Monday, March 8, 2010

Killing the Killing Joke

I'm a huge fan of anything Alan Moore writes (I know, that's like saying you're a fan of the's kind of obvious), and even though I have DC Universe: The Stories of Alan Moore and it includes the 1988 Batman classic The Killing Joke, I was still enough of a sucker to make sure I got the 20th anniversary "deluxe" edition soon after it came out.  I finally got around to unwrapping the plastic cover and checking it out.  Artist and collaborator Brian Bolland completely recolored the story and there are a few extras included, but this story is, for the most part, The Killing Joke repackaged.

I will agree with popular sentiment (and Moore himself) that this isn't my favorite/the best story by Alan Moore, and it's probably not even the best Batman story I've ever read - though I couldn't tell you what is - but it's hard to argue that this story hasn't had its affect on Batman's supporting cast and perhaps the Joker's persona as a lunatic.  I will say that what continues to stand out to me regarding this story isn't contained in the fictional Batman/Joker tale - it's how much Brian Bolland always mentions how he dislikes the book.  It's like he can't stand it!

I'm not sure why this rubs me the wrong way as it does.  Certainly the man is welcome to his opinion, and as the visual talent behind the story, I'd say that his thoughts on the subject are worth more than mine, anyway.  But if the guy has had so many problems with the story, why does he keep coming back to write about it?  Every time I've heard him speak on the subject, he always talks about how the story was his idea - he asked Moore to write a Batman story featuring the Joker - but the end result wasn't really to his liking.  He'll mention the Batman/Joker laughing scene at the end (a funny joke, but admittedly a strange ending) doesn't sit well with him.  But I've never heard the man offer up his own thoughts on how he would have taken on the story.  The nature of collaboration - even collaboration with Alan "TerriBeard" Moore - is such that there are some disappointments along the way.

Brian Bolland is one of the best cover artists in the business, even more than 30 years in, but he's probably best known for The Killing Joke.  I hope that I don't have something I'm so disappointed in define my career, because from reading everything Bolland writes on the subject, it must be pretty awful.


Larry said...

"The nature of collaboration -- is such that there are some disappointments along the way."

I know all about the disappointments of collaboration.

Jeff said...