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Secrets behind your favorite on-screen heroes!


Storyboards for DC’s 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


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, we’ve 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! magazine’s 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! magazine’s 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 We look forward to having you as a customer for years to come!


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: • Visit us on the Web at

By DRAW! Magazine Editor Mike Manley

John Jones, Slam Bradley TM & ©2008 DC Comics



have to say, most days, drawing comics is a pretty cool job, and it’s 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 work—it’s great crosstraining. Since the late ’90s, I’ve worked in animation doing storyboards, bringing to life the exploits of some of the same characters I drew in comics—only 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 didn’t 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 Jimmy’s 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 Cooke’s 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 he’s 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 Cooke’s 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 didn’t get a chance to storyboard a huge sequence on the DVD, I really enjoyed the part I did do and I’m 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: Batman’s model sheet design.


Top and Below: The model designs for Wonder Woman, Superman and Green Lantern.

Š2008 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 Manhunter’s natural form. Right: More storyboards. Here I really tried to push the acting, even though I didn’t have a voice track to listen to, to nuance the acting and catch the actor’s 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!. He’s 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 ABC’s 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 Cuckoo’s 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 we’re doing this interview, only the fifth episode of year two has aired and we’re working on episode 17. So the lead-time is pretty fantastic. The biggest change this year was Kring’s idea of incorporating the volumes into a season. So now the viewer isn’t waiting for 23 episodes to find out who killed Hiro’s 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 pod—which we are talking about now, is 19-24. More like arcs in comics that become trades. It’s 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 meetings—and that all got incorporated in a bible that is constantly being updated. The truth is that the folks at Heroes Wiki ( 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 show’s other writers) share that outlook and sense of purpose? Does it spill over to the actors? JL: Absolutely. It’s part of the job. Kring has an agenda to make a difference—both politically and environmentally— and we pepper that in very carefully to what we’re trying to accomplish. It makes for a kinder atmosphere—and 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, she’s 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: You’re 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 else—I 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. It’s an enormous responsibility—but 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. It’s 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, I’d argue that for most writers, the process in comics is very hands off. They don’t 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. It’s part of the reality of comics. But, it’s also why there are so many bad comics. Sorry, minor rant there. Television needs the writer’s room. Particularly at Heroes. It’s just such a group effort, I can’t 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?

Marvel’s 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. I’m the worst. Call Geoff Johns. He’s the only one I’ve ever met who can come to the office, sit down, say he’s 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: It’s 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 it’s 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 it’s fun. It doesn’t take nearly as long. It can’t—given how much money I make in TV and the responsibility there. But, I’m very, very lucky that [Publisher] Dan Buckley and [Editor-in-Chief] Joe Quesada at Marvel put up with my other career. It’s why putting me on a monthly book isn’t such a good idea, and why I work with guys who are so slow—it works in my favor. Now, with Hulk, we’re 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 (I’m talking about in comics here), yet get along well with just about all of them. What’s 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 I’ve done is when I don’t know the artists— fill-ins in particular which is why I won’t do them anymore. I believe in the talented people we’ve assembled. And I’m lucky to have Richard Starkings and Comicraft with me as my lettering and design team from the beginning—they 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 don’t 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 you’d like to try that you’ve never done? JL: There’s a novel in me somewhere... a play... but I’d really have to walk away from comics and movies and television to have that kind of commitment. Someday. I’m 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, Geoff’s got a movie, Allan is on Grey’s Anatomy and I’ve got Heroes, so we don’t see each other as much as we did. But, we’re still working to get Clea free from the Nameless Ones, don’t you worry! DF: You’ve 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... I’m not the person to ask about that. It’s 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. It’s never going to get better. The trick is making it less worse. DF: Anything else you’d like to say about Heroes or writing? JL: Just that I’m very lucky to have an audience for my stories. I’ve never taken that for granted. I love what I do—if I had to work in an office and hope someday that I got a window to look out... I’d 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 Lichtner’s work on Ultimates is astonishing. Ed McGuinness is killing on the Hulk, and when we get done with Ultimatum, well, it’ll be pretty wild what’s happened to the Ultimate Universe. I still can’t believe they’re going to let us to do it! So much fun! Over on the other side, I wrote the “fall finale” of Heroes, Episode 11—that ties it all up just before Christmas. It’s a total “you can’t do that on television” episode and I’m very proud of the work the team did and that Allan Arkush, the director, did on the show. It’s something folks will talk about for a while.

