Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Art Therapy: "Batman: Hush" Coloring Book (Part 8 AND 9 of 104)

A double-page spread? Should I count it as one? Well, if both upload correctly, then yes. If not, then the numbering stands.

I think my mind is made up on using yellow crayon for Batman's 1st person narration. And I got bored with having to color the clothing on the kidnappers, so I decided that last guy buys his wardrobe from the section at Target/Kmart/Walmart that has licensed character apparel.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Art Therapy: "Batman: Hush" Coloring Book (Part 7 of 104)

Details, details, details..close-ups of Batman's gloves and boots...I'm starting to make choices about things like backgrounds and narration boxes..and my choices are that, subconsciously, I must've been a huge fan of 1990s Batman comic Shadow of The Bat.

Another one down..more to go...

Monday, March 21, 2016

Dini, Deconstructed.

When you're a fan of a popular writer, you look for patterns, links, themes - elements that identify either why this writer's work strikes a chord or what distinguishes his/her work from efforts made by other authors.

When Paul Dini's new graphic novel, Dark Knight: A True Batman Story arrives in June, I'd like to be free to devote the eventual review to the book itself. This post is devoted to me having fun with the idea that the events described in the book may have changed Paul's approach to writing Batman as a character. So, yes, this is a companion to my previous post "Dini's Dark Night". awkward as it is to post a long essay revolving around a book that has yet to see the light of day and that I have yet to read...well, welcome to the internet.

With my copy of the classic coffeetable book, Batman: Animated, I did some unscientific research:

Paul Dini is credited with writing 30 episodes of Batman: The Animated Series. The show lasted five seasons, give or take breaks in production, title changes, network changes, even changes in the character designs. Here's a rough breakdown -

# of episodes of Batman: The Animated Series: 14

# of episodes credited solo: 12
# of episodes with co-writer/story credit: 2

# of episodes of The New Adventures of Batman and Robin: 9

# of episodes credited solo: 3
# of episodes with co-writer/story credit: 6

# of episodes of Batman: Gotham Knights/The Batman/Superman Adventures: 7

# of episodes credited solo: 3
# of episodes with co-writer/story credit: 4

Total: 18 episodes (solo), 12 episodes (co-writer/story credit)

At a glance, Paul's output was highest in the series early years, but one must take into account that he had also become a story editor during the GK/BSA era, while also working on Superman: The Animated Series AND the first season of Batman Beyond, as well as beginning to make his mark writing comic books after the success of Mad Love.

Getting back to the time period of Dark Night, I'm going to suppose the episodes produced under the New Adventures of Batman and Robin and the episodes of Batman: The Animated Series were made in the aftermath. Prior to this, all of Paul's early scripts focused on the villains: Heart of Ice, Mad As A Hatter, Almost Got 'Im, The Mad Who Killed Batman are some examples, with Batman appearing on the periphery. This wasn't unusual, since there were a lot of episodes of the series that were Batman-centric by other writers. Ironically, or unironically (is that a real world), these episodes rank among the most-acclaimed of the show's run.

Other episodes were romps - Joker's Wild, Harley & Ivy - or noir stories like Pretty Poison (which he submitted story ideas for) The Laughing Fish ( a re-imagining of two fan-favorite 70's Batman comic book stories into a single plot) and Joker's Favor, with the debut of Harley Quin, who is quickly rivaling Joker for the position of most-popular Batman foe, possibly beating Catwoman as most-popular female Bat-villain.

The only exception to this theme was Zatanna. Paul introduced the superpowered magician Zatanna to the series as an old flame from Batman's past - a romance that had not existed in the comics; barring a single issue of The Brave and The Bold from the early-80's by Mike W. Barr in which they teamed up for an adventure, there was relatively little/no known interaction of note between those two characters, not even when they both appeared in Justice League of America. From here on, this ret-con is slowly incorporated into the comic books and becomes canon when Dini became regular writer on Detective Comics and Zatanna's short-lived solo comic book  series. In animation, this clever pairing is only revisited on two occasions, both in scripts Dini wrote for different series: "This Little Piggy" in Justice League Unlimited and "Chill of The Night" in Batman: The Brave and The Bold.

