Batman Day!

Batman and the Outsiders, from the 80's.  Plus One.

Batman and the Outsiders, from the 80’s. Plus One.

First off, I think that DC/Warner Bros should have called it Bat-Day. He doesn’t drive around in the Batmanmobile, and throw Batmanarangs at people. Its wasn’t “Same Batman Time, Same Batman Channel,” was it? Nope…it wasn’t. Still, To celebrate the 75th anniversary of Batman, DC Comics has declared July 23 as Batman Day. (It’s also National Hot Dog Day, but I digress.) There are several events including film screenings, special events at your local comic book store and at the local branch of your library.

As part of the festivities, fans who visit participating retailers receive a free, special edition of DETECTIVE COMICS #27, featuring a reimagining of Batman’s 1939 comic book debut, designed by Chip Kidd with a script by The New York Times #1 bestselling author Brad Meltzer. In addition to the comic book, DC Entertainment is providing retailers access to an assortment of other collectibles to help in the celebration of “Batman Day” including a Batman 75th anniversary cape, bookmarks featuring essential Batman graphic novels and four Batman masks designed by comic book artist Ryan Sook spotlighting a variety of the character’s iconic looks from his 75-year history.

The Bat-masks:   DETECTIVE COMICS #27: Batman’s first appearance, as drawn by Bob Kane, BATMAN ’66: inspired by the classic TV series starring Adam West, THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS: As drawn by Frank Miller, and DC COMICS – THE NEW 52: As drawn by Greg Capullo

The Bat-masks: DETECTIVE COMICS #27: Batman’s first appearance, as drawn by Bob Kane, BATMAN ’66: inspired by the classic TV series starring Adam West, THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS: As drawn by Frank Miller, and DC COMICS – THE NEW 52: As drawn by Greg Capullo

Continuing the celebration, DC Entertainment is partnering with Random House to bring “Batman Day” to over 1,000 libraries across the U.S. on Saturday, July 26th.

On the digital front, the special edition of DETECTIVE COMICS #27 will also be available for free download on Wednesday, July 23nd at http://www.readdcentertainment.com and all digital platforms (Kindle, iBookstore, Nook, Google Play and comixology.com).

That is a whole lot of stuff. When drawing the above, I wanted to think back to a time when I really, really liked Batman. In the 80’s drawn by Jim Aparo, Batman was great. World’s Finest was still a book, Brave and the Bold was in print, and Bruce was having problems with the Justice League. That all came to a head, plot wise, because of the fictional East European country of Markovia, which was ravaged by war at the time. Batman had attempted to enlist the Justice League’s aid, but was told they had been ordered to stay out of the conflict. Because he disagreed with the order, Batman resigned to strike out on his own. Along the way, he forms the Outsiders. A bunch of superheroes who would do what the Justice League wouldn’t. In the 80’s….that was mind blowing.

Pretty on point, Batman.  Subtle.

Pretty on point, Batman. Subtle.

In the eighties, the Outsiders, like the X-men, were an anti establishment group of superheroes that stood for all of the right things to a young person. Bending the rules to make the right thing happen, and generally shaking up the status quo. Good stuff, and I remember loving the books. When sitting down to draw this piece, I decided to go retro, to get back to a time when I really liked Batman, and the things the book was about. The things that the character stood for. As the masks show, Batman has had a history that has been intensely influenced by the prevailing tone and mood of the times, from the sci-fi style stories of the 50’s, to the groovy fun of the 60’s…to the current civil rights violating ninja in a batsuit.

Still…as I was thinking about the whole idea of Batman Day, and the massive achievement of being in print for seventy five years, I thought I should draw a second page in honor of it. Especially given that Bill Finger is finally getting some sort of credit. Finger offered such suggestions as giving the character a cowl instead of the domino mask, a cape instead of wings, adding gloves, and removing the red sections from the original costume. Finger wrote both the initial script for Batman’s debut in Detective Comics No.27 and the character’s second appearance, while Kane provided art. Batman proved a breakout hit, and Finger went on to write many of the early Batman stories, including making major contributions to the character of the Joker as well as other major Batman villains.

So you know…he was mostly uncredited…but he created a huge amount of the Batman mythos and setting. It’s kind of a big deal that he’s finally getting any sort of official credit. You can finally see Finger’s name on the cover of DC’s 75th anniversary edition of Detective Comics No. 27, which will contain classic material from the 1939 issue and content from the recent New 52 Detective Comics No. 27. This is the FIRST time Finger has ever received a Batman cover credit, and it’s taken a full 75 years.

The most insane part? Legally, Finger can’t be credited as co-creating Batman — Bob Kane forced DC to sign a contract basically naming him the sole creator in perpetuity (which also meant that Finger never saw a dime from any of Batman’s movies, toys, merchandise, etc.) So even if DC Comics wanted to credit Finger, they can’t. The only reason Finger’s on this Detective Comics #27 special edition cover is because he was the comic’s writer.

This is beyond overdue, but it’s still a sad reminder of a man who gave us 90% of arguably the greatest superhero of all time, and the struggle to give him recognition that continues to this day. I’m always yammering on and on about creator’s rights…this is perhaps one of the larger cautionary tales of the comics industry.

As a result, I wanted to do a second piece for this post, since it is such a huge event. The art, which was a chore and a half, is below.

See how the Batmobile is just tearing off into the night, leaving our hero to deal with murder clowns?  Way to go, Bob Kane.

See how the Batmobile is just tearing off into the night, leaving our hero to deal with murder clowns? Way to go, Bob Kane.

Next Issue: Constantine Cleans Up His Act….for Telly!

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