First use of ‘Dark Knight’ to describe a Batman style character

So we all know Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. Since that time we’ve had a million iterations if referring to Batman as variations on Dark Knight until I wish he’d just lighten up, dammit.

But where’d that start?

I’m rereading Cerebus High Society. The issues in the compilation were publisher between May 1981 and May 1983. In an early issue a character - The Moon Roach who is a parody of Marvel’s Moon Knight - is referred to by another character as ‘sort sort of jet and silver Dark Knight caped crusader’.

I can’t imagine that the Dark Knight thing first appeared in an obscure black and white indie comic out of Kitchener, Ontario about an aardvark, for heaven’s sake.

So does anyone know earlier uses of the phrase to refer to Batman? I’m prepared to discover it’s been around forever. I just don’t know of any.

Looks like one from 1940.

Which is fromBatman #1 (First appearance of Joker and Catwoman, too)

Wow, I didn’t know it went back that far. Joker’s got a nice car, too!

Yeah, color me surprised, too.

I certainly don’t recall hearing it much until TDKR in what, 1986?1987?

Was it in popular use?

I remember the phrase “the darknight detective” from comics in the 1970s, so I think it has been a common epithet throughout his existence.

It appears that what has changed since Batman #1 is dropping the definite article from his name.

Yeah, Batheman was an interesting concept, but too much a ripoff of the Sub-Mariner.

Bob Kane’s The Bat-Man - More like The Red Knight, or maybe The Blonde Knight, or even possibly, Ted Knight.
NOTE: Drawing is NOT Bob Kane’s original artwork. See comments.

Here’s one from, AFAICT, 1980, as the Batmobile suggests.

(Seriously, how much more 1980 could that Batmobile look?)

That’s an extract from The Untold Legend of the Batman (note use of definite article) from July-September 1980. It uses a somewhat flimsy framing device to basically depict a whole series of flashbacks based on decades of various Batman stories about his origin, his costume, his parents, his sidekick… etc.

Well, then, let me just put this panel out there, too.

(Also, apparently, from 1940.)

Why on Earth is he jumping sideways over a coffee table?

Just a showoff.