Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Merry Christmas to y'all

Okay folks, up at an unearthly hour in the morning to travel to France to see family, then back again Christmas Eve eve.
So, very best wishes to you all and i'll see you back here soon.

The first full Dark Knight rises trailer

Not giving too much away, but i don't want it to.
Looking good so far, and i love Zimmer's new score already.
And, by the brief glimpse of Selina, it looks like Ann Hathaway is gonna be just fine as Catwoman.


Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Oh, for 8,000 dollars

If i had that amount to spare, chances are i'd be going for this beauty on eBay - an original painting for the '66 bubblegum cards, painted by Norman Saunders.
As i've said before, it was that, slightly surreal, mainly photorealistic art that was the fascination for me with these, and how i'd love this.

Monday, 12 December 2011

First Tale Of The ... Batman

Back in Febuary, i started a little feature where i would look at the first ever appearance of certain characters.
I started with the Joker - then promptly forgot about it.
Remembered it now though, so lets take a look at the Big Guy shall we?
Detective Comics 27 has his first appearance, after the cover, right there on the top most panel of page 1, albeit in the shadows.

Directly under that we meet Bruce for the first time, puffing away on his pipe, chatting with his friend Commissioner Gordon and wearing a very natty Rupert The Bear style suit.
Right from the word go we've got the bored socialite, who hangs around with Gordon simply because he's got nothing better to do.
Also established straight away is the folk are aware of "The Bat-Man", who Gordon is merely puzzled by - no mention of him striking fear into wrong doers or being a vigilante at large.
So we get into the story and its a pretty by the book mystery, with no hint of the more fantastical tales that are just around the corner.
Batman makes his first proper appearance on page 3 and its a corker, with him standing there cross-armed.

Interesting to note what there's from the start - the cowl, the scalloped cape and boots. What's not there yet are the gaunlets with the three spikes, instead he's just got regular gloves. And a weird, rounded belt buckle thing.
As i say, a by the book tale. Aside from the costume details, its also interesting to see what and what's not there:
No mention of what city its set in,
Batman uses a bog-standard car,

and there's no mention yet of a Wayne Manor or Batcave. Instead we get this, he goes "home to his room" and "a little later" emerges in costume.

Embryonic, but still huegly entertaining, stuff.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

RIP Jerry Robinson

Blimey, there i am waffling away and i don't realise a true giant has left us.
It doesn't matter about the arguing whether he created Robin or not, or if it was him that chose to base the Joker on Conrad Veidt, or anything else.
Fact is, he was a brilliant artsit, responsible of many, many iconic images.
RIP Jerry, your legacy will live on.

Batman & Captain America

This one-off written and drawn by John Byrne is one that i never see mentioned anywhere.
And i really don't know why.
Like his work on that Superman/Batman Generations serious, Byrne's knowledge and love for the early day versions of superheroes really comes across and here he's used the terrific idea of teaming up the WW2 Bat n' Cap.
Of course, he had to use both their nemesis' in the Joker and Red Skull and they're good firing off each other.
But, for me, its the art that's the real attraction and i guess the tale with a lesser artist just wouldn't be as good.
Byrne's Joker is obviously a nod to Sprangs:

His Bats is more the 50's square-jawed version, but really is terrific:

and his design of the Nazi War Wheel is excellent:

I was going to put up the stunning multi-level Batcave as my top moment but, really, its this simple image of the four versions of the two heroes that does it for me:

Brilliant stuff.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Top Five Artists - #2 - Marshall Rogers

So, SO unfairly over-looked is Mr Rogers. Maybe because he didn't spend time on the title, but his time on it, while teamed with inker Terry Austin, produced some classic, iconic art.
Waaay ahead of his time, Marshall was giving us the "draped cape hiding all form" shot:

He could do the long ears thing without making it look silly (take note Sam Keith):

And did a brilliant Joker:

Mr Rodgers, you truely deserve the number two slot

Sunday, 27 November 2011

This month in... 1983

Not done one of these in a while, so lets take alook shall we?
Afraid to say, beyond that fantastic cover, its a real bunch of piffle; a tale pitting the Bat against the Joker amongst Mayan pyramids that could've come straight from the 50's - especially as Joker uses that era's Joker Copter.
What makes it even more depressing is that we've got the fabulous team of Don Newton and Alfredo Acala drawing. They're of course reknowned for their brilliant, moody art and, with the jungle scenes here, they're sure in their element.
But, as usual for this time, the colouring is atrocious and does their work no favours whatsoever - would love to see the original B/W pages of their run on the title.
Only in one place does the colouring come anywhere near close to being ok:

But then that's offset by having to depict the Joker Copter:

The only other thing of note in this issue is Batman seeing Jason Todd as Robin for the first time. But, again, piffle:
The night before the events on the pyramid, the blond haired Jason,alone in Wayne Manor, stumbles across Dick Grayson's old Robin outfit. At the climax of the tale, all seems lost, when Jason swings in to save the day, the explanation of how a kid living alone stumbles across the costume then gets down to South America just in the nick of time is: "I found this spare costume in ROBIN'S CLOSET. Then i died my hair BLACK and... Well, I... I kinda found enough cash in your drawer to buy a ticket to SAN MATEO."
Dear oh dear.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Batman 52 - #1

Got to say, not been too great a fan of the Batbooks the last few years, not really liking the way the characters been going and the developments made.
So been looking forward to the reboot and kinda hoping it'd go back to basics - my prefered, comfort zone area for the guy.
What do i think then?
Really rate Scott Synder after his work on Detective just lately, as he was focusing on the, er, detective side of the character.
Which i'm happy to see he continues here. A nice, stepping in point with Bats brawling with a bunch of classic characters before getting into the mystery.
Could do without the accessing the Bat-Computer via a contact lens and the EMP Mask - with this sort of technology, how can anyone below the biggest of super villains be a challenge for him?
Don't know Greg Caullo's work at all, and i see there's been a bit of bitching on him having th gig, but what's the problem?
Reckon he's terrific, with a real Jim Lee look to his art, and his versions of the iconic villains are brilliant - Scarecow being tops, followed by the dripping Two face. Dunno about a curly Joker though.
All in all, great start.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Saturday, 6 August 2011

The new Catwoman

Some folk were pretty sinffy at the announcement of Ann Hathaway as Catwoman in the next film, reckoning she's far too vapid and a lightweight to be anything like the comic or "Returns" versions.
Look at these pics and say that now.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Top Five Artists - #3 - Carmine Infantino

At number three we have not only THE Bar-artist for me in the sixties and early seventies, but the one i recognised and was there right from the start of my American comic reading up to "adulthood" with his lovely work on Star Wars.
His style might appear dated these days, but he was there at ground zero of the Silver Age and its down to him that so many titles and characters were such a sucess.
Carmine, you were great and the 5 year-old and grown up me salutes you.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

First pics from Dark Knight Rises

Okay, so that's Bane then. Have to say, loathed the character from the off - you knew Batman wouldn't really be broken and so, sooner or later, things would be back to as they were.
And its a not very good gimmick, with a worse back story and far, far worse vocal "performance" in the radio adaptation.
can see why Nolan's gone for him as he's one of the few villains that could work in the real world, but still not too enthrilled.
Much better to have a Bat/Cat scenereo rather then trying to cram in two bad guy origins and set-ups, pushing Bats off to the sidelines, as in "Returns", "Forever", "and "Robin" and "Darknight".
Nice to see Mr Wayne gets his own cemetetry in the second pic. What's the chances he'll be kneeling at a monument in the rain?

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Favourite Bat-Films - #5 - Batman Begins

"WHAAAAT?????" I hear you cry. "Only number FIVE?????"
Well, yes.
Okay, Nolan has to be applauded for going the Year One route, steering away from the excesses of the previous couple of films, along with grounding things much more in reality.
Rubbish Ra's.
Rubbish cowl - how can a lightbulb on someone's head instill fear?
Rubbish "gruff" Batman voice.
A Bruce Wayne that doesn't look nor sound like Bruce Wayne.
But, a good Gordon, a good Lucius.
Which is why its only at Five.

Friday, 10 June 2011

The Return Of Bruce Wayne

Apologies for no updates in a while, but my other interests and hobbies have taken me away from the fella.
Back now, and thought i'd get a bit more up to date than what i've been posting just lately.
So, The Return Of Bruce Wayne.
Why do they do it? Every time a Marvel or DC character is bumped off you just know it ain't gonna last and its just a temporary condition.
After all the Supermans and Flashes and Green Lanterns that snuff it only to return and within months its like its never happened, you'd think folk'd be wise to it and ignore it.
Which is what i've done.
When the news came out that Bruce was going to bite the bullet, i saw it as the marketing ploy it really was and gave it a wide berth until he came back.
Only bought Detective because of Jock's art and, boy, that rankled that Dick was Bats.
No. He's. Not.
So, Bruce is back so thought i'd try again.
Oh dear oh dear oh dear.
You're telling me Grant Morrison is ressurecting those lame 50's potboiler plot devices of Batman in other times but somehow keeping his costume in some form. And he's not joking?
Oh. Dear.
Half expecting to see him swinging through the jungle in a leopard loincloth but still wearing his cowl.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Top Five Bat-Artists - #4