The airdate for Zatanna was February 2, 1993, one month after the events described in Dark Night. The next episode of B:TAS to air was "The Worry Men", followed by "House and Garden", "Trial" and "Harlequinade", the last of Paul's episodes to appear under the B:TAS title (although reruns of the later episodes would revive it, since the Superman episodes aired separately in reruns). "Trial" is especially relevant to this discussion, since it's the first of Paul's scripts to comment directly on Batman's effectiveness as a vigilante/superhero and his dealings with his rogues gallery. In fact, in this last group of B:TAS episodes, and all of Paul's episodes afterward, Batman has more to say, or is more inclined to make time to comment directly on what's happening. This is when Paul starts offering memorable exchanges between our hero and his supporting cast/villains, like the "I can remember what it's like to have had a bad day" moment in "Harley's Holiday".  In interviews from the past and present, Dini describes Batman's presence as an idea or force of nature, but it appears he can also exist as a human being capable of empathy. In Paul's words, he became more "..circumspect". In that regard, I believe this readjustment made his work with the character, impressive as it was, even stronger, because now we're getting a more fully-realized Batman, rather than a force that other characters reacted to. And while it's macabre to postulate that a traumatic incident became an inspiration - and I don't want to give that a lot of credit - but maybe it underpinned/informed/unleashed some element that was always there, a finishing stroke that hadn't been brought to the surface.

It's like the Fatman (Kevin Smith) said: if there was a Mount Rushmore devoted the top 4 guys that truly defined Batman for the masses, the guys that identified a Batman that's loved by all...Paul's face would be up there.

And he also gave us Bat-Duck in Tiny Toon Adventures. I'm not being snarky; honestly and sincerely, Bat-Duck should've had his own show; that was gold. :)

Art Therapy: "Batman: Hush" Coloring Book (Part 6 of 104)

This is a "break" page. The last page colored was the cover to part 1 of Hush, so this page replaces what would have been the inside-front cover to that issue of Batman. I'm not sure what panel or page of the arc this image was taken from, but I get to try out more orange sunset skies and rust-colored gargoyles.

Another one down...more to go..

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Art Therapy With Batman: Fun With Dust Jackets..

You get an idea..

The dust jacket image of Batman for a hardcover collection of late-60's /early-70's stories was the best thing about it. I thought it would have a happier life on the cover of a collection of more-interesting/entertaining stories, which had a cover image of Batman that was quite good, but lacking the same visual "Biff! Bam! Pow!" as the former. I like the results very much and have no regrets. After all, I own both.

Izz better! Much better! :)

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Art Therapy: "Batman: Hush" Coloring Book (Part 5 of 104)

At one point, I was mulling over coloring the cover to this book, which is partially in black & white, but I think I would need to apply markers to that surface texture. This page shows how I would've colored it.

This shot reminds me of Batman's grand entrance in part 1 of Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, only instead of swooping down, Jim Lee's Batman swings across, like Spider-Man on his webs, or an homage to his first appearance on the cover of Detective Comics. With crayons, the only chance at a 2nd chance with a coloring book page would be if you bought two copies, but I could imagine coloring Batman in a black and grey suit with purple gloves..

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Paul Dini's "Dark Night"

I really wish DC Comics' upcoming graphic novel, Dark Night: A True Batman Story by Paul Dini and Eduardo Risso, were released now instead of in June,  because, for my money, that's a more-interesting read than a lot of the Batman comics offered right now (and yes, that includes Dark Knight III: The Master Race*). with that Ducktales preview art and Spider-Man's cameo in the Captain America: Civil War trailer ( that Spider-Man: Civil War? ;) ), I/we must make do with speculation and inferences based on whatever tidbits available.

Dini's Dark Knight is actually more like Realworlds, the series of standalone one-shots from DC's Elseworld's imprint, which offered stories of the effects fictional characters  (in this case, DC Comics superheroes) had on the lives of people in the "real" world. Superman was about an ex-con who had a tattoo of the "S" shield on his chest; Batman was about what happens when a developmentally-disabled boy whose habit of role-playing as the "goody-two-shoes" Adam West Batman in his interactions with others becomes influenced by his exposure to darker incarnations of the character. Dini's tale, however, is autobiographical, and in this sense, reminds me of Harvey Pekar's American Splendor. In 1993, Dini was mugged and beaten to within an inch of his life by two thugs. The incident left him shaken and despondent; he goes through a considerable amount of soul-searching before he recovered. Batman, the Joker, and other characters appear as avatars for Dini's thought processes throughout the story.

When Dini was recently interviewed by Kevin Smith and Mark Bernardin in an episode of Smith's Fatman On Batman podcast, Bernardin popped the 1 million dollar question: Did this incident change the way he wrote Batman? This is interesting, because according to the timeline, Dini recalled that he was working on the script for Batman: Mask of The Phantasm and considered being pulled out of the production. I'm not sure which scripts of Batman: The Animated Series credited to Dini were completed before it happened or after, but he did observe (with the air of it being the first time anyone had asked him that particular question) that his Batman became more "..circumspect..more human." It's very tempting to say that he began writing Mad Love, one of the greatest Batman stories ever told, in the aftermath, but certainly, all of his creative output, post-1993, would've fallen under the auspices of his "circumspect" Batman, even his run on Detective Comics during the past decade. I imagine it will to look backwards and re-read/re-rewatch all of Paul's stuff when this book comes out.

I can make one observation: Risso's cover depicts Paul wrapped in bandages, similar to how Harley Quin appeared in the ending to Mad Love. Harley has become Paul's signature character; for a time, it was logical that Paul be brought in to write her reintroduction, be it in a new Batman cartoon series  ( The Batman ), a spin-off  ( Batman Beyond: The Return of The Joker ), webseries ( Gotham Girls ) or a video game ( the Arkham City series ). I remember being disappointed when DC chose Karl Kessel instead of Paul to write Harley Quin's first ongoing comic book series (especially when it turned out that Kessel wasn't really familiar with the character's appeal/popularity and the book coasted on the artwork of Terry Dodson). So, with the character more popular than ever before  (and likely to increase exponentially when Suicide Squad hits theatres), it is fitting that it coincides with her creator  (technically, co-creator, but the character was born out of a cheesy sketch by Dini - which was eventually revisited and given new life as a pricey statuette from DC Direct) would offer an experience that parallels a moment from his most-acclaimed work...and just as other writers, artists and actresses begin putting their own spin on Harleen Quinzel. If you've seen the trailer for Squad, you've noticed Margot Robbie's performance is the first to eschew a facsimile of original Harley Quin-potrayer Arleen Sorkin's exaggerated vocal stylings...though I recall a rumor that we might see her wear an outfit resembling the classic Harley Quin, the Tank Girl-meets-Rainbow Brite look is more interesting than Harley's current look in the comics.

Like I said, I wish this was available to read right now...

*issue 2 had a nod to World's Finest  in one panel..that was cute.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Art Therapy: "Batman: Hush" Coloring Book (Part 4 of 104)


No parents!

Continued Darkness!

More Darkness!

Get it?

The opposite of light!

Has anyone thought of editing scenes of the Wayne's buying the farm in various Batman movies to the tune of Lego Batman's self-composed death metal song from The Lego Movie?

On this page, Loeb & Lee are staying close to the same beat as Bill Finger's account of the Batman origin, barring a callback to Frank Miller's Batman: Year One in the fourth panel. I wanted my crayon colors to echo the color scheme of Miller's tale, which I thought really sold the atmosphere, particularly the scene where Bruce encounters the large bat, though that scene didn't play out the way it's shown here; he was sitting on the floor of his study when the bat crashed through the window of his study, not standing up.

