Tag Archives: detective comics

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: 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:21

JOCK


From Wikipedia:

Mark Simpson, known by the pen name Jock, is a British comics artist, best known for his work in 2000 AD and on The Losers.[1]

Jock began his professional career at 2000 AD, on series including Judge Dredd and Lenny Zero[2]. He has worked in the American comic book market at DC Comics and their Vertigo imprint.

Like most American comic enthusiasts, I first saw the work of Jock in the pages of Vertigo’s Losers comic, which was recently adapted into a feature film. Since then, he’s become one of the industry’s go-to guys for memorable cover art…most of the images in this post come from a stint he did as the cover artist for Batman. Recently he added some interior Bat-work to his resume with a Detective Comics arc written by Greg Rucka.

His work has also appeared in other media, including the package art for the Criterion Collection’s release of Akira Kurosawa’s Drunken Angel.

G.

70 Aspects Of Batman: 14

batman_toth

ALEX TOTH

From Wikipedia:

Alex Toth (June 25, 1928May 27, 2006), pronounced with a long “o,” was an acclaimed professional cartoonist active from the 1940s through the 1980s. Toth’s work began in the American comic book industry, but is best known for his animation designs for Hanna-Barbera throughout the 1960s and 1970s. His work included Super Friends, Space Ghost, The Herculoids, and Birdman. Toth’s work has been resurrected in the late-night, adult-themed spinoffs on Cartoon Network: Space Ghost: Coast to Coast and Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law.

modelsheet

Toth’s contributions to the comics medium are not widely known among casual fans. He did much of his comics work outside the current mainstream of superhero comics, concentrating instead on such subjects as hot rod racing, romance, horror, and action-adventure. His stint on Disney’s Zorro is highly regarded and has been reprinted in trade paperback form several times. Also, there are two volumes of The Alex Toth Reader, published by Pure Imagination, which focuses on his work for Standard and Western publishing. Otherwise, the bulk of his shorter stories can be difficult to locate. Nonetheless, he is widely regarded as an “artist’s artist” and is often lumped among such greats as Will Eisner and Jack Kirby as one of the undisputed masters of the sequential storytelling medium.

15007hb

toth_ridd

Journalist Tom Spurgeon wrote that Toth possessed “an almost transcendent understanding of the power of art as a visual story component,” and called him “one of the handful of people who could seriously enter into Greatest Comic Book Artist of All-Time discussions” and “a giant of 20th Century cartoon design.”[2] He was formally inducted into the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1990.


3775_400x600

In spite of the fact that Toth’s design of the Super Friends Batman would arguably become the one most familiar to the children of the 70s, his work on any actual Batman comics was almost non-existent. In fact, Toth only drew one solo Batman adventure:”Death Flies The Haunted Sky”, written by Archie Goodwin and featured in Detective Comics #442 from September, 1974:

alex toth and archie goodwin. batman. death flies the haunted skies. page. 002

This story was reprinted in Batman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told.

6a00e55139cdc88834010534962586970b-800wi

Toth did draw Batman on other occasions though, as seen below in a page taken from a Superman Annual, published in 1983:

toth_supermanannual9

Toth’s final Batman piece appeared on the cover of Batman Black And White #4 from 1996. As you can see, Toth’s design excellence is on full display here, as he turns the picture of Batman in the spotlight into a configuration of shapes and shades.

comic-2

Alex Toth…a true comic book visionary.

G.

P.S. Here is a link to the full “Death Flies The Haunted Sky” story, from the always amazing Grantbridge Street & other misadventures blog.


Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Furl | Newsvine

70 Aspects Of Batman: 13

batman-lobo

SAM KIETH

BatmanSecretsCv2

From Wikipedia:

Sam Kieth (born January 11, 1963 ) is an American comics writer and illustrator and film director, best known as the creator of The Maxx and Zero Girl.

Kieth first came to prominence in 1983 as the inker of Matt Wagner‘s Mage, his brushwork adding fluidity and texture to the broad strokes of Wagner’s early work at Comico Comics. In 1989, he drew the first five issues of writer Neil Gaiman‘s celebrated series The Sandman, but felt his style was unsuited to the book (specifically saying that he “felt like Jimi Hendrix in The Beatles“) and left, handing over to his former inker Mike Dringenberg.

He acted as illustrator on two volumes of writer William Messner-LoebsEpicurus the Sage and drew an Aliens miniseries for Dark Horse Comics, among other things, before creating The Maxx in 1993 for Image Comics, with, initially, writing help from Messner-Loebs. It ran for 35 issues and was adapted, with Kieth’s assistance, into an animated series for MTV. Since then, as a writer-artist, he has gone on to create Friends of Maxx, Zero Girl, Four Women and Ojo.

sam_keith_Detective_Comics_Annual_pg00

Sam Kieth first dipped his toe in the Bat-water like so many before him, by providing cover art. In the early 90s, Kieth contributed images to the covers of both Batman and Detective Comics. Here’s a Detective Comics annual cover he drew, a tie-in for DC’s summer crossover event from 1992, Eclipso: The Darkness Within. Notice the curly q action that was a trademark of Keith’s early stuff.

batman_secrets_1

Around 10 years later Sam Kieth finally committed some of his art to the interior of a Batman comic. Batman: Secrets was a 5-issue miniseries that featured Batman and The Joker, and was both written and drawn by Kieth.

1242909647

BATMAN_SECRETS_3

As much as I like his work from the 80s and 90s, I feel like Sam Kieth has really come into his own this decade, as can be seen from the amazing Secrets art on display here.

