Date: 2010-07-28 03:02 am (UTC)
jlroberson: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jlroberson
Of course, the thing Gaiman always had wrong here was that the Joker ALWAYS killed people. He just took a break in the 50s and 60s. Hell, I just read a 40s story in which he did the killing-my-henchmen gag, and he's even MORE sadistic than the present day. If anything, his greater apparent insanity nowadays takes some of the edge off; in the 40s he enjoyed killing people a little TOO consciously, and wasn't crazy so much as incredibly cruel.

>>I think everyone who loves old comics sometimes feels this way

Well, not really, as the old comics were brutal except when the Code was in power. And besides, he's not talking about comics here. He's talking about the TV show. Look at the people he names.

And no, I'm not nostalgic for that.

Date: 2010-07-28 03:29 am (UTC)
ghosty732: Cinderella from Vertigo's Fables (Default)
From: [personal profile] ghosty732
I wish that characters like Egg Head would make their way into the comics somehow.

And I find myself personally more nostalgic towards The Animated Series, because that's what I grew up on. It was the perfect balance of dark and fun. I think that's why I'm often attracted to Paul Dini's Detective Comics work, because it almost read like the show in print.

Date: 2010-07-28 04:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
as the old comics were brutal except when the Code was in power.

That would be the 50s, 60s, 70s, and much of the 80s. That's a pretty big exception. Most people under the age of 70, when they think of old comics, will think of the Silver Age first.

And it's not as though all of the old comics in the 40s were brutal. Wonder Woman, Plastic Man, and Captain Marvel come to mind.

Date: 2010-07-28 04:24 am (UTC)
ext_442165: me, in a cartoony style. (Default)
From: [identity profile]
Egg head was in the comics version of Brave and the Bold.

Date: 2010-07-28 05:17 am (UTC)
jlroberson: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jlroberson
Actually, I mean when the code had absolute sway, which waned in the 70s drastically when the distributors lost the power that they had previously.

>>And it's not as though all of the old comics in the 40s were brutal.

True! But I wasn't talking about those. I was talking about ones with Batman and the Joker.

Date: 2010-07-28 05:19 am (UTC)
jlroberson: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jlroberson
As it happens, I just watched some of those for the first time in a while.

And IMO, they sucked even worse than they did when I saw them as a kid, which was barely 10 years after they'd been in prime time. Frank Gorshin aside, it was a bad, bad show, which is the nature of "campy." I don't like campy. Some do. I never have.

Date: 2010-07-28 05:20 am (UTC)
jlroberson: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jlroberson
>>And I find myself personally more nostalgic towards The Animated Series, because that's what I grew up on. It was the perfect balance of dark and fun

I would agree. As opposed to the Adam West show, which is a combination of "we can't be bothered" and "snicker snicker chortle BATMAN?"

Date: 2010-07-28 05:28 am (UTC)
jlroberson: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jlroberson
Not as soon as people think; it's just how they choose to reprint stuff that gives that impression. The story I was mentioning was from around 1943.

And I agree it reflected the Batman of that time, but I do not care for the Batman of that time, even when Grant Morrison tries to sell me on it. BTW, I'm not ignoring the Silver Age. I'm very familiar with it as my lifetime overlaps with it a bit. It's just that I don't LIKE the Silver Age, generally. I view it as a time when comics were lobotomized. The period between the last EC comic and the first underground is a sad one to me.

Date: 2010-07-28 05:33 am (UTC)
geoffsebesta: (Default)
From: [personal profile] geoffsebesta
Yeah, the shows are dynamite. Such fun.

Date: 2010-07-28 05:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The code had lost a lot of force by the end of the seventies, but even though The Joker wasn't Cesar Romero any more, he wasn't a homcidal maniac, either. He probably did kill on occasion, but not just for laughs.

Date: 2010-07-28 06:52 am (UTC)
jlroberson: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jlroberson
See: "Joker's Five-Way Revenge," probably his grandest Killin'-the-Henchmen routine. (though "the Clown at Midnight" comes close)

Date: 2010-07-28 07:03 am (UTC)
jlroberson: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jlroberson
I would agree regarding the Golden Age, if you leave out Quality, EC, Eisner, whomever Matt Baker(Fox?) worked for, and a number of others, basically everyone but DC. Except? Jerry Robinson on Batman.

