A Tribute to the of
Welcome to the latest edition of the Silver Age Sage: #366. If you're looking for a previous interview, please scroll down to the bottom of this page to the Special Features header. There you will find a list of links to all the creators who have been interviewed in the past.
I mentioned last time that I was going to report on an adventure and yeah, it actually came to pass. Speaking of “pass,” guess who got to attend the San Diego Comic Con on a press pass? Yeah, this guy! I hesitated to mention it because I was having a hard time wrapping my brain around it. “I get to go to Comc Con? On a press badge? C’mon. You’re pulling my leg!” Well, it happened and while I had to fly back on Saturday, missing one of the bigger days, I had the time of my life Wednesday evening through Friday. While Sam Glanzman wasn’t able to make it after all, I got to see so many people that I’d either interviewed or admired that it was just an amazing experience. I won’t bore you with a blow by blow, but let me try to give you a listing (barring any I may have forgotten, heaven forbid) of who I saw and shook hands with. Many should sound familiar from my list of interviewees: Bernie Wrightson and the lovely Liz Wrightson who sold me a print of Batman and Swamp Thing that he signed to me; Mike Mignola, who I got to interview for BACK ISSUE; Carl Potts (bought his book); Jim Steranko; Mark Waid; Anthony Tollin; Russ Heath, who I happened across in the exhibit hall; Ramona Fradon, who I bought a sketch card from; Mark Evanier; Paul Levitz; Eric Powell; Batton Lash; Sergio Aragones and Tony Puryear and Erika Alexander, who I interviewed for Comics Bulletin. When Erika realized who I was she told me what a good job I’d done and after insisting on taking a photo with me (and Tony and Arlen Schumer) she kissed my cheek. At one point during the conversation Stan Lee and his entourage walked by. What a day that was! I also got to attend a couple of panels about Will Eisner and the 75th anniversary of Robin, Catwoman and the Joker. One panelist was none other than Lee Meriwether. At one point the moderator asked who created Robin and after an awkward silence I couldn’t help but blurt out, “Jerry Robinson!” Greg Capullo, another panelist and current Batman artist said, “Maybe you should be on the panel.” If only…
So I got to thinking I should do something to mark the Joker and Catwoman’s 75th as that’s ended up being something of a theme this year and I remembered that when the Joker had his own mag, he met up with the feline femme fatale in the final issue, No. 9 from September/October of 1976. The story is titled “The Cat and the Clown!” It was written by Elliot S! Maggin (who I got to meet at the Denver Con, since I’m dropping names) with art by Irv Novick and Tex Blaisdell along with editorial duties attended to by Julie Schwartz and Bob Rozakis. Cover art is courtesy of Ernie (Chan) Chua. [The entire 9 issue run can be enjoyed in this 2013 trade paperback.]
The opening scenes are at Mammoth Motion Picture Studios and Benny Springer has arrived with his favorite co-star and cat, Hiawatha, aka the Million Dollar Kitty. They’re making a new film where Benny, as usual, plays a clown with the cat for a foil. Things soon begin to take an interesting twist when another Benny Springer, thinking that he’s been up against a master of disguise for so long that it’s rubbed off on him, is headed toward the screening studio where the real Benny had just entered. A script girl comes along and as fake Benny, who of course is the Joker in disguise, starts to open another door, the script girl kayos him with her bound book.
When the phony Benny awakens he learns that during the private screening, primarily for investors, the Catwoman appeared and trussed up Springer and Hiawatha and took them away.
She locked the studio up, so when they finally got out, they discovered Springer unconscious outside the studio. The Joker listens with interest and realizes he’s been outfoxed by Catwoman. He removes his Springer disguise and exits, stage left.
Segue to the lair of Catwoman, where Benny is tied to a chair and Hiawatha is in a cage. Catwoman is reading the news headlines about the Joker being involved and she muses that it could be a complication. She tells Springer that she’ll extort a fat ransom for he and the Million Dollar Kitty, but first must get the Joker out of the way by luring him there with a leak of his whereabouts.
