Tuesday, February 22, 2011
It's a Fine Line: Batman in the Bronze Age
Doug: You may have noticed a bit more Batman around these parts lately, and Neal Adams' work is always a welcome topic on this blog. So what say we just combine 'em, throw in some Marshall Rogers and a little Jim Aparo and see what we get? All of the picture references for today's post come from the wonderful World Wide Web, as my Batman collection over the years has dwindled.
Bob Brown --
Doug: We're currently looking at Bob Brown's work on the Avengers/Zodiac story, and some time ago we checked in on his Daredevil and the Black Widow. Brown actually drew quite a few issues of Batman and Detective Comics, and as I've said, he was always pretty solid if not spectacular. I know he's not for everyone's taste, however.
Karen: I don't think I've ever seen a Bob Brown Batman comic. But then my Batman collection is limited. This looks serviceable but that's about all.
Dick Dillin --
Doug: Dillin is of course best known for his long tenure on Justice League of America, but he, like Brown, showed up from time to time on Batman's solo adventures. I think one thing that most everyone will notice is the style of the cowl and the bat insignia. This panel definitely comes from the very early Bronze Age, when the comics still mimicked the 1966 television show. The ears were short, man!
Karen: I've always liked Dillin. But you're right, this has a heavy TV influence. I'm just waiting for Aunt Harriet to pop up.
Doug: Ha! We laugh about that, but let's face it -- how many Bronze Agers owe their entry into this hobby/interest to that TV show?
Dick Giordano --
Doug: Giordano's spot in Bronze Age history is, for most folks, as the sidekick to Neal Adams on Batman and the Green Lantern/Green Arrow run. However, his was a varied career, and every now and then he did his own pencilling. Many criticize (or laud, depending on your point of view, I guess) him for aping Adams when he pencilled. There are worse sins than aping Neal Adams.
Karen: No kidding, very much looks like Adams.
Don Newton --
Doug: I know Newton has many fans, and I am certainly no detractor. However, I don't think I know enough about his body of work to even foster an intelligent comment here.
Karen: Newton's another one of those guys that I've thought was serviceable but never got me excited about the art.
Ernie Chan --
Doug: I like this panel, because it's just through-and-through Ernie Chan. Many of you will recognize his work on Conan the Barbarian, either on his own or for his extensive run as the inker for John Buscema. But in the mid- to late-'70's he was the lead artist on the Dark Knight, in both magazines.
Karen: Chan is just not my cup of tea, regardless of who he's drawing.
Doug: I thought he was OK on the Batman books that I owned. I always resented him, however, for exerting too much influence over Buscema's pencils on the Conan run.
Frank Robbins --
Doug: We've never covered the Invaders on this blog, and I suppose at some point we need to. But one look to the left will tell you why I would not be partial to such a strategy. Robbins did quite a bit of writing on the Bat-books, but only a few times was he called on to pencil. Thank goodness...
Karen: I'm not going to say anything. I'm trying to keep my reputation as a nice person.
Doug: Mom always said...
Irv Novick --
Doug: Novick's one of the '70's artists readily recognized as one of Batman's prominent artists. As I commented above, you can tell which part of the decade this panel hails from. But that's OK -- it's still pretty powerful. There's quite a bit of action and emotion in this single panel. But it's kind of funny (not Hahaha) to me that it just seems like a panel from a DC and not from a Marvel. Thoughts?
Karen: It has me intrigued. I'd like to see more of his work.
Jim Aparo --
Doug: If anyone out there doesn't like Jim Aparo, I would like to know why. This guy wrapped the best of a whole bunch of artists, Adams and Novick included, into his own style. One of the stalwarts of the Caped Crusader's stable of pencillers, Aparo lasted well into the 1980's and illustrated several important stories.
Karen: This is 'Mr. Batman' to me. Aparo was drawing Batman when I first started reading it. I've always loved the tall, lean look he gave the Dark Knight. He had a very strong style, good story teller, and very dynamic too. He's the guy to whom I compare all other Batman artists.
Doug: I agree with you. While not an Aquaman fan (lordy, the King of the Seven Seas has surfaced (ha!) on this blog twice now in the past week!), Aparo's work on that title was great as well.
John Calnan --
Doug: You know, this isn't a name I ever would have come up with. When doing research and art collection for this post, I noticed that he pencilled many of the issues that I actually had at one time. Wow -- seriously, never would have named this guy. The panel at left is good -- no problems. But I had a hard time finding anything significant in color to pass along. So I guess I'll just have to plead "no memory" on this fellow.
Karen: No idea who he is, but the art reminds me of the old Hostess Cupcakes/Twinkies/Pies ads. That's not really a good thing.
Doug: Another slice of Bronze Age life, those ads were...
Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez --
Doug: You'll all identify this as a model sheet, which it most certainly is. And if you run across some of the others that Garcia-Lopez drew, they are all just as beautiful. Garcia-Lopez was the "house artist" for many of DC's mass marketed items, like licensed items that became toy packaging, etc. While I didn't find a good sequential example of his work, I'm sure you've run across his stuff on New Teen Titans, etc. Solid, solid artist.
Karen: Always liked Garcia-Lopez. Very distinctive look, clean, and as you say, solid artist all the way around. His stuff worked with pretty much any character you could think of. His Batman looks great.
Marshall Rogers --
Doug: We're also in the midst of a little 3-Saturday series from the Englehart/Rogers collaboration from Detective Comics, and I don't know about you, but I'm really enjoying it. I've seen it said elsewhere on the 'net that no one drew Batman's cape like Rogers, and I'm not so sure that I wouldn't echo that. I think his "real people" are finely rendered, and his fight scenes are well-choreographed. And then there's Silver St. Cloud...
Karen: Great stuff. He and Terry Austin made a terrific team. Of course, I think Austin is one of those inkers that makes anyone look better. But Rogers was an excellent penciller.
Mike Grell --
Doug: I was surprised to see Grell's name on several of the credits in these books. When I think of Mike Grell, like you, I'm probably seeing his work on the Legion and on Green Lantern/Green Arrow. But this is a nice sample at left. I know some of our readers were detractors of Grell when Karen ran the Grell-Cockrum Face-Off a couple of weeks ago. But for me he's always been a fine draftsman. Not without his faults, mind you -- but you could do a heckuva lot worse.
Karen: I don't see anything wrong with the sample. But then, I do like Mike Grell's work. He reminds me a bit of Aparo here, with that lean look to the Batman which I favor.
Neal Adams --
Doug: I have no further comment. None needed.
Karen: I have one comment: beautiful.
Rich Buckler --
Doug: We've discussed Rich Buckler around these parts many times. I'll stand by former comments that he's just a well-rounded artist. The panel at left looks like his style -- not flashy, but strongly straightforward. And I appreciate the backgrounds in the first panel. Not all artists take the time to fill in the mood of a scene, but this first panel is nice.
Karen: I have no complaints about Buckler's work here or pretty much anywhere else. He's a very solid artist.
Doug: There were a few other artists worth mentioning for their body of work in the 1970's, but I didn't notice that they did much in the way of interiors. The two most prolific artists I'm thinking of would be Michael Kaluta and Nick Cardy -- both did extensive cover work on both Batman and Detective Comics.