The only way to get Batman right in a movie is to respect the character as a cultural myth, of which Batman: The Animated Series is the best on-screen representation.
In part 1 of this series, I briefly described the importance of Batman as a modern myth and gave a (relatively) concise overview of all the cinematic depictions of the caped crusader that have thus far been made. In part 2, I demolished the argument (made in this case by Zack Snyder himself) that previous Batman movies are worthy source material for future Batman movies. Here in part 3 I will provide some history of Batman the comic book character, an argument that that character has evolved into a myth, and that Batman: The Animated Series (TAS) is the best representation of that myth ever on a screen. As such, I think TAS is the most worthy source material for future Batman movies. At the very least, it is the standard by which other on-screen depictions of Batman should be judged.
The Dawn of the Knight
In early 1939, after the successful debut of Superman the year before, National Publications (now DC Comics) wanted more superheroes in their lineup. A man named Bob Kane first had the idea for a character named “the Bat-Man,” which Bill Finger helped him develop into the earliest version of the character we know today. If Kane is the originator of the character who wears a bat suit, Finger is the originator of the myth; it was Finger who wrote the origin story of young Bruce Wayne vowing to fight criminals to avenge his parents. (Finger also came up with the idea of Robin as a sidekick.) As early as 1940, right after the publication of Batman #1, then-editor Whitney Ellsworth made the rule that Batman would not kill or use a gun.
Batman as a comic book character changed a lot in the first 25 years. While the earliest Batman stories were gritty and violent – even after the caped crusader ceased killing or use of guns – the stories started lightening up fairly quickly in the early 1940s. In the 1950s, after reactionaries began criticizing comic books in general, and specifically the homosexual undertones of Batman’s relationship with Robin, a beard was drawn in the form of Batwoman. There was a Bathound, named Ace. And let’s not forget Bat-Mite, a magical imp from the fifth dimension who wears a Batman costume. Sigh. Some science fiction elements were introduced during this time as well (e.g. Mr Freeze). Then Batman went camp in the 1960s, particularly after the initial success of the TV series starring Adam West (1966 until 1969).
I think of this first 30 years as being the years of Batman as a comic book character only, as opposed to his current status as both a character and a myth. Most of these Batman stories, and the characters in them, were created by the same people who created Batman in 1939. Most – though not all – of the modifications to Batman in these years were in an attempt to suit the tastes of post-war popular culture and sell more comic books. While the need to sell more comic books would remain important – indeed remains important – to the writers and artists telling Batman stories, something very important happens when a character makes the leap from transpersonal to transgenerational: it becomes a myth.
The Character Becomes the Myth
Archetypal themes showed up in Batman comics from the beginning. The villains Joker (1940) and Scarecrow (1941), introduced by Bob Kane and Bill Finger, might as well be credited to somebody’s Jungian analyst (or at least a psych textbook). The Joker is a personification of society against its own absurdity, while the Scarecrow represents the personal conflict of the persona against the true self and/or shadow (a conflict built on fear, which the villain weaponizes). Archetypal themes are inevitable in storytelling, but becoming a myth is not. To become a myth a story must: be told across generations; be both archetypal and transpersonal in content; give some inspiration and guidance. In this way myths provide us with personal value in understanding ourselves, interpersonal value in being a point of comparison and dialogue, and cultural value in being a shared experience and a framework for the telling and understanding of stories. How we experience myths personally impacts how we share them interpersonally and then what we want from them culturally, which then impacts how we experience them personally, and so on. It’s a virtuous cycle of storytelling – at least as long as nobody decides to try to hijack it into some kind of personal political catharsis (I won’t name names, but his initials are Frank Miller).
Starting in 1969, a new generation of writers and artists (O’Neil, Adams, Giordano, Schwartz, etc.) began to reconnect Batman with his origins as the Dark Knight of Gotham. Moving away from the lighthearted fun of the 50s and the camp of the 60s, this new iteration of Batman retained his identity as the avenging detective of the night who does not use guns or kill people in his quest to protect the people of Gotham from the same evil that claimed the lives of his parents. In 1977 writer Steve Englehart worked on a run of Detective Comics that saw the Joker return to his original, maniacal and homicidal self and cemented Batman’s return to form as the Dark Knight.
