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75 Greatest Batman Writers and Artists: Artists #40-31

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37. Darwyn Cooke

Darwyn Cooke actually worked on the Batman Animated Series and the Superman Animated Series as a storyboard artist before he made his big re-introduction into the world of comics (as he had tried to break into comics in the mid-80s) with 2000′s Batman: Ego, a stunning graphic novel where Batman comes into conflict with his own ego…

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Cooke has gone on to become one of the most acclaimed comic book artists working in the business. Batman was featured heavily in a little bit of Cooke’s classic New Frontier series and Cooke did a great re-working of a classic Batman story in his Solo issue. Otherwise, Cooke’s biggest contribution to the Bat-Universe has been his re-design of Catwoman, as well as working as the initial artist on Ed Brubaker’s great Catwoman series.

36. Dave McKean

Besides an appearance of Batman in Black Orchid #2, Dave McKean has only drawn Batman in a comic book story once. However, that one time was the blockbuster graphic novel, Arkham Asylum, so people have grown used to his impressive painted work and associate it with Batman a lot…

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35. Klaus Janson

Klaus Janson was the inker on the legendary Dark Knight Returns series with writer/artist Frank Miller, but he also did some amazing work as a penciler, like a classic Detective Comics Legends tie-in and, most famously, Grant Morrison’s Gothic story. Check out first Batman scaring some punks…

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and later, a Janson spotlight sequence where Batman frees himself from an elaborate trap…

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Janson is a dynamic artist with a strong page vision.

34. David Finch

David Finch is one of DC Comics’ most popular artists this side of Jim Lee. He brought his detailed lines and his bold style to Batman: The Dark Knight, a series he wrote AND drew….

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Go to the next page to see #33-31!

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37 Comments

I’m surprised to see Darwyn Cooke so low considering how much people seem to love him.

Matt Wagner was my #9 vote. I love his style.

Mile Mignola is an incredible artist, but not one I particularly associate with Batman. IMO, Gotham by Gaslight was before he really hit his stride.

Klaus Janson is a legendary inker, but for me his full art shows a crippling weakness on anatomy.

– For some reason I always remember Bob Brown more for his work on Marvel books like <I.The Avengers and Daredevil in the 1970s than for his work on the Bat-titles, but yeah, he was damn good artist whose style kept evolving in interesting ways. He was very good at adding shadow and depth, for one thing, and he managed to combine the hyperrealism of Neal Adams with the more stylized work of Irv Novick and a little bit of Joe Kubert influence in his linework.

— Those Finch pages make me appreciate his art a bit more since I hadn’t seen him work in some rubbery cartooning style in most of his other stuff. It helps leaven the grimdark tone a bit.

— And man, I miss Mike Parobeck’s art. If anyone wants to see more of his work, the early issues of the !mpact Comics version of Archie’s The Fly with writer Len Strazewski are really good and fairly inexpensive, as are the Justice Society comics by the same creative team. But I think he’ll mostly be remembered in fandom as the artist on the Batman animated tie-ins.

— Matt Wagner’s “Faces,” whichBrian briefly alludes to above, is one of my all-time favorite Batman stories, and the art is a huge part of that. The guy can lay out a page better than 99% of comics artists, as demonstrated with the scene in “Faces” where Bruce Wayne and another character have a conversation while running around an indoor track. One of Wagner’s best techniques, I think, is the inset grid of small panels, an old Will Eisner move that Wagner deploys to particularly good effect.

He also uses micropanels as a whole-page layout in “Faces” to introduce the circus sideshow characters, and in the first Batman-Grendel crossover to turn a big fight scene into the backdrop of some really interesting character work with the story’s female lead. It’s a great way to decompress action without losing the pace of the story, a technique that really on works in the comics medium.

I really like all the other artists on the list, too, but I don’t know what to say about them except “they’re awesome!” Well, I could say a bit about Darwyn Cooke and his willingness to combine clean, old-school line art with unconventional, effective page layouts; or about how the underrated Law Schwartz combines the appealingly exaggerated style of Dick Sprang with surprisingly detailed panel layouts, but those are more brief comments than whole appreciations.

Dammit…
I’m really upset that I missed this poll because you went and did it while I was on vacations… oh well :p

Well then, off the top of my head here are my picks in no particular order:
Kelley Jones, Mike Mignola, Dave McKean, Simon Bisley, Darwin Cooke, Bruce Timm, Alex Toth, Cameron Stewart, Mike Parobeck and Alex Ross.

A lot of artists in this batch who didn’t do a whole lot of work on Batman comics. Although in cases like Mignola and Wagner I wonder if their work on group titles like Cosmic Odyssey and Trinity had some influence. I know I associate both of those guys with Batman more through those works than the solo stuff.

Glad Bob Brown made the list. I’ve read a bunch of 70s Batman Books in the last year or two, mostly stuff I got for pretty cheap, so there wasn’t much in the way of Neal Adams in there. But Bob Brown kept coming up and I was always impressed with his work. He was good on the Avengers, too.

joe the poor speller

June 7, 2014 at 9:51 am

Parobeck makes me 1/10. Matt Wagner made my shortlist.

