Texas Tech University

The Joker: A Serious Study of the Clown Prince of Crime

The first book-length, academic study of the infamous villain was co-edited by Rob Weiner, a librarian at Texas Tech University, and Rob Peaslee, Ph.D., associate professor and the chair for the Department of Journalism & Creative Media Industries.

The book is a project Weiner said he first thought of eight years ago. He explained, "When I gathered my ideas for the book, I wrote a proposal and asked Rob Peaslee if he would work with me on this. It has taken us four years, but this was a project we wanted to do justice."

Peaslee explained, "We worked together on a previous volume on Spider-Man, and not long after that manuscript was at the printer, Rob asked me about doing something on the Joker. He's always been one of my favorite pop culture characters, so I immediately said 'Yes!'" 

Peaslee described The Joker as a character who breaks the mold of most villains by projecting a certain aura of attraction. "Like the many archetypal and mythical characters from which he has evolved, he is not opposed to the system of social organization so much as a symptom of it. He is not black or white; he simply rejects the notion of color, and in so doing, is both horror and rebirth,"Peaslee said.

Weiner said he delved into studying The Joker, because he found it odd that there was so much literature devoted to exploring the characters of superheroes such as Spiderman, Batman and Superman, yet there was none devoted to the villains.

Weiner concluded, "You can't have a really good superhero narrative without a great villain. There are a lot of great villains and there are a lot of terrible villains, but The Joker stands apart from them all."

Peaslee said, "Contributors come at the Joker from cultural, historical, sociological, philosophical, aesthetic and mythological points of view, and the result is a collection that we think is as productively fragmented, provocative and incomplete as the Clown Prince himself."

"The Joker: A Serious Study of the Clown Prince of Crime" is available for purchase through various retailers.