Batman: The Killing Joke
As if recent renewed debate about its ending weren’t enough to demonstrate that, after 25 years, Batman: The Killing Joke can still spur discussion, now new original artwork has surfaced indicating the scene depicting the torture of Barbara Gordon was initially far more graphic and sexualized.
A photo of the inked page (below, definitely NSFW) was tweeted Sunday by Bill Hynes, a former employee of Gosh! Comics in London, revealing a naked and bleeding Barbara among the montage of images shown to her father James Gordon. In the published comic, by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland, that shot is replaced by a close-up of Barbara’s face.
Bolland confirmed the artwork’s authenticity, writing on his blog, “Here’s a page I drew for Killing Joke. I drew what was in the script. That’s my job. I was asked to tone it down a bit. I don’t know how the person who posted it got this image.”
Sue of DC Women Kicking Ass notes, “This isn’t some thumbnail sketch. This is a final inked page. At least someone at DC had some sense to kill it. Because really, how can you claim a book doesn’t sexualize violence when you have stuff like that in print?”
Indeed, whether the Joker raped Barbara Gordon has been long debated, with some readers insisting the violence was physical and not necessarily sexual. This page now may cast the scene, and the already-controversial comic, in a slightly different light.
Conventions | The Taipei Comics Exhibition drew 582,000 people this year, up from 560,000 last year, with more than 450 booths and appearances by 49 creators, 25 of them from Taiwan. Roger Kao, one of the organizers, said that sales of Taiwanese comics were up, perhaps because of the personal appearances. [Taipei Times]
Conventions | Graeme McMillan notes some comments by First Second’s Gina Gagliano about the cost to publishers, in time and money, of attending comics conventions. [The Hollywood Reporter]
Creators | Unshelved co-creator Gene Ambaum talks with Lucy Knisley about her graphic novel Relish and food in general. [Unshelved]
While the big news to come out of Kevin Smith’s new “Fatman on Batman” interview with Grant Morrison is the new title for his long-teased Wonder Woman graphic novel, the most interesting part of the discussion may be when the subject turns to Batman: The Killing Joke.
The influential 1988 one-shot, by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland, is perhaps best remembered for The Joker’s shooting of Barbara Gordon, leaving the once and future Batgirl paraplegic. But after listening to Morrison’s interpretation of the book’s ending, Smith realizes the impact of The Killing Joke is far greater: “Alan Moore secretly wrote the last Batman story.”
A Nebraska public library has rejected a request to either remove Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s Batman: The Killing Joke from shelves or move the 1988 DC Comics one-shot out of the young-adult area.
“I don’t find it worthy of being removed from the shelf,” the Columbus Telegram quotes Columbus Public Library board member Carol Keller as saying at last week’s meeting.
I love these alternative designs that Fabio Castro came up with for four Batman graphic novels. Seriously, I want to trade in my current editions of Batman: Year One and The Dark Knight Returns for these. And I’d buy The Killing Joke and Under the Red Hood just to complete the set.
But it got me wondering; especially Under the Red Hood, which doesn’t seem to belong in the same collection as those others. I suspect that Castro included it simply because he wanted something to fit a red cover. I’m not picking on him. Maybe I’m wrong and Under the Red Hood is absolutely a classic, but even if it’s not, I still love Castro’s cover. It just got me thinking about what the truly great Batman stories are. Year One and The Dark Knight Returns are no-brainers, and while I don’t especially care for The Killing Joke, I understand how its writer and the effect it had on Barbara Gordon make it “important.” But what other Batman stories deserve to go next to those? Hush? A Death in the Family? Knightfall?
I’m genuinely asking. What’s the Batman canon? Sound off in the comments.