I'm not even speaking of the quality of the stories, just saying that the Joker being a killer, and darkness in Batman, was its character for at least the first 5 years of existence. It was really post-war that it started slowly changing into an odd imitation of Superman.

I don't care for Infantino myself--not saying he's crap, but he's not my taste--but I see your point. I would, myself, go with Kirby and Ditko. DC was, apart from the occasional great thing like DOOM PATROL, a pretty stiff and moribund thing in the 60s compared to Marvel, and positively undead compared to the underground. It was not a place of artistic innovation at the time, though you had a lot of professional craftsmanship.(Nick Cardy for instance)

Partly because DC for a long time, notoriously, did not put its best artists on its best sellers.

Date: 2010-07-28 07:14 am (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
Don't worry Eddie, most of them show up in the "Brave and the Bold" cartoon and they are AWESOME!

Date: 2010-07-28 07:15 am (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
People will still be talking about that show long after crap like "Batman War Crimes" has been forgotten.


Date: 2010-07-28 07:21 am (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
Yeah, it was a good story, and the art was Garcia-Lopez so it looked stunning, but it had so little to do with King Tut that it seemed deeply pointless

Now THIS is the Batman episode I wanted to see, King Tut and Catwoman (Who Tut believes is Bast of course... with Victor Buono lavishing over the top compliments every other breath and Julie Newmar drinking them all in, and planning her doublecross)

Date: 2010-07-28 07:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Point taken. Still, from what I remember, he wasn't quite the maniac he is these days. Someone put it well here recently, that the only reason he can still get henchmen is that there are older criminals around who remember the way he used to be "he's not so bad, if you stay on his good side."

Date: 2010-07-28 08:03 am (UTC)
filkertom: (Default)
From: [personal profile] filkertom
I think a lot of that was due to the perception of where the market was. Stan Lee was very well aware that the young adult market was untapped, and he wrote to get their attention. Mort Weisinger, on the other hand, considered his primary customers to be the kids that had always been the base, which is why we had so many giant apes, dress-up Jimmy Olsen shticks, and a gurrrrl who kept trying to figure out Superman's big secret. It wasn't until Denny O'Neill and Neal Adams broke through with Green Lantern/Green Arrow that DC started to figure out what Lee had known for years.

Date: 2010-07-28 08:10 am (UTC)
skjam: Man in blue suit and fedora, wearing an eyeless mask emblazoned with the scales of justice (Default)
From: [personal profile] skjam
Which was in fact the first time Joker *had* killed anyone since the mid-forties, when he was executed for his crimes and had his slate cleaned. He naturally was revived, and went back to his criminal ways, but did not kill again for decades.

That was to solve the whole "Joker Immunity" problem that the writers noticed even then--if the Joker kills a bunch of people, Batman puts him away, the Joker gets out and kills people, Batman puts him away, wash rinse repeat, it makes Batman look stupid for not using a more...permanent solution.

So they did the "Joker pays for his crimes" story, and had it be a rule from then on that only one-shot gangsters and monsters would ever succeed at killing anyone in the Batman comics, and get punished at the end of the story.

Problem with *that*, of course, is that the Joker became essentially toothless. He's amusing but not actually a threat if everyone knows he can never follow through on threats of death. So when the Comics Code eased up, and the Batman comics could be grittier, "Five-Way Revenge."

But now we're back to the Joker Immunity problem, and I don't think today's readers will swallow the "he paid for those crimes and is back to being goofy fun!"