Meanwhile, at the Joker’s Ha-Hacienda hideaway, he has enlisted his henchmen to bring in one “Mouth” Madigan, a member of Catwoman’s circle. Injecting him with the chemical that makes up the Laughing Death, the Joker demands to know where Catwoman’s hideout is located. Madigan, through laughter, reveals it’s at the corner of Broome and Greene streets (nice touch, Elliot!) and then expires.
Back at Catwoman’s place, the villainess is trying to befriend Hiawatha, but the cat scratches her after a menacing hiss. All the while, Springer has been tearing at his ankle bonds on the claws of the chair he’s trapped in and succeeds, taking off for the exit and hailing Hiawatha. The Million Dollar Kitty is not so lucky, however, and is intercepted by Catwoman’s leopard. Benny notes that she is nocturnal and therefore won’t follow him, but he’ll have to return for Hiawatha and it will require the acting job of his life.
Back at the Cat’s palace, a familiar cowled figure appears and Catwoman lays a kiss on him. When the World’s Greatest Detective asks about Benny Springer, she activates a lever and drops a suspended cage down, which catches the cape and pulls off the cowl, but it seems it was the Joker once again incognito.
I must make note that the center leaves in this book are all advertisements and two of the oversized dollar comics are on display: Superman vs. the Flash and Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes. I wanted them both, but especially the LSH edition. One day I shall get that one…
So, all of a sudden another Joker arrives and Catwoman deduces that one is Benny Springer, come after Hiawatha, but which one? Now the battle is on, with each trying to prove they are the genuine Clown Prince of Crime. Move is matched by counter move and Catwoman raises the cage to make more room as she observes. Finally she decides enough is enough and calls for a halt to the fisticuffs, declaring that it will be settled by Hiawatha. “Because I’m sure one of you is Benny Springer—the cat will run right to its master and make the identification! Whereupon I’ll pelt the imposter with my Cat’s-Paw!”
Hiawatha approaches one Joker, who vehemently denies that he is Springer and, as promised, he is blasted with the Cat’s-Paw. While Catwoman smugly declares that a cat always knows the scent of its master, the other Joker drops her own cage on her and reveals he is Benny Springer. “But that’s impossible! No cat can be trained well enough to go to the wrong person—not even mine!” “No cat except my Million Dollar Kitty—when I gave him a secret signal!”
So, both the Clown and the Cat are put away, but back at Arkham Asylum, the Joker and other patients are taken to an in-house theater to screen Springer’s “The Cat and the Clown.”
The fellow patients jeer at the Joker losing to them, but our mad mountebank has the last laugh when a card comes up on the screen that says, “Starring The Joker” with a large image of the villain. He’d somehow managed to splice it into the master and therefore he has fulfilled his wish of starring in a movie.
I enjoyed the Joker series and offer this Silver Age Sage tip of the hat to two of Batman’s most durable foes on their 75th anniversary. May they continue to loom large in the mythos of Gotham City.
We are grateful again for your attendance, dear reader and we promise to continue to provide you with more gems from the DC Vaults as we continue our journey of exploration. The latest installation in this ongoing feature will hit the web on the 1st of August. You can always reach me with comments or suggestions at: firstname.lastname@example.org
See you next time and… Long live the Silver Age!
Long live the Silver Age!
Bryan D. Stroud Special Features Gaspar Saladino Interview
Arnold Drake Tribute
Joe Kubert Interview
Joe Giella Interview
Carmine Infantino Interview
Sheldon Moldoff Interview
Neal Adams Interview (Pt. 1)
Neal Adams Interview (Pt. 2)
Ramona Fradon Interview
Bob Rozakis Interview
Dick Giordano Interview
Denny O'Neil Interview (Pt. 1)
Denny O'Neil Interview (Pt. 2)
Irwin Hasen Interview
Lew Sayre Schwartz Interview
Al Plastino Interview (Pt. 1)
Al Plastino Interview (Pt. 2)
Jim Mooney Interview
Russ Heath Interview (Pt. 1)
Russ Heath Interview (Pt. 2)
Bryan D. Stroud
Gaspar Saladino Interview
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