In 1989, Grant Morrison and Dave McKean‘s Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth graphic novel took Batman on a journey into the twisted heart of Gotham’s home for the criminally insane. Next year, cartoonist Yehudi Mercado will take a slightly lighter approach as he explores where the pets of the dark knight’s rogues go when their masters are locked up. DC has announced Barkham Asylum, a new middle-grade graphic novel the follows Jester, The Joker’s dog, as he mounts a daring jail break.
Here’s how DC describes Barkham Asylum:
When the Super-Villains of Gotham get thrown into Arkham Asylum, their henchpets go to the maximum-security pound known as Barkham Asylum. Fur flies when Jester, The Joker’s dog, gets a tough-talking stray cat named Penny tossed into lockup with him. But they’ll have to work together to figure out what the evil Dr. Hugo Mange is up to. And the only way to stop this terrifying team-up is to win the talent show and get visitation with their masters at Arkham on the hill. Because the Joker is sure to help! What could go wrong with that plan?
Barkham Asylum is the second DC graphic novel from Yehudi Mercado, who also wrote and illustrated last year’s Shazam!: Thunderstruck middle-grade graphic novel. Mercado has also worked with the characters of the DC stable in the past as a storyboard artist on the DC Superhero Girls cartoon web series.
In a statement announcing the new book, cartoonist Yehudi Mercado described pulling from his own life for the tale, and the relationship central to the story:
“When crafting this graphic novel, I pulled some inspiration from my own experience growing up,” said creator Yehudi Mercado. “I was a class clown in school and as a result of that, I spent a lot of time in detention. So I can kind of relate to the lead dog, Jester, in my own way.
“All Jester wants is to make people laugh, so in his mind, his master isn’t such a bad guy. Locked up with him is an innocent stray cat named Penny, a loner who rejects Jester’s request to join his pack. But if they’re going to get out of this mess, they will have to team up. And if a stray cat and The Joker’s dog can get along, then maybe there’s hope for all of us!”
A dog and cat working together? Mass hysteria! These animals must be as insane as their owners.
Check out some interior preview pages from the forthcoming graphic novel below. Barkham Asylum is due out in stores on Tuesday, February 6th, 2024.