Category: The Batman Strikes!

Title Pages: The Batman Strikes #19

It’s time for another installment of Title Pages, featuring another title page from my run on The Batman Strikes! which was a tie-in comic for The Batman animated TV series. A Title Page is the page which features the story title and credits for the issue, and is often (but not always) a Splash Page, which is a full-page image, rather than a page broken up into multiple panels.


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A classic comic book Grundy

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Grundy as seen in The Batman

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The De Niro Frankenstein monster


In The Batman Strikes! #19 we got to play with Solomon Grundy, who in the continuity of The Batman was a gaunt, zombie-like figure, who reminded me of the Christopher Lee Frankenstein monster. It also let us move out of Gotham City and into the (oddly) nearby swamplands, which made for a nice change of pace art-wise for the book. I was doing my best to channel the classic EC Horror Comics on this one, and my inker (and classic horror fan) Terry Beatty was more than up to the challenge!

Strikes #19 - pg 01 prev Strikes #19 pg 01 inks prev BS_19_Oroboros_ 002


No real set-up this time, as we get our title logo on panel one of page one. I thought it would be fun to have the letter shapes darken and cast a wavering reflection in the murky swamp water.

Strikes #19 - pg 02 prev Strikes #19 pg 02 inks prev BS_19_Oroboros_ 003


And here’s the rest of that sequence. As you can see, the sound effects were part of the artwork from the pencil stage. I love doing that whenever possible.

I wish the effect of Batman caught in the beam of the flashlight hadn’t been colored with such a sharply-defined cone of light coming from the flashlight. It’s not a realistic effect and it detracts from the effect of the area caught in the beam popping out from a background that’s otherwise in silhouette.

And while it has nothing whatsoever to do with the Title Page, I can’t blog about this issue without including my favorite page from the issue, and one of my favorite from the entire series.


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I’ll have more installments of Title Pages soon, but until then you can check out previous installments! As always, questions and comments are welcome!

Title Pages: The Batman Strikes #18

It’s time for another installment of Title Pages, featuring another title page from my run on The Batman Strikes! which was a tie-in comic for The Batman animated TV series. A Title Page is the page which features the story title and credits for the issue, and is often (but not always) a Splash Page, which is a full-page image, rather than a page broken up into multiple panels.

In The Batman Strikes! #17, Chief Angel Rojas was still the top cop in Gotham City. By issue #18, Police Commissioner James Gordon has arrived on the scene, and with him his daughter Barbara Gordon, aka Batgirl!


Strikes #18 - pg 01 prev Batman_Strikes_18_Oroboros_ 002


Again the title page was page 2, so here’s the set up on page 1, where Commissioner Gordon  is working late an checking on the whereabouts of his daughter, who happens to be dealing out justice (with the help of a handy push broom) to some low-level street thugs trying to rip off a 24-hour laundromat. I’ve always seen Gordon as very blue-color and overworked, so I enjoyed drawing him illuminated only by his desk lamp in a darkened office. Seeing his name reversed and backlit in the window of his office door was another fun touch. The Gotham City Map seen on the finished page was not rendered by me, but was an existing map of Gotham I found online, and I sized and angled it to fit into the artwork and provided it separately to inker Terry Beatty for him to paste into place once the original art was inked. Note that we’re showing Batgirl on her cell phone here, but saving a good look at her for the big reveal on the next page.

Strikes #18 - pg 02 prev Batman_Strikes_18_Oroboros_ 003


So here’s the title page and our reveal of Batgirl as she doesn’t let being outnumbered intimidate her in the slightest, even in these early days of her crime-fighting career. If you compare the pencils to the finished page, you can see that she disappears into her cape a little bit. This was again due to the dark, saturated colors in combination with the cheaper paper used on this series as I’ve lamented about before. Consider it part of my ongoing crusade for DC to make digital editions of all the issues of this series available. So far they’ve only released the first three issues digitally!

While not appearing in this scene, the villain of the issue was Poison Ivy, and given the title of the story, I tried to give the title logo a decorative, floral approach. I like how it turned out.

I’ll have more installments of Title Pages soon, but until then you can check out previous installments! As always, questions and comments are welcome!

Title Pages: The Batman Strikes #17

It’s time for another installment of Title Pages, featuring another title page from my run on The Batman Strikes! which was a tie-in comic for The Batman animated TV series. A Title Page is the page which features the story title and credits for the issue, and is often (but not always) a Splash Page, which is a full-page image, rather than a page broken up into multiple panels.

The Batman Strikes! #17 featured a title page that was the payoff of a 2-page sequence with Gotham City Police Chief Angel Rojas and Detective Ellen Yin reacting to a message being projected into the sky via searchlight beam by The Riddler. What the heck kind of smog does Gotham City produce that they have such dense, concentrated cloud layers that you can project PRINT onto them without it diffusing into illegibility?

 

Strikes #17 - pg 01 prev BS_17_Oroboros_ 002

 
Both of these characters were fun to draw. Chief Rojas was the top cop in the first season of The Batman animated series for which this was was the tie-in comic series. Both Rojas and Ellen Yin were new characters created for The Batman, and brought some needed ethnic diversity to the pantheon of Batman characters. Rojas was unfriendly to the bat-garbed vigilante who had recently appeared in Gotham, especially in contrast to Commissioner Gordon who largely replaced him in the second season. I never heard if there was any reason to invent this character and not use Gordon in the first season other than trying to diversify the cast (a worthy enough goal). I wish they would have done more with him after Gordon came in, but the character kind of faded away. Yin also largely was pushed aside to make way for other supporting characters as Batgirl and Robin were added in later seasons.

