James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Cartoon Characters That He Liked As A Child – Part 10: Joker

James Proclaims (4)

It’s day 10 of the A-Z challenge, which brings us up to the letter ‘J’, I had to resist my natural urges to go with a cartoon character called James. There is no shortage of them either, and I kind of did like a lot of them. Indeed, it would be remiss of me not to at least give some of them a nostalgic nod, so before we move on to the main focus of today’s post, let’s hear it for all of the cartoon Jameses out there. In no particular order, here are a few of the best:

James the Cat

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James the Red Engine off of Thomas the Tank Engine (I’m not sure if stop-motion animation counts as a cartoon but it’s close enough for my purposes)

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Jimbo  off of Jimbo and the Jet Set

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Jimbo off of The Simpsons

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Jamie off of Jamie and the Magic Torch

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And, lest we forget, the inimitable James T Kirk off of Star Trek: the Animated Series.

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The cartoon, which is the focus of today’s entry, also had a character called James, who was reasonably important – Commissioner James Gordon.

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But there was another ‘J’ character who was a touch more memorable:

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‘J’ is for Joker

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I touched upon the high quality of superhero cartoons in the 1990s in yesterday’s post, but even by the high standards of the era, Batman: The Animated Series was particularly strong. Partially inspired by the Tim Burton movies that preceded it, Batman: The Animated Series was darker in tone that your average cartoon, and dealt with more complex themes and ideas. It was visually very stylish, noiresque and slightly offbeat – the animated Gotham City was a skewed, surreal reflection of reality, which served the narrative well. The stories, were for the most part, pretty well written, but it was the vocal talent that gave the show it’s edge over other animated shows. Listen to Kevin Conroy as Batman, and every other actor who has ever portrayed him just sounds wrong. However it’s the episodes which feature the Joker which really elevate the show above pretty much every other superhero cartoon, and the majority of live-action movies. Voiced by none-other than Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill, the Joker is beyond superlatives. Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the villain is often seen as the definitive version of Batman’s arch-nemesis, Jack Nicholson’s performance has its advocates, and I’ve always had a soft spot for Cesar Romero’s incarnation in the sixties TV show. But though he only lends his voice to the character, Hamill’s performance has to be considered among the best. He’s just so unhinged and manic, and it’s never really clear why he does any of the things he does, which is, I suppose, the essence of the character.

Without Hamill’s performance as the Joker, Batman: The Animated Series would probably still be virtually peerless as animated series go,  but with it, the bar is raised considerably higher.

Dinner, Dinner, Dinner, Dinner, Batman!

James Proclaims (4)

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At the moment I appear to be in quite a bizarre place health wise. The Christmas period certainly did very little to reduce my weight. And by weight I do, of course, mean mass. Weight, as anyone who studied science to a fairly basic level during their school days will know, is a force and is measured in newtons. We measure mass in kilograms, grams etc. (or stones, pounds, ounces etc. if you prefer the imperial system over the metric system. It’s your call, I make no judgements). But conventionally we refer to mass as weight.

And thus, talk about losing weight.

When we should be talking about losing mass.

Call me a pedant if you will, but I don’t want anyone thinking me to be an uneducated oaf because I refer to weight loss when I actually mean mass loss.

Nonetheless, for the sake of accepted convention, I’ll go back to calling it weight.

So long as we all recognise that that is technically incorrect.

Anyway, I clearly didn’t lose a lot of weight over Christmas. But I didn’t gain any either.

Because while I’ve been eating lots of bad stuff, I’ve also been exercising a bit.

And I seem to have struck a balance, whereby my Body Mass Index isn’t getting any better but isn’t really getting worse either.

And that’s fine, because even if I should probably try and lose some weight, I’m perfectly happy to just buy bigger clothes.

As far as I can see, my weight will only become an issue if that ceases to be an option.

And at the moment I’m happily able to buy clothes that fit me from most major retailers.

So, it’s all good.

But as I say, I have been doing quite a lot of exercise.

This is motivated partly through health reasons, because exercise is generally viewed as being a good thing, but it’s also motivated by a desire to be Batman.

Obviously, I’ll never be Batman, he’s a fictional character, and, even if we were to suspend our disbelief and imagine that Batman could actually exist, his alter ego, Bruce Wayne is super rich. So, while Batman’s crime fighting ability comes partly from his supreme fitness, agility and strength, it also comes from having expensive bits of kit, like the Batmobile.

Even if I can get as fit as Batman, I’m not currently rich enough to own a Batmobile. I do have nice little city car that gets me from A to B. It’s great around town, copes with motorways reasonably well, and is relatively economical to run.

But utterly useless for fighting crime with.

So mostly I exercise for health reasons.

But, given the recent world events it’s probably just as well to be in the right physical condition to survive in a post-apocalyptic world.

But I do sometimes wonder (not enough to really do anything about it) whether my policy of exercising a lot but then eating what I want is better or worse than if I had a more sensible diet but did less exercise.

In all likelihood it’s  a moot point because the leftover indulgences from Christmas are nearing their end. I’ll soon be forced to make the decision to eat more healthily or buy more bad stuff in my grocery shop.

And Christmas has wiped me out financially until …er…next Christmas.

So, a sensible diet is probably going to have to be my modus operandi for a while, albeit for reasons of cash flow.

But I presume that will make me healthier.

So ironically, poverty might help me in my quest to be Batman.

But I still think the car is a bit of a barrier to achieving that goal.

 

 

The James Proclaims Advent Calendar of Christmas(ish) Films – Door 6

James Proclaims (6)

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The other day I was strolling past a nice(ish) hotel and I saw Father Christmas. He seemed to be promoting some kind of Christmas event that was being hosted within the establishment.

He was not alone in doing so, for he was accompanied by a woman that I supposed to be his good lady wife (Mother Christmas?).

Flanking the festive pair were two other personages. One I recognised as being Iron Man.

The other was Batman.

It was not a quartet one generally expects to see on a cold morning early in December.

I mean, Father and Mother Christmas I was absolutely fine with – the event they were promoting was all to do with the forthcoming yuletide celebrations and I suppose when we’re within the jurisdiction of the Advent calendar then all such events are fair enough.

But why promote a Christmas party with Marvel and DC’s respective ‘crime-fighting-billionaire-geniuses-with-no-real-superpowers-but-lots-of-cool-technology’? Were Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne bank-rolling the event?

The excited faces of the small children who seemed to be the target market of the event suggested perhaps not. Perhaps in this day and age Father Christmas alone is not enough of an attraction for the kids. Maybe an Iron Man/Batman combo is what’s necessary to get the youngsters through the doors.

Although, if that is the case, then really they needed to invest in better quality costumes. Certainly the superhero outfits were somewhat inferior to the garments worn by ‘The Christmases’.

While Father Christmas looked like he might actually be the real Father Christmas, and Mother Christmas was certainly convincing enough as a woman that might be married to him (although Mother Christmas is a figure cruelly overlooked in popular culture so I’ve no idea whether her costume was ‘authentic’ or not), Iron Man wasn’t fooling anyone. For starters his costume was, very clearly, made of some kind of cloth rather than…well…metal.

Batman looked a little better, but the giveaway were the white trainers he was wearing.

And the fact that I felt, on balance, in the unlikely event that Batman and Father Christmas came to blows, my money would’ve been firmly on Pere Noel. And there’s no way the real Batman would lose in a fight to Santa Claus.

Still, when I really thought about it, what better two superheroes to represent Christmas than Iron Man and Batman. After all we’ve already established Iron Man’s Christmas(ish) credentials in Iron Man 3.

And Batman too, has had his own Christmas(ish) outing.

In Batman Returns.

Which is set at Christmas.

And very much the film that represents door 6 of The James Proclaims Advent Calendar of Christmas(ish) Films.

Much like James Bond, everyone has their own favourite Batman. Ben Affleck made a surprisingly good one in 2016’s surprisingly awful Batman Vs Superman. Most people agree that Christian Bale was pretty awesome in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. Other Batmen are available but my own favourite is Michael Keaton, who donned the cowl in Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992). Arguably Burton and Keaton’s first Batman collaboration is the stronger film, but Batman Returns is a more than commendable follow-up.

I was probably a little on the young side when the first film came out, though I’ve grown to love it over the years, but Batman Returns landed just as I was becoming a hormonal teenager, and Michelle Pfeiffer’s ‘Catwoman’ left more than a lasting impression.

It is, in true Tim Burton style, an overstated affair. Danny Devito relishes his role as The Penguin and Christopher Walken seems to be in his element as the villainous Max Shreck (and credit must also go to the actor who plays Max’s son Chip Shreck for making the most of his very few lines by doing a laudable impersonation of Walken – presumably to establish the biological link…)

Although this is a sequel, it works entirely well as a standalone film and while it is not the best of all the Batman films out there, it is very far away from being the worst.

 

Score for Christmasishness

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There’s snow, there’s a big Christmas Tree and scenes of seasonal shopping abound. The score, while not exactly what you’d call ‘Christmas Music’, certainly has a fairytale quality about it that feels quite festive in it’s own way.

There are certain plot points that hang a little on the Christmas setting, particularly the horrifying demise of unfortunate Ice Princess.

That said, it wouldn’t take a significant rewrite for the whole film to be set at a different time of year and still work pretty well.

On the whole, then, it’s not really a Christmas film but the yuletide links are not entirely tenuous. It’s probably more Christmasish than Iron Man 3 on balance.

So , at least that’s one cinematic triumph that DC has over Marvel…

 

Super Moodles

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Just as the working week was getting a bit too much to handle, Friday has swooped in to save us.

Friday is my favourite day for many reasons.

Well one reason mainly.

Which is obviously the weekend, and all the ‘not-having-to-go-to-work’ that that entails.

But I also like Friday because that is the day I’ve chosen for my regular foray into the visual arts.

And this week, like for the last seven weeks, I’m participating in Haylee’s (off of Aloada Bobbins) regular Moodle Army challenge.

This week’s challenge was to BECOME THE HERO OF OUR OWN STORY!

I think this could be interpreted in so many ways. Maybe I could have drawn something that represents my greatest strengths. Or a moment when I was truly the hero of the hour. It has happened. And not just metaphorically.

Well mostly metaphorically.

However, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to draw myself as my favourite superhero.

But who to pick?

Superman was always one of my favourites as a small child. I used to have a Superman costume and I loved the Christopher Reeves films.

Well the first two anyway.

Then again, Spider-Man was also great. I didn’t have the costume but I really wanted the costume. And if my love of Superman waned a little as I got older, I still thought Spider-Man was pretty cool well into my teens.

These days, though, it’s hard to get past Batman. I think I’d make a brilliant Batman. If I was a billionaire. And good at fighting . And had led a significantly more tragic life.

So which hero to portray myself as for the Moodle Army Challenge?

In the end I couldn’t pick so I chose all three.

So here is a picture of SuperSpiderBatJames. Evildoers beware!

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