try to look at the essence of it and see
situation because theres so very little at stake, and it
what made this popular in the first place; what makes
diminishes Batman, going after a guy who really isnt all
this guy a hero, what makes this guy a villain, and then
that dangerous or all that much of a menace.
use that as the cornerstone of the story.
I didnt quite get the violent Joker, Adams says.
So, ONeil says, evoking his thought process,
My suspicion is that Denny went back to the original
the Jokerclownspeople are frightened of clowns
source and picked that up, and that was a surprise to
tricksterirrationality. Though I wasnt aware of it at
me. Yes, I wanted to do the Joker, and yes, I wanted
the time, I now know that the Joker is probably the best
him to be bad, but Denny made him real bad. In fact, I
embodiment of the trickster motif in all of modern fiction,
questioned the deadliness of what was going on, but he
though Hannibal Lecter might be a close second. (This,
insisted that No, this is the way the Joker was at the
as ONeil agrees, at least is true of sinister versions of
beginning, and my feeling was, Yknow, weve come to
the trickster archetype, as opposed to more positive and
a new time, were out of the 50s, we can be a little bit
comedic ones like Bugs Bunny.)
braver, lets go for it, lets go for the gusto.
ONeil thinks that it was probably then that he
Adams task was to find a way to translate the
looked up the original Joker stories in DCs library.
caricatured face that Bob Kane and others had given the
Those stories would have been available to me, and,
Joker into his own, more realistic art style. To make that
knowing myself, almost certainly I did. I believe in doing
old-style Joker face, it almost takes a cartoon. So I felt,
your homework. He was particularly struck by Bill
why dont I take my memory of the Joker and my referFingers original Joker story in Batman #1. That first
ence of the Joker from the various guys who had done
25

it, including Jerry Robinson and Dick Sprang, take those


two as my models and then try to make a Joker that was
like those, that would emulate those, but was on a real
face, so I could contort a real face and make it those
faces. So that was my goal, to find a way to do that.
And, gee, I think I succeeded.
In The Man Who Laughs, Gwynplaines smile was
literally carved into his face. In the comics, though, the
Joker was fully capable of other facial expressions; in
fact, he is grimly frowning when he is first shown in
Batman #1. So it is interesting that Neal Adams and
another celebrated Joker artist, Marshall Rogers, each
came to believe that the Joker, like Gwynplaine, could
not stop smiling.
The thing about the Joker is that he was a regular
guy and he went through this experience that he can
never change, Adams says. He cant wipe that smile
off his face. One of the things that bothers me about
many, many artists renditions of the Jokerand Im
talking about good artistsis they have the Joker frown.
Well, he cant frown. According to the rules as I understand them, he cant wipe that smile off his face so he
cant frown.
It would just be real cool to have a smiling Joker
no matter what emotion hes expressinganger or sadness or pathos, Adams asserts. To have that smile on
his face to me is what the Joker is all about. Id like to
see that more. I think that is almost key to the character.
If you dont have to have a smile on your face, you can
put makeup on it, you can color your hair another color.
Youre not really so terrible. But if you cant stop smiling,
thats terrible.
Denny ONeil and Neal Adams work on the
Batman had tremendous influence on later writers and
artists on the series. They were the writer and artist who
most powerfully set the style for the Batman stories that
followed, in comics, movies, and television over the next
thirty-plus years.
As one of those successors, Steve Englehart,
observes, Neal Adams Batman, and Denny, having
written themthose things are firmly in my brain as
being a wonderful thing. If they hadnt done such a
good job I dont know if I would have been as interested in doing the Batman.

