Tag Archives: 70 aspects of batman

70 Aspects of Batman: 34

JOHN ROMITA JR.

From Wikipedia:

John Salvatore Romita, Jr. (born August 17, 1956) is an American comic book artist best known for his extensive work for Marvel Comics from the 1970s to the 2000s.

Romita was born in New York City, the son of John Romita, Sr., co-creator of several notable Spider-Man stories in the 1960s and 1970s.

He began his career at Marvel UK, doing sketches for covers of reprints. His American debut was with a six page story entitled “Chaos at the Coffee Bean!” in The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #11 (1977).

Romita’s early popularity began with his run on Iron Man with writer David Michelinie and artist Bob Layton which began in 1978. In the early 1980s, he had his first regular run on the Amazing Spider-Man series and also was the artist for the launch of the Dazzler series. Working with writer Roger Stern on Amazing Spider-Man, he co created the character Hobgoblin. From 1983 to 1986 he had a run on the popular Uncanny X-Men with Dan Green and author Chris Claremont which was well-received. He would return for a second well-received run on Uncanny X-Men in 1993.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Romita enjoyed an extended stint on Daredevil with writer Ann Nocenti and Eisner Award-winning inker Al Williamson, noted for its creation of long-running Daredevil nemesis Typhoid Mary. His work on Daredevil was well-received, with Romita Jr. further refining his style.

Romita later collaborated with Frank Miller on a Daredevil origin story entitled Daredevil: The Man Without Fear, a revisiting of the character’s origin. He worked on a host of Marvel titles during the 1990s, including The Punisher War Zone, the Hulk, the Cable mini-series, The Mighty Thor, a return to Iron Man for the second Armor Wars written by John Byrne, and the Punisher/Batman cross-over. Klaus Janson was a frequent inker.

In the 2000s, Romita had a well-received return to The Amazing Spider-Man with writer J. Michael Straczynski. He drew Marvel’s Wolverine with author Mark Millar as part of the character’s thirtieth-anniversary celebration. In 2004, Romita’s creator-owned project The Gray Area was published by Image Comics. Romita’s art has since appeared in Black Panther, The Sentry and Ultimate Vision, a backup story featured in the Ultimate line, written by author Mark Millar.

In 2006, Romita collaborated with writer Neil Gaiman on the reinterpretation of Jack Kirby‘s The Eternals in the form of a seven-issue limited series. Romita worked with Greg Pak on the five issue main comic of Marvel’s 2007 crossover event, World War Hulk.

In 2008, Romita again returned to Amazing Spider-Man. He is also collaborating once more with Mark Millar, for a creator-owned series, Kick-Ass, published by Marvel’s Icon imprint. The Filming of the Movie: Kick-Ass, began in September 2008. Romita, one of the producers, made his directorial debut by directing an animated flashback sequence in the film.

Romita is the regular artist for Avengers, which relaunched the franchise in May 2010.

John Romita Jr. may be the best pure superhero artist working in comics today. Over the course of his over 30 year career he has worked almost exclusively for Marvel Comics, so any images of characters from other companies by him. Fortunately, in the mid-90s before Marvel and DC became parts of huge conglomerates and were still open to crossovers, Romita Jr. drew a Batman/Punisher one-shot. For a reader used to Romita’s work only appearing in Marvel comics, seeing the denizens of Gotham City drawn in his style creates a certain cognitive dissonance…but once the brain adjusts, it’s a great visual experience. To date, apart from a sketch or two, Romita Jr. hasn’t drawn Batman since, which is a shame as his style has become more stripped down and direct as time’s gone on…kind of like this sketch below, done years after the one-shot:

I love this sequence from Batman/Punisher…it’s a well drawn sequence that flows and says a lot about the characters portrayed in it:

G.

70 Aspects of Batman: 33

WALT SIMONSON


From Wikipedia:

Walter “Walt” Simonson (born September 2, 1946) is an American comic book writer and artist.

Simonson’s breakthrough illustration job was Manhunter, a backup feature in DC’s Detective Comics written by Archie Goodwin. In a 2000 interview, Simonson recalled that “What Manhunter did was to establish me professionally. Before Manhunter, I was one more guy doing comics; after Manhunter, people in the field knew who I was. It’d won a bunch of awards the year that it ran, and after that, I really had no trouble finding work.”

