Month: October 2014

Bolland’s Killing Joke: Reworking One’s Own To Glory

The more you try to stay away from the DC, given the gory, the loud, the stereotype, the cliche and the sheer political incorrectness, the more DC lures you with its irresistible gory, loud, stereotype, cliche and SHEER political incorrectness. Who doesn’t like tidbits of barely implicit animated child-porn with morning tea!

We are all going straight to the hellhole of Arkham along with Alan Moore some day.


Batman The Killing Joke (1988) is arguably Moore’s best – surely one of his best in the Superhero series, specially for its ambiguous ending, where Batman starts laughing uncontrollably with Joker at the latter’s joke about two madmen escaping from an asylum; the city police patrol waits in apprehension with their bright headlights silhouetting the pair, as the reader’s eye gradually pans to the incessant raindrops falling at their feet. But it is a great book also for the Red-hood reconnection from the ’50s, one of the liveliest Bat vs. Joker fight scenes and the BDUMPs – the gates of the tunnel of madness closing one after another behind Commissioner Gordon, as they often do when you or I end up having a real bad day.


Does Batman finally kill Joker? Or the contrary? Or do they embrace in a passionate kiss (and a lot more) as The Hooded Utilitarian (don’t confuse him with the Hooded Justice or any of the other fictitious heroes) suggests! Although it is a matter of contemplation – if the Bat vs. Joker story indeed ends in the mood for love, what would the nature of that love be! A totally evil and insensitive guess would be Naturally Born Killers! Ouch.


However my point of interest here is not the story itself but the reworking of the pictures in the book by the artist Brian Bolland in the year 2008 for the republished deluxe edition. As a Batman-veteran, having read enough of him and having followed Christopher Nolan long enough, thus getting somewhat used to the rants of the enemies-till-death-duo (gays/two faces of the same being – sounds familiar?/just the superhero vs. the archvillain – which would be naive – unless you’ve already seen Unbreakable), the initial theme of the book seems less striking. What acts as a winning factor for this book is Bolland’s haunting version of the Joker – as Tim Sale says in the foreword of The Killing Joke: Brrrrrr. I just got chills.



ভিসির উপর রাগ করে…

ট্যারা গিন্নী ঘুরে এল শান্তিনিকেতন,
পুজোর ছুটিতে।
ট্যাঁকসঙ্গী ট্যারা বোস মর্নিং-ওয়াকে।
ঘুরেফিরে অবশেষে রবীন্দ্র ভবন
পৌঁছে দুটিতে
খুঁজে পেল স্বর্ণচাকতি আগাছার ফাঁকে ।

Two Books On Nude People



This year I attended a Comic Con for the first time, held at a venue close to a busy highway, next to a tech park, thus possibly losing bit of its bookish nature. But I overreact. Comics are not something restricted within the pages of books or magazines, not even the webpages. What was it that Scott McCloud  narrowed the definition of Comics down to in his pedagogical analysis? “Juxtaposed pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence, intended to convey information and/or to produce an aesthetic response of the viewer”. Such a juxtaposed pictorial story-telling has quite an increasing omnipresence in today’s world with the growing recognition of the power of images on human mind, thus transforming standard approaches in cognitive science, technology, politics, entertainment and economy, which are not at all unrelated fields. As it was evident from the various shops of clothes, food, bags, accessories and glittering advertisements at the fair. It is interesting to note that even at a conference of the Comics-people, there is an half-conscious effort, or at least an allowance to label and thus demean this immensely powerful medium to be either some sort of a demented child-lit – occupying the realm of the mindlessly absurd and the listlessly colourful, or the semi-pornographic sexualized world of the superheroes.

Not that any of it made this Comics fair a failure. What is an effort without a host of points that can be raised against it! Of course I bought plenty from those abominable shops of non-books and cursed myself loads. But there were a handful of shops that saved the day. One such was the Harper Collins stall, where I found the two graphic memoirs that I want to talk about here – both with lots of nudes in them – both thought-provoking and interesting precisely not because of the aforesaid reason.

The first book is world-famous (naturally I’m talking about a world where non-Comics-readers do not exist) for the issue it raises and represents in this format, and also for its honesty and its awesomeness – if you really ask me. I am talking about Comics-maker Chester Brown’s `Paying For It – A Comic-Strip Memoir About Being A John‘ –  complete with a mildly megalomaniac foreword by Robert Crumb, tactfully making relevant points in the intervals of being Crumb.


From – Paying For It

The other one – not so famous and not so awesome as a book of images, not even a Comics but a book of what the mass mind usually expects books to contain – words and illustrations, but raises equally interesting questions in the reader’s mind – Conversations In The Nude by Delhi-based journalist Mihir Srivastava. Nevertheless it is a book about drawings of people in intimacy (read nudity, though I am not convinced that these two are remotely equivalent) – which naturally draws a parallel to Brown’s book, which depicts his sexual interaction with various prostitutes of Toronto city.

From – Conversations In The Nude

Objectively and somewhat morally the questions that these two books generate have certain similarities. Buying the books from the same stall without noticing the likelihood at that moment, it was too much of a coincidence and thus too tempting to write a joint review of the pair. Trust me, both are worth paying for.