Thursday, August 18, 2016

Dark Night: A True Batman Story by Paul Dini

Glen Wheldon recommended Dark Night: A True Batman Story by Paul Dini (illustrated by Eduardo Risso) on Pop Culture Happy Hour earlier this summer. It's a powerful autobiographic graphic novel in which Dini recounts an attack in which he was mugged and horrifically beaten and then the rest of the novel untangles his physical and emotional recovery.
In the 90s, at the time of the attack that forms the backbone of the book, Dini was a writer for Batman: The Animated Series and the movie Mask of the Phantasm.  I thought that his honesty was brave and compelling in this book. It not only details how traumatic his recovery was, but it was unflinching in Dini's portrayal of his low self-confidence in personal matters and just how his escape into his own imagination impacted his day to day life that really kept my attention. The rawness with which Dini admits to his own failings was painful, but wonderful.  

I also really appreciated this novel for such an intense look into a creative mind. In a recent episode of Slate's Culture Gabfest, the panelists were discussing how you can read biographies or study an artist's or writer's work and still not really understand the artistic process (but where did the art COME FROM?). Their claim was that it was nice to see tangible things that the artists interacted with, like homes and handwritten pages, and that those things help to make the artists more human.  I think that this Dini book, with its deep dive into how imaginative elements are constantly swimming through his thoughts, and with its incredible illustrations to help those of us with less imagination visualize all this, did more to help me understand the thought process of a writing and what's going on in someone's head than any visiting of a house has ever done for me. Maybe because I lack imagination!

It's not an easy read and it's not really a Batman story, but it's important and fascinating and gritty and mendacious and I highly recommend it.

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