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CSBG Archive

75 Greatest Batman Writers and Artists: Writers #30-26

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27. Don Cameron

While Gardner Fox was the first writer other than Bill Finger to write Batman’s adventures, Don Cameron was the first writer other than Bill Finger to take over on a regular basis. Staring with Batman #12, he became a regular contributor to Batman and eventually to Detective Comics, as well. Honestly, throughout the 1940s, Cameron was writing more or less every major DC hero. He was writing Batman, Superman, Green Arrow – he was all over the place. As the decade ended, though, superheroes became less popular and Cameron moved over to the booming Western comics world where he wrote all sorts of Western comics for DC (including his own creation, Pow Wow Smith) before he died in 1954.

Here is a snippet from likely his most famous Batman story, the first team-up (and ONLY team-up during the Golden Age, at least) between the Penguin and the Joker from Batman #25…

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26. Frank Robbins

Frank Robbins might just be the most underrated writer in the history of Batman comics, if only because his influence is typically completely overlooked. Denny O’Neil is generally regarded as the guy who brought Batman out of the “camp” era, but it was really Robbins who got there first, he just didn’t do it quite as memorably as O’Neil later did. To wit, O’Neil did not even WRITE an issue of Batman or Detective until 1970. Robbins had been working on the character since 1968. A big part of the problem is that Robbins’ darkening of Batman was incredibly gradual. When he took over the book in 1968, his stories still roughly resembled the camp days, they just slowly but surely gained a bit of an edge to them. Take this early issue of Robbins that ends with the villain deciding he wants to be dressed as Batman as he walks the “Green Mile” to his death…

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That’s pretty hardcore stuff for a Batman story of the late 1960s.

Within a dozen or so issues, Robbins’ Batman was beginning to look like the Batman we’d see for good starting with Denny O’Neil’s run…

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I think it is fair to say that Robbins’ stint wasn’t quite on the same level as the work of O’Neil or Archie Goodwin, but I think it is far better than he is often given credit for and his influence on the titles was tremendous. He and Julie Schwartz (who obviously decided to let Robbins darken things up) deserve a ton of credit for what we think of as Batman today.

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34 Comments

I really enjoyed part one of Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader, but was a bit disappointed with the way Gaiman stuck the landing (I’d just watched The Wire, so the Goodnight Moon riff seemed a bit tired to me). But I liked his takes on the villains in the Secret Origins and Black Orchid appearances (not to mention Scarecrow’s cameo in issue 5 of the Sandman).

I’ve been meaning to reread Broken City. I recall enjoying it okay, then reading a fair bit of criticism of it online, then wanting to go back to it. Once again, these lists always inspire me to hit the back issues (I’ve already gone through Hush and Morrison’s run again in the past couple of weeks).

Not as familiar with the other writer’s work on the comics, but of course Bruce Timm is great for everything he’s done on the cartoons.

I did not find Broken City that appealing, I thought the characters (like Batman) were changed to fit the story.

I probably like all the Don Cameron stories I have read, but I probably do not see his name enough to really take much notice. I am glad he made the list.

That Bruce Timm story was great. I am not a fan of out-of-continuity stories like that, but this is one of the few exceptions that I think are good.

Holy crap, those Two-Face pages shown were amazing. I haven’t ever read any of the Black and White books, but if any of the stories are even a fifth as good as that, it’s just become an instant buy on my part.

Still no one from my list.

joe the poor speller

June 8, 2014 at 9:39 am

Keep hearing good things about Tomasi’s B&R. Will put it on my “to read list”

tom fitzpatrick

June 8, 2014 at 10:52 am

Rather odd, isn’t it? One would almost expect Gaiman and Azzarello to be considered the better writers and further down on the list.

Maybe on a “all-time” writers list, but not necessarily a “Batman” list.

As far as this list goes – I wouldn’t be surprised to see Morrison, Miller, and Moore on the top 5. We’ll see.

scarletspeed7

June 8, 2014 at 11:38 am

Almost put Bruce Timm on my list, Azz was another guy I considered too.

