Sometimes, after a catastrophic event, especially a very personal one, the victim needs to find a release – a cathartic means of expression. Paul Dini is looking for his relief through a medium that he is very familiar with. The graphic novel.
Paul Dini’s name is likely familiar to comic book and animation nerds as Dini was a writer for the Batman: The Animated Series, Tiny Toon Adventures, Star Wars: Ewoks, and many others. But the event that Dini writes about here is something that is maybe not so familiar to the geek/nerd fans.
The book starts off with Dini telling a story that is maybe all-too familiar to the readers of a graphic novel. It is the story of growing up as a nerd. The loneliness and the feeling of being an outcast and living in a vivid fantasy world. It is a world where comic book heroes are as real to the reader as the reader needs them to be.
Until something happens.
The moment that Dini needs a superhero to come to his rescue (or to become a superhero himself), and no hero (super or otherwise) appears, his fantasy world view shatters and his life is changed dramatically in a variety of ways.
Leading the life of a loner Dini opens up and shares the recognition of living the life of fantasy. He tells how what he would treat as a dinner date with a beautiful starlet was more likely her trying to use his connections to get work, and even knowing this, he’d refer to her as his ‘girlfriend’ to impress co-workers. But after leaving his ‘date’ he is jumped, mugged, and beaten to within an inch of his life.
Not only is there no superhero to protect him, there aren’t even any good Samaritans to call for assistance when he’s left to die. He gets himself to his home (not a hospital) where he tries to put it behind him. But the effects of the attack have only just begun and the loner withdraws even more, finding it hard to write about superheroic acts or things to find funny.
One gets the impression, reading this, that Dini is still struggling with this. If not, why this graphic novel? But that’s okay. This can be as cathartic for the reader as it is for Dini because we recognize that what happened to him can much too easily happen to any of us. In fact, the way Dini tells this story, we can’t help but find that Dini is an ‘Everyman’ here, making this story and what happened very very powerful.
And perhaps what’s most interesting is the role Batman plays here. He may not appear in the flesh to protect Dini, but he makes his presence known.
This is a unique biography and hopefully very cathartic for Dini, who survived (physically) a horrendous event.
Looking for a good book? Dark Night: A True Batman Story is an autobiographical graphic novel that follows Paul Dini, from growing up in a fantasy, nerd world, to a mugging that nearly cost him his life, and the subsequent emotional struggle. It is worth reading.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Dark Night: A True Batman Story
author: Paul Dini
artist: Eduardo Risso
hardcover, 131 pages