Then things got a lot better and also really fucked up.
On the one hand, in 1986 Dennis O’Neil became editor of the various Batman comics and, intentionally or unintentionally, did a lot to help Batman go from being just a character in DC Comics to being a mythical figure in our culture. Through stories like Frank Miller’s Year One (1987), Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke (1988), and Jim Starlin’s A Death in the Family (1988/89), the story of Bruce Wayne/Batman achieves a fullness that was not there before. It is through these stories that we “learn” that Bruce Wayne traveled the world and trained in martial arts and criminology before returning to Gotham, we see an origin story for the Joker that puts both him, Batman, and their symbiotic rivalry in clearer perspective, and we see the limits of the Dark Knight as that rivalry leads to the death of one of Bruce’s wards and Batman’s sidekick, Robin (this is the second Robin, Jason Todd, not the more famous first Robin, Dick Grayson). Now Batman has not just an origin, but a history as well as a nemesis and a tragedy. This is in addition to all of the caped crusader’s other defining characteristics that had now been maintained through three generations of storytellers. Combine all that with the success of Tim Burton’s 1989 movie and the myth of the billionaire crime fighter who stalks the wicked at night became a seemingly permanent cultural fixture and household name. Since 1989, if you make a Batman reference, everyone will at least know who you’re talking about.
On the other hand, 1986 also saw the publication of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, a story about a 55-year-old Bruce Wayne who has been in retirement since Robin’s death, but decides to become Batman again as part of a mental breakdown, or something (yes I have read it, twice). In this story: Batman comes through a wall to take a machine gun from one gang member and then use it to blow the brains out of another gang member in a situation where a batarang had always previously sufficed; eschewing the harder work of being a detective, he drives into a meeting of the Mutants gang in a tank and kills them and/or helps them kill themselves; he breaks the Joker’s neck and somehow convinces himself that the Joker did it. If you think that sounds awful, it gets worse: tDKR is one of the most successful Batman stories of all time; it ranked first among IGN’s list of best Batman graphic novels; even Time magazine put it among the top ten graphic novels in English. Not everybody is or was impressed, though. Comics Bulletin once ranked tDKR #2 on a Top 10 Overrated Comic Books (Watchmen took #1) and Mordecai Richler concluded his NYTimes review of Miller’s brutal opus with an astute observation, writing:
If this book is meant for kids, I doubt that they will be pleased. If it is aimed at adults, they are not the sort I want to drink with.
Batman v Dark Knight
Frank Miller wrote two sequels to The Dark Knight Returns, and in fact is making more still. He also did the writing for All-Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder, which is a sort of “midquel” between Year One and tDKR. While the canonical Batman and Miller’s Dark Knight share the events of Year One, the rest of Miller’s work is considered non-canonical. Nonetheless, Miller’s work is also very popular, and perhaps there is no greater example of his influence than Zack Snyder’s intimations that he and his bros on the set of BvS were going off of only tDKR and previous Batman movies. Since there are not Batman facts to make such a determination, we are left with the decidedly philosophical question of truth: which Batman is true to the myth, and which is not?
I had originally planned to make a purely ad hominem case against Frank Miller as a storyteller: Alan Moore (!) has criticized Miller for the homophobia and misogyny in his work since (and including) Sin City; Miller’s 300 is obviously racist and fascist (movie or graphic novel, also they’re both uninteresting); Holy Terror has been called Islamophobic; All-Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder was almost universally disliked; and of course Miller has made comments as a private citizen that are loathsome, e.g. describing Occupy Wall Street as “a pack of louts, thieves, and rapists, fed by Woodstock-era nostalgia and putrid false righteousness.” Not wanting to leave any question about whether his Islamaphobia is merely a creative choice, Miller then implored the protestors to, “wake up, pond scum. America is at war against a ruthless enemy. Maybe, between bouts of self-pity and all the other tasty tidbits of narcissism you’ve been served up in your sheltered, comfy little worlds, you’ve heard terms like al-Qaeda and Islamicism.” (No word yet on whether or not someone has explained to Frank Miller that al-Qaeda was not responsible for the economic catastrophe of 2008 that began the Great Recession.) So there is a case to be made that Frank Miller is neither morally nor politically suitable to be the steward of any shared cultural mythology, and especially not that of our beloved Batman, who has been a fan favorite since long before Miller was around and who will continue on long after Miller finishes his last violent, pathological screed.
