Saturday, March 26, 2016 8:16 PM
Wearing my new ‘Dark Knight a la Van Gogh’ tee-shirt and my ‘Starry Starry Night’ socks, I felt inspired to play an impromptu novelette, “Batty Batty Night”:
A lone figure strolls Gotham’s streets unmolested—is that a fleeting swirl of black cape atop that building?—is that the bat-signal on the belly of the night’s clouds? ….
Aside from the political and satirical cartoonists of newspapers and The New Yorker, cartooning is a group effort. I don’t know how they’ve computerized it nowadays, but it used to be the original artists drew in pencil, other artists did the inking, others the lettering, and one more for the coloring. Even the creation of a comic book super-hero was collaborative—Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster created Superman. In 1989, Bob Kane conceded that Bill Finger was a co-creator of Batman—it was unfortunate that Finger had passed away in 1974. Wonder Woman was created by William M. Marston, his wife Elizabeth H. Marston, and Olive Byrne.
But comic books, like rock-and-roll or politics, deals in high-brow ideals, virtues, and courage—as subject matter—while the business itself is as seamy as any other—dealing in promotion, property rights, and profit. It’s as if they found a way to make a buck off of telling kids, ‘Yes, there is a Santa Claus.” But I like comics—I’m not knocking comics—they’re fun. It’s just that the comics biz is a business, like any other. People will argue over credit, prestige, and audience recognition—or simply over money.
I always had half a mind to be a comic book artist, but anatomy was never my strong suit. You have to admire the forced perspective in some of those frames—that’s tricky stuff to draw. I guess I was never happy about the tiny boxes—I preferred a bigger piece of paper—and one per drawing. They do that now, in the more modern graphic novels—full page pictures—oh well. Besides, commercial artists have to draw fast—they need to crank that stuff out—I was always slow as molasses.