Simonson is best known for his work on Marvel Comics’ The Mighty Thor and X-Factor (the latter being a collaboration with his wife Louise Simonson). Simonson took nearly complete control of Thor, during which he transformed Thor into a frog for three issues and introduced the supporting character Beta Ray Bill, an alien warrior who unexpectedly proved worthy to wield Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir. He started as writer & artist with issue #337 (Nov. 1983) and continued until #367 (May 1986). Sal Buscema became the artist on the title with #368 but Simonson continued to write the book until issue #382 (Aug. 1987).

Simonson became writer of the Fantastic Four with issue #334 (Dec. 1989), and three issues later began penciling and inking as well (#337, coincidentally the same issue number he started as writer & artist of Thor).

From 2003 to 2006, he drew the four issue prestige mini-series Elric: The Making of a Sorcerer, written by Elric‘s creator, Michael Moorcock. This series was collected as a 192 page graphic novel in 2007 by DC. He continued to work for DC in 2006 writing Hawkgirl, with pencillers Howard Chaykin, Joe Bennett, and Renato Arlem.

Recent work includes cover artwork for a Bat Lash mini-series and the ongoing series Vigilante, as well as writing a Wildstorm comic book series based on the online role-playing game World of Warcraft for Wildstorm. The Warcraft series ran 25 issues and was co-written with his wife, Louise Simonson.

Walt Simonson first drew Batman during his acclaimed Manhunter stories with Archie Goodwin; he also drew a handful of issues of both Batman and Detective Comics in the late 70s and early 80s. His last Batman comic art to date was, as far as I can tell, a Batman Black & White story in 1996.

However, he’s found time to do numerous covers and sketches of the Dark Knight over the years in between his legendary runs on The Mighty Thor, Fantastic Four and Orion, to name a few.

 

 

Walt Simonson is one of comic’s true originals in my opinion. Though his debt to Kirby is apparent, he takes that influence and, like John Romita Jr., makes his work unmistakeably his own.

G.

70 Aspects Of Batman: 32

JIRO KUWATA

From Wikipedia:

Jiro Kuwata (桑田二郎, Kuwata Jirō, alternatively 桑田次郎, born April 17, 1935 in Suita, Osaka) is a Japanese manga artist.

A gifted artist, Kuwata started out as a manga artist at the young age of 13, when he created The Strange Star Cluster (怪奇星団) in 1948. His turning point came in 1957, when he created Phantom Detective (まぼろし探偵) (which was adapted into a tokusatsu TV series in 1959). Since then, Kuwata devoted himself to creating science fiction/superhero adventures. His most famous was 8 Man, which he co-created with writer Kazumasa Hirai.

Unfortunately, in 1965, when he was to finish the final issue of 8 Man, he was arrested for possessing a handgun (he had contemplated suicide). With Kuwata in jail, co-creator Hirai got other manga artists to finish the final issue, but wasn’t satisfied with it. It was published in a manga magazine, but has never before been reprinted.

Nevertheless, Kuwata, released from prison shortly thereafter, continued his manga work well into the 1970s, but also ran into depression and alcoholism. In 1977, he had an epiphany and converted to Buddhism. He has since done beautiful art books about the life of Buddha. He also occasionally got back into manga work, and in 1992, he agreed to do his own version of the final issue of 8 Man, upon being asked by co-creator/friend Kazumasa Hirai.

Kuwata’s Batman work was published in Japan around the time of the huge hit TV show; like most manga adaptations of American superhero comics, its appeal seems to have been somewhat limited to the Japanese audience, and was largely unknown in the States until the publication of a compilation from a couple years ago, entitled Bat-Manga.

Bat-Manga was curated by Chip Kidd, noted graphic designer, author and Batman fan. There was a bit of a kerfluffle when the book was published because of the absence of a credit for Kuwata on the cover. While this was almost definitely an oversight, it remains an unfortunate error. Nevertheless, on its release, Kuwata finally received recognition for his work on the character; Grant Morrison even introduced the Kuwata characters Lord Death Man and Professor Gorilla to DC continuity in the initial Japan-centric arc of his Batman Inc. series.

And, since it’s from Japan, you get some amazing scenes like these:

– Greg

Thanks to the excellent ISB for several of the scans featured here.

70 Aspects of Batman: 31

JAE LEE

From Wikipedia:

Jae Lee is an American comic book artist best known for his work on Inhumans and The Sentry, both with Paul Jenkins.

Lee first rose to prominence in the industry for his work on Marvel’s Namor the Sub-Mariner, Inhumans (for which he won an Eisner Award), and The Sentry, as well as his creator-owned character Hellshock at Image Comics.