A better approach to the question of which is the true Batman of myth came to me in a Facebook message from a dear friend (you know who you are). While this approach does not rely on Miller’s lack of grace, empathy, or any other traits one would want in a modern Homer or Ovid, it is also not entirely unrelated. We must simply ask: Which version of Batman is coherent and sufficient on its own, and which is not?
The Batman created by Kane & Finger, advanced by O’Neil & Adams et al, filled out by Miller (credit where due, yo) & Moore & Starlin, and I would say greatly enhanced by the more recent work of Grant Morrison – this Batman makes sense and stands on his own. His world shattered by experiencing his parents gunned down by a nameless, faceless thug, Bruce Wayne uses his inheritance to travel the world and become the greatest martial artist and detective he can be. He returns to Gotham city as a young man, adopts a playboy alter ego along with his industrialist day job, and proceeds to begin fighting crime as the Batman. There is no other story like this. If you took away the mask and the name, you wouldn’t be able to say “oh yeah, that’s just like Billy the Kid” or “that’s just like Lancelot” or “that’s just like Mercury.” This is a myth that makes sense on its own terms and is not easily comparable to any story that came before or since. Every hero may just be a difference face for the same archetype, but the canonical Batman of DC Comics (and Warner Brothers animation) can at least be said to be a unique face for that hero.
On the other hand, excepting his work on Year One, Frank Miller’s Dark Knight doesn’t make much sense and doesn’t stand on its own. Why would someone radicalized by murder of his parents become, himself, a murderer? It’s not so much that that could never happen, but that there is no damn point traveling the world and training if you could just take your trust fund check to Don’s Guns and get started today. Take off the mask and the utility belt and he is Dirty Harry with a grappling hook; Robocop with a cape. Ever wondered what the movie Falling Down would be like if Michael Douglass had been rich and wearing tights? Read All-Star Batman and find out. (Or just watch Batman & Robin, since both are Joel Schumacher
shit shows films.) Miller’s Dark Knight is not a new face for the timeless archetypal hero as much as it is an attempt by an aggrieved white man to hijack Batman and make him the hero of aggrieved white men everywhere. (I bet Miller’s Bruce Wayne, if not Frank Miller himself, is sporting a Make Gotham Great Again hat. Sad!)
It is no coincidence that the guys who run Warner Brothers, Frank Miller, and Zack Snyder are all in the demographic most likely to taken in by the aggrieved white man agenda, both culturally and politically. I’m not saying they’re all regressive, reactionary asshats like Miller; I’m saying there is a reason why they would fail to notice that the Batman in the earlier movies, BvS, and graphic novels like The Dark Knight Returns is a false transmogrification of our true hero. But this does not mean that we are doomed to see only Angry White Batman on screen for the foreseeable future, because in fact we have already had 25 years of the best possible Batman on television and in home movies (one went to theaters).
Batman: The Animated Series shows us how to bring the myth to the screen (and how the screen can improve the myth)
When you hear the name Mark Hamill, you’re more likely to think of Luke Skywalker than the Joker – but Mark Hamill has spent way more time playing the Joker than the Jedi. If you have noticed that in recent Batman movies there has been an attempt (not always successful) to use two voices, one for the caped crusader and one for Bruce Wayne, you can thank Kevin Conroy, the actor that has played Batman in more shows, more movies, and for more years than all other actors combined. If you like seeing police zeppelins on Fox’s Gotham tv show or are excited to see the Joker’s sidekick Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad, then you can again thank Batman: The Animated Series (TAS).
Developed by Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski – who pitched the series to Warner Bros. with a two minute pilot – TAS ran for three seasons from September, 1992 through September, 1995. The series was widely praised by comic book fans, won critical acclaim, and is still adored by an entire generation of nerds who grew up watching the show – myself very much included. Thanks to the ubiquity of options for streaming tv shows (anyone with an Amazon Prime account can view the whole series) TAS will be able to mold current and future generations of Batman fans as well – my kid very much included. From the series’ Wikipedia entry:
The series was praised for its thematic complexity, darker tone, artistic quality and modernization of its title character’s crime-fighting origins.IGN listed The Animated Series as the best adaptation of Batman anywhere outside of comics, the best comic book cartoon of all time and the second best animated series of all time (after The Simpsons).Wizard magazine also ranked it #2 of the greatest animated television shows of all time (again after The Simpsons). TV Guide ranked it the seventh Greatest Cartoon of All Time. The widespread acclaim led the series to win four Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Animated Program.
