Some say there are no holidays in the month of August, but those who do overlook a very important commemoration! We’re referring, of course, to International Clown Week.
It’s very important, okay! And let’s also be honest with ourselves. It hasn’t been easy to make it as a clown lately, especially within the DC Universe, what with circus closures, sewer-dwelling hellbeasts and, you know…everything going on in Gotham City. But here at DCComics.com, we’re here to tell you that clowning doesn’t begin and end with the Joker. Some clowns within the DCU actually aren’t Bat-baiting psychopaths. So this International Clown Week, we thought we’d salute the DC clowns who aren’t going around murdering people in ironic fashion.
We swear that describes most of them.
Waldo Flynn (Haly’s Circus)
The very top of our list of commendable clowns has to be Waldo Flynn, once the resident clown of Haly’s Circus—home of the legendary Flying Graysons. Prior to Crisis on Infinite Earths, Waldo serves as an avuncular figure to not just one, but two Robins: Dick Grayson, working with his family before their tragic murder, and Jason Todd, who prior to having his history rewritten by Crisis had also grown up in a circus. On two occasions, Waldo was charged with criminal activity. Both times, a Robin came to the rescue to clear his name. Some stories even place Waldo with Hill Circus for a time, making him an acquaintance of Deadman. Which is all to say that back in the early ’80s, Waldo Flynn was a clown who got around. In an attempt to further differentiate Jason from his predecessor, the second Robin’s circus background was taken from him. But it’s worth remembering that while one clown might have ultimately taken Jason’s life, there was another who always had his back.
Some clowns go beyond cheering up Robins at their lowest, taking to the front lines in the battle against evil alongside their heroic companions. Take, for instance, Biff Banks, a downtrodden clown who pledged his loyalty to the rough-and-tumble Golden Age superhero Captain Triumph after he helped save Biff’s circus. Biff went on thirty-three adventures with Captain Triumph through the pages of Crack Comics in the 1940s, and then quietly disappeared along with his hero until the memory of the Captain was summoned from the dredges of continuity by none other than Harley Quinn. Biff Banks would see no such return (at least, not yet), but he remains a fixture in Captain Triumph’s fondest memories.
Tom Thumb Blackhawk
The Blackhawk Squadron’s smallest ally, “The Tom Thumb Blackhawk,” had a dream of making it in show business as a circus clown. But despite his acrobatic skills, apparently there was no room in the circus for “Tiny” Big, The Biggest Little Clown in the World. So, he did what any sensible clown without options would do: he started fighting crime. “Tiny” used his size and agility to help the Blackhawks out of a jam down at the docks. Inspired by their impromptu team-up, Tiny rebranded as a circus aerialist complete with his own custom-sized plane and Blackhawk costume. Let no one ever say that circus skills aren’t transferable (to other circus jobs).
Maxwell “Major Mite” Loomis
Falling into a similar niche, but somewhat more successful in his clowning career was Maxwell Loomis, known at Hill Circus as “Major Mite” for his small size and great agility. Although he carried with him a checked past and his own share of mistakes, Loomis remained a close friend and ally of trapeze artist Boston Brand, even after his untimely demise and transformation into Deadman.
Blabbo the Birthday Clown
The tragedy of Blabbo the Birthday Clown is sadly an all-too-common one in the clowning world. In Batman: The Audio Adventures on HBO Max, you can tune into Gotham City One on your radio dial to hear the exponentially desperate pleas for trust and business from a simple clown in a city which has grown to fear them on principle. As much as Blabbo wears up and down that he’s in no way affiliated with the Joker, those insistences only really drive listeners to be more suspicious. Godspeed, Blabbo. Maybe you’ll have better luck in Hub City.
Hopefully by now we’ve proven to you that there really are some clowns you can feel safe around. It’s not all just Jokers and Punchlines and occasionally Harley Quinns out there. Yeah, I realize she’s not really evil anymore, but she is a bit of a hot mess. But you can make that judgment call for yourself by checking out Harley Quinn Season 3 on HBO Max. The humor’s a bit more sophisticated—and far more racy—than a pie to the face, but it’s still the coolest way we can think of to get in the Clown Week spirit. Heck, if you’re feeling particularly clownish, you can then go and discuss it with the circus that is the internet. Just be careful. Much like in Gotham, with the internet, it’s only so long before a Joker shows up to ruin everyone’s good time.
Harley Quinn Season 3 is now streaming on HBO Max. Look for new episodes of Harley Quinn every Thursday!
Alex Jaffe is the author of our monthly “Ask the Question” column and writes about TV, movies, comics and superhero history for DCComics.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AlexJaffe and find him in the DC Community as HubCityQuestion.