Date: 2010-07-28 12:00 pm (UTC)
wizardru: (Mummy)
From: [personal profile] wizardru
Yeah, let's not carried away, though. "Five-Way Revenge" was a landmark story...but the Joker was not a homicidal maniac in every appearance. And the Riddler's lament in Gaiman's story is about Joker not so much being a murderer as being a serial killing psychopath, as opposed to a a guy who looks like a clown and does themed crimes. Prior to the Killing Joke, the Joker was not randomly crippling and killing civilians. He killed tons of Red Shirt Henchman, sure. But crippling someone, taking pictures of them in agony and then using them to torture her father when he's stripped naked to a chair? Not so much. He tried to kill the Batman, no question (and succeeded, sort of, in 1977...but then, so did half of Batman's rogues gallery). But he rarely ventured off of the Ha-Hacienda (an actual lair he used) to murder randomly and for laughs.

Mind you, I don't disagree that he's overstating the case here, but keep in mind this was written as a reaction to the perception (unfortunately correct) of the grim direction comics were taking.

As a side-note: it IS interesting to peruse the covers of Batman in the 1970s. You can definitely see a tone change and a fairly morbid thematic development...but at the same time, you also see guys with eyes on their fingers, Batman threatened by a guy in a holiday sweater and lots of street-thug threats that no one would throw at Batman now, I guess.

Date: 2010-07-28 02:09 pm (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
The Joker killed people yes, but it was usually a limited, pre-defined set of targets (or the occasional henchman). The Joker didn't set out to go out on killing sprees, or attempt mass murder as a matter of course. He was usually out to outwit and confound Batman not rack up an obscene bodycount.

And if we assume that the Riddler above has wandered in from the TV series he has a point, that Joker never killed anyone, though not for lack of trying in the case of Batman and Robin.

Date: 2010-07-28 02:21 pm (UTC)
jlroberson: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jlroberson
>>Mind you, I don't disagree that he's overstating the case here, but keep in mind this was written as a reaction to the perception (unfortunately correct) of the grim direction comics were taking.

Which is funny coming from the Gaiman of 1990, when you remember what SANDMAN was like then. (Dr. Destiny, diner; Hector Hall)

Date: 2010-07-28 02:27 pm (UTC)
jlroberson: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jlroberson
And for a while DC controlled most distribution and limited Marvel's titles(which was why Marvel characters had to bunk up in the same books like STRANGE TALES).

Date: 2010-07-28 03:18 pm (UTC)
wizardru: Hellboy (Default)
From: [personal profile] wizardru
Point. I forgot all about that. The Serial Killer convention and all that...Sandman got really nasty at points. Sandman was never truly in the superhero genre in the same way, though. It kept most of the superhero stuff at arm's much so that folks forget it took place in the DCU proper (at least, at the start).

It's kind of different from the shift from Superman being made by Kobra to suck up tons of sand around Metropolis into a giant vacuum cleaner bag and Superman trying to find Perry White's adopted son or Maggie Sawyer's estranged child who's been kidnapped by a demonic child molester/murderer who ends up dead from impalement.

The tone was really starting to change. I think that was probably Gaiman's actual point. I'm not sure he was criticizing so much as noticing. That mainstream comics were moving away from their original audiences. I think that's both good and bad.

Date: 2010-07-28 09:41 pm (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
Problem with *that*, of course, is that the Joker became essentially toothless. He's amusing but not actually a threat if everyone knows he can never follow through on threats of death

Though as BTAS proved, you can still write an insanely creepy Joker without him killing you; Joker's Favour, what he did to Tim Drake in RotJ. etc.

Date: 2010-07-29 02:41 am (UTC)
jlroberson: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jlroberson
It would be more Gaiman's way to notice and observe, which would be best considering he was a participant at Ground Zero. He was a lot better once he stopped trying to be a gentler version of Alan Moore. But around then that was exactly what he was. Remember, just as one example, this is the guy that made Jed(from Kirby's SANDMAN) an abused, neglected child.(granted, this was already implied a little in the original, but I'm not judging, just stating a fact) And who made Hector Hall a joke. He was doing plenty of spitting upon "more innocent" times.