The series was also the first in the continuity of the shared DC animated universe, spawning further animated TV series, comic books and video games with most of the same creative talent. Its ratings success and critical acclaim led the series to spawn two feature films: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (released to theaters in 1993) and Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero (a direct-to-video release in 1998).
That DC animated universe (DCAU) included Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, The New Batman Adventures (which was like a belated fourth season of TAS), Justice League, Justice League: Unlimited, and Batman Beyond (which started showing an older Bruce Wayne’s last adventure as Batman before he retired, and then the rest of the series was about a young man named Terry McGinnis later taking over the Batman mantle with the help of an even older Bruce Wayne being a sort of uber-Alfred). There were also at least four animated movies included in the DCAU continuity.
I could probably write a four part essay just about how great TAS was (and is): the art deco Gotham and noirish animation style combine for relentlessly cool visuals; the music is of much higher quality than in any other superhero show before or since; the voice work (especially Conroy and Hamill) is, again, the best I am aware of on any comparable show; the characters, whether adapted from comics or created for the show, are compelling and several of them are developed over the course of multiple episodes. For my current purpose I will focus on how the series succeeds both at representing and shaping the myth of Batman and that is does so in a way that can and should be used to guide future live-action film adaptations.
Of course, being a children’s show, TAS could not do justice to the full Batman mythology. There is no way to adapt The Killing Joke or A Death in the Family storylines for younger viewers, so for instance with the latter Jason Todd is ignored entirely with Tim Drake taking over the Robin mantle from Dick Grayson. Barbara Gordon is never crippled and does not become Oracle. Bane appears in the series, and his appearances are not bad, but they are certainly not as compelling as the story arc from Knightfall, which I would say has earned a place in the Batman mythology. And of course TAS and that version of the DCAU was, tragically, long ended by the time Grant Morrison
introduced reinterpreted the character of Damian Wayne, Bruce’s biological son with Talia al’Ghul (long story), which is probably the only development since Knightfall that seems to me to be worthy of being adopted into the broader cultural mythology of Batman. (Jim Gordon’s BatMech need not apply.) The Joker of TAS is necessarily a sort of midway between the homicidal maniac of the 1940s/1970s – present and his silly, campy version from the 1950s and 60s, which is nonetheless voice acted masterfully by Mark Hamill. Last, but by no means least among its flaws, multicultural representation is a big problem: nearly everyone in the series is white; women (including Batgirl and Catwoman) are generally portrayed as helpless and/or crazy; and there is no indication that there are any LGBTQ persons anywhere in the entire DCAU continuity.
Even with those limitations, most of which stem from being an animated adaptation aimed at a younger audience during television’s white supremacist 1990s, the series had a substantial impact on the comic books and shared cultural mythology of Batman. As I mentioned earlier, the fan favorite character of Harley Quinn originated on TAS, along with eight other characters later adopted by comic books. Preexisting characters were influenced by the show as well, with many of Bruce Timm’s designs from the series influencing their appearances in the comics books (e.g. Clayface) and are the basis of the look for almost all of the LEGO minifigures and the LEGO Batman video game series, which gives TAS a multi-generational influence. The current origin story for Mr. Freeze, as a tragic figure who was transmogrified by his attempts to save his nearly-dead wife, was an innovation of the cartoon show as well.
Most importantly of all Batman: The Animated Series just gets Batman right as a character, as do the other shows and movies in that DCAU continuity. It would be difficult to pull out all the best moments from 85 episodes plus other series and movies, but here are a few clips that I think help make the case that TAS is a faithful and compelling adaptation of Batman, worthy of primacy on the source list for anyone writing, directing, producing, financing, or even contemplating bringing the Dark Knight to the big screen.
First up is episode 3, Nothing to Fear. In this episode, which is a textbook hero’s journey, Bruce Wayne is in his ordinary world until he is accosted by a friend of his father’s in an elevator. The older man shames Bruce for being a playboy and disgracing his family name (of course the dude has no idea that Wayne is Batman). Moments later, Bruce is called to adventure when he sees a helicopter up to no good and changes into his batsuit to pursue it. After becoming Batman and engaging Scarecrow and his thugs in a bank vault (!), our hero’s tests begin as he is doused with Scarecrow’s fear agent, which causes him to hallucinate images of his father, disappointed, in the flames of the now burning vault. Alfred, as the ally and mentor in this story, picks up Bruce/Batman and helps him recuperate from the incident both physically and emotionally by telling him his father would have been very proud. Batman continues his pursuit of Scarecrow, despite still being confronted by voices and visions of his father shaming him, until at last he is closing in on his enemy while suffering his worst hallucination yet. Then he claims his value and identity, which is the “seizing of the sword” moment in this particular journey:
After handling the blimp situation, Batman discovers Scarecrows identity, hunts him down, and then they fight. At that point Crane (aka Scarecrow) manages to douse himself with the fear toxin and promptly gets scared out of his mind by Batman, as you do. Returning home with the elixirs of confidence and self-worth, Bruce places some flowers on his parents’ grave. If you’re only going to watch one episode of TAS, make it Nothing to Fear. (Aside: If you combine this episode with episode 28, Dreams in Darkness, you’ve got most of the plot to Batman Begins.)
Other episodes fill in important parts of Bruce Wayne’s pre-Batman backstory. A particularly touching episode is number 18, Beware the Gray Ghost. In this episode, Batman comes to the aid of his childhood idol from television, the Gray Ghost – voiced by none other than 1960s Batman Adam West himself:
Most of the backstory on the show has more to do with Bruce’s travels as a young man, training to one day become Batman. Here is a scene from episode 35, Night of the Ninja, where Alfred tells the story of Bruce’s samurai training to Dick Grayson:
And here in episode 54, Zatanna, we see the origin of the titular legging-averse magic wielder herself along with some of Bruce’s training in illusion and escape techniques:
A number of other great episodes from the series defy my attempts to find a quick clip. Episodes 32 & 33, Robin’s Reckoning Parts 1 & 2, show Dick Grayson/Robin’s origin story and also delve into the nature (and impotence) of revenge. Batman and Robin are both excellently developed as characters in these episodes, which won the show a primetime Emmy award. Episode 62, His Silicon Soul, shows Batman struggling to dismantle an intelligent computer named HARDAC that has created a robot Batman, which is itself struggling with its own identity. Eventually, robot Batman chooses to be a good guy and sacrifices itself to save the real Batman and Gotham city. By the way, even robot Batman manages to avoid killing and/or shooting anybody. Some episodes, like Almost Got ‘Im, are just fun; that episode shows several of Batman’s enemies playing poker and trading stories about a time when they nearly killed the Dark Knight… …before he shows up, kicks all their asses, and sends them to Arkham (which, seriously, needs a major security upgrade). Last but not least among my favorites (that can’t be clipped effectively, at least), is the two-parter The Demon’s Quest (episodes 60 & 61), which introduces Ra’s al-Ghul and his daughter Talia to TAS and is a remarkably faithful adaptation of the 1971 comic book introduction of the al-Ghuls by O’Neil and Adams.
Two more of my personal favorite moments of this version of Batman were not part of Batman: The Animated Series but are found in the Justice League and Batman Beyond series of the same DCAU continuity. The first, from Justice League episode For the Man Who Has Everything, requires a bit of explanation. Mongul is a big bad alien dude who sent Superman a “gift” – a chest-hugging alien creature that takes over the mind of whoever it attaches to and shows them the world they most long to see. Batman and Wonder Woman show up and find Kal-El standing there, completely immersed in a virtual Krypton where his world, his people, and his parents are still alive. Wonder Woman fights Mongul while Batman works to detach the alien from Superman. Batman succeeds, but the alien then attaches to him, and then this happens:
Reminder: that action-packed psychodynamic sequence takes place on a kids show and still manages to be both more compelling and less disturbing than the opening sequence of Batman v Superman. If anyone is ever thinking about putting Batman’s crime alley origin in a movie again, they should watch that clip, ask themselves honestly if they’re going to do better, and if not just forget about it. But I digress.
The last clips are from the opening moments of Batman Beyond. In what looks to me to be an explicit rebuke of Frank Miller’s Nocturnal Rambo, we see a 55-year-old Batman who has not yet retired, but increasingly relies on technology to help him get the job done, as he has what turns out to be his last fight with some Gotham city goons:
Finally we see animated Batman – who has neither killed nor shot anyone in decades of crime fighting – brought low by a beating, a heart attack, and aging in general. He is forced to save his own life and the life of an innocent woman by picking up a gun, which he only points at the one criminal still standing. This Batman doesn’t decide that now is the time to get all Deathwish on crime fighting, but rather that if he can’t be Batman without guns, then he just can’t be Batman:
This is the true Batman in the eyes of almost every generation of his fans; no guns, no killing. Not ever.
It is worth mentioning that there is a murderous, cruel version of Batman that has appeared in comic books in a way that enhances rather than abandons the history and myth of the caped crusader. In 2011, DC Comics had a huge crossover arc called Flashpoint. In this story (SPOILERS!), the Flash/Barry Allen realizes that he is in a weird alternate reality where his mother is alive but he has no speed force powers (also other stuff is weird – there is no Superman, Cyborg is the main hero of the USA, and most of the world is being destroyed by a war between Wonder Woman’s Amazons and Aquaman’s Atlanteans). Allen goes to Gotham and to Wayne Manor because he has seen there is a Batman. Once there, he meets Thomas Wayne, who is a corrupt and brutal Dark Knight driven by a desire to make the criminal underworld pay for the murder of his young son, Bruce, in an alley way. Get it? Barry needs Thomas’ help to regain his powers and only gets it by mentioning that in the alternate reality he wants to restore, it was Thomas and Martha who were shot and Bruce who lived (and become Batman, no less). Not only does Thomas help Allen regain his powers, but in the final battle of the entire story arc, Thomas kills the Reverse Flash, saving the Flash, even though he knows it will lead to his own non-existence. Such is the love of a father for his son. The Flash restores his reality (mostly), having to endure no small sacrifice himself in the process, and is also able to deliver a note from Thomas to Bruce that contains these words:
When Barry came to me for help, I turned him away.
I’m not the hero of this story.
I’m a man who’s been corrupted by his own unbearable pain,
I’m a man who has too much blood on his hands to be called good.
I’m a man who had nothing to live for…
Naturally, Bruce cries after reading the letter. And this is my whole point with this essay: In the age of mass shootings and smartphone videos of police officers using guns to execute innocent people for looking scary, we need our caped crusader to remain committed to fighting crime through excellent detective work and a mastery of non-lethal weapons and combat techniques. We need a Batman, the Batman, who uses his training and resources not just to fight against crime, but to fight for justice. We need a hero whose superpower is his virtue (and, okay, extreme wealth). As the antepenultimate animated clip shows, our Dark Knight’s quest is not rooted in a violent pathology so much as an altruistic desire to be the last boy whose life is defined by trauma and tragedy. It may be a fool’s errand, but it is not a monster’s, and this defining element of the character is completely lost in Miller’s hyperviolent (and sometimes hypersexual) fever dream version. Miller’s Dark Knight is not the hero of this story. The hero of this story is the Batman who was created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger, then evolved by them and many others across three-going-on-four generations of story tellers like Dennis O’Neil, Neal Adams, Alan Moore, Jim Starlin, Bruce Timm, Christopher Nolan, and Grant Morrison – and who now belongs, in a very significant way, to the multiple generations of fans that have funded the development of comics, shows, video games, and movies that keep Batman alive and fresh in the cultural imagination.
Batman belongs to all of us now and Warner Bros. needs to respect that reality by making a real effort to do right by the fans in future movies. For better or worse, the cineplex is the contemporary Lascaux, and we want to see our favorite myths painted excellently – or at the very least recognizably.
In part 4 of The Once and Future Batman, I’ll provide DC and WB with some tips on how to do just that. (I’m sure the writers, producers, and director are all eagerly waiting for my input. 😹)
Batman fans sound off! Do you agree? Do you disagree? Tell TLP! Send an email, comment on Facebook, or tweeton Twitter. There is also Tumblr and the comment field below, if you’re into that kind of thing. The best responses will be added to this post or included in a follow up post.