Peter Tomasi has a long history with Batman, and by extension the Joker – and he is getting his shot to celebrate that with a story in June 9’s Joker 80th Anniversary 100-Page Spectacular.
Working with long-time friend Simone Bianchi, Tomasi’s Joker 80th story “pushes the boundaries” to the writer – and he knows them well as not only the current Detective Comics writer, but also former Batman writer and former Batman Group Editor.
Tomasi spoke with Newsarama about this upcoming anthology and the Joker character himself, and DC has shared a first look at pages from Tomasi’s upcoming Detective Comics #1022 with artist Brad Walker.
Newsarama: Peter, are there any threads from your Detective Comics run in your Joker 80th Anniversary 100-Page Spectacular short or is it a completely standalone story?
Peter J. Tomasi: The Joker 80th Anniversary 100-Page Spectacular I wrote is a done-in-one story. No threads to my current Detective Comics run.
I think when you’re doing an eight-page story it’s best to create one that clearly defines the characters and keeps the narrative simple and straightforward for casual readers to lock onto and while still giving our longtime readers a helluva ride.
Nrama: How did you approach the story – what’s an element from the character you felt was needed to include?
Tomasi: First, I like to know who the artist I’m working with is. Happily, I was finally able to work with a longtime friend, Simone Bianchi, an amazing illustrator who I gave his first American gig to when I was the Batman Group Editor. Simone did the Shining Knight issues that were a part of the Seven Soldiers of Victory maxi-series written by Grant Morrison, then some Green Lantern work, followed by a slew of Detective Comics covers that were beautiful.
So, with Simone on board for this Joker 80th, and the fact that he hadn’t been in the Bat corner of the DCU for quite a while, I wanted him to have some fun with big and classic imagery from Batman and Joker’s past battles and give this specific story a zany and chaotic feel that he could really sink his teeth into. And the element that I like to embrace when writing the Joker is expect the unexpected. Always push the boundaries just a little.
Nrama: Why do you think it’s important that DC has been doing these 80th anniversary specials?
Tomasi: Touchstones to our publishing past is a great thing to do, especially when showing off how strong the original template is that storytellers of today can keep building on the creators’ foundation and add shadings that will deepen the character for those storytellers that follow.
These characters have had a long life, and these Specials plug into the current writers and artists own association and experiences with them, allowing for a wide breath of storytelling possibilities that illuminate different aspects of the character and their growth through the decades.
Nrama: We’ve seen many different versions of the character, what’s your favorite comic book iteration of the Joker?
Tomasi: I’d have to say the one in my wheelhouse is the Jim Aparo version. The Joker looked really creepy and scary to a 10-year-old Peter Tomasi, and the way Aparo drew the Joker’s rictus always seemed as if it really hurt having that perpetual smile on his face.
Nrama: Do you have a favorite Joker issue?
Tomasi: Too many various issues to judge because each has something special or crazy about the character even if it’s a small moment, be it an insane bit or a panel that evokes his unique brand of insanity, every issues that the Joker appears in usually has something to remember it by.
Nrama: The Joker has not only had a large presence in comics, but film and TV as well – what is your favorite TV/movie version and why?
Tomasi: I’d have to go with Heath Ledger. There was something so anarchic behind his eyes and body control that puts him above the others in my opinion.