But then, I would argue that, at the time, DC at least was so moribund that it kind of needed that. What everyone forgets is that nobody wanted to buy the "innocent" DC anymore. Everyone was sick of it, because it had become static and boring and kids now had video games and cable as competition--not to mention the alternatives were getting very successful at that time and DC wanted some of that money. And Marvel? Marvel was taking lots of chances and had never put themselves in the trap of appealing primarily to little kids, so had the freedom to move that DC, full of old editors with no ideas left, did not, and so was kicking their asses; they had to compete. And did I mention Alan Moore and Frank Miller were very popular, and DESERVED to be?

It's easy to look back now and go tsk tsk, but back then it seemed just about the only way to start writing stories from a new angle.

Personally though, I think at the time Grant Morrison did a better critique of the darkening, especially in ANIMAL MAN.

By the way, bringing up Jurgens? Well, I wouldn't really consider him influential nor worth remembering, frankly. I mean, I wouldn't even KNOW about that story without S-D.

Another point: It was when he was doing DC characters that SANDMAN was at its darkest, and once he stopped, oddly it got a lot LIGHTER.

Date: 2010-07-29 04:08 am (UTC)
mr_neutron: Mr. Neutron (Default)
From: [personal profile] mr_neutron
I've never really bought this whiny, wussy Riddler, especially when he references the 60s show, since that brings up memories of Frank Gorshin's Riddler, and that version of the character was a stone-cold psychopath a good deal more crazy and dangerous than Romero's Joker, and it's clear that if he wasn't in a family show he'd plainly be homicidal.

Date: 2010-07-29 06:49 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
Done right, campy can be very entertaining. I can't really comment on 'Batman', never having really seen any of it myself, but there are examples of camp which also function perfectly well as straightforward entertainment - 'Danger: Diabolik', for instance. That's a GREAT movie, one of the best comic book adaptations ever made in a lot of people's opinion, beautiful cinematography, great directing - and, yes, campy as hell, but not in a 'golly gee whiz!' sort of way. It's difficult to explain, but I personally thought it was great.

Date: 2010-07-29 06:54 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
That was me, yeah. It's more of a theory than anything else, but glad you liked it.

Date: 2010-07-29 06:59 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
No, but you COULD have him go 'killing so much is becoming such a bore - I think I'll tone it down a bit for a while'. He could still kill, and be a credible threat, but he wouldn't have to knock off people at a rate of at least five per story, like he does now.

Date: 2010-07-29 07:04 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
Still, at least the character is in continuity now, and once characters are in continuity, elements of them can be added or dropped as necessary. It's not inconceivable that we could get a Buono-type Tut at some point, and in the meantime, at least we got a good story out of it.

Date: 2010-07-29 07:11 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
Each to their own, of course, but personally, I'm a big fan of the Golden Age. I think the main thing is that there was just so much stuff coming out at the time, and a lot of it was being rushed into production much much faster than in later years. So while, yes, there were certainly a fair amount of lousy writers and artists putting stuff out back then, there were also some really terrific ones, and a lot of wild and crazy stuff that is little-known today, but still out there. There's a sense of unrestrained possibility there, even in the sub-par stuff, that you just don't really see much of anymore.

Date: 2010-07-29 08:21 am (UTC)
jlroberson: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jlroberson
And they'll still be talking about two things called DARK KNIGHT long after that. Wait, they already do.

Date: 2010-07-29 08:22 am (UTC)
jlroberson: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jlroberson
Well, here, see for yourself.

There's a lot more but you can find it from those. Do not assume the rest is as good as the first half of the first ones.

I won't deny there's fun to them, but I also find them a lot more annoying than I did even when I was a kid. But I was born in 1969. When I saw the reruns, at the same time I'm reading Neal Adams and Jim Aparo Batman stories, and if not that, the earliest ones, a lot of Jerry Robinson and Jack Burnley that you'd see in those great tabloid reprints. These shows never stood a chance. My first Batman was obviously something a kid could read, because I did. But I liked the intense detective, not this fat buffoon and his boy without pants. I'm sorry, the costumes, they just look completely stupid. I couldn't even get further than that.(I had a similar reaction to the JSA on Smallville)

The best critique of the show and how it cynically used the appearance of "camp" and "pop" as a marketing tool for something they basically just weren't competent to make as something more straightforward action-adventure was in MAD's parody of the show, and in fact I have scans and may post some. "Camp" I mean here in the marketing sense, the same way crap was resold to us with the magic word "irony" throughout the 90s. Well--hipsters; and today.