Doctor Strange, Steve Englehart intended to spend a


year writing DC characters he loved before leaving
comics behind. He ended up writing Justice League of
America and Mister Miracle at DC. But I wanted to do
the Batman, too. I told [DC publisher Jenette Kahn]
going in that I was only going to be there for a year,
cause I was going to get out of comics forever at that
point. And so I knew I could do one year of Batman, and
it was going to be the essence of Batman. I was going to
do everything with it that I could possibly get into it.
And how could Englehart do what he calls the definitive
Batman without doing his greatest foe? Yeah, it was
always going to end up with the Joker as the ultimate
[villain], at the end of it.
Befitting his mission to capture Batmans essence,
Englehart set about doing his research. Back then there
were no archive editions of Golden Age stories, but he
learned about DCs remarkably complete library. I said, I
want to get Xeroxes of the early years of Detective
Comics and of Batman, which, of course, even then cost
a fortune. I would never have been able to buy them or
find them anyplace else. And so somebody went to the
library and Xeroxed all of these early Batman stories.
Denny ONeil in fact thought that was a good idea, and
he had a second set sent over to him at that time. I was
able to really immerse myself in Bob Kane and Bill
Fingers original idea. I was back in that 1939/1940/
1941 era of the Batman, really trying to figure out who
is this guy, who would he be if he existed.
And the Joker in those days was this homicidal
maniac. He was not the funny clown; he was not the
guy with the Ha-Ha-Hacienda, and all that kind of stuff.
He was this crazed creature of the night in his own way.
And so, yeah, thats the guy that I wanted to do. To me,
a year before any of this came out, I was thinking this is
who the Joker really is, and who the Batman really is.
Englehart did not just want to copy what Kane and
Finger had done in their early Batman stories. I said,
thats the essence; now I have to build something out of
it that will work in this modern day and age.
This applied to the Joker as well. Fingers Joker and
ONeils Joker had been killers, but they were cunning,
rational masterminds. Englehart saw the potential to take
the Joker concept further. My sense of it was if you
really got to the essence of the Joker, he still had another
dimension to go, which was to become completely
insane. I saw the potential and I thought it was perfectly
legitimate to go there.
I thought, I can be true to what this character was
set out to be, but I can do stuff with it now that they
didnt do then. Whether they couldnt or didnt think of
it, I dont know.
And how exactly I figured out some completely
insane plot about laughing fish, thats sort of lost in the
mist of time. So, in The Laughing Fish [Detective
Comics #475, Feb. 1978], the Joker strides into a government office and shows off what we might now call a
feat of genetic engineering. He has somehow managed
to develop living fish with mouths set into a smile like his
own: Joker-fish. Now the Joker wants to copyright the
fish, to make sure that no one tries to copy his brilliant
achievement. Now actually, I suppose that nowadays
there really is a question about how genetic engineers
can register new breeds of plants or animals as their own

ENGLEHART AND ROGERS DETECTIVE COMICS


Bill Fingers Joker in Batman #1 was coldly cunning
and calculating. Even as the Joker became more of a
merry prankster over the decades, his plans, however
fantasticalstarting an underworld newspaper, devising
his own utility belthad rational purposes and a certain
logic. The ONeil-Adams Joker was a killer once more,
but a rational one. This was about to change, courtesy
of another classic writer/artist team who took ONeil and
Adams work with the Joker to the next level. They were
Steve Englehart and Marshall Rogers, who, in the 1970s,
together created Batman stories for six issues of
Detective Comics, culminating with the Joker two-parter
in issues #475 and #476. Yes, it was merely six issues,
and yet they stand as the greatest six-issue run in
Batmans history, the definitive Batman that summed
up the first nearly forty years of the characters history.
Having made a great reputation for his innovative
work at Marvel on Avengers, Captain America, and
26