Breaking Bad didn't exist when "Hush" premiered, but the periodic table in the background of panel 3, coupled with Bruce in a lab coat, doing generic chemistry work, had me thinking about nods to Walter White, along with memories of Jeff Matsuda's sketch for fans on Reddit of Walt and Jesse as the dynamic duo back when Bad was hot, so the coat and gloves now look like Walter's standard hazmat suit, and Bruce is holding a test tube of...crystal blue persuasion.. ;)

4 down, 100 to go...

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Art Therapy: "Batman: Hush" Coloring Book (Part 3 of 104)

This page begins the mini-prologue included with issues of Wizard Magazine offered as a case somebody out there wasn't entirely sure Jim Lee could draw Batman. Well, rest assured, he draws Batman phenomenally well. This prologue retells Batman's case somebody out there didn't know Batman's origin. Well, now they do.

I think the earliest Zorro pulp stories are considered public domain, so it might be okay to refer to the name of that character and his first adventure..but the film, "The Mark of Zorro", might not be. Tricky thing, copyright..that's why the Waynes are seen leaving a theater playing a cheery musical in Tim Burton's 1989 "Batman" and an opera playing Die Fledermaus in "Batman Begins", not to mention the creation of The Gray Ghost as a substitute for Zorro in the various animated series. Zorro's cool - at best, he has an unflappable presence - but Batman has more going for him than Zorro did. All you can do with Zorro is..keep him classy. Anyone interested in a crossover where Batman meets Zorro? Dynamite and DC Comics seem on good terms - they already did crossovers with Green Hornet and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. - why not Zorro?

I think Thomas Wayne is a Tom Selleck-type of guy..Martha Wayne has always been an enigma. Even when Grant Morrison hinted that she might've been a drug-addled socialite before and during her marriage to Thomas..and I recall the novel Wayne of Gotham danced around the same circles, She's just..Bruce's mommy.

And then there's Joe Chill. Around this time, Batman's continuity was subtly revised so that he never knew who killed his parents. Jeph Loeb toyed with the idea with having the killer be unveiled in Batman/Superman as John Corben, aka, Superman foe Metallo, back when he was a small-time criminal and long before becoming a robot housing his disembodied brain ( ah, comics ). This turned out to be a red herring in the storyline, and it wasn't until the Grant Morrison years of Batman comics that Joe was reinstated as the Wayne's killer.

3 Down, 101 to go...

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

What Will The New "Ducktales" TV Series Look Like?..

So..precisely one year after announcing to the world that new episodes of the classic Disney TV series Ducktales were going to premiere on DisneyXD in the Fall of 2017,  the folks at Disney gave the world a teensy peek at what the final product could look like...just to keep our anticipation from cooling down..or become too preoccupied with, life 'n stuff...I got a coloring book I need to finish...

The artwork posted depicts Scrooge McDuck in a pit helmut driving a ramshackle jeep through the jungle in the midst of a high-speed chase - possibly by angry natives throwing spears, with his nephew Donald clinging for dear life in the back, grandnephews Huey, Dewey & Louie (and kind of/sort of informally adopted grandniece, Webbigail "Webby" Vanderquack) riding shotgun.

What can we infer from this?

1) This looks like "Concept Art": I recall reading that this new show was going to rendered in CG...i.e., Mickey Mouse Clubhouse meets Star Wars Rebels. This could just be the artwork used to pitch the concept for the new focus of the series  ("We want to show more of the Duck family in the style of Carl Barks' comics that inspired the original Ducktales series"), which is fine, though the nephews remind me of Quack Pack a bit...Huey's the only one wearing a cap and consulting the Junior Woodchuck Guidebook, Dewey looks like the one with a temper, Louie seems to be fearful and wearing a hoodie, Webby is enjoying the ride, Donald...looks like he's watching his life flash before his eyes..Scrooge lends this a lot of gravitas by looking consistent..does this mean we'll get the Quack Pack that was initially planned but scrapped in favor of ...what Quack Pack wound-up being? I haven't found anyone who likes Quack Pack..although that show began the idea of recasting the voices of the nephews with voices dissimilar from the late Clarance Nash's original performance..could this show continue that trend with their recast of the cast? I could imagine Kristen Schaal as the new voice of Webby, Craig Ferguson as Scrooge, Tress MacNeille as Magica DeSpell, Daran Norris as Gyro Gearloose and Fenton Crackshell/Gizmoduck, Bruce Campbell as Launchpad and Clancy Brown as Flintheart Glomgold..but Tony Anselmo should always be the voice of Donald Duck.

2) Donald is no-longer "recurring" - in the original series, Donald Duck was at sea, having joined the navy, appearing sporadically in the first two seasons. It looks like he's back, now permanently ditching the French naval uniform that was/still is his default outfit, in favor of the U.S. Navy uniform he wore on Ducktales...with a twist: the shirt is black. That distinction, in my humble opinion, is the code for Carl Barks' Donald Duck. That's very important, because Barks' take on Donald has proven to be a more-interesting character than the duck that picked fights with bees, bears and chipmunks in otherwise entertaining, if frivolous cartoon shorts from the past..

3) That drawing style sure looks different.. - if it matches the final product  (and is not merely the style of the artist who drew it ), then we might see a show that fits well with current DisneyXD fare - Star vs. The Forces of Evil, Wander Over Yonder - but not too jarring like The Looney Tunes Show redesigns of the Looney Tunes stable that made longtime fans recoil in horror.

But...will Phooey Duck be in it?  :)

Art Therapy: "Batman: Hush" Coloring Book (Part 2 of 104)

Pg. 2 - Legal Jargon

Boring, but necessary, at least they threw a bone by adding a moody illustration of Batman in the shadow of what looks like a graveyard..very Bronze Age Batman-esque.

I wonder if fans think of getting autographs from the people listed on this page..or similar jargon at the bottom of the first page of most comics (or maybe the last page, or inside front-cover; the format hasn't been particularly uniform for two decades, now)...surely the Vice President of "Content Strategy" would be happy to sign his name? He helps develop a strategy for the President of Content Strategy!...The content must look strategic!! ( Double (!!) Exclamation point! )

I chose an orangey Orange sunset over the grapeity Purple night sky from "The Night of The Reaper!" because I like the symmetry it has with pg. 1...I do have an intentional color pallet here, but I don't want anything written in stone...suffice to say, I'll give the orange crayon a break for the next two pages..or less heavy-lifting..

2 down, 102 to go...

Monday, March 7, 2016

Art Therapy: "Batman: Hush" Coloring Book (Part 1 of 104)

"When I was a child, I thought as a child, but as an adult, I put away childish things..."

..and then we, as adults, decide, as adults...'Whatever - let's have some fun with crayons!'

DC Comics got their feet wet in the Adult Coloring Book market by offering variant "Adult Coloring Book" covers to most of their superhero comics a few months ago. Reprinting Jeph Loeb & Jim Lee's seminal Batman: Hush storyline as a series of coloring books aimed at this new trend is pretty cool..largely because I don't own a copy of the graphic novel that reprinted the story; ditto any of the original issues of Batman it premiered in. I might be reluctant to buy the upcoming coloring book that adapts Mad Love, only because I own the graphic novel of that, whereas with Hush, I get to explore that story while playing with color.

Two observations:

Bill Finger gets credited here on the first page of the coloring book for co-creating Batman "with" Bob Kane, but not on the actual title pages of reprinted from the comics...I don't think they'll ever go back and re-edit old comics to stamp Bill's name in there, but since Batman is a fictional character that will outlive us all, we'll have another 75+ years crediting Bill to even things out.

I like Catwoman's Golden-Silver Age look - the purple dress that offered gratuitous thigh shots. And the green cape. I had no reference for two minor cross-hatched details on the lower-right corner, so I just built it up as her green cape.

1 down, 103 to go.