Taking a leisurely Sunday after an intense week of publication designing, and before a full month of teaching comics. I’ve been reading Johnny Cash’s latter day autiobraphy, and thinking of Batman as a collective trope. Not sure how the two are connected, just letting my mind wander here.
For elaboration of the latter, though: Batman, Mickey Mouse, and a handful of other characters have permeated the hive mind to a degree that claiming ownership of them is ridiculous. Of course, there are always legal gatekeepers that try, and occasionally succeed in enforcing those rights.
Some other characters in that fuzzy, public domain would be religious figures. Essentially mythicized to archetypes (dare I say “caricatures”?) in and of themselves, Buddha, Jesus or Muhammad are interpreted differently (but largely homogenously) by different worshippers.
I’m willing to bet that even within the same Xian congregation or sect, you could be able to identify several different but compatible Jesuses (Jesui?), simply because of the character’s non-specific characteristics, and at the same time the intimate relationship that worshippers feel with their prophet.
And the there’s Batman. The character has gone through several interpretations (visually and conceptually) over the decades — there is literally a Batman for everyone out there, but my point here is how the idea of Batman has entered the public mind-at-large, more than any specific, publisher-sanctioned Batman story has, or ever could.
Think of the ways that pagan deities and tradition lingered in medieval European folklore, while biblical apocrypha was popularised and spun on like pre-urban legends and tall tales. Same thing.
Stories that escape their original framing, organic narratives living on unchecked in people’s imaginations (perhaps even affecting their host’s actions like toxoplasma Gondii of fiction) …I find that incredibly fascinating, and not a little comforting.