Author: Paul Dini, art by Eduardo Risso
Year of Publication: 2016
Length: 128 pages
Genre: Graphic novel, autobiography
In January 1993, scriptwriter Paul Dini was at the height of his profession. Specializing in cartoons, he wrote for Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs and was writing for the internationally successful Batman: The Animated Series (for which he created the character Harley Quinn). However, one night returning home from a date, Dini was set upon by two muggers and savagely beaten to within an inch of his life. After his horrific experience Dini feels unable to face life again, let alone write Batman. After all, where was the Caped Crusader when he needed him?
Dini structures the book as if it is a movie pitch to bored Hollywood executives. he starts with his childhood where his loneliness and frequent run-ins with bullies are mitigated by his imagination, and his love of cartoons and comics. As an adult, his recuperation is detailed partly with a series of conversations between Dini and Batman, and famous Batman villains, such as the Joker, Two Face and Poison Ivy. Batman is that voice that tells him to suck it up and deal with it, the Joker is more seductive, telling Dini that he doesn't need to work on that script, just play video games and watch TV, he can get back to work the next day, or the day after that, or the day...
Risso's art is beautiful, detailing the characters in lusciously coloured paintings, that evoke the look of early 1990s cartoons. I read it in a few hours and enjoyed it immensely. It is sometimes dark, sometimes funny, often gritty. It is a powerful and effective tale of healing and the power of art and creation, and also the fact that fictional characters can have such great value to real life.