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15Concept & Background Info

Conrad Veidt in The Man Who Laughs and The Joker 1941

Although Alan Moore wrote The Killing Joke and is typically recognized with ideating the concept, it's actually Brian Bolland who conceived the idea for the novel after watching the 1928 film The Man Who Laughs. The film's titular character, Gwynplaine, played by Conrad Veidt, is credited with

inspiring the look of The Joker, specifically his perpetual grin.

Batman co-creator Bob Kane confirmed the notion in a 1994 interview with journalist Frank Lovece: “[The Joker] looks like Conrad Veidt — you know, the actor in The Man Who Laughs, by Victor Hugo. Finger had a book with a photograph of Conrad Veidt and showed it to me and said, ‘Here’s the Joker.’”

In 1984, then DC Comics editor Dick Giordano allowed Bolland to conceptualize any DC project he wanted, and his heart fell on giving The Joker and origin story. Following the release of Alan Moore's ground-breaking graphic novel, Watchmen, Bolland requested Moore pen The Killing Joke, and together they created the greatest Joker story ever told.

Comic book writer Alan Moore
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