The current comic book series The Joker by James Tynion IV and Guillem March is not the first time The Joker took the lead in a comic book of his own. But when he first did it, back in 1975, it was a true innovation – a lead book starring the bad guy? It had never been done. And the cover of the first issue by Dick Giordano is currently up for auction from Heritage Auctions.
It only ran for nine issues between May 1975 and September 1976, but it had a tenth previously unpublished issue released in October 2019 as part of DC’s Infinite Frontier relaunch following Dark Nights: Death Metal’s conclusion. After all everything happened and everything mattered now. Dennis O’Neil, who wrote the first issue of the series, recounted that “I stopped by Julie [Schwartz, Batman editor]’s office, and he said, ‘We’re going to do a Joker book’. I know that alarms went off, I could sense the problems that such a thing would entail …but it was a job”. The series was launched in May 1975 by O’Neil and artist Irv Novick. In order to have him work as a protagonist, writers on the series toned down the Joker’s insanity and to adhere to the Comics Code Authority, each issue would end with the Joker being apprehended, only to have escaped at the beginning of the next issue (the exceptions were issue #4, where the Joker seemingly falls to his death in a whirlpool in the ocean, only to return in the next issue as if nothing had happened and with no explanation as to how he survived; issue #5, which ends with the Joker being chased by police; issue #8, where the Joker returns to Arkham Asylum voluntarily; and issue #10, which ended on a cliffhanger that was never continued). Batman did not appear in the series and the Joker was forbidden to murder anyone in the pages of his own magazine.
Bids on the cover are currently at $16,500 at time of writing and it will go under the hammer between the 18th and 21st of November.
Dick Giordano The Joker #1 Cover Original Art (DC, 1975). This marked the first time that DC gave a villain his own regular comic! This spectacular cover features the main five of Batman’s own rogues’ gallery… the Joker, the Penguin, the Riddler, Catwoman, and Two-Face. Created in ink over graphite on Bristol board with an image area of 10″ x 15″. There is whiteout art correction and clean-up on the art (notably in Riddler’s receding hairline), and there is a minor bit of scoring on the board near the Joker for a moved word balloon. The piece is matted with a copy of the published comic and glass front framed to 27″ x 24″. Lightly toned and in Very Good condition.