[©2008 Universal Studios. All rights reserved.]

JL: Well, that it’s not a graphic novel! I’ve tried to get this clarified, but the media just took off with it. It’s a collection of the stories that were done online. But they’ve been all digitally remastered by Aspen (Mike Turner’s company) and the book has covers by Jim Lee and Alex Ross. It’s like 400 pages long. I’ve seen an unbound copy and while I didn’t have a great deal to do with it, I’m really proud of the work. Aron Coleite and Joe Pokaski really ran that show—and with JG and Rich at Comicraft, Aspen, WildStorm, Nanci Quesada and Chuck Kim—it 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: It’s tied together from Day One. Tim and Jesse Alexander hatched it and we’ve 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 writer’s strike), it’s 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. It’s an enormous undertaking—everything 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

DF: I believe you share a writing studio with a couple of other writers. While it’s 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? It’s a treehouse. A magic clubhouse. It’s kind of like Doc Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum. You can’t really see it unless you’re “one of the few.” It’s 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 Marvel’s 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, that’s right. The X-Men screenplay Gerry Conway and I wrote in 1984 for what could’ve 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 was—by 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 Frazetta—and 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. Here’s an the Christopher Reeve Superman films, but early-’80s poster by Mr. A. of the “New X-Men.” before Tim Burton took on Batman—and in [©2008 Marvel Characters, Inc.] an era when Marvel had had zero success in waves, destruction—and the birth of a new island. getting any of its properties transmuted to the big Meanwhile, as Prof. Charles Xavier (who is not wheelscreen—we thought you might enjoy listening in on chair-bound in this film) is being interviewed on TV about Gerry’s 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 mutants—when 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



Here we’ve 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 Olshevsky’s 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 father—whose jaws open shark-like to close over the young man’s 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 states—as 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 Xavier’s 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 film’s 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 Stonewell’s 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 combat—till 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 fire—long 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 Wolverine—will 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 didn’t 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 we’d hoped. [mutual laughter] THOMAS: But at least we got paid... something. [mutual laughter] Do you recall if Michael Hirsh’s company was already called Nelvana by that time? CONWAY: Yeah, I’m pretty sure it was. He had that animation company up in Canada. THOMAS: I had heard of him because he’d 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 partner’s house—the 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 don’t have photos, so I don’t 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 they’d 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 weren’t the first people to try writing that X-Men movie for them? Well, if not the first choice—the last choice, anyway. James Marsden as Scott Summers/Cyclops and Hugh Jackman as Logan/Wolverine, in scenes from X-Men 2—or did they mostly just call that one X2? We haven’t 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 would’ve 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] didn’t make the movie based on our script instead of the 18th draft written by Stanley Mann—and we couldn’t answer them, because we very much agreed with them. CONWAY: Even Arnold [Schwarzenegger] asked us that.

CONWAY: Yeah, it is. I don’t recall what the reasoning was—if there was, in fact, any reasoning. It might have been that the producers felt “mutant” had negative connotations, that they didn’t want to associate it with their super-heroes, so that’s possible. But I don’t 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 can’t imagine was our idea is the notion that Xavier is not wheelchair-bound. CONWAY: Yeah, I don’t think that was ours.

THOMAS: Right. I remember him saying, “I liked your script da best!” at the party at Dino’s gourmet fastfood restaurant in Beverly Hills. Well, Arnold was a politician, even then. [laughs] CONWAY: He was that.

THOMAS: Maybe they decided a wheelchair was—I don’t know—unglamorous. 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 I’m not too familiar. And Orion sank—maybe not without a trace, but it sank soon thereafter. Was that given as the problem, or was it just they didn’t 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 couldn’t finance a film as expensive as this one would have been.

