Adapting Victor Hugo For The 21st Century

October 1, 2014 1:17 PM

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Adapting Victor Hugo For The 21st Century

If you know Victor Hugo's name it's probably as the author of Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame but the character whose features have made the biggest mark on popular culture is the hero of a lesser-known novel. If you're a hardcore comic book fan you may already know that the inspiration for Batman's nemesis, the Joker, was a poster featuring Conrad Veidt as the disfigured hero of the1928 silent film, "The Man Who Laughs." The psychopathic Joker has carved a path of bloody mayhem through the city of Gotham in comics and movies for almost 75 years since his first appearance in Batman #1 and it was the Joker who indirectly led me to the novel by Victor Hugo that was the original source for the movie.

In 2011 I was writing a story for DC's Batman and Robin comic book, set in Paris and featuring a French version of the Joker, whose father was a fan of Victor Hugo's work and chose to mutilate his son's face in homage to the lead character of The Man Who Laughs. I only had a vague sense of the plot ...

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