It’s been a rough week for the Batman world. First, there was the awful massacre in Paris, and now comes the bombshell that perhaps Batman isn’t as French as we thought. Reports suggest that the Dark Knight may not have always been an independent entity. Instead, he may have been inspired by a legendary French detective.
Where Did The Design Come From?
The Dark Knight was originally created by Bob Kane in 1941. He based the character on his friend, an eccentric millionaire named Jacques Ducornet. But it was really a tragic story. While patrolling Paris in his black sedan, one night in 1944, Ducornet was involved in a traffic accident. A young woman was killed. He spent the night in the hospital thinking about the incident. When he got out, he set up a detective agency with a partner. They started working together, and the rest is history.
Kane had originally created the character to provide a comic relief moment or two in his scripts. But it wasn’t long before viewers wanted more. This led to the Batman radio show that premiered in 1943 and continued until 1967. During this time, Batman became famous for his crime-fighting techniques and eccentric personalities. This made him the perfect inspiration for the burgeoning teen counterculture in the 1960s.
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In the decades since Dukeornet and Kane’s tragic creation, the Batman universe has expanded considerably. There are now multiple books, television shows, and even a ride at Universal Studios. But none of this would have been possible without the tireless efforts of Batman’s primary champions: Bob Kane and Frank Leslie. We should all be very proud of them.
Kane was the first to admit he wasn’t a great artist. But what he lacked in skill, he more than made up for in integrity. He refused to show the character’s face until late in his career. Once he did, it wasn’t his own. He credited his work on Batman to Leslie. Frank Leslie was actually the first to apply for a comic book copyright, which he did in 1940. At the time, he was the art director for a newspaper called The Herald. In fact, he was so against copyright laws that he used his position to fight for the right for creators to be paid. He created many of Batman’s iconic looks, including the “Batsuit” and the “Robin Hood” outfit. He was also the first to apply for a patent on the bat symbol. He got it in 1942 and it wasn’t registered until late 1945.
Leslie was born in 1881, which makes him the same year as William Shakespeare. He was a prominent French-American artist who worked for the New York Globe. Before he began designing for comics, he worked for the French government designing WWI memorials. He was also an accomplished illustrator and won the prestigious Silver Key for magazine illustration in 1929.
The designers of Batman truly were a great team, and we should all be very proud of them. After World War II, the demand for Batman comics soared. Even the great Bill Finger, who co-created the character, acknowledged that Batman was the product of a team effort. When asked about his involvement in the character, he replied, “I just drew the funny things that happened.”
A French Connection?
Rumors have been swirling for years that Detective Alfred Hitchcock was the real inspiration behind the creation of the character of Alfred in the Batman series. Alfred was modeled after Hitchcock, and they even share the same last name. The filmmaker died in 1980, which means he would have been a contemporary of Bob Kane. It seems likely that the two would have crossed paths at some point.
When he wasn’t busy fighting crime, Alfred used to frequent the Cafe Reggio, a regular haunt of Kane’s where they would exchange ideas. It was at the Cafe Reggio that Alfred first showed Kane his designs for the “Batsuit,” which is when the detective’s vision took over and he started designing his own outfits. It appears that one of these outfits would inspire the iconic Batsuit we know so well.
Kane originally designed the Batsuit to imitate the exact style of the French detective. While at the cafe, he asked Alfred for his opinion on the design. The suit was completed a few days later, and it would go on to become one of the most emblematic outfits in superhero history.
What About The Joker?
Another popular conspiracy theory surrounding the Batman universe suggests that the Joker was the true inspiration for Batman’s fight against crime. According to this theory, the Joker and Batman were actually two halves of the same person. This person, named James Josephbach, committed suicide in 1971. But his death did not stop the rumor mill from running wild. While some believed that the Joker and Batman were father and son, others guessed that they were twins or even cousins.
The Joker and Batman have a lot in common. They are both Italian-American, and both make frequent use of the American flag. The Joker is also one of the first enemies to appear in Batman’s solo adventures. Back in 1939, Detective Batman and the Joker were already fighting crime in a fictional universe. But it was not until The Killing Joke, written and drawn by Alan Moore, that the connection between the two characters truly became apparent. Moore took the opportunity to explore the origins of the Joker and his relationship with Batman.
Moore revealed that he was originally asked to write a new chapter in the Batman saga that he had begun in the late 1970s. Moore turned the story into a more intimate look into the minds of the criminals he was investigating. It was in these cases that he found the similarities between the Batman and the Joker. In fact, the two are such good friends that they appear to have known each other since their very first meeting. But this was all just a ruse. The whole book is a metaphor for the complicated dynamics of relationships between men and women. In the end, James Josephbach is revealed to be the true Batman, and not his legal namesake. He is, however, driven to a tragic end, and it’s implied that Alfred is responsible for his death. The Joker was only wearing a mask in The Killing Joke, and it was ultimately Alfred’s meddling that led to this untimely death. It’s a tragic story, but it does provide additional insight into the mind of the psychopathic supervillain.
The Rise Of Marvel Comics
It’s worth noting that while Kane and Leslie would go on to create the DC Universe, another company, which would become Marvel Comics, was responsible for much of the expansion of the Batman universe. In fact, it was thanks to Marvel that Batman became such a cultural phenomenon. Marvel started publishing Batman stories in their magazine in 1942. At the same time, they began producing their own TV show, which ran for one year and featured many of the same characters that appeared in the comic books. This was followed by a string of Batman movies that began in 1966 and continue to this day. This was, in part, thanks to Marvel’s highly successful Spiderman series, which began publication in 1962. It was in these stories that Peter Parker discovers his extraordinary powers and, eventually, becomes Spiderman.
What many people don’t know is that the Batman universe was originally created for television. A lot of the designs, including the Batsuit and the iconic skull logo, were actually meant to be worn as costumes. This was because the original broadcast of the show was delayed several times due to World War II. The designs, however, did not go on to become as popular as the shows that aired before and after it. This is in part because television screens were much smaller back then, so the designs didn’t look as good when displayed on smaller screens. But it’s also because the comic books were simpler and more accessible. They were, essentially, magazine cartoons for adults. But the designs live on in our cultural consciousness, and many people still believe that Kane and Leslie were the true masterminds behind Batman.