Emil Gustafsson Ryderup's unofficial remix of the upcoming animated Batman film, Batman: The Killing Joke on YouTube created a sensation last month. His intent was to incorporate colorist John Higgins effort on the original version of the film's source material: the 1988 graphic novel by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland. That version remained in print until 2008, when the hardcover anniversary edition was released. Artist Brian Bolland recolored the book with a more subdued color palette, eliminating Higgins' funky, psychedelic look.
Ryderup's trailer got positive feedback from viewers...possibly because it gives the film some visual oomph that's missing - it has the same, flat, generic anime look that's crept into all of DC Comics/Warner Home Video direct-to-dvd/Blu-ray releases since their Wonder Woman film. As of today, new images offered on Facebook seem to imply colors on the film were given a slight adjustment...or that could be photo-edit trickery. What remains is that it's faithful to the comic, with it's big draw being that the best actors ever cast as the voices of Batman and The Joker - Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill, respectively - are reprising there roles, along with Tara Strong as Barbara Gordon/Batgirl...
..yeah, Batgirl...time to address the elephant in the room..
The comic book is what it is - lean and mean. I'm not going to defend it; I don't believe it's the best Batman comic ever, or best Joker story - I prefer Mad Love. It is the best of the dark Batman stories..like Moore wanted to top Frank Miller by penning a true tale of Batman failing, at the height of his mental and physical power; even Miller's recent Dark Knight Returns: The Last Crusade couldn't show a Batman at his peak - The Killing Joke shows that. It also shows Batgirl crippled and - strongly implied - raped. Lean, mean and nasty, this book was. And polarizing. To say it's the "Greatest Batman story of all time" seems really oddly put. It's the most chilling. It's a pure horror comic starring Batman and the Joker. Maybe that's why Higgins' colors seemed apropos; it really was like a 50's horror comic.
It's been reported that additional scenes have been added to the film adaptation to give it a feature-length running time. Does this mean we'll get a "love conquers all"-style epilogue chronicling Barbara's recovery from her paralysis? Or how about a definitive bit of fan wish-fulfillment by revealing that Batman snapped the Joker's neck in the final moments - not just simply a breaking of the 4th wall? The book has it's answer; the film may offer another. We'll have to see.
Perhaps in two years - when the "30th Anniversary Edition" of The Killing Joke is published (and they WILL do this - it's THE best-selling graphic novel of all time...right now..at the moment), it will feature both
versions - either side-by-side or one following the other. It should also include "An Innocent Guy" - Bolland's unrelated short story that was published in the 20th Anniversary Edition - but also offer a version with John Higgins returning to add psychedelic coloring to that. Just for the completeness of it.
I hope that link works..if not, just pretend that's a popup add for free movie tickets or detergent or hamburgers..heh, heh, heh, heh, heh..