Only did one title - Batman Year One - but what an impact he made. The then not often seen sparse use of detail, big blocks of black, almost photo-referenced faces (Gregory Peck as Bruce Wayne? I'd buy it Killing Mockingbird-era) and, crucially and SO radical back then, a "realistic" costume.
This is a Batman that could have existed, using technology and resources a moderately weathly guy could put together along with his butler aide.
Forget all the latest nonsense with Dick not only having a space faring craft but being able to pilot it too and all the other malarky that's just so offputting, waaaay before Mr Nolan came along, David Mazzucchelli was depicting a realistic, belivable Batman we could all root for.
That's why he's Number Four. (oh, and that full length shot could be my favourite Batimage ever).

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Blast From The 70's Past

Just love this, and that's why i've kept it all these years. Bampot idea to have you squeeze the Joker's legs together to get a reaction, but its great - so too the 70's era cartoon face and how the mallet has the Joker on it, with his nose for the handle.
Why don't they make toys like this anymore?

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Best ever Infantino work

Sure, he had a huge track record and did some brilliant work, but don't reckon anything topped this for me.
Its a classic, iconic image and scores so high 'cause back when i were a nipper i had this as a poster on my bedroom wall, right by the headboard.
Used to stare at it endlessly, so that's part of the appeal, and cherished it as it was signed (i think) "Best Wishes, Batman & Robin".
And i thought they'd signed it just for me.
Well, i was young.
Thing is, where did the poster come from?
It must've been about A3, which rules out coming free with the American title. Maybe a giveaway with one of the UK reprints? Or a shop bought poster?

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Favourite Bat-Films - #6 - Batman Forever

Oh dear. Trying to choose between this and "Batman and Robin" is like trying to choose between Hitler and Himmler.
Warner Bros wanted to get away from the gothic oddness of Tim Burtons take and they got it in spades with a flashy, noisy, too bright, smug, self-indulgent mess that was the kiddie-friendly they wanted.
But a pile of poo.
Really, really can't type what irks me most.
Aside from the self indulgent feel, we've got Bruce Wayne with a highlighted blow wave, a hideous Robin, a rubbish Two Face (Tommy Lee's nadir?), a "i want to kill him now" Riddler, the list just goes on and on.
Can't face going in to more detail than that. I've had a crap day and don't want to be more wound up than i am.
Just take a look at the trailer here, and there's what's wrong right in front of you on the screen. Every. Bloody. Second.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Dave Taylor's Batman

Loving these sneak peeks Dave's been putting up on his Blog. The head shots remind me a lot of Steve Rude's "Worlds Finest" and David Mazzucchelli's "Batman Year One", two tales i loved for their realistic take on the character. And fantastic to see Dave is looking like he's going the same way.
And this elegant, graceful of the fella in mid air is just beautiful. Can't wait for it to come out.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Killing Joke vs Killing Joke

Just got the deluxe edition - and don't know what to think.
Its well documented that Brian Bolland wasn't happy at all with John Higgins' colouring on the original so redid it for this one.
Comparing the two, i have to say that, ignoring the deluxe being slightly bigger and having a backup strip and prelims, i still prefer the original.
Partly its because i got it on its release at a signing with Alan and Brian.
Partly because i've read and re-read it for nigh on 20 years.
But mainly because the garish, flourescent colouring actually works. Some of its to do with the tale itself, which looks far too subdued with the new version, and some of its to do with it being a product of the 80's, and the garish colours with glossy pages fits right in. In much the same way as the colouring of Watchmen did.
Here you go with a couple of compare and contrasts.

Monday, 7 March 2011

King Tut

One of the appeals of the TV show back when i were a nipper - and now - was the character of King Tut.
A brilliantly funny turn by Victor Buono who doesn't need to go over the top a la Romero to fit into the world, a lot of his appeal was the often very quiet, understated humour he injected into the role. He could be camp and over the top with just a sigh or a sideways glance.
Why he's never been given the acccolades he deserves is way beyond me.
Victor, you were a genius.
Here's a nice complilation, nicely put together with Steve Martins ace number.