It was the movie of last year, and at the center of The Dark Knight was Heath Ledger's compelling Joker. But... who really invented the worryingly sane Clown Prince of Crime? Maybe not Chris Nolan.
Author F. Paul Wilson had a chance to see The Dark Knight recently, and found Ledger's Joker rather... familiar:
Yeah, that's my Joker.
Am I saying they couldn't have come up with that Joker without me? Not at all. As I was watching I got hints of the infusion of anarchic nihilism I'd administered, but nothing to write an email about…until the interrogation room scenes and his scene in the hospital with Harvey Dent. I watched those multiple times, recognized the seductive evil a work, and realized the emailers were right: Somebody somewhere along the line, in researching the character, had read [Wilson's short story from the 1989 prose anthology The Further Adventures of Batman] "Definitive Therapy." He may not even remember. I know I didn't realize that Matheson's "Born of Man and Woman" became my "Faces," and Lovecraft's "The Thing on the Doorstep" became Sibs until I reread their stories. It happens.
Am I gonna sue? Hell, no. First off, I can't. The Joker is not my character and the story was work for hire, so what I did with him belongs to DC. (As I've said before, When you play in someone else's sandbox, they get to keep your castle. This is why I don't do work for hire unless the sand is so special I've just gotta play with it. Like the Joker.)
And second, I think it's cool they liked my guy enough to put him to work in their film.
To convince others of his case, Wilson's put "Definitive Therapy" online - and, yes, there are definitely some similarities in the portrayal of the Joker... but both just seem to harken back to the same basic idea of a scary man with a clown's face that came from the Joker's original comic appearances. Go and read for yourself, and make up your own mind, however.
My Joker... Their Joker [Repairmanjack.com]