The Joker

By  Phil Perich for Before the Bat: The Gotham Podcast


I’ve already written about my thoughts on the Joker way back in the 2nd week of this blog, but I’ve never discussed his history, which has been coming up more and more (maybe) on Gotham.

The Joker was created by Bob Kane, Jerry Robinson, and Bill Finger.  Elements that inspired the idea of the Joker include actor Conrad Veidt as Gwynplaine (a man with a disfigured face), the 1928 film, The Man Who Laughs, and an image in Steeplechase Park at Coney Island.  The Joker first appeared in Batman #1 (1940).

The Joker was originally supposed to die in Batman #1 because Finger didn’t want Batman to appear useless or foolish, but he was saved in the end by an editorial decision to put an extra panel in the end of the story showing him survive a stabbing.  The Joker then went on to appear in 9 of the first 12 Batman issues.  It wasn’t until 1951 that the Joker got a partial origin in Detective Comics #168.


In the story, The Joker was portrayed as a thief that falls into a vat of chemicals that dye his skin and hair.  In 1954, with a more and more strict comics code taking effect, the murderous Joker was written more as a buffoonish clown.  The 1960’s saw less and less appearances of the Joker.  Then, after a 4 year disappearance, Writer Denny O’Neil and artist Neal Adams returned the Joker to his homicidal roots in Batman #251.

Thanks to his popularity in the 1970’s, The Joker became the first villain to star in his own comic book series.  “The Joker” lasted for 9 issues.

Besides the Detective Comics stories of the 1970’s, the 1980’s also defined the Joker for decades to come, such as Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns”, a tale set in a possible future, and “A Death In the Family” from Batman #426-429 (1988) in which the Joker murders the 2nd Robin, Jason Todd (He gets better years later). 

 The Joker has been famously portrayed on film by actors Jack Nicholson (1989) and Heath Ledger (2008).

Probably the best known animated Joker was voiced brilliantly and skillfully by actor Mark “Luke Skywalker” Hamill!

There have been several instances on the TV show Gotham of “Was that the Joker?”  The biggest to date was probably the appearance of the boy Jerome, played by actor Cameron Monaghan.

And there seems to be no stop to the Joker’s climb in popularity, with the Red Hood Gang on Gotham and Jared Leto set to portray the Joker in the upcoming Suicide Squad movie.  What’s your favorite Joker story, share with me and maybe I’ll share some on my Podcast Before the Bat: the Gotham Podcast.

Instagram: BeforetheBat_FlashArrowPod

Tumblr: BeforetheBat-FlashArrowPod


Until next week, be good. Remember, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA