Sometimes, a thing can grow much bigger than itself.
The Killing Joke, a Batman comic by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland published in 1988, is a perfect case in point. Never absent from any list of essential Batman reading, it is shocking and controversial, inspiring countless tracts and endless debate far outpacing the comic’s own 46-page length. The mere suggestion of the book inspires intense reactions, and the discussion over some of the book’s more problematic plot points dogs it wherever it goes. At this point, the simple question, is it good? is pretty much irrelevant. Like The Dark Knight Returns, at this point The Killing Joke is such a significant entry in (and influence upon) the Batman canon, it scarcely matters if it’s good.
Moosehead Breweries, Ltd., would seem an odd pairing with such a controversial classic, then. For most of the brewery’s nearly 150-year history, Moosehead occupied a comfortable, if unusual, position as an independent brewery, but just a little too big to be considered a craft brewery. Though inoffensive and catering to popular tastes, it is a Canadian institution, as is the family that founded it and continues to operate it today: the Olands. While the history of the brewery boasts plenty of dramatic moments, Moosehead finds itself discussed most these days in relation to the longest and most expensive murder trial in the history of Saint John, New Brunswick. Though presently in appeal, Dennis Oland, cousin to the current Moosehead president, was convicted in December of last year for the violent murder of Richard Oland, his own father. Though both Dennis and Richard Oland were just peripheral to Moosehead’s operations, it has nevertheless cast a pall over the Oland (and thus, the Moosehead) name – one can’t openly drink a Moosehead lager right now without getting embroiled in a did-he-or-didn’t-he discussion. Continue reading