discoveries; perhaps the patent office would be more


small series was to culminate in a full issue story of
appropriate. But in The Laughing Fish, the staffers in
Batman teaming up with all the heroes who had fought
the government office can do no more than explain to
the Calculator. And since I was the last artist to do the
the Joker that there is no provision in the law for copybackup, Julie Schwartz gave me a shot at doing the fullrighting ones visage, even on a fish.
length story. Right time, right place. Fans responded
Outraged, the Joker launches a campaign of murder
positively to Rogers work. So I was offered the chance
right out of Fingers first Joker story: Once again there
to be the regular artist on the Detective title, which I
are the warnings, the unpreventable murders by Joker
jumped at.
venom, and the corpses with the evil grins. Times have
Reading Engleharts scripts, Rogers recognized
changed, however, and now the Joker commandeers
exactly what Englehart was
television instead of radio to issue his threats of murder.
getting at: I felt he had
Thats the essence of what I thought the Joker ought to
gone back to the essence
do, says Englehart; Hes not rational. In those same
of what the Batman was
issues, at one point, one of the Jokers henchmen annoys
about. And like
his boss, so the Joker abruptly pushes him into oncoming
Englehart, Rogers too
traffic, killing him on a whim. This
started to
brief incident was a shocker, a signal
to the reader that this was not just a
murderous Joker, but an utterly
unpredictable one, with no loyalty
even to his own men, capable of
doing anything, and willing to kill
just to give himself a good laugh.
Everyone involved in that project was right on the peak of their
creative abilities, says Englehart.
That included, of course, penciler
Marshall Rogers, whom Englehart
never even met until after he drew
those stories. Engleharts Detective
run had actually started with two
issues that were drawn by Walter
Simonson and inked by Al Milgrom,
in which Englehart introduced his
new leading lady, Silver St. Cloud,
and the corrupt politician, Boss
Thorne. Editor Julie Schwartz
needed to find a new art team for
Engleharts remaining issues.
As for Englehart, he was
already gone, not just from DC
but from the United States. I
wrote all these scripts in advance
and then left the country,
Englehart says. I knew I was
only going to be there for a year.
I cranked out everything I could
crank out and then left.
Englehart had no say in who the
artist would be. In those days
you worked with whoever you
were given. You didnt really say,
I want to work with this guy,
or come in with a package.
Enter Marshall Rogers, who
died in 2008 but reminisced in
2008, Well, it was a proverbial
right place at the right time.
Rogers had done two or three
backup stories for Detective
involving a villain called the
Calculator, who battled various DC heroes
(and later gained a larger profile in the
Marshall Rogers recreation of the cover to February 1978s Detective #475.
miniseries Villains United). Then that
Courtesy of Ken Danker (www.monstercollectibles.com).
2008 DC Comics.

27

research the early Batman. So I was going back to look


at a lot of the original material that was done by Kane
back in the 40s and getting inspiration from that. And
when I got the first Joker script, I immediately went back
to the Jerry Robinson stuff.
Studying the early Joker stories, Rogers decided that
the artists had drawn not what he calls the plasticized
figure the Joker had become in later, but a real person
with a grotesque face. So thats what I wanted to bring
to the character, Rogers said, asserting that he wanted
to bring back the human horror that was under that
white face, and I did want to bring back.
Like Adams, Rogers was under the impression that
the Jokers smile was permanently fixed on his face.
Indeed, Rogers said it was very difficult, having him
always smile all the time. During the interview it was
pointed out to Rogers that even in Batman #1 the Joker
does not continually smile. Im thinking back to other
stories that impressed me as a kid, Rogers mused, and
he wasnt always smiling, come to think of it, but it was
what had stayed with me from all my childhood reading.
It seems the image of the Jokers grin is so powerful that
people assume that it never changes.
There is another influence on Rogers depiction of
the Joker that has often been noted over the years.
Rogers explained that he always had a mirror in front of
his desk while working. Because on a comic-book
deadline you dont all the time have the luxury of having
models pose for you, so I became my own model for
anything that was needed at the time, and I would try to
compensate as needs required. But for the Joker, I guess
a lot of compensation wasnt needed, because many
people have mentioned that they see a similarity
between me and the Joker.
Impressed with Engleharts conception of the Joker,
Rogers said, The thing that I did want to do as a storyteller was to try to keep what Steve had written as intact
as I could, because he did write a very maniacal character, and I tried
to bring that
across. Rogers
explained that
the Joker, even
when I was
young, seemed
to be the
Batmans perfect
counterpoint.
And it never
seemed to come
to any fruition
in the earlier
stories that I
had read.
Rogers
agrees with
Engleharts basic
conceptions
of both the
Batman and the
With one word. . .
Joker. I do see
a new light is cast upon the Jokers
Bat-fixation in Batman: The Dark
the Batman as a
Knight Returns (above). Art by Frank
single-minded
Miller and Klaus Janson.
character, [striv-

ing] to bring some peace and rest to a world that goes


crazy around him, to paraphrase some of Steves work in
our job. I consider the Joker to be the one who tries to
make the Batmans world go crazy. They each have an
objective that clashes, is the best way I can put it.
Engleharts vision of the Batman and the Joker
made it possible for Rogers to realize his own conceptions of the characters. Rogers said that Engleharts
Jokers character was based in his motivation, and I
just visualized that motivation for the reader. But if the
motivation hadnt been there, the character wouldnt
have been the same.
BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS
The most influential Batman story of the last
twenty-five years is surely Frank Millers landmark 1986
miniseries, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, which
presents a fifty-something Batman in a Gotham City
turned into a nightmare of contemporary urban crime
and blight. Not surprisingly, Miller not only redefined
Batman in this series, but his arch-nemesis, the Joker,
as well.
At the start of The Dark Knight Returns, Bruce
Wayne, having retired as a costumed crime-fighter years
ago, is a hollow shell of a man, possibly an alcoholic,
and possibly with a death wish. Similarly, when we first
see the Joker in The Dark Knight Returns, he is not even
recognizable. His white skin looks sallow, and his face
sags with depression. But once the Joker hears that
Batman is back in action, Miller gives us an extreme
closeup of the Jokers mouth, as it twists into the familiar
grin. There is one more thing, too: The Joker says the
word Darling.
With that one word, Miller indicated that the
Jokers murderous obsession with Batman had a homoerotic side. Writer Grant Morrison picked up on this and
created controversy at DC when he tried, unsuccessfully,
to put the Joker in drag in his graphic novel Arkham
Asylum.
Commenting on Millers Joker, Denny ONeil, who
edited The Dark Knight Returns, says, Batman and the
Joker at this point are classic characters. Ive seen maybe
ten productions of Hamlet in my life. Richard Burtons
was real different from Mel Gibsons, which was real
different from Laurence Oliviers. After a while, it
becomes a matter of interpretation. Theres no right way
to do it. There is only the way that works here and now
for this project. So I think that Franks interpretation of
the Joker is perfectly validits Franks interpretation. He
certainly did it well. ONeil also points out that The
Dark Knight Returns and its version of the Joker are not
in DCs continuity.
ONeil interprets the Joker quite differently. Theres
a lot of reasons why I wouldnt make the Joker gay, and
one of them is to not play into that old stereotype of the
villainous homosexual. But paramount is that thats not
the way I see him. I think the Joker is so screwed up that
anything as normal as sex is beyond him.
Perhaps what really put an end to the interpretation
of the Joker as gay was the introduction of Harley
Quinn, the Jokers girlfriend, in the 1990s, first in
Batman: The Animated Series and later in the canonical
comics. I applaud the efforts of the people who created
Harley Quinn, ONeil says, but I really cant see the

2008 DC Comics.

28

Joker having a girlfriend. They did it well, because the


Joker is obviously just using this woman. There may
never have been any kind of consummation. I think of
the Joker as asexual.

daughter but the super-heroine Batgirl. But she never


gets the chance to change into her heroic identity in this
story. The Joker shoots her, leaving her crippled for life,
and then humiliates her by stripping her naked and taking photographs of her. Later on, the Joker captures her
father and strips him nude as well. I was quite surprised
by the darkness and sheer nastiness of the story. Denny
had upped the ante in his stories with Neal Adams and
Marshall Rogers [presumably Bolland means the
Englehart stories here], but I was a bit taken aback by
what happened to Barbara. Alan only rang me once
while he was writing the story. He said hed got himself
into a really dark place with the story. I just provided a
sympathetic ear while he talked and somehow thought
the whole thing through.
It was only later I learned that hed had a falling

BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE


Probably the most disturbing tale in the Jokers history remains Batman: The Killing Joke, written by Alan
Moore, illustrated by Brian Bolland, and first published
by DC in 1988. It is also noteworthy for the new possible
origin that Moore devised for the Joker. It was in the
mid-1980s that DC began rebooting the continuity of its
series, deleting decades of past stories from the canon.
Moore, however, did not discard The Man Behind the
Red Hood, but instead elaborated upon it in a way that
radically reinterpreted the events of the original story.
The Killing Joke project
originated not with Moore,
however, but with Brian
Bolland, who had had a great
success in the early 1980s
with the Camelot 3000 maxiseries for DC. Bolland recalls
that someone, possibly executive editor Dick Giordano,
asked him what he wanted to
do next for DC. So I
thought, Aim high. Id like to
draw my favorite character
and have it written by my
favorite and best writer, Alan
Moore. Bolland thinks that
it was Len Wein, Camelots
editor, who pitched the idea
to DC, and eventually Denny
ONeil became the projects
editor.
Alan seemed quite
happy to write about any
character I wanted, Bolland
recalls. I told him I was
particularly interested in the
Joker. In fact, it could be
about the Joker, and Batman
could be a remote and shadowy background character.
That seemed to fire his imagination, and he was off and
running.
Apart from asking Moore
to do the Joker, Bolland had
no input into the story. Hes
a great writer and I didnt feel
it was my place to interfere in
his work any more than Id
expect him to tell me how to
draw it.
So Bolland was as startled by the story that Moore
devised as readers probably
were. The Joker and his
accomplishes invade the home
A stunning British fanzine cover by Brian Bolland,
of Barbara Gordon, who is not
reported to have been produced in the 1980s.
only Commissioner Gordons
2008 DC Comics.

29

out with DC about Watchmen and, given the chance, he


would possibly have flung this script out the window
and washed his hands of DC for good. I sometimes
wonder whether the violence he perpetrated on a couple
of well-loved DC characters was an expression of his
disgruntlement with DC at the time, or whether it was
that hed really got into the brain of the Joker.
The Jokers brand of voyeurism inspired The Killing
Jokes memorable cover, showing him aiming his camera
out towards the viewer.
When I do covers Im less interested in design and
composition and more interested in the significance of
what youre seeing, Bolland admits. I never had any
doubt what I wanted on the cover. I thought we needed
an arresting image: the Joker looking suitably scary and
Jokerish. But its not until you read the story that the full
impact of what it signifies hits you and youre thrown
into the role of the victim.
As for the look of the Jokers face, I have to say it
was the Adams interpretation that I was trying to draw,
with a bit of the Jerry Robinson and Dick Sprang versions thrown in.
Moore has the Joker tell a story which mayor may
notbe the full tale of his origin, elaborating on The
Man Behind the Red Hood but giving it an unexpected
new twist. According to the Joker, he was once a smalltime comedian, down on his luck, worried about how to
support himself and his wife. At last we are shown the
future Jokers unaltered face, and he looks very much
like a sad sack. In desperate need of money, the comedian
becomes involved with a gang of thieves. Their gimmick
is to dress up a stooge in the Red Hood costume and
pretend that he is their boss; the idea is that the police
will concentrate on the colorfully masked leader and pay
less attention to the real thieves. Protesting and frightened, the comedian is forced to wear the Red Hood and
is dragged along on a raid of a chemical plant. Now the
story follows the familiar path laid out by The Man
Behind the Red Hood. Batman, too, is taken in by the
ploy and singles out the Red Hood, who falls into the
chemical wastes and rises as the Joker, this time laughing
madly. The shock of his transformation, it seems, drove
the comedian over the edge into insanity.
Id
seen the
Red Hood
story,
Bolland
explains,
and the
period feel
seemed to
enhance
the
strangeness
of it all.
But he had
another,
more
surprising
model for
this
sequence
as well:

Id recently seen [director David Lynchs film] Eraserhead


and I was very impressed with the weirdness of the locations and the black-and-white photography, Bolland
says. In Killing Joke, I wanted to create confusion as to
whether this story was happening now or in some
strange other-time. I gave very specific instructions to
colorist John Higgins about doing all these scenes in
almost black-and-white with just odd details breaking out
in color but somehow all that got lost. If Id been the
writer I wouldnt have done the Jokers origin, Bolland
says. I think the Joker and Batman are archetypes, and
the more you personalize them and psychoanalyze them
and make them specific, the less effective they are.
The same archetypes were there in Judge Dredd,
the British comic-book series which helped make
Bollands reputation as a comics artist. On the one hand
you have the cold, rigid figure of whats right, and on
the other hand you have the vast, yawning, murderous
madness that was the whole of Mega City and its inhabitants. The murderous madness was always bound to be
the more interesting and the more alluring.
But I think Alan did the origin story very well, he
adds, and I think it was crucial that the Jokers real
name was never given.
For a long time I hoped to try to write a kind of
sequel to The Killing Joke where the Penguin asks the
Joker if that storys true, and the Joker says, Ah, that old
chestnut! The truth is, I was stolen by gypsiesthat
being the origin of The Man Who Laughsor something
like that, just so you know that you can never believe
anything he says.
Perhaps the most controversial part of The Killing
Joke was its ending. Batman has captured the Joker, but
as the police arrive, they laugh together over the absurdity of their lives. In this story Moore has explicitly drawn
a parallel between Batmans life and the Jokers. In each
mans case, just one bad day was enough to radically
alter the course of his life: In Batmans case it was the
shooting of his parents, while in the Jokers case it was
the disastrous end of his day as the Red Hood.
They may be enemies and opposites, but in this
regard they are alike. The mutual laughter affirms the
link between them; Batman even reaches out to the
Joker. There were, however, readers who found it shocking that Batman would laugh along with his enemy, as if
it were all a game, just after the Joker had so brutalized
Barbara. Im just as much in the dark about the end of
the story as everyone else is, Bolland admits. If you
see Batman as representing the good and the proper,
and Joker representing chaos and madness, it seems
appropriate to end with Batman acknowledging those
characteristics inside of himself. Theres a closeness
between the two men, a bond thats almost stronger
than [the one] with all the good people in this story, and
this final scene somehow represents the two men recognizing a sort of common ground between them.
As reconceptualized in the 1970s and 1980s, the
Joker remains a powerful and enduring part of Batmans
mythology, in the comics, in animation, and in film.
Those two decades, thanks to the work of so many
brilliant writers and artists, remain the greatest sustained
creative period in the Jokers history.
(For the complete version of this article, check out Back Issue #3,
available at www.twomorrows.com)
30

MODERN MASTERS BOOK SERIES


Edited by ERIC NOLENWEATHINGTON, these trade
paperbacks and DVDs are
devoted to the BEST OF
TODAYS COMICS ARTISTS!
Each book contains RARE AND
UNSEEN ARTWORK direct
from the artists files, plus a
COMPREHENSIVE INTERVIEW
(including influences and their
views on graphic storytelling),
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SECTIONS, and more! And our
DVDs show the artist at work!

VOL. 1: ALAN DAVIS


(128-page trade paperback) $14.95

V.2: GEORGE PREZ

V.3: BRUCE TIMM

(128-page trade paperback) $14.95

(120-page TPB with COLOR) $14.95

V.4: KEVIN NOWLAN

V.5: GARCA-LPEZ

V.6: ARTHUR ADAMS

V.7: JOHN BYRNE

(120-page TPB with COLOR) $14.95

(120-page TPB with COLOR) $14.95

(128-page trade paperback) $14.95

(128-page trade paperback) $14.95

V.8: WALTER
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V.9: MIKE
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V.11: CHARLES
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(128-page trade paperback) $14.95

(120-page TPB with COLOR) $14.95

(128-page trade paperback) $14.95

(120-page TPB with COLOR) $14.95

V.12: MICHAEL
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V.13: JERRY
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V.14: FRANK
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V.15: MARK
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(120-page TPB with COLOR) $14.95