I’d be shocked that García-López placed so low, except that he didn’t work with Batman all that much. His Batman/Hulk is epic.

I can’t get behind Finch’s curious approach to anatomy at all (the arms in that first panel alone…), but otherwise this is a great batch.

Why does Batman have a flashlight Bat-Symbol? That looks… Odd.

José Luis García-López is clearly the best of this batch.

Darwyn Cooke is the best of this batch.

Not a fan of Dave McKean’s style but it is very pretty.

I think there’s no doubt Cosmic Odyssey was a reason Mignolia made it on here.

I love Mignola, and his “Gotham by Gaslight” and the 1st issue of “Cosmic Odyssey” are beautiful to look at. On the other hand, I don’t care for Klaus Janson at all, and whenever i re-read “Gothic” I’m always sad that Morrison was paired with him.

like Omar, i am more familiar with Bob Brown’s Marvels Work (Avengers and DareDevil)

some interesting artists on that batch

Wagner was the 5th on my list.

Seriously, I love Finch’s Batman. I was astonished how he interpreted Grant Morrison’s script in Batman: The Return. But too bad, he was paired a very lousy writer in the New 52 launch.

This section of the list seems to feature some absolutely brilliant artists who did amazing work with the Batman character but only briefly or for too few issues to jump in the top ten. Although they didn’t have long, sustained runs, Mignola, Wagner, Cooke, McKean and Janson are masters, their contributions to this character are tremendous. Great list so far, I’m really enjoying this. And although he slipped my mind when I was voting, seeing these Parobeck pages makes me remember that he drew a significant part of my childhood, I’ll always love those comics. RIP, he’s missed.

“I’m surprised to see Darwyn Cooke so low considering how much people seem to love him.”
- DanCJ

He was very high in MY voting, near the top. I think his style is so perfectly suited to the original, classic interpretation of the Batman character and I so thoroughly loved Ego that I had to give him his props but, ultimately, you can count the number of Batman comics he drew on one hand which affected his standing in this poll.

Yeah, he’s very popular but more for animation, The Spirit, and hardboiled crime than Batman comics per se. If there was a poll to rank the strongest visual aestheticists in general, not specific to one character, he’d rank a lot higher.

Jusy curious: in that Klaus Janson sequence, was Batman fighting Rube Goldberg?

scarletspeed7

June 7, 2014 at 12:50 pm

It’s funny, I love Wagner, McKean, Cooke and Janson. However, I didn’t vote for any of them because I don’t really think of them as Batman artists.

I voted, but I’m kicking myself for leaving out several of the artists in this list. Oh well. :)

Bob Brown — how many of his stories do people remember as being Irv Novick or Neal Adams instead, I always wonder…

Not only were his street-level fight scenes excellent, but he drew possibly the ANGRIEST Batman expression ever — you can see it in this link (half-expected it to show up here, actually):

http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2012/11/22/i-love-ya-but-youre-strange-yeah-sure-you-can-be-batman-for-a-night/

Do NOT make Brown’s Batman angry.

As good as Cooke’s Batman was, he wasn’t even that big a part of New Frontier — one of the decisions (mandated?) when the otherwise excellent film was made was that Batman had to play a bigger role. I’m guessing that’s why he ranks so low here.

Why does Batman have a flashlight Bat-Symbol? That looks… Odd.

It was during the period where Bruce and Dick were both acting as Batman (with Dick being in charge of Gotham City and their involvement in the Justice League while Bruce was in charge of establishing Batman Incorporated around the globe) so Bruce added a distinctive chest logo to differentiate himself with Dick’s costume.

Completely forgot about Mike Mignola! Dang it!

Wow, I didn’t remember Brown as a Bat-artist–I think of him as Avengers. No disrespect to his work intended.
Come to think of it, I remember so much of Garcia-Lopez’ work on other titles, I wouldn’t have thought of him either, and I really respect him.
Goes to show memory isn’t fact.

AlexanderLuthor

June 7, 2014 at 5:23 pm

Garcia-Lopez is always so criminally underrated in polls like this. To the wider public, his Batman is Batman

Parobeck was on my list. Very underrated artist who left us far too soon. Garcia-Lopez was one of the final few I begrudgingly eliminated from my list when I made my top ten. The man does beautiful work. I didn’t vote for Bob Brown, but I’m glad to see he made the list. i left Matt Wagner, Mignola, Cooke, and McKean off my list because they just haven’t done a ton of Batman work; Wagner has done enough that he “qualified” in my mind, but I wound up bumping him in favor of an artist I hold in equal esteem who’s done much more work with the character. I like Janson’s work, but not quite enough to make it into my top ten.
Not a fan of Finch, though the pages shown here are certainly better than I’ve seen from him more recently..

I love Matt Wagner’s Batman and the Monster Men/Mad Monk, the art and writing all work. David McKean is amazing artist, I’m sure if you placed it in a gallery it would thrive there as well in comics. People should go and check out Black Orchid, that’s a awesome book!

I must say, I’m happy to see pre-bronze age Batman represented in these lists. It says something about the wide range of Bat-knowledge CBR voters have!