BatmanSecretsCv4

Also in the 2000s, Kieth wrote and drew Scratch, a miniseries that starred a new (werewolf) character, and featured Batman extensively.

cover

page01

scratch5

That mouth is tailor made not to eat that chin…

His latest Batwork is Batman/Lobo: Deadly Serious, a two-issue miniseries that someone must have proposed in 1992 but the proposal was found in a desk drawer in 2007. Or something.  But knowing Kieth, it’s probably an entertaining read and features great art.

Next up for Kieth is another Lobo miniseries, this one written by Anthrax‘s Scott Ian. Yes, really.

BatmanLobo-DeadlySerious_2

sam

KietH.

G.

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Furl | Newsvine

70 Aspects Of Batman: 8

BM_DTC_TPB_solicit

SIMONE BIANCHI

From Wikipedia:

Simone Bianchi (born July 10, 1971[1] in Lucca, Italy) is an Italian comic book illustrator, painter, graphic designer and art instructor, known to Italian audiences for his work in comics, CD covers, music videos, TV commercials and role-playing games, and to American comic book readers for his work on Detective Comics, Green Lantern and Wolverine. Bianchi’s style is distinguished by his use of ink wash, or watercolor halftones,[1] in rendering his work, a non-traditional technique by mainstream American standards.[2]

batman-cov-1_full

detective-comics-828

I first saw Bianchi’s art in the Shining Knight miniseries that was part of Grant Morrison‘s Seven Soldiers megaseries. I was certainly impressed by his ability, and was also kind of surprised that DC was working with someone whose style is so European. Traditionally, American mainstream comic readers haven’t been terribly open to European artists, preferring instead Jim Lee clones from Brazil. Both for some reason, Simone’s work caught on over here.

3292971401_4a0ae9f03f

DTC_Cv831_solicit

After completing Shining Knight, Bianchi went over to Marvel, where first he worked with Jeph Loeb on Wolverine. He currently is partnered up with Warren Ellis on Astonishing X-Men. But during this Marvel tenure, he still found time to be the cover artist on both Batman and Detective Comics, which is where this images hail from.

DTC_Cv836_solicit

300px-Detective_Comics_823

Hopefully at some point he’ll come to his senses and do some actual Batman interior work, but until then you’ll have to settle for this. Or you could buy X-Men too, I suppose.

st_bat 657

G.

70 Aspects Of Batman: 1

bob-kane-2

So here’s a new feature: 70 Aspects Of Batman.

As you may not know, this year marks the 70th Anniversary of creation of Batman, The Dark Knight, The Caped etc. Batman first appeared in Detective Comics #27, cover-dated May 1939. To celebrate one of my favorite fictional character’s anniversaries, I’ve decided to share with you, the loyal Noising Machine reader, 70 different artistic interpretations of this guy throughout the rest of this year. These will include both entries on accepted Batman greats (Neal Adams, Frank Miller), relatively unsung heroes (Norm Breyfogle, Graham Nolan) and great artists who may have only drawn Batman once, but I like ’em so here they are (Katsuhiro Otomo). There definitely will not be any of the likes of Jim Lee, Michael Turner or Ed Benes though, so you can rest easy. Anyway, for this inaugural edition of 70 AOB, what better place to start then at the very beginning, with Batman’s “creator”…

batman_kane

BOB KANE

(Bob Kane pictured right)

Now here’s the thing about Bob Kane: HE WAS AN ASSHOLE. For decades, he had a contract with DC Comics that allowed him to have his name on any and every Batman story they published, regardless of who actually wrote and drew them. He also downplayed and/or outright ignored crediting contributions made by such creators as Bill Finger and Jerry Robinson to the Batman mythos. Basically, he created Batman to cash in on the success of Superman, who DC had premiered a year earlier.

batmandavinci1

As writer Bill Finger recalled: “[Kane] had an idea for a character called ‘Batman’, and he’d like me to see the drawings. I went over to Kane’s, and he had drawn a character who looked very much like Superman with kind of … reddish tights, I believe, with boots … no gloves, no gauntlets … with a small domino mask, swinging on a rope. He had two stiff wings that were sticking out, looking like bat wings. And under it was a big sign … BATMAN.”

Finger took this initial design and suggested modifications, substituting a cowl for the mask, adding a cape and gloves and instigating the color scheme change to gray and blue. He also came up with the name of Batman’s alter-ego, Bruce Wayne, by taking the last names of Scottish patriot Robert Bruce and Revolutionary War general “Mad” Anthony Wayne and combining them. He also wrote the script for Batman’s initial appearance in Detective #27.

93949885_3cedb84ac8

If this seems more like a Bill Finger post than a Bob Kane post, that’s because Bill Finger seems like a better human being to me. If there was any justice, the byline that’s still found in Batman comics today would read “Batman created by Bob Kane & Bill Finger” instead of “Batman Created by That Butthole Bob Kane”.  Kane was all too happy to take the attention and accolades during Batman’s initial success in the 40s, his 60s resurgence thanks to the Adam West TV show and the hoopla surronding the Batman feature films of the late 20th Century. He died in 1998.

batmanorginial

Still, I think one can and must judge work on its own merit and not by whether its creator was an asshole, as hard as that may be. Thus, while Bob Kane was a gloryhound who trampelled over others to get undeserved credit, he still did commit the first rendition of Batman to paper. And in his own stiff way, he lent the early Batman stories a sense of atmosphere that could be described as gothic or proto-noir. Like this:

bob_kane_batman_gallery_pg05

That’s a good, evocative picture. But yeah, for the most part most of the stuff you like about Batman probably came about in spite of Bob Kane, not because of him. And in real-life, I bet Batman wouldn’t even like him that much.

G.