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Grant Morrison. Everyone in comics knows the name. But not back then. Back then, these were just two weird guys who worked for Vertigo, an imprint of DC Comics.

Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth was one of those graphic novels that was too weird to be mainstream, but was so good it became mainstream anyway. Elements of this book have inspired the films, cartoons and even the Batman video games, especially the one named Arkham Asylum. I actually got this book for Christmas one year, because the hardcover trade paperback was far above my normal comicbook budget. It’s just a crazy, crazy book. Not as weird as some of Morrison’s other stuff, but definitely not an “average” Batman story.

Dave McKean’s painted art gives each character their own weird, menacing style. Often things are left to the imagination, Batman himself is portrayed as a shadow throughout most of the book. What makes it so good is the origin of the mad house itself is bloodier and crazier than the people that reside in it. Everyone, from Arkham down to the nurses are all slightly askew. Can you imagine what the janitor of this place must be like??