The Sign of the Joker

The Clown Prince of Crime as a Sign

In: The Sign of the Joker: The Clown Prince of Crime as a Sign
Joel West University of Toronto Canada

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The Joker both fascinates and repels us. From his origin in Detective Comics in 1940, the Joker has committed obscene crimes, some of the worst the Batman universe has ever known. Conversely fans have made him the topic of erotic and pornographic “fan fiction.” Speculation about the Joker abounds; some fans have even claimed that the Joker is “queer coded.” This work explores various popular claims about the Joker, and delves into the history of comic books and of other popular media from a semiotic viewpoint to understand “The Clown Prince of Crime” in the contexts in which he existed to understand his evolution. From his roots as a “typical hoodlum,” The Joker even starred in his own eponymous comic book series and he was recently featured in a non-canonical movie. This work examines what it is about the Joker which fascinates us.

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