If you grew up with Batman: The Animated Series, or Tiny Toon Adventures, you’ve seen the work of Paul Dini. He was one of the people who helped bring Harley Quinn to the television screen and wrote countless cartoon stories. In the 1990’s, Dini was beaten severely walking home in Los Angeles. His comic book Dark Night: A True Batman Story, covers the incident and the self-loathing that accompanied his life at this time.
Young Paul Dini found his childhood escape in cartoon characters, with his chief favorite being Batman. As he got older, his cartoon characters continued to become his way to deal with life as well as his work. After spending time in Los Angeles as a writer for Warner Brothers, Dini got caught up in his work and dating a starlet, while putting aside more important and functional relationships. After a particularly painful date in which he was told he was not the only one, Dini chose his pride over safety and ended up being beaten severely walking home in Los Angeles. Dark Night covers not only the mugging itself, but the road to recovery and features key figures from the Batman: The Animated Series crew that helped along the way.
I appreciated the fact that Paul Dini points out his biases more than once throughout the comic. In one particular instance, he’s blaming an attractive starlet for leading him on, only to have a Batman character explain to him that the girl had been more than honest about her intentions the whole time. He also points out how often he found himself feeling sorry for himself and refusing important help. As someone who tried to do everything herself after an intricate surgery once, I can tell you that help is absolutely crucial no matter how much you want to hold onto your pride instead. The Joker’s interactions with Paul Dini are quite frightening and a strong visible representation of what it’s like when you’re stuck in your head for too long.
Dark Night: A True Batman Story features not just Batman and gang, but characters from other franchises and even a few Neil Gaiman characters popping up to help tell the story. The book is now available from Vertigo.