THOMAS: Dino did the same thing on Conan, as you know. He didn’t 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 cabaña 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 weren’t even American animators. [mutual laughter]

THOMAS: I hadn’t 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 don’t read like the approach we’d 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] It’s 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 don’t recall all the fights. They’re 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 wasn’t 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. I’ve 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” doesn’t appear anywhere in the script. “Mutie” is used once, but it’s almost as if we were avoiding the word “mutant,” and I don’t 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.]


Okay, so it’s a crude joke. But Gerry and Roy still love the scene of Carmilla (who was named after Sheridan le Fanu’s 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 Glidden’s 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, I’ve had the compulsion to save every three or four minutes. THOMAS: I don’t 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 didn’t want to talk about it, and that’s his right. Along with the two drafts of the screenplay, I ran across a copy of our outline, written in January ’84. It’s very detailed—116 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 didn’t add that much, and we didn’t want to get into the whole Phoenix thing. CONWAY: Right. Or had Phoenix even been done at that time? THOMAS: I’m not even sure, without checking. This was 1984. The date is on the screenplays, or I wouldn’t have been sure about that. Mostly, we used the new X-Men, including Cyclops. I don’t think we ever really considered using The Angel or The Beast or Iceman. CONWAY: No, I don’t 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 wheelchair—so 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 must’ve 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 let’s put a Japanese person in. THOMAS: But they didn’t want Sunfire, who was already around. CONWAY: I don’t know what the deal was, but [the female Japanese mutant] was certainly in response to that. You know, I think it’s safe to say that if there’s anything in the script that is a false note, [Roy laughs] it wasn’t you and I. THOMAS: Maybe we did a few questionable things on our own—but if there’s something in there that seems so really off that you think, “How could anybody who ever wrote The X-Men do this?” it’s 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 wouldn’t 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 notice—let 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, wasn’t it? Because you usually started our screenplays… you’d 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 wouldn’t have gravitated, say, toward Magneto as the movies did a few years ago? CONWAY: Again, it may be related to why the word “mutant” doesn’t appear in the script. Magneto’s big thing was The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, you know. [laughs] And, if I remember rightly in terms of the new X-Men, he wasn’t 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 shark’s. 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 wanted—again, 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 Xavier’s 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 wife’s name]. Let’s 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 Sunfire—even if the Japanese mutant had with the producers. I remember we put in a line been temporarily co-opted by the N’Garai. Repro’d from a photocopy that was used humorously when Xavier hypnoof the original Karl Waller art, with Roy’s 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 Glidden’s 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 don’t get the love and then you don’t get the money, either. [mutual laughter] THOMAS: I guess that’s why they do pay decent money to writers, to some extent. I mean, to you and me—well, okay, so we wrote that script for a “lousy” $40,000. There are people who’d 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 Lucifer’s 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, there’s this surfer who ends up surfing— and I always loved this and I always wished that, of all the meteor movies, they had made Lucifer’s 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 it’s like the best ride of his life!

THOMAS: Sure! Because, hey—we were writing for half our rate! [mutual laughter] CONWAY: Yeah. They didn’t respect us because we didn’t hold out for our price. THOMAS: I think the stuff about the financial deal and all of it—I think that’s 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 you’re going to do it for love, you want to get love out of it, you know? But we didn’t 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 it’s something they’d 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. It’s funny, I remember it as not being real pleasant—I just don’t remember the unpleasantness as vividly as you do. We’d 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 you’d like to add? CONWAY: Well, I remember that we signed on to do one draft, our first draft—remember, 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 we’d only do it if all we had to do was a first draft—no 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. There’s 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 Lee’s 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 that’s just us. [laughs] It’s like the old joke about the screenwriter who tells a producer: “I’ll write the movie for free… but I want $5000 a meeting.” He’d come out way ahead! CONWAY: Yeah, it’s 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. He’s 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. Here’s 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 2007’s Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. [©2008 Marvel Characters, Inc.]


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 & Š2008 RubySpears. Hulk TM & Š2008 Marvel Characters, Inc.]


Above: Jack got to use his penchant for science-fiction during his newspaper strip adaptation of Disney’s 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.]



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 magazine’s 50th issue, which was produced as a book for the anniversary, is entitled Kirby Five-Oh!, and documents the Best Of Everything from Kirby’s 50-year career in comics; it’s now shipping.