Lee also worked with artist Richard Isanove and writers Robin Furth and Peter David on Marvel ComicsThe Dark Tower comic series, based on Stephen King‘s The Dark Tower novels.

I remember first seeing Jae Lee’s stuff way back in the early 90s, in some of Marvel’s X-books and Namor. His style back then was much more messy and chaotic, but still good. Over the years his art became more refined to the point you see here. I’m not sure if he’s done much, if any interior Batman stuff: most of the pieces here were done as covers for the Batman: Gotham Knights series from a bit back. Even though I really enjoy his stuff, I’ve read little of it over the past 15 years. Oh well, I guess I’ll just resign myself to looking at beautiful pieces like this one:


– Greg

70 Aspects of Batman: 30

JACK KIRBY

From Wikipedia:

Jack Kirby (August 28, 1917 – February 6, 1994), born Jacob Kurtzberg, was an American comic book artist, writer and editor. Growing up poor in New York City, Kurtzberg entered the nascent comics industry in the 1930s. He drew various comic strips under different pen names, ultimately settling on Jack Kirby. In 1941, Kirby and writer Joe Simon created the highly successful superhero character Captain America for Timely Comics. During the 1940s, Kirby would create a number of comics for various publishers, often teaming with Simon.

After serving in World War II, Kirby returned to comics and worked in a variety of genres. He contributed to a number of publishers, including Archie Comics and DC Comics, but ultimately found himself at Timely’s 1950s iteration, Atlas Comics, later to be known as Marvel Comics. In the 1960s, Kirby co-created many of Marvel Comics‘ major characters, including the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, and the Hulk, along with writer-editor Stan Lee. Despite the high sales and critical acclaim of the Lee-Kirby titles, Kirby felt treated unfairly, and left the company in 1970 for rival DC Comics.

While working for DC, Kirby created his Fourth World saga, which spanned several comics titles. While these and other titles proved commercially unsuccessful and were canceled, several of their characters and the Fourth World mythos have continued as a significant part of the DC Comics universe. Kirby returned to Marvel briefly in the mid-to-late 1970s, then ventured into television animation and independent comics. In his later years, Kirby received great recognition for his career accomplishments, and is regarded by historians and fans as one of the major innovators and most influential creators in the comic book medium.

In 1987, Kirby, along with Carl Barks and Will Eisner, was one of the three inaugural inductees of the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame.

As with Will Eisner, it can’t be overstated how important Jack Kirby is in the history of American comics. In a career that spanned seven decades, Kirby created hundreds upon hundreds of characters, worked in almost every conceivable genre and produced tens of thousands of pages of comic art.

And yet, over the course of that career, Batman was a character Kirby rarely tackled. In fact, most of DC’s most well-known characters were hardly, if ever, depicted by The King.

Kirby’s most notable DC stints were in the 40s and 70s, respectively. Both of those periods saw Kirby (and during the 40s, his creative partner Joe Simon) mainly creating new characters rather than working on pre-existing ones. In the above cover for Detective Comics, Simon & Kirby creations The Boy Commandos appear alongside Batman & Robin, but only the Commandos were drawn by the pair. Batman artist and Joker co-creator Jerry Robinson handled the dynamic duo.

It wouldn’t be until the early 70s, after his revolutionary work for Marvel in the 60s, that Kirby would actually draw Batman. Strangely, this initial depiction was featured on the cover of The Comic Reader #100, alongside Captain Marvel, Superman and his own creation, Captain America.

By the 1980s Kirby was doing a lot of work in animation, and the comic work he was doing was creator-owned, thanks to fledgling indie publisher Pacific Comics. But in the middle of the decade, Kirby returned for what would be his last period of work for DC.

DC made a deal with toy manufacturer Kenner to produce a line of action figures in the wake of He-Man’s massive success. Dubbed Super Powers, Kirby’s Fourth World antagonists (like Darkseid and Desaad) were chosen as the line’s villians. According to the Super Powers article on Wikipedia, Kirby’s redesign work he did for the line on the characters he created led to some of the only royalties he received during his career.

As a tie-in to the Super Powers toys and Saturday morning cartoon, DC approached Kirby to work on mini-series based on the concept. This was the only time Kirby drew not just Batman, but also Green Lantern, The Flash and other DC icons in actual comic stories.

Although Kirby’s work on the series was perhaps not his best, due to worsening eyesight and old age in general, it still contained the unmistakable energy he was known for. Still uncollected, the Super Powers miniseries have long been clamored for by Kirby’s most devoted fans.

