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.
I’m very fond of the output of artist David Roach. The Welshman has been an on-off contributor to 2000AD since 1988, as well as regularly working as an inker on the strip features in Doctor Who Magazine. I don’t remember him working much recently in the United States, where he regularly turned up at DC and Dark Horse both as a penciler and inker. He comes from a family of academics, and has been developing a parallel career of late as something of a comic book and illustration historian.
Roach regularly uses his Facebook page as an art blog, showcasing artists of all stripes, just as likely to be a fine artist as a comic illustrator, as well as occasionally featuring art from his own collection. This week he has been displaying scans from what he calls “surely the rarest collectible in the comics history.”
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.
We reported in November on the announcement of comics making it into the roster of World Book Night for the first time ever, in the form of 2000AD/Rebellion’s The Dark Judges collection. Now World Book Night has now rolled around, and to find an event tonight where you can receive a free copy of this book, consult the list of events on the website, or take a dig around the interactive map of the United Kingdom.
I saw this, via the Twitter feed of PJ Holden, and shivered. There’s lots of people cosplaying as Judge Dredd these days — in both flavors, comic and movie — but I’ve never before seen anyone make an attempt at his most iconic enemy, Judge Death.
Well, that’s changed, as DeviantArt member “warrior1944” (presumably called Peter Olsson in real life, but it’s hard to tell from his site) has done a helluva job of capturing the essence of Brian Bolland’s design. Of course, we should all be at least a little bit worried that someone could be so inspired by one of the most chilling mass-murderers in comics, but that’s really between this kid and his psychiatrist.
Updated: 2000AD have been in touch to point out that these costumes are being sold without approval or license. While they’ve no issue with cosplayers dressing up as 2000AD characters, infringing on their copyright with the commercial sale of costumes is another matter altogether. The Rebellion folks are known for their close relationship with the official licensee on these matters, Planet Replicas. Presumably, all parties are taking action on this right now.
The London Super Con happened over the weekend, complete with a sizable roll call of legends attending (including Neal Adams, George Perez, Bill Sienkiewicz and Brian Bolland). These days, it wouldn’t be a U.K. comic convention without a fresh batch of photographs turning up in the Twitter stream of 2000AD super-fan John Burdis and friends dragged up as Mega City One judges, administering some on-the-spot justice to his fellow convention goers. This time, there were some familiar faces to be spotted amongst his willing victims: There are literally hundreds of shots like these on Burdis’s Facebook gallery. Also seen at Facebook: a very jolly-looking Batman sharing a joke with Judge Court.
Since it was first announced in the United Kingdom in 2010, World Book Night has quickly established itself as a big deal indeed, a headline-grabber, something that has re-energized the national debate here about books and literature (always a good thing). Each year, a team of more than 20,000 “givers” volunteers to distribute a million free books, selected by a committee of experts, and donated by their publishers. The charity is partnered with the BBC, which regularly features the run-up and the event itself throughout its current affairs and cultural output: The booklist was featured last night on The One Show, and will be debated tonight on Newsnight Review. Doubtless someone on the panel will look baffled by its inclusion, like a caveman presented with the keys to a Ferrari.
The books announced yesterday as next year’s selection include, for the first time, some comics in the form of 2000AD/Rebellion Publishing’s Judge Dredd: The Dark Judges. Inclusion in this event could be seen as trumping Free Comic Book Day, with tens of thousands of copies of an entire graphic novel distributed freely across the entire nation in a hail of publicity. This edition features some stone-cold classics by John Wagner, Alan Grant, Brian Bolland, Brett Ewins and others, and includes the most celebrated panel ever in Bolland’s career at the venerable British anthology:
As British designer/comic book artist Rian Hughes once wrote, “When musicians remake an old hit, it’s called a cover version. When a painter copies an illustrator, it’s called fine art.” Hughes’ article features numerous impassioned quotes from Dave Gibbons on the ethics of fine artists appropriating imagery from comic artists. Brian Bolland recently pursued the Icelandic artist Erro for a particularly blatant act and to a certain extent, won the argument. But comic books remains catnip to the fine art world, the dirty little habit it can’t kick. Plenty of art below the break.
Hello and welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading? Our guest today is writer and artist Jimmy Palmiotti, who you know from All-Star Western, Monolith, Phantom Lady, Unknown Soldier, Creator-Owned Heroes, Queen Crab and countless more.
To see what Jimmy and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Publishing | ICv2 sits down for a three-part interview with DC Comics Co-Publishers Jim Lee and Dan DiDio that takes the long view of the past year, covering the launch of the New 52, the effect of digital and the loss of Borders, and the recent discussions around creators’ rights. “It’s a cyclical thing. It’s an issue that constantly comes back,” DiDio said. “We hear about the great jobs and the great books that creators might participate in, but what we don’t hear about are all the books we’ve invested in over the years that never delivered, where we’ve invested in the talent and the time to make sure they had the opportunity to tell the stories they tell. It’s a very big picture, and it’s a very complex issue that can’t be boiled down. One thing I feel the most strongly is that I feel extraordinarily confident that we do everything we can to make this a very creator friendly company, to make sure they have an opportunity to tell the stories they want to tell with our characters and also in their creator owned stories too.” [ICv2]
Learning that DC was cancelling five superhero titles reminded me immediately of the “Saturday Night Massacre,” when President Nixon’s firing of special prosecutor Archibald Cox led directly to the resignations of Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckleshaus. But, you know, that’s just me. I may be one of the few superhero-comics bloggers who went through a Watergate phase in college. Got two term papers out of it, at any rate.
But I digress. As we all know, the May solicitations are out, and DC will still be publishing a significant number of superhero comics — so let’s get to ‘em, shall we?
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YOU MIGHT HAVE HEARD THERE IS A GREEN LANTERN MOVIE
Seems like the last time DC did a multiple-issue “prequel series” to one of its big movies was 2006, with four lead-ins to Superman Returns. I liked Superman Returns, but those related comics weren’t too memorable. However, I do like the creative teams on these one-shots — Geoff Johns (a no-brainer for GL), Marc Guggenheim, Jerry Ordway, Joe Bennett, Karl Kerschl, Fernando Dagnino, and Cliff Richards, plus the screenwriters — so they may be more worthwhile.
Legal | A judge in Macomb County, Michigan, has reduced the bond for Michael George from $2.5 million to $500,000 following an appeals court ruling that that the retailer should get a new trial in the 1990 fatal shooting of his first wife. He has been in jail since his arrest in August 2007 after detectives reopened the 17-year-old cold case.
George was convicted of first-degree murder in March 2008 and sentenced in June 2008 to life in prison. However, the judge set aside the conviction less than three months later, citing prosecutorial misconduct and the release of new evidence that could lead the jury to believe another person was responsible for the murder. [Detroit Free Press]
Legal | Drew Combs digs for additional information about the unnamed lawyer who allegedly stole the documents that represent the basis for the Warner Bros. lawsuit against Mark Toberoff, the attorney representing the heirs of Jerry Siegel and the estate of Joe Shuster. [The AM Law Daily]