An interesting point there: I had not before seen the first episodes, in which the Riddler sets Batman up in such a way as he can sue him. No, seriously, that's the first story, and I have to say, I liked it. But at first it's actually as serious as such a thing could have been. Gorshin's a riot, but his character needs that and Gorshin IS the Riddler like Ledger was the Joker. He's actually a little more dangerous-seeming than he is funny, exactly. (And he enjoys everything he says and does so much) In fact, he's the only one of the villains on the story who's actually scary. More than the Joker. I wonder if anyone else has pointed this out.

The show was going to be like you see it at the start. You'll see they even mention, twice, his PARENTS ARE DEAD! Which they never do again. The moment it turns to "camp" is the club scene. The Batusi, in the very first episode. The story goes that West in the costume made it impossible for them to do other than go "ironic."

Date: 2010-07-29 08:35 am (UTC)
jlroberson: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jlroberson
There's also an oft-reprinted Simonson story where he kills a henchman just for fun with that spear-gun "BANG" pistol, and is going to burn Robin, the Commissioner, Selina and Lucius alive. There's the Englehart/Rogers stories, usually called definitive, which has him going on a killing spree of exactly the sort he did when he started, the "I'm going to kill you at exactly 11:58, Walter Schmuckington, because I do not like your shoes" routine, always a classic, beginning with being unable to copyright his Joker-fish.There's a Haney/Aparo story where he gasses a restaurant of people basically to get Batman's attention. From "5-Way" on, he's overtly presented as mad. As a homicidal maniac. They say so, many times. He kills, arbitrarily and for fun, at least one person in almost every story after that he's in. I'm sorry, I have to disagree. I grew up reading those. I always knew the Joker as a homicidal maniac, just one that was a lot of fun to read.

The code didn't prevent that. It just prevented him from being unpunished, and before the 70s beginnings of its breakdown, too much gore. (the code really had no force after DC lost its chokehold on distribution; Charlton was everywhere and it wasn't under the code, and neither were JTC's gruesome color comics, which I know were at least on stands down south)The code didn't rule out VILLAINS killing. That's a misunderstanding.

Date: 2010-07-29 08:42 am (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
Come back to me in 40 years and see if that's still true. The TV series has been seen by a lot more people than have seen or read Dark Knight (Assuming those are what you were refering to). The TV series has never left high-level pop culture awareness since it's first broadcast, both Dark Knight media outings (enjoyable though they were, don't get me wrong)have a long way to go to come close to that.

Date: 2010-07-29 08:52 am (UTC)
jlroberson: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jlroberson
I mean the first Miller book, and a recent film you may have heard of that, I hear, did modestly well. ;)

Date: 2010-07-29 09:06 am (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
They did indeed, which is why I mention "Read or seen". :)

However, whilst the graphic novel is well known, it's not NEARLY as well known as the Batman TV series which has been shown all over the world consistently for over 40 years now.

And whilst the movie did very well indeed, again, movie audiences pale to insignificance compared to the sheer number of people across the globe who've seen Adam and Burt in the roles.

Date: 2010-07-29 12:55 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
Alas, I fear dial-up has sabotaged any possibilities of watching TV over the 'net - the shortest one of those clips would take me well over an hour to load. It's possible that we may be upgrading soon, so I'll keep those links in mind, but until and unless that happens? No es bueno.

Date: 2010-07-31 10:07 am (UTC)
jlroberson: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jlroberson
Of course, this is also Eddie talking to the media.

Then there's when they're not there:

Date: 2010-07-31 10:09 am (UTC)
jlroberson: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jlroberson
All you had to do was keep looking at his face. He wasn't cute. He was intense. Gorshin was one of the few on that show who seemed to really be working hard on a character, and it's why his take on the Riddler is the only lasting legacy from the show that carried through to the comics.


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