On page 2 we see the payoff of this sequence as Batman swoops in front of the searchlight, foreshadowing the Bat-Signal. The story title and credits appear in this panel, and I made the “Q” into a question mark to reference The Riddler as the villain of this story.

 

Strikes #17 - pg 02 prev BS_17_Oroboros_ 003

 
Sadly I don’t have the inks-only versions of these pages in digital form to include in this post, but you can see how the pencils compare to the finished pages. I’d really love for DC to make digital editions of all the issues of this series available, as the lower-quality paper used on this title combined with the deep, saturated colors that were frequently used could make the pages look dark and muddy, and a lot of the contrast I was trying to create in the line art was diminished. I bet most of these pages would look MUCH better in purely digital form as opposed to what you see  here, which are scans of the printed comic.

I’ll have more installments of Title Pages soon (I promise), but until then you can check out previous installments! As always, questions and comments are welcome!

Harley Quinn and my first DC Comics Writing Credit

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Page 1 – The Corwin O’Dooley Show!

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Page 2 – The Obligatory Monologue

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Page 3 – Enter: The JOKER!


This was the opening sequence of The Batman Strikes #35 which I co-wrote!

Russell Lissau was one of the writers contributing scripts for The Batman Strikes and I met him and was chatting with him at Wizard World Chicago. He mentioned that he’d wanted to do a story with the Joker but hadn’t been able to think of a Joker plot that could be told within the kid-friendly confines of the Strikes title. I mentioned an idea I’d had to tell a story from the point of view of someone under the influence of the Joker’s nerve-toxin, since in this continuity is was a paralytic rather than instantly deadly. The whole story would be about The Joker and Batman playing hot-potato with the victim while they were a helpless, paralyzed observer. Russell loved the idea and offered to co-write it with me, which lead to issue #35.

The concept got watered down a bit. I would have loved to tell the story literally from the victim’s POV – seeing it through their eyes, but I wasn’t surprised when it was deemed too  high-concept for an animation tie-in title. I’d hoped that we could at least limit our story POV to that character – only seeing and hearing what they would be personally aware of. But even that was considered to be a little too much.

Still, the story was a ton of fun. It introduced the show’s version of Harley Quinn into the comic, and centered on a late-night talk show host who earns the Joker’s ire when he is dubbed “The Clown Prince of Late Night” by a Gotham magazine. The character was deliberately a cross between David Letterman and Conan Obrian.

That opening page took forever to draw, but I really wanted that big shot looking from behind our host out at his studio audience – letting us share the view he would have walking onstage. I think this was one of the pages I apologized for when handing it off to inker Terry Beatty. I wanted the sequence to feel like you were seeing it from the stage floor of the studio, not from the POV of the audience or the cameras, so that meant a few more busy shots of the studio audience in the opening pages, until the action eventually led us to a chase outside the studio confines.

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Page 5 – Harley Quinn’s big entrance.

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Page 6 – Bruce & Dick sneak away.

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Page 7 – The helpless host.


As a note of trivia, I should mention that I designed the Corwin O’Dooley Show logo and modeled the theater on the CBS Ed Sullivan Theater where David Letterman’s show is done, which is on the next block over from DC Comics‘ offices in New York. I replaced the “CBS” letters on the marquee with “GBS (aka the Galaxy Broadcasting System),” as a nod to the TV network where Clark Kent served as a news anchor during some of the Superman comics of the 1970s.

And here’s a look at how some of these pages looked in print, with inks by Terry Beatty and colors by Heroic Age.


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Title Pages: Batman Strikes #16

It’s time for another installment of Title Pages, featuring another title page from my run on The Batman Strikes! which was a tie-in comic for The Batman animated TV series. A Title Page is the page which features the story title and credits for the issue, and is often (but not always) a Splash Page, which is a full-page image, rather than a page broken up into multiple panels.

The Batman Strikes! #16 featured a storyline where the Joker steals the Batmobile (Oh, NOES!). This issue gave me a full-page splash to play with for my title page, but it was actually page TWO, and followed directly on the heels of this page one:

Strikes #16 page 1

Strikes #16 page 1

The sound effects on page one and the title page to follow were hand-drawn by me. As I’ve said before, I love doing my own sound effects lettering, because I enjoy it but more importantly because I can better incorporate the sound effects into the pages’ composition and design. I had wanted the effect in the bottom three panels of page one of the light from the approaching Batmobile’s headlights creeping up Batman’s figure. Notice the curved shape on Batman’s cape in the bottom-left panel above the sound effect. The light then reaches Batman’s shoulder in the next panel, then reaches his face in the bottom right panel. Sadly the colorist didn’t pick up on this and the dark gray colors were used for Batman’s costume and the effect was lost.

Strikes #16 - Title Page pencils

Strikes #16 – Title Page pencils

Strikes #16 - Title Page color

Strikes #16 – Title Page color

 


Here’s the full-page splash title page, where the Batmobile’s headlights aren’t even on. I was trying to do some light-and-shadow effects on Batman’s figure, but it all got colored dark, saturated blues and grays. Oh, well.

Hey, at least the logo pops! The character length of the story title gave me an opportunity to pay homage to another version of the Batman comic logo, as I’d previously done in The Batman Strikes! #8. You can see the logo I was referencing in Batman Strikes #16 in this blog entry from Todd Klein’s Blog.

I always found the really angular drawing style of the show’s animation design a little hard to work with, and I think that’s on display here. The Batman figure is a little blocky and awkward. The script called for Batman to see who was driving the Batmobile, even though in the show the windows all have a mirror finish, but that’s a minor fudge for storytelling purposes.

This was the Batmobile design from the first season of the TV show, and it would soon be replaced with something less stubby-looking in both the show and the comic.

I’ll have more installments of Title Pages soon, but until then you can check out previous installments! As always, questions and comments are welcome!