Life often imitates art. The worst moment in the life of a fictional hero happened in real life to the man behind some of his adventures.
In 1993, Paul Dini had a flourishing career writing the hugely popular Batman: The Animated Series. Dini is also the co-creator of Harley Quinn and won several Emmy awards for his work. One night, while walking home from work, Dini was attacked and mugged by two men. Dini suffered a beating so severe it shattered his head and parts of his skull were “powdered on impact.” Ironically, this slightly mirrored the origin story of the Caped Crusader, his parents mugged and shot dead in front of him.
Dini survived the ordeal but endured months of painful rehab. His recovery process was arduous. He began to imagine and dream that the villains he was writing for television — like the Joker and the Penguin — were actually hindering his progress and silently tormenting him. Dini also always imagined that Batman was by his side, helping him through some of his darkest moments.
“What makes Batman and what makes other superheroes work is the myth that when life is at its lowest, and when you need a hero, a hero swings down and helps you,” Dini told the Hollywood Reporter back in December. “And I didn’t have that. Here I am writing these stories for an audience that loves this form, in comics, in animation, but now I was saying to myself, ‘I can’t go on with this. I don’t believe in it anymore. There is no hero for me. Where is my hero?'”
Dini soon realized the fictional characters and super heroes weren’t coming anytime soon and he could only rely on himself for the strength to get through the ordeal.
Dini has physically recovered from the experience and penned graphic novel about the entire ordeal, Dark Night: A True Batman Story, and it might be one of the best Batman graphic novels of the last decade. This gripping memoir covers the writer’s life before the attack, his traumatic experience, and his deep connection with his creative material. This book is a must for every fan of Batman graphic novels.
“I feel like, even if it hasn’t completely, I feel stronger and I can carry it better,” Dini said in the same interview. “I feel like it’s not going to crush me.”