I really don’t consider Gaiman as a “Batman writer.” But maybe that’s just me.

Azzarello is arguably the best writer in the industry but I was worried he might not make the list because he’s only done a handful of Batman stories. It’s awesome to see him get a nod here. If you feel that Batman has the potential to be DC’s resident film noir character, he’s the best guy for the job.

Just a recommendation: Anyone who likes Azzarello should buy BATMAN NOIR, a single collected edition that contains the stories mentioned in this article (at least the ones illustrated by Eduardo Risso). As much as I love the colors of Trish Mulvihill, black and white is a great format for those comics.

And thanks for showcasing “Two Of A Kind”… Timm is rightly regarded for his outstanding artwork but his scripting is excellent, too. I agree: this is one of the best Two-Face stories ever.

I really enjoyed part one of Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader, but was a bit disappointed with the way Gaiman stuck the landing

Felt the same way. Pretty crazy that Neil Gaiman shows up on this list at all though, with only one short Batman story to his name. I remember when Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusdader was collected. Two issues and some odds and ends from the 80s that you could probably find kicking around in a quarter bin, for like $30 if I recall correctly. And people bought it too, from the looks of it. As with Alan Moore, putting Gaiman’s name on a comic must be like printing money for DC.

Andy Kubert really is a great artist when given time to work on something. Seeing Two-Face’s car, the Joker’s frowny-face, and the Cat-Woman splash reminds me how much I dug his art on Batman in the brief period when he was the regular penciller (especially those couple of issues where he was inked by his father).

Gaiman’s two-parter didn’t click with me at all. Nice bits that added up to nothing.
Don Cameron, as I’ve discovered reading the Chronicles collected edition, was a terrific Bat-writer. Interesting to learn he did other stuff too.

interesting for kind of thought gainmans only batman story would not show up till way in the top ten. plus also loved broken city for it showed that like batman and his rogues that gotham city can be a creepy character itsself. plus also liked that two face story for it showed that no matter what harvey does to try and be free he will sadly sooner or later wind up with something causing him to have to be two face again. that two face will always be the stronger version of dent

Gaiman’s penguin story “The Killing Peck” haunted me as a kid.

Got to confess, I don’t really care for Gaiman’s “Whatever happened to the Caped Crusader.” It just seems rather so-so. Maybe I’m just unfairly comparing it to Moore’s “Whatever happened to the Man of Tomorrow.”

joe the poor speller

June 8, 2014 at 3:32 pm

The Killing Peck was written by Alan Grant

Travis Pelkie

June 8, 2014 at 4:07 pm

Tomasi wrote the amazing Batman and Robin Annual 1 (nu52 edition), with Damian sending Bruce and Alfred on a “scavenger hunt” while he fights crime in Gotham as a “Batman Jr”. Just a really great issue with nice characterization, all around good stuff.

Wow, with only a couple issues to his name, Gaiman makes this list? Well, the first part of the Whatever… was amazingly good (Alfred’s story was great), but as others said, the ending wasn’t the greatest.

And yeah, that Two-Face story by Timm is wonderful.

Was it really?!? I change my vote!

Two of a Kind is a great story: I have twice ironically its in Mad Love trade and Batman: Black and White volume 1. I have to admit I enjoy that story because I am a twin.

Tomasi is the most underrated post-Hush writer (overshadowed by Morrison and Snyder). His writing on Damian alone earns him a place on this list.

To reiterate what others have already said: Two of a Kind is certainly brilliant.

Gaiman and Azzarelo have both put out some very interesting takes on Batman.

Don Cameron was a solid Bat-scribe. Though he never tried to reach the same complexities of Finger’s script (which, to be honest, didn’t always pay off), he usually delivered entertained Bat-tales.

Andy E. Nystrom

June 8, 2014 at 8:14 pm

Gaiman also wrote the Riddler story from the Secret Origins Special so that might have gotten him a few votes as well

The Angry Internet

June 8, 2014 at 9:56 pm

I really enjoyed part one of Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader, but was a bit disappointed with the way Gaiman stuck the landing (I’d just watched The Wire, so the Goodnight Moon riff seemed a bit tired to me).

