Batman's foe has cropped up in thousands of comics, numerous animated series, and three major blockbuster feature films since 1966. Actually, the Joker debuted in DC comics Batman 1 (1940) as the typical gangster, but the character evolved steadily into one of the most ominous in the history of sequential art. Batman and the Joker almost seemed to define each other as opposites, hero and nemesis, in a kind of psychological duality. Scholars from a wide array of disciplines look at the Joker through the lens of feature films, video games, comics, politics, magic and mysticism, psychology, animation, television, performance studies, and philosophy. As the first volume that examines the Joker as complex cultural and cross-media phenomenon, this collection adds to our understanding of the role comic book and cinematic villains play in the world and the ways various media affect their interpretation. Connecting the Clown Prince of Crime to bodies of thought as divergent as Karl Marx and Friedrich Nietzsche, contributors demonstrate the frightening ways in which we get the monsters we need.
Appealing to Grateful Dead scholars, fans, and collectors alike, these twenty-two essays are grouped by subject, and each essay includes a bibliography of resources for further research.