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HOW-TO PUBLICATIONS & DVDS

BEST OF DRAW! VOL. 1 BEST OF DRAW! VOL. 2


Compiles material from the first two sold-out issues
of DRAW!a wealth of tutorials, interviews, and
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HOW TO CREATE
COMICS FROM SCRIPT
TO PRINT

HOW TO DRAW
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DANNY FINGEROTH & MIKE MANLEY show step-bystep how to develop a new comic, from script and
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(120-minute DVD) $29.95

COMICS
INTROSPECTIVE
VOLUME 1:
PETER BAGGE

COMICS ABOVE GROUND


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(168-page trade paperback) $19.95

First volume of our new book series


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imagery. Volume One features Peter Bagge,
whose work runs from political (his strips
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(the Batboy strip for Weekly World News),
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PANEL DISCUSSIONS
Art professor DURWIN TALON gets top creators to
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WORKING METHODS
Three short scripts are interpreted by several professional comic creators, who detail their storytelling
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COMICS HISTORY & COMPANION BOOKS

IMAGE COMICS

FLASH COMPANION

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TRUE BRIT

CELEBRATING UK COMICS ARTISTS


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(204-page trade paperback) $21.95

ALL- STAR COMPANION


Roy Thomas extensive volumes unlock secrets of the
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Critiques and lovingly recalls the classic DC Comics


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JUSTICE LEAGUE
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BLUE BEETLE
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Comprehensive history celebrating the NEW TEEN


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Examines the Silver Age JLA, tracing its development,


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(224-page trade paperback) $24.95

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(128-page trade paperback) $16.95

(240-page trade paperback) $26.95

TWOMORROWS PUBLICATIONS

DRAW!

BACK ISSUE

WRITE NOW!

ROUGH STUFF

DRAW! magazine is the professional


How-To magazine on cartooning and
animation, featuring in-depth interviews
and step-by-step demonstrations from
top comics professionals. Edited by
comics artist MIKE MANLEY.

BACK ISSUE magazine celebrates comic


books of the 1970s, 1980s, and today
through a variety of recurring (and
rotating) departments, plus rare and
unpublished art. Edited by comics writer
and editor MICHAEL EURY.

WRITE NOW! magazine features writing


tips from pros on both sides of the desk,
interviews, sample scripts, reviews,
exclusive Nuts & Bolts tutorials, and
more! Edited by comics writer DANNY
FINGEROTH.

ROUGH STUFF magazine features


never-seen pencil pages, sketches, layouts, roughs, and unused inked pages
from throughout comics history, plus
columns, critiques, and more! Edited by
comics inker BOB MCLEOD.

(80-page magazine with color) $6.95

(100-page magazine) $6.95

(80-page magazine) $6.95

(100-page magazine) $6.95

AND COMING
NOVEMBER 09:

ALTER EGO
ALTER EGO magazine focuses on Golden
and Silver Age comics and creators with
articles, interviews and unseen art, plus
FCA (Fawcett Collectors of America),
Mr. Monster and more. Edited by
comics writer and former Marvel Comics
editor in chief ROY THOMAS.

(100-page magazine) $6.95

JACK KIRBY
COLLECTOR

BRICKJOURNAL

JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR magazine


celebrates the life and career of the King
of comics through interviews with Kirby
and his contemporaries, feature articles,
and rare Kirby artwork. Edited by
publisher JOHN MORROW.

BRICKJOURNAL magazine is the ultimate


resource for LEGO enthusiasts of all
ages, spotlighting all aspects of the
LEGO Community showcasing models,
events, and people in every issue, with
contributions and how-to articles from
top builders worldwide, new product
intros, and more! Edited by JOE MENO.

(84-page tabloid-size magazine) $9.95

(80-page color magazine) $8.95

AGE OF TV
HEROES
Examines the history of the live-action
television adventures of your favorite
comic book heroes, featuring interviews
with the stars! Written by GEORGE
KHOURY & JASON HOFIUS.

(192-page color hardcover) $39.95

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