Support the Jack Kirby Museum: 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 America’s most popular new Latin lover Cesar Romero (left) hopped from the big screen to the television series. boob tube on ABC-TV’s Batman Through the (1966–1968). 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 he’d 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 anyone’s favorite villain on the show? Weren’t Frank Gorshin’s giggling Riddler and Burgess Meredith’s 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 wasn’t 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 taken—a locked room, or a police guard—the Joker’s

prophecy comes true, and the victim, poisoned, falls dead, his features paralyzed in a ghastly grin that imitates the Joker’s own. The man who originated the idea for the Joker was Jerry Robinson, who was then Bob Kane’s 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 Joker’s 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 Joker’s 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 Joker’s Happy Victims,” (above right) a miniature Batman comic produced in 1966 and distributed as a giveaway inside Kellogg’s 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 O’Neil 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 Batman’s 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 Batman’s 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 JOKER’S FIVE-WAY REVENGE” The story that set the Joker on his new path was “The Joker’s Five-Way Revenge,” in Batman #251 (Sept. 1973), and written and drawn by the now legendary team of Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams. “Five-Way Revenge” has a plot somewhat reminiscent of Finger’s 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 did—this Joker wasn’t just playing games anymore. The Joker’s 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. Who’s laughing now? After over 30 years, Denny O’Neil understandably does not recall exactly how the decision to do the story that became “Five-Way Revenge” came about. “I wasn’t taking notes. I was just working week to week. In those days we didn’t even have contracts or steady assignments. I would go in on a Thursday, stick my head in Julie’s 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 O’Neil suggest it to him? “Lord knows,” O’Neil 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, O’Neil 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 wouldn’t 24

want to do the Joker and TwoFace, they’re 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, I’m 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 don’t consider him a cartoon even though he acts like a cartoon, and I’d love to do a more serious, more deadly Joker.’ Once I said that, Denny and Julie were off and doing the Joker.” O’Neil 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,” O’Neil says. “Probably out of my head. I don’t remember Julie having much to do with it, though I wouldn’t say he didn’t. We worked so closely in those days. Neither of us thought that people would be The O’Neil/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 O’Neil 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? That’s not much of a dramatic to go back and try to look at the essence of it and see situation because there’s 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 isn’t 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 didn’t quite get the violent Joker,” Adams says. “So,” O’Neil says, evoking his thought process, “My suspicion is that Denny went back to the original “the Joker—clowns—people are frightened of clowns— source and picked that up, and that was a surprise to trickster—irrationality. Though I wasn’t 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 O’Neil agrees, at least is true of sinister versions of beginning,’ and my feeling was, ‘Y’know, we’ve come to the trickster archetype, as opposed to more positive and a new time, we’re out of the ’50s, we can be a little bit comedic ones like Bugs Bunny.) braver, let’s go for it, let’s go for the gusto.’” O’Neil 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 DC’s 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 don’t I take my memory of the Joker and my referFinger’s 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, Gwynplaine’s 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 can’t wipe that smile off his face. One of the things that bothers me about many, many artists’ renditions of the Joker—and I’m talking about good artists—is they have the Joker frown. Well, he can’t frown. According to the rules as I understand them, he can’t wipe that smile off his face so he can’t frown. “It would just be real cool to have a smiling Joker no matter what emotion he’s expressing—anger or sadness or pathos,” Adams asserts. “To have that smile on his face to me is what the Joker is all about. I’d like to see that more. I think that is almost key to the character. If you don’t have to have a smile on your face, you can put makeup on it, you can color your hair another color. You’re not really so terrible. But if you can’t stop smiling, that’s terrible.” Denny O’Neil 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 them—those things are firmly in my brain as being a wonderful thing. If they hadn’t done such a good job… I don’t 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 Batman’s “essence,” Englehart set about doing his research. Back then there were no archive editions of Golden Age stories, but he learned about DC’s 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 O’Neil 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 Finger’s 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, that’s 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, that’s 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. Finger’s Joker and O’Neil’s 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 didn’t do then. Whether they couldn’t or didn’t think of it, I don’t know. “And how exactly I figured out some completely insane plot about laughing fish, that’s 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 Finger’s 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 fantastical—starting an underworld newspaper, devising his own utility belt—had rational purposes and a certain logic. The O’Neil-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 O’Neil 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 Batman’s history, the “definitive Batman” that summed up the first nearly forty years of the character’s 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 one’s 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 Finger’s 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 Englehart’s 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 “That’s the essence of what I thought the Joker ought to gone back to the essence do,” says Englehart; “He’s not rational.” In those same of what the Batman was issues, at one point, one of the Joker’s 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. Englehart’s 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 Englehart’s 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 didn’t 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 1978’s Detective #475. miniseries Villains United). “Then that Courtesy of Ken Danker ( ©2008 DC Comics.


