The Joker: A Serious Study of the Clown Prince of Crime

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Robert Weiner has either authored or co-edited close to a dozen academic text examining comic books and popular culture. What is going on with that? Robert Weiner: Well, for one thing I never get a chance to see Batman in action because I am off doing one project or another, teaching classes, or working on library stuff. I just never have sought him out.

Ha ha! Robert Moses Peaslee: That self-deprecating nature is how he maintains his disguise. Specifically, what type of academic insights do you think a study of Joker can provide? Weiner: Well, the Joker is perhaps the most well-known and loved super-villain of all time. I had the idea for the book 8 years ago. There is so much on Batman, I thought it was time to give his main nemesis a chance to be a part of the academic conversation in book form. The Joker is such a rich character and like Batman he has changed with each decade, and yet he remains the same.

At the core of the character the Joker is a wildcard. It took Dr. Peaslee and myself 4 years to put the manuscript together and get it published with University of Mississippi Press. Peaslee: Yes, a long, strange trip. The thing I love most about the book is that it shows just how much interdisciplinary diversity there can be in thinking deeply about the Joker. You can come at him from so many angles, and yet no one point of view can possibly pin him down.

Additionally, go to any comic book related event and there is always a sea of people dressed as the Joker. Why has this become the character that so many want to dress up as? Peaslee: As someone who has cosplayed the Joker, I can tell you that there is something deeply satisfying about it.


He is unbound by law, custom, or convention. Why do you think Harley Quinn has been such a successful character when other female counterparts to established heroes and villains never do as well? Weiner: We sometimes see stories where Harley gets over the hold the Joker has her. No matter how Batman tries to rehabilitate Harley, it is not going to happen. Like the Joker, she is cool. With that being said Harley and the Joker are forever going to be associated. Marvel being one high-profile example. We still have a long way to go, but at least there are some strides being made. Which interpretations of the character do you two think will stand the test of time?

How The Joker attracted the best actors of their generations | The Independent

Weiner: Well, certainly the Mark Hamill version is one of the best loved, and rightly so. That version of the Joker will always stand the test of time, as will the Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger versions.

I personally like Caesar Romero too, and I think his quirky version has a place. This item is not in stock. If you use the "Add to want list" tab to add this issue to your want list, we will email you when it becomes available.

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Along with Batman, Spider-Man, and Superman, the Joker stands out as one of the most recognizable comics characters in popular culture. This is the first academic work to provide a comprehensive study of this villain, illustrating why the Joker appears so relevant to audiences today. The Joker debuted in Batman 1 as the typical gangster, but the character evolved steadily into one of the most ominous in the history of sequential art. 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.

The Joker: A Serious Study of the Clown Prince of Crime

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The Joker: A Q&A Panel Discussion on the Clown Prince of Crime

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