You may not realize it immediately, but casinos and comics have a lot in common. They’re both some of the oldest types of entertainment still enjoyed today and they’ve both been changed dramatically by the development of the internet.
Casinos and comics both borrow heavily from their back catalogs while producing new content. Many of the most popular comics sold today feature characters invented the best part of a century ago.
Similarly, most modern casino games are just variations of older games like blackjack and roulette, with a few new features. For example, Instant Roulette is a live dealer game offered by many online casinos that still uses the same 37-pocket wheels as traditional roulette, but with several of them spinning at once.
Both have a history that spans more than 1,000 years, with evidence that the Romans enjoyed both casino games and comics. In Rome, Trajan’s Column is evidence of these Roman “sequential pictures” that helped to tell stories. Archaeologists have also found dice and other betting paraphernalia in the area.
These two have crossed paths many more times in the years since though. Most recently, several comic book characters have been inspired by casinos and casino games.
The most famous of all casino-related comic characters is The Joker. The arch-nemesis of Batman has become so well-known that he’s earned his own movie, something most other villains don’t manage to achieve.
Joker cards aren’t used in many of the most popular casino games, though in some variants of poker, the joker can be used as a sort of “wild card” to replace any other. It is used in some other card games though. In War, some variants value the joker higher than any other card, while in crazy eights, the joker card forces a player to skip their next turn.
Blackjack is the card game that’s played the most in casinos around the world. This is thanks to it being easy to understand and play while having an almost infinite number of outcomes.
The game inspired a character in Zip Comics. Appearing in issue number 20 from November 1941, Black Jack was a former detective in the local police department. His real name was Jack Jones, but his nickname was given to him by colleagues thanks to his love of the card game.
Having left the force, Black Jack swapped his police uniform for a red suit that was emblazoned by a large black spade across the chest and some smaller spades on the legs and arms.
In his inaugural appearance, Jack was tricked into an ambush by Lucky Lavitto, his sworn enemy. After walking inside a room, Black Jack was sealed inside by Lavitto who used cement to create an air-tight seal.
Quick-thinking Jack outwitted his enemy though, pulling out a playing card to create a hole in the cement before it had dried. This gave him a source of fresh air that kept him alive until help could arrive.
Like blackjack, roulette is a game you’ll find in almost every casino in the world. Even if they don’t have a live table, there’ll almost certainly be an electronic version. Also like blackjack, roulette has inspired a comic character.
Roulette is a character from DC Comics who first appeared in JSA Secret Files number 2, back in September 2001.
Although Roulette is a trained martial artist who uses hairpins as weapons, she has no superpowers. However, she is very intelligent and she uses this in her job as the manager of a casino called “The House”.
As well as typical casino games, The House hosts regular fight nights that pit two DC superheroes against each other, with Roulette taking bets on the result. They don’t fight willingly though, instead, they’re kidnapped using a high-tech teleporter.
While the superhero kidnapping and sci-fi tech is clearly not in the realms of reality, The House seems like a fairly realistic casino given that several Las Vegas resorts also host regular pay-per-view fights.
These are just three of the many casino-inspired comic characters, and it seems likely we’ll continue to see many more of them in the future.