Does Original Killing Joke Artwork Reveal Greater Sexual Intent For Batgirl?

Billy Hynes, a former employee of Gosh! Comics in London, has been posting photos of original comic book artwork on Twitter today that he’s been sifting through and in which he’s been finding surprises. But for many fans, this find will be the most surprising yet.

It appears to be an original page from Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s The Killing Joke from DC Comics which differs from the final print image in the comic. Brian Bolland, when shown this Twitpic, has confirmed to Bleeding Cool that it is genuine artwork and that he was, indeed, asked to rethink the central panel on this page.

Hynes tweeted:

And Hynes included the following image (censored to be less NSFW):

killing joke

Whereas the page that appeared from DC Comics compares thus:

killingjoke27

This original page shows a much more sexualized element to Barbara Gordon’s torture by the Joker than has previously been assumed. Contention over the sexualized element surrounding Gordon’s torture has oft cited the fact that purely physical violence is shown the final comic and not sexually explicit content.

This original panel shows otherwise, however, it obviously proved too explicit for DC. If intent is significant to interpreting the rest of the scenes concerning Batgirl in The Killing Joke, here we have original intent of sexualized violence, and this provides us with another piece of the puzzle for interpreting a highly controversial comic.

Hannah Means-Shannon is Senior New York Correspondent at Bleeding Cool, writes and blogs about comics for TRIP CITY and Sequart.org, and is currently working on books about Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore for Sequart. She is @hannahmenzies on Twitter and hannahmenziesblog on WordPress. Find her bio here.