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 that’s 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 Joker’s 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. “I’m thinking back to other stories that impressed me as a kid,” Rogers mused, “and he wasn’t 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 Joker’s 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 don’t 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 wasn’t needed, because many people have mentioned that they see a similarity between me and the Joker.” Impressed with Englehart’s 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 Batman’s perfect counterpoint. And it never seemed to come to any fruition in the earlier stories that I had read.” Rogers agrees with Englehart’s basic conceptions of both the Batman and the With one word. . . Joker. “I do see a new light is cast upon the Joker’s 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 Steve’s work in our job. I consider the Joker to be the one who tries to make the Batman’s world go crazy. They each have an objective that clashes, is the best way I can put it.” Englehart’s vision of the Batman and the Joker made it possible for Rogers to realize his own conceptions of the characters. Rogers said that Englehart’s Joker’s “character was based in his motivation, and I just visualized that motivation for the reader. But if the motivation hadn’t been there, the character wouldn’t have been the same.” BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS The most influential Batman story of the last twenty-five years is surely Frank Miller’s 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 Joker’s 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 Joker’s 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 Miller’s Joker, Denny O’Neil, who edited The Dark Knight Returns, says, “Batman and the Joker at this point are classic characters. I’ve seen maybe ten productions of Hamlet in my life. Richard Burton’s was real different from Mel Gibson’s, which was real different from Laurence Olivier’s. After a while, it becomes a matter of interpretation. There’s no right way to do it. There is only the way that works here and now for this project. So I think that Frank’s interpretation of the Joker is perfectly valid—it’s Frank’s interpretation. He certainly did it well.” O’Neil also points out that The Dark Knight Returns and its version of the Joker are not in DC’s continuity. O’Neil interprets the Joker quite differently. “There’s a lot of reasons why I wouldn’t make the Joker gay, and one of them is to not play into that old stereotype of the villainous homosexual. But paramount is that that’s 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 Joker’s 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,” O’Neil says, “but I really can’t see the

©2008 DC Comics.


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 he’d 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 he’d had a falling

BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE Probably the most disturbing tale in the Joker’s 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. I’d 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, Camelot’s editor, who pitched the idea to DC, and eventually Denny O’Neil became the project’s 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. “He’s a great writer and I didn’t feel it was my place to interfere in his work any more than I’d 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 Gordon’s ©2008 DC Comics.


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 he’d really got into the brain of the Joker.” The Joker’s brand of voyeurism inspired The Killing Joke’s memorable cover, showing him aiming his camera out towards the viewer. “When I do covers I’m less interested in design and composition and more interested in the significance of what you’re 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 it’s not until you read the story that the full impact of what it signifies hits you and you’re thrown into the role of the victim. “As for the look of the Joker’s 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 may—or may not—be 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 Joker’s 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. “I’d 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:

“I’d recently seen [director David Lynch’s 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 I’d been the writer I wouldn’t have done the Joker’s 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 Bolland’s reputation as a comics artist. On the one hand you have the cold, rigid figure of what’s 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 Joker’s 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 story’s true, and the Joker says, ‘Ah, that old chestnut! The truth is, I was stolen by gypsies’—that being the origin of The Man Who Laughs—or 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 Batman’s life and the Joker’s. In each man’s case, just one bad day was enough to radically alter the course of his life: In Batman’s case it was the shooting of his parents, while in the Joker’s 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. “I’m 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. There’s a closeness between the two men, a bond that’s 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 Batman’s 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 Joker’s history. (For the complete version of this article, check out Back Issue #3, available at 30

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(120-page TPB with COLOR) $14.95

(120-page TPB with COLOR) $14.95

(120-page TPB with COLOR) $14.95


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 demonstrations on drawing on the computer, figure drawing, inking, animation, web comics, and more!

