Mike Mignola is mostly known these days as the creator of Hellboy, but before the big red guy debuted in 1994 he was a freelance artist who worked mainly for the big two, Marvel and DC. Mignola didn’t enjoy working on the either company’s bread and butter (superhero books) much; he would much rather have been drawing something involving monsters and/or gothic atmosphere, desires which led to the eventual creation of Hellboy. One character he did enjoy working on at the time, however, was Batman. Batman stories allowed Mignola to play up his strengths (moody lighting, gothic atmosphere, bizarre characters), and he would return to work on the Dark Knight Detective long after Hellboy became a success, presumably because he actually wanted to.
Mignola’s first major work on Batman was Gotham By Gaslight:
Gotham by Gaslight was DC’s first Elseworlds story, which allowed for interpretations of their iconic characters outside of mainstream continuity. Gaslight detailed a Batman that operated in Victorian London instead of modern day Gotham City, on the hunt for Jack The Ripper (it’s a great read, but I’m biased because it was one of the first comics I have a distinct memory of owning).
and in an issue of Legends of The Dark Knight. He also did some Batman cover work around this time, including one of my absolute favorite Batman stories that has never been collected, entitled Dark Knight, Dark City, which was written by the perennially underrated Peter Milligan.
After going to Dark Horse and working on Hellboy for a while, Mignola returned to DC in the late 90s for a two-issue crossover featuring his creator-owned character with two of theirs, Batman and Starman. The books were written by Starman writer James Robinson and as that was and still is one of my favorite series of all time, it was pretty exciting for me.
(Gotham By Gaslight, the Legends of the Dark Knight story and Batman/Hellboy/Starman have all been collected in a Mignola Batman collection, but frustratingly it’s only available in Spain, and in Spanish).
In the 2000s, Mignola had enough confidence in his writing apart from his amazing art that he started writing scripts for other artists to illustrate. One of these was Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham, another Elseworlds story. I’ve never read it, but judging from its covers it looks like it deals with his usual fetishes of pulp fiction, H.P. Lovecraftesque creatures and the like.
Mike Mignola has also had a statue made based on his Batman work….
…and his bold, minimal style allows for great tattoo artwork, as seen below:
So while Mike Mignola’s body of Bat-work is slim when compared to others in this series, it’s had a great impact.