I’m happy to see Brown, Schwartz,and Finch represented, though none of them are among my favorite Bat-artists. I always found Schwartz’s art a bit cluttered for my tastes to be honest – though I still think he was a decent artist.

I love Darwyn Cooke’s Catwoman and Ego, but I think his greatest Bat-art is the opening sequence to Batman Beyond. Brilliant stuff.

Those are the perfect Janson moments to use from Gothic – they’re the two that remain most vivid in my memory from that story.

I still remember McKean’s work from Arkham as being the most terrifying I’d ever encountered in comics as a kid. I always liked his depictions of Harvey Dent and Mad Hatter.

Garcia-Lopez, Mignola, Parobeck, and Wagner are – well, brilliant. I’m happy they’ve graced the Batman mythos with their talents. Rest in Peace, Mike Parobeck.

tom fitzpatrick

June 7, 2014 at 8:35 pm

You know, every once in a while, Batman kind of overdoes it when he interrogates a criminal and becomes too much of an a$$hole like the sequence Finch drew of the Penguin being assaulted by Batman.

I haven’t read that issue, so I don’t know the full story behind that scene and what led up to it, but I actually thought it was amusing to see Batman get a taste of his own medicine when Killer Croc smashed Batman’s head into the wall.

Good to see Matt Wagner, Klaus Janson, Jose Luis Garcia, Mignola, Cooke, Finch and McKean get a nod in this list.

Ethan Shuster

June 8, 2014 at 7:45 am

Wasn’t García-López the artist for the Super Powers toy line’s package art? Because those depictions were probably a lot of 1980s kids’ introduction to some of those characters.

Ethan Shuster

June 8, 2014 at 7:46 am

Yes, Tom, I was kind of thinking the same way. Maybe the sort of graphic way the broken bones were shown, plus Penguin doesn’t seem the type to need that much of a beating to talk.

Chris Burnham closed out my artists ballot in the #10 spot. Glad he made it.

Look how awesome that Bob Brown work is. Just love it. Glad to see him featured even if it was an error.

Great bunch of artists. McKean’s the first from my list to show up. I forgot about Mignola, but probably would’ve voted for him.

I always find it strange that people carry on about weak art on Morrison’s Batman run(s). Even though there were a few issues where the art was less than stellar (and I’d say we’re talking maybe a year or so out of an 8-year run), his run included Quitely, Williams III, Burnham and Kubert. And I think the Quitely and Williams issues are some of the best work of both of those artists’ careers. Now, if one wants to talk about art problems on Morrison’s X-Men run, that’s another story.

Mike Loughlin

June 9, 2014 at 7:00 am

Mignola also drew Batman/Hellboy/Starman, a fun collaboration with James Robinson. I didn’t think to vote for him, or Dave McKean or Darwyn Cooke, because they’ve drawn so few Batman comics. I would have voted for Alex Toth, otherwise. Not to say their contributions weren’t great, as Ego, Arkham Asylum, and LotDK 64 are standout works.

I’m kicking myself for forgetting Wagner. Batman/ Grendel vol. 1 was amazing, and Faces is one of my favorite Batman stories. His later stuff is great, too, but for me the energy and daring of his earlier work gives it an edge.

Klaus Janson would be in my top 5 inkers, even if his pencil art never clicked with me.Lew Schwartz was a hugely underrated artist, those pages are excellent. JL Garcia0-Lopez is one of the best. I wish he’d had a solid run on Batman or Detective. FYI, he inked the “Venom” story in LotDK over Trevor von Eeden’s layouts & Russ Braun’s pencils, and it gave the story a nice polish.

Mike Loughlin

June 9, 2014 at 7:05 am

@BDaly:

You’re pretty much right, but there were lots of issues drawn by Tony Daniel or Billy (or is it Phil?) Tan that looked terrible, and a lot of people didn’t like Andy kubert’s art. They course-corrected eventually- Quitely, Stewart, Burnham, Irving, JHW III, Lopresti, etc. are all solid-to-excellent- but there were years of Batman comics that should have looked better before that. The “Club of Heroes” story was a huge outlier until Batman & Robin.

OK, sometimes I see people I think are good choices that I should have considered, but it’s rare that I really fell bad about not including someone…but I do this time with García-López. He definitely should have been in my top 10, and I can even think of one or two I could have left out to put him in.

Wagner got consideration on both the artist and writer list for me, but there just wasn’t enough work to edge him onto the Top Ten. But the stuff he did I love.

I went back up to look at the beating Batman gave the Penguin after reading the comments….why on page 3 panel 2 does Penguin have a penis for a nose?

Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez is simply amazing. I honestly think he would be much better regarded among fans if they realized just how much of DC’s awesome licensing artwork was done by him. If you see a DC character on a lunch box or a drinking glass or a t-shirt or a bedsheet or a magnet or nearly any other product you can possibly think of, then there’s a really good chance JLGL drew it.

There was a five part story in Legends of the Dark Knight, “Grimm,” that had Trevor Von Eeden’s pencils inked by Garcia-Lopez, and it was absolutely beautiful.

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