Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Behind the Music: Jingle Bells, Batman Smells

Happy holidays! Since I'm off baking and eating Christmas cookies, here's a Bully Blast from the Past, re-presenting a classic post (and now updated!) from December 27, 2011!

For years it has been a popular holiday favorite of school children everywhere.

But what began as an innocent playground skipping rhyme has become a vicious taunt...and a dangerous challenge...to one of the world's most renowned crimefighters. But with its sudden fame came an intense backlash as a tease by tots turned into a killing joke. For every peal of laughter, there's the tears...of a clown.

Its origins...unknown. Its derivation: lost to time. But again and again this sinister rhyme bedevils the crimefighters, both costumed and official, of Gotham City:

Panels from Gotham Central #14 (February 2004), script by Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka, pencils by Michael Lark, inks by Stefano Gaudiano, colors by Lee Loughridge, letters by Clem Robins

...but none so much as the nefarious foes of Gothan's caped crusader, the Dark Knight known as Batman, and his cadre of costumed sidekicks:

Panels from The Batgirl Adventures #1 one-shot (February 1998), script by Paul Dini, pencils by Rick Burchett, colors by Rick Taylor, letters by Albert DeGuzman

But...are these lethal lyrics true? Does, Batman, in fact, smell?

Is it simply a malicious urban legend...or did the Batmobile really...lose a wheel?

Panels from Batman #408 (June 1987), script by Max Allan Collins, pencils by Chris Warner, inks by Mike DeCarlo, colors by Adrienne Roy, letters by Todd Klein

Many half claimed creatorship of the malignantly mocking music. The Penguin asserts he wrote it on a cold night in jail. Bane has been heard to hum it while cracking the backs of his victims. Two-Face says he wrote two lines of it. But is the author of this threatening tune actually...the one who got away?

Panels from Batman Adventures (1992 series) #28 (January 1995), script by Kelley Puckett, pencils by Mike Parobeck, inks by Rick Burchett, colors by Rick Taylor, letters by Rick Starkings

Or is this corrupt and criminal clown bedeviled as well by these loathsome lyrics?

Panels from Robin (1993 series) #85 (February 2001), script by Chuck Dixon, pencils by Pete Woods, inks by Jesse Delperdang, colors by Noelle Giddings, color separations by Jamison, letters by Willie Schubert
(Special thanks to CalvinPitt for ID'ing this panel for me!)

When we return...the truth behind the most criminal carol of them all!

(And now, these commercial messages:)

We're back. We've seen that the most dangerous weapon against the ebon-garbed hero known as Batman is the melodic mockery known as "Jingle Bells, Batman Smells." But the true origin of this torturous tune has been unknown...until now. Behind the Music now brings the world the true origin of "Jingle Bells, Batman Smells: What It Is and How It Came to Be!"

from "Batman Smells" in Bizarro World (February 2005), script by Patton Oswalt, pencils and inks by Bob Fingerman, colors by Dave Stewart

Next week on Behind the Music: is she really fighting for your rights in her satin tights...or are they made of polyester? On "Behind the Music: The Theme from 'Wonder Woman!'"


SallyP said...

Truly incredible reporting...now we know the REAL story!

CalvinPitt said...

I'm glad to see Killer Croc get the credit he deserves for his role in this. He's always getting overlooked.

The panels of the Joker with the lyrics scribbled on the wall behind him are from Robin #85 (I think, it was that "Batman Dies!" month), by Chuck Dixon and Pete Woods. I only know because it was the first issue I bought when I started buying Robin every month.

Bully said...

Calvin, you are truly a great commenter! Thanks so much for that ID: I'd labelled my scan "joker.jpg" and then forgotten it was not from the Joker graphic novel. Consider yourself heartily given a No-Bull Prize, Arkham A-dentification A-dition!

By the way...d'you know what comic the "Something's odd in the air...smells like...yes! -- gas!" panel is from? Because I forgot to label that correctly, too (he said, whistling innocently).

Thanks again!