The Clown Prince of Crime.
Does the Joker need any introduction? I’m going to guess he’s the most famous comic book villain of all time.
I’ll just tell you a little about my version here.
With a nod to Conrad Veidt from The Man Who Laughs, whose look inspired the Joker, I think of the Joker as a handsome man whose only deformity is his bleached skin and green hair. Otherwise, it’s his violence and unpredictability that make him a monster. I updated his traditional jacket-with-tales and bolo tie with an ensemble which, while still old-fashioned, is sharp and tailored. The Joker’s a dandy.
I also left one shoe untied. Ultimately, the joke’s on him.
Created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby as an antagonist for Captain America, the Red Skull first appeared in CAPTAIN AMERICA #1 in 1941. His evolution was constant, with numerous details added and amended to his character and backstory over the years. Essentially he was a simple bellhop chosen by Hitler to become the ultimate Nazi ubermensch.
There have been efforts over the years to humanize the character, but for the most part, he is not so much a person as an ideal of pure evil. And on that level, coupled with his striking visual, he works.
This picture scared the living hell out of me as a child. (Art by Al Avison.)
Whether the Red Skull is masked or disfigured is controversial and changes from version to version (one Golden Age story suggested he was wearing an actual, painted human skull over his head… Somehow). Although drawn by many people over the years, once again I stuck with Jack Kirby as a guide. Kirby’s 1960s, Silver Age version of the character doesn’t particularly look like an actual human skull, it looks like what it is: a monster.
Quick reminder that today is FREE COMIC BOOK DAY at comic shops throughout the US (and maybe other countries, as well?), so go get some free comics!
And come back tomorrow for our next MIGHTY MARVEL MAY installment for a character who’s had a lot of ups and downs.