Berkeley Breathed also did the same thing about six months earlier for the finale of his Opus strip. I would never suggest that Gaiman was ripping off Berke Breathed, but it seemed like an uninspired reference. Granted it was a bit surprising to see in a modern-day Batman comic.

No one from my list yet, though I toyed with the idea of voting for Gaiman (tbf, I haven’t really read that much Batman).

That Timm story is rather nice. I really need to get the B&W trade.

Yeay for Tomasi getting some love! He was in my top 5! Love his work with the Bat family. He is sooooooo underrated which has a lot to do with playing second fiddle to Morrisons and now Snyders main Batman book. He rarely has the space to make a story of his own and instead has to react to developments in the main book a lot of times, which is a real shame. When he does though, its always gold. Loved most of his tie ins as well.
He really writes Damian as good as Morrison and his Batman is like I picture the character in my mind. Such a great writer. Hope he stays on the bat books for a loooooong time and maybe gets to steer THE main Batman book for a while in the future.

Count me in as another who’d love to see Peter Tomasi get a shot at the main Bat-book when Scott Snyder moves on, he really is terrific at giving Batman and chums heart.

And as others have said Neil Gaiman’s two-parter finally priced disapproving; that final storybook bit was a particular headscratcher. I looked it up at the time, and it was a ref to some popular children’s book that either escaped British attention – well, bar Neil Gaiman – or my generation. Can’t recall what it was now!

Mike Loughlin

June 9, 2014 at 6:51 am

Gaiman also wrote a piece for Batman: Black & White vol. 1, illustrated by Simon Bisley. It’s a cute idea, with Batman and Joker actors in a comic book, but nothing to write home about. 2/3 of “Whatever Happened…” is great followed by that stupid ending. Sandman was fantastic, but keep Gaiman away from Batman, except:

“When is a Door…?,” his Riddler story, is great. Bernie Mierault drew it like a Matt Wagner who made everything more angular.

Interesting see Gaiman ranked so high with only two issues under his belt.

“…with the whole family”

Minus Cassandra, Steph and Babs.

Add me to the list that thinks Gaiman can be brilliant, but doesn’t think the “Whatever happened to…” lived up to its billing at the end.

I know this is the writers part, but what really stands out to me in that Bruce Timm B&W is the art…the more adult fare, in the animated style just seems really powerful.

What’s green, sits in a bathtub, and whistles?

I like Azzarello but he’s a bit like Garth Ennis in that he is very very one note. Broken city was pretty predictable, you knew it was going to be dark and everyone was awful in the city

In the Don Cameron pages, Penguin’s suggestion to drive them crazy by “a drop at a time on the forehead” to drive them mad was actually used (by King Tut, I believe) in the old TV show. Batman was able to remain sane by going over the multiplication tables BACKWARDS in his head, his female companion wasn’t as capable as Batman, however, so she was screwed.

I like Azzarello but he’s a bit like Garth Ennis in that he is very very one note.

Garth Ennis has some things he likes to return to, but War Stories, The Preacher, Punishermax, Heartland and Adventures in the Rifle Brigade prove he’s far from one-note.

I agree with most of what the others have said (except “Whatever Happened…”, which I loved all of… to me it was a perfect non-canon summary of what Batman means to his fictional world as well as our non-fictional one), so I won’t rehash it. I would like to add that, despite my general dislike of Nu 52 DC, I picked up every issue of the new “Batman Black and White” miniseries that they did recently and loved it. The original was amazing, and deserves every accolade it gets (I still need to collect the entire original mini, but happily read it all), and I was amazed to find that the new one was (in my opinion) just as good.

Getting Neal Adams to sign his story from the first issue of the new “B&W” at the recent Sacramento Comic Con was one of the coolest things I’ve ever had happen to me, especially when he took the time to sit me down and explain the meaning of each character and what they meant to him (it was a slow part of the day, so no line). Highly recommend reading the recent mini, especially that first issue.

Voted for Bruce Timm. Considered Peter Tomasis but didn’t vote for him. Thinking back I really should have, Bugger.

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