Who Are Some of the Artists Who have Created Batman DC Comics?
When you see an impressive Batman T Shirt, it's the art that draws your attention. And there's a story behind the original DC comic book art.
The artwork on Batman t shirts ranges from using as a reference the hand drawn comic book panels to high resolusion poster art from the 1930s - 1960s + to more modern renditions taken from posters from the slew of Batman movies, animation, and comic book series that have been released over the years, to artwork of Batman and his cronies as interpreted by contemporary artists with (and some without) permission from DC Comics. After all DC Comics owns the licensing rights to Batman and strictly maintains copyright protections going after all unauthorised use of Batman and related images.
We went looking for the better recognized artists behind the character and found that unlike many other characters (eg. Snoopy) where there's a specific artist who created and continues to be responsible for that character, Batman has been drawn by many artists since his first appearance.
Bob Kane & Bill Finger
Bob Kane (born Robert Kahn October 24, 1915 – November 3, 1998) along with Bill Finger (born Milton Finger February 8, 1914 – January 18, 1974) are the acknowledged creators of the Batman character. Bob Kane came up with the inspiration for a Bat-Man, but it was Bill Finger who ultimately envisioned the Batman we know today making the crime-fighter so memorable with his costume, his arsenal of cool gadgets, and his secret identity. Bill Finger actually wrote the first Batman story, while Kane provided the artwork revised to fit Finger’s vision of the Batman character. Kane's studio supplied the artwork and storylines of the early Batman comics to DC Comics. Bill Finger, along with another fellow artist, Jerry Robinson from Kane's studio eventually went to work direstly at DC Comics after a falling out with Kane.
Bill Finger’s illustration of Batman
Detective Comics #27 (the 1st cover) May 1939.
DC Comic cover 1939 first introduction of Batman
Read more about the history of Bob Kane's & Bill Finger's contribution to the Batman mythos on our post: Batman History: Comics to Movies.
The Wall Street Crash of 1929 launched the America into a decade marked by economic hardship and a World War. Comics rose in popularity as the depression era faded. By 1938 comic books were finding a large audience, and publishers were vying to give them stories that would increase their readership by selling copies and subscriptions. Artists in NYC were drawn to studios creating all kinds of commercial art including animation and comics. The commercial success of comic books fueled a new kind of media in the entertainment industry - a spinoff of newspapers heavily dependent on storytelling via art. The publishers and commercial art studios competed for the top artists. Although most of the artists remain nameless, some were recognized by fans and eventually even received acknowledgment in the comics. Publishers seeking growth were introducing new comics with novel characters, with new powers, costumes and compelling stories in search of a successful audience reception.
In May 1939, DC Comics introduced a new character in a new story in their already successful Detective Comics. In this way, Batman was created as a business decision to exploit the success of their Superman character which, in 1939 was a hit for Action Comics. In those days, all art was manually drawn, penciled or painted by hand on paper, so a successful comic book publisher had many artists on staff rendering panels or hired an independent studio such as Bob Kane's studio that along with the dialog brought the story to life. As we researched the creation of Batman art, we discovered that there were some exceptional artists working in these studios. Some were responsible for major introductions, like the Batmobile and the Batcave, or changes in Batman's physical appearance.
Some of the artists who labored in these studios have their own followings, and many are revered by their peers. And because rare vintage comic books are seen as both art and investments, there is an active collectibles marketplace for the most valuable issues. And this is the reason we can find information on the artists who were responsible for our view of Batman over the years.
Richard W. Sprang (July 28, 1915 – May 10, 2000) was an American comic book artist and penciller (collaboration artist who works in creation of comic books, graphic novels) best known for his work on the superhero Batman during the period fans and historians call Golden Age of Comic Books. He moved away from Bob Kane's simplistic, darkly obscure depiction and made our hero muscular and athletic. Sprang drew Batman for a very long time was responsible for the 1950 redesign of the Batmobile and the original design of the Riddler, who has appeared in film, television and other media adaptations. Sprang's Batman was notable for his square chin, expressive face and barrel chest.
He sought work as an cartoonist and landed his first Batman gig in 1941. Sprang's first original published Batman work, and first interior-story work, appeared in Batman #19 (Oct.-Nov. 1943), for which he penciled and inked the cover and the first three Batman stories, and penciled the fourth Batman story, inked by Norm Fallon. Like all Batman artists of the time, Sprang went uncredited as a ghost artist for Kane. And he worked there a very long time so very likely there are t shirts with art derived from his art. He moved on to Superman in 1995.
Jerry Robinson (born Sherrill David Robinson January 1, 1922 - December 7, 2011) was an American comic book artist during the 1940s best known for his work on DC Comics' Batman series. He was the co-creator of Robin and the Joker. Robinson's Batman was leaner and more athletic than previously depicted.
The corporate turntable: About a year after Bob Kane hired Robinson and Finger, National Comics lured them both away and made them staffers.
More of Jerry's work is here. http://www.jerryrobinsonart.com/comics/gallery/comics_gallery1.html
Greg Capullo and Scott Snyder took over the new volume of Batman in 2011 when the artwork became more sophisticated, detailed, and modern. They introduced a significant new threat known as the Court of Owls, where Batman experiences a psychedelic trip through the Court's labrinth and falls into madness, depicted eloquently by Capullo.
Parobeck illustrated The Batman Adventures. This collection was inspired by the popular television show Batman: The Animated Series. Parobeck is known for elegantly simple art in contrast to the trend for excessive detail and shading prevalent in the market.
His Batman is presented larger than life, super energized, and ready for action. Parobeck makes great use of asymetric panels, cross panel action and bold, bold lines.
Cover of book, Batman, by Doug Moench & Kelley Jones
Kelley Jones draws a Batman that is uniquely physical with a menacingly dark flare, and nothing like previous depictions. This guy was scary. And he was deployed in some fantastical stories that were very popular, including one where he turns into a vampire and battles Dracula. These stories were referred to as his Vampire Trilogy and were known for their striking covers which convey a sense of noire foreboding.
Jim Aparo (born James N. Aparo August 24, 1932 - July 19, 2005) was a master American comic book artist best known for his 1960s and 1970s DC Comics work, including on the characters Batman, Aquaman and the Spectre.
THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD: artist Jim Aparo
In the late 1960s Aparo joined DC Comics, but it wasn't until 1971 that he worked on Batman. At DC he also worked on other well known characters like Aquaman and Green Lantern.
So who are the artists directly responsible for the design on your t shirt from MoonatMidnight. Sorry we can't say. More likely they are either an on staff artist, or a free lancer often hired for specialized graphic designing skills who have been commissioned to create t shirt designs with the approval of DC COmics who holds the copywrite on all things Batman. Or they are artists who are inspired the the Batman storyline from DC Comics or from the various Batman movies who create their own designs for t shirts without DC comics blessing. You will see on many sites that sell Batman t shirts that specifically say it's a DC Comics t shirt design.