10/20/2008

Tim Sale's Joker

There's a pretty nice--and not all that expensive really--"collector's set" around that gives you the Loeb/Sale Long Halloween trade and the pretty well-done action figures of Batman and the Joker from the series. The figures gets a lot of details right, especially in terms of color, which is something that even as a little kid, I noticed how action figure re-creations of my comics characters always seemed to be off by a shade or two. Batman's wearing the weird-but-awesome booty shorts that Sale chose to give him and the wide body to thick neck to small, quizzical head to razor-thin, really long ears are perfect.

And looking at the set, it struck me just how out-there and strange Tim Sale's Joker seems to be. He's not even human-looking, especially standing next to the fairly close to real-life proportions of Batman. Joker's always been odd and the most kind of mutated-like of the non actually mutated Bat-villains, but Sale really took it far.

The piano-key teeth, the head that's at least three time the size of Batman's (Joker's teeth are the size of Batman's face!) and just way too big for Joker's own body in the first place, is both completely unrealistic and pitch-perfect for the murderous psycho of Long Halloween. Sale's Joker goes way beyond the exaggerated features we expect from the Joker and into some level where not only the character is absurd but his like physical body is too.

I especially love this series of panels where you really get to see just how fucking huge Joker's head is, his neck stretched out and super-thin and on the end, a head that no human body could ever support and then, an equally insane chin. In comics, especially when we intellectualize them, we inevitably stumble towards discussions of "symbols" and "physical representation" and Sale's Joker really challenges that or kind of justifies that awful intellectualization. There's just too much going on in his portrayal of this character for it to simply be "real" or even hyper-real or cartoony or anything that can be defined.

See, within a comic, the style's generally consistent and while there's a "Tim Sale" style about everything in Long Halloween, the Joker's stretched to the limits of that style and in many ways, becomes a sort of weird symbol of evil and absurdity and all that stuff. He looks how he acts; he looks how he's supposed to make us feel. Very few comics are "realistic" but the consistency to the style and all sort of gives us a sense that what's being represented is reality, but Sale's Joker doesn't even play by those pretty basic comic book rules.

6 comments:

andreas said...

meh, its still ugly.
my love for tim sale is sadly gone and i dont think its coming back.

brandon said...

andreas-
Ha, yeah its totally ugly. What turned you off on Sale, Heroes??

DocZeus said...

What I love about Tim Sale's Joker is that the fact that his expression on his face never changes. He's always flashing those ultra demonic teeth even when he's being punched or passed out. It's creepy beyond words.

The Long Halloween is my favorite Batman story of all-time.

andreas said...

brandon,
i cant say really.
i recently tried to re-read the batman story's and superman for all seasons.. and i dont know.
the magic i felt when buying them is gone.
i still think he does some nice pin- ups, but overall.. it feels a bit like getting new glasses and thinking "wuha, i married THAT?"

samuel rules said...

we just got this set in at work and it's really awesome, it kills the moore set, i just wanted to say.

Viagra said...

Is it possible to get this set anymore? I've always wanted a set of Batman-Joker but am too picky and most are just not that good, but this one looks pretty well and are very accurate with the Sale's comic