Compiles material from issues #3 and #4 of DRAW!, including tutorials by, and interviews with top pros on penciling, inking, drawing the figure in action, figure composition, digital coloring, and more!

(200-page trade paperback) $21.95

(156-page trade paperback) $17.95



DANNY FINGEROTH & MIKE MANLEY show step-bystep how to develop a new comic, from script and roughs to pencils, inks, colors, lettering, printing and distribution. The finished color comic is even included!

DANNY FINGEROTH and MIKE MANLEY show you how a new character evolves from scratch, as a story is created from concepts and roughs to pencils, inks, and coloring—even lettering!

(108-page trade paperback) $13.95

(120-minute DVD) $29.95


COMICS ABOVE GROUND Comics pros discuss their inspirations and training, and how they use their skills to make a living outside comics, including Video Game Development, Children’s Books, Novels, Design, Illustration, Fine Art, Storyboards, Animation, Movies and more! (168-page trade paperback) $19.95

First volume of our new book series spotlighting indy comics talent with an outside-the-box approach, combining original photography, multiple art gallery sections, and an introspective dialogue with each subject—all on deluxe glossy stock to maximize the impact of the imagery. Volume One features Peter Bagge, whose work runs from political (his strips for, to absurdist and satirical (the Batboy strip for Weekly World News), and dramatic (Apocalypse Nerd). From his Seattle studio, Bagge lets us in on everything from what was on his mind with his long-running Gen X comic Hate!, to what’s going on in his head as a political satirist. (128-page trade paperback) $16.95

PANEL DISCUSSIONS Art professor DURWIN TALON gets top creators to discuss all aspects of the DESIGN of comics, from panel and page layout, to use of color and lettering to create effective, innovative comics! (208-page trade paperback) $24.95

WORKING METHODS Three short scripts are interpreted by several professional comic creators, who detail their storytelling and creative processes to “see” and “solve” the problem of making a script succeed in comic form. (176-page trade paperback) $21.95




An unprecedented look at the company that sold comics in the millions, and their celebrity artists!

Documents the Scarlet Speedster’s incarnations from the 1940s to today, including a look at his rogue’s gallery, and the 1990s Flash TV show!

(280-page trade paperback) $34.95

(168-page trade paperback) $19.95




Unlocks the secrets of Superman’s Silver and Bronze Ages, when kryptonite came in multiple colors and super-pets flew the skies!


CELEBRATING UK COMICS ARTISTS A celebration of the rich history of British Comics Artists and their influence on the US! (204-page trade paperback) $21.95

ALL- STAR COMPANION Roy Thomas’ extensive volumes unlock secrets of the JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA and ALL-STAR COMICS from 1940 through the 1980s!

(240-page trade paperback) $24.95

Critiques and lovingly recalls the classic DC Comics science-fiction series of the 1960s! (144-page trade paperback) $19.95




Comprehensive history celebrating the NEW TEEN TITANS from their Silver Age beginnings, through their 1980s resurgence and more!

Examines the Silver Age JLA, tracing its development, history, imitators, and early fandom through vintage and all-new interviews with the series’ creators!

The definitive history of one of the longest-lived characters in comics, dating back to 1939! Presents his history through Charlton and DC Comics.

(224-page trade paperback) $24.95

(224-page trade paperback) $24.95

(128-page trade paperback) $16.95

(240-page trade paperback) $26.95






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


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 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

TwoMorrows Publishing. Celebrating The Art & History Of Comics. SAVE WHE % OR N YOU ONLDER INE!


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2008 Interactive Catalog

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Comics Go Hollywood  
Comics Go Hollywood  

COMICS GO HOLLYWOOD unveils secrets behind your favorite on-screen heroes! Our regular magazine editors have assembled this special 32-page...