And, as a bonus, here’s his take on The Joker and The Penguin, too.

Jack Kirby: The once and future King.

G.

70 Aspects of Batman: 29

FRAZER IRVING

From Wikipedia:

Frazer Irving (born in the 1970s, Ilford, Essex) is a British comic book artist known for the 2000 AD series Necronauts. Since breaking into the American market he has worked on a number of superhero titles, including a number with Grant Morrison.


I love when artists who seem like they shouldn’t draw superhero comics draw superhero comics: I’d place Frazer Irving in that category. His art seems perfectly suited to atmospheric horror stories, so to see his style applied to Batman and Robin is to see two potent elements combine to make a much more potent whole.

Irving’s first work with Morrison was on Klarion, part of the latter’s Seven Soldiers megaseries. His first Morrison/Batman art appeared in Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #2, which saw the titular hero recast as a Puritan detective (see above) during his travels through the timestream.

He recently completed work on Morrison’s final arc of the Batman And Robin title he helped initiate. Irving was given ample space to display his gothic art on characters like Professor Pyg…

…Simon Hurt…

…and, of course, The Joker.

This may sound hyperbolic, but I think Irving’s Joker has for me quickly joined the highest echelon of Clown Prince depictions (Brian Bolland’s at #1). He looks so diseased and sinister. Let’s luxuriate in his Joker’s toxic glow:

– Greg

70 Aspects of Batman: 28

MIKE ALLRED

From Wikipedia:

Michael Dalton “Mike” Allred is an American comic book artist and writer most famous for his indie comics creation, Madman. His style is often compared to pop art, as well as commercial and comic art of the 1950s and 1960s.

Allred began his career as a TV reporter in Europe, and started drawing comics in 1989 with the 104-page OGN Dead Air (Slave Labor Graphics). Following this up with his similarly-titled works Graphique Musique (SLG, 1990) and Grafik Muzik (Caliber Comics 1990/91), he set out the style that he was to become known for with his most famous character: Madman.

The first Madman miniseries debuted from Tundra Publishing in March 1992, and gained higher recognition with its move to Dark Horse Comics in April 1994. Relaunched as Madman Comics, it went on to be nominated for several Harvey Awards. Allred himself gained further mainstream attention with the science-fiction/rock-and-roll comic Red Rocket 7 and his art for writer Peter Milligan‘s series X-Force, which he began drawing in July 2001, and subsequently became X-Statix after X-Force #128.

His more recent work includes The Golden Plates, an adaptation of The Book of Mormon. Other projects are inking X-Statix Presents: Deadgirl, and work on a new ‘Madman’ series. He has also drawn three issues of the Vertigo comic Fables. His wife, Laura, frequently works as his colorist.

Allred is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, otherwise known as the Mormons.

Currently, he’s performing art duties on up and coming Vertigo series I, Zombie, written by Chris Roberson. The main character, Gwendolyn “Gwen” Dylan, is a ‘zombie girl detective’.

I first encountered Mike Allred’s work in the pages of Madman #1, waaaay back in 1993. When I would stay with my grandparents for a bit in the summer, my grandma would drive me to nearby Iowa City in order to take advantage of some of the things the college town offered that their small town didn’t. Like comic shops! I don’t remember if I read about Madman before I bought it, but for some reason one day, instead of getting the newest issue of Spawn I got Madman #1 from Tundra. I was instantly attracted to Allred’s clean, retro style (though his early stuff had more of a Charles Burns-y feel as well), and read and re-read the issue multiple times. I’ve been an Allred devotee ever since.

Apart from the odd pin-up, Allred’s most substantial work on Batman appeared in his issue of Solo, entitled “Batman-A-Go-Go”. I want to say BAGG was meant to be a miniseries at one point, but I can’t find anything online to support that. I definitely remember it being an idea that was mentioned long before it eventually appeared.

Unsurprisingly, considering the influence the 60s have on his work,  Allred’s take on Batman in this story is steeped in the look of the Adam West starring-TV show. The main plot of “Batman-A-Go-Go”, however, actually concerns Batman’s disillusionment about how the world is changing into a much darker place than the day-glo sound effects-laden one of the show. It’s an interesting take, and it would have been nice to see this story in full miniseries form (if that was ever actually a possibility).

So in closing, Mike Allred has long been one of my favorite comic artists, and you should do your best to seek out his issue of Solo, and everything else he’s ever done.

– Greg