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75 Greatest Batman Writers and Artists: Artists #25-21

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In honor of the seventy-fifth anniversary of Batman, we’re doing four straight months of polls having to do with Batman, culminating with the official celebration of Batman’s anniversary at the end of July. The last installment will deal with Batman stories, but this month will be about Batman’s writers and artists (40 artists and 35 writers).

You all voted, now here are the results! Here is a master list of all the writers and artists featured so far. We continue with Batman artists #25-21.

Enjoy!

NOTE: Don’t be a jerk about creators in the comments section. If you are not a fan of a particular creator, that’s fine, but be respectful about it. No insulting creators or otherwise being a jerk about creators. Specifically, no “Creator X better not be in the top ten!” or variations of that idea (“Creator X better not be ahead of Creator Y,” etc.) I’ll be deleting any comments like that and, depending on how jerky the comment was, banning commenters.

25. Sheldon Moldoff

I don’t really think we should feel too bad for a guy who had steady work as a comic book artist on one of the top comic books in the industry for fifteen years. That said, Sheldon Moldoff was in an odd position as one of the most prominent Bob Kane ghost artists of the 1950s and 1960s. On the one hand, he had to pretend to be Bob Kane and on the other hand, he couldn’t even draw in his own style, as he had to evoke the work of ANOTHER ghost artist of Kane’s, the great Dick Sprang.

Moldoff had a hand in the creation of a number of classic Batman characters like Batwoman, Ace the Bat-Dog, Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy. Towards the end of his tenure on the Bat-books, especially when he was paired with inker Joe Giella (who was of a slightly later generation, being eight years younger than Moldoff and seventeen years younger than Moldoff’s longtime inker, Charles Paris – as a quick aside, did you know that Moldoff and Paris never actually met each other? Paris inked Moldoff for over a decade but they never got a chance to meet. And it’s not like nowadays where artists are all over the place – pretty much everyone had to live in the New York City area at the time. But as Moldoff has noted, they didn’t have time to “hobnob” with each other). Here’s a few pages from one of Moldoff’s later stories, a classic introducing “Death Man”….

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24. Alan Davis

Alan Davis came over to American comic books to work as the new regular artist on Batman and the Outsiders, replacing Jim Aparo. After a year on that title (which included the title transforming into a non-Batman title), though, his work was so strong that the entire creative team of the title transferred over to Detective Comics (Davis as well as writer Mike W. Barr and inker Paul Neary). There Davis had an excellent (if short-lived) run.

Here’s a snippet of the 50th anniversary of Detective Comics, where a bunch of great detectives team-up, namely Batman, Slam Bradley (who was from the first issue of Detective Comics), Elongated Man and, of course, Sherlock Holmes…

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23. Alex Ross

There’s really not much to say about Alex Ross. He is one of the most famous comic book artists around, with his photo-realiztic painting making him one of the most in demand artists in the business. He often does not have the time to do interior work, but he has done a number of famous Batman covers (many of which appeared on the 75 Greatest Batman Covers of All-Time). However, Ross DID do at least one Batman comic, the graphic novel Batman: War on Crime, with writer Paul Dini…

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Fantastic stuff. Ross also did a story for Batman Black and White.

Go to the next page to see #22-21!

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31 Comments

Yay, Aparo’s in the top 20 (I assume).
Terrific bit of work by Kubert, as you say.
The fiftieth anniversary story is a delight. Barr writes a great Holmes.
It’s weird how many stories I misremember the artists on. Probably reflects that I don’t have much of an eye for the art, but still surprising.
Death Man. A very unimpressive villain and the story ditto. Not much of a costume either.

I wish I would have voted for Alan Davis, he’s the prototypical superhero artist in my eyes and he had a great little stretch of Batman stories with Mike W. Barr before leaving for Excalibur.

I’ll always remember Dick Giordano for illustrating one of my all-time favorite Batman stories, “To Kill a Legend”.

Kubert I’ll remember for two things, 1. all the great issues of Morrison’s Batman he drew like above and the 666 Damian-Bats future, and 2. the surprisingly good Predator/Batman crossover story. Seriously, give it a chance! Alfred blows the Predator away with a blunderbuss.

I really expected Giordano to be higher.

Batman vs. Predator is one of the best crossovers, I can only recommend it. The Kuberts shine here and the story is quite entertaining.
I am still surprised about the ranking, Alex Ross was below my radar, not that I don’t like his work, but it slipped my mind that he has ever worked on a Btaman title;)
Alan Davis is great, love his work on Batman. I am really looking forward to the top ten.

I feel like Alex Ross, while good at being photorealistic, is not that great storyteller. Plus I hate how all his models for superheroes seem to be flabby middle aged WASPs with shit-eating smirks.

I love that the inspector drops the detonator at the perfect time to prove his guilt. It’s like, “Here! I did it!”

Hey, Dread Lord and Master, maybe you know this: Why did creators not get their own bylines in the early days? I mean, I know that comics were so disposable that nobody cared who wrote and drew them, but you mention that Moldoff didn’t draw in his own style. Were Kane and Sprang getting the bylines, and other artists had to fall in line? And if so, why did they get the recognition? Marvel in the 1970s had a fairly clear house style, and the artists still got credit even if they were altering their style to fit in. Or did Kane and Sprang not get any credit either, and DC just decided that all the artists should draw like them? I don’t own any actual old issues, so I don’t know what the credits looked like, and I was just wondering.

A vote for Shelley is essentially a vote for Kane. Having said this, I hope we don’t have any nonsense on this list with Bob being at the top of this list, as how could that be, when in this ranking of Shelley, 10 to 15 years of his ‘work’ is being represented. To me, it would expose the lack of knowledge of the majority of the voters, but I suppose that has already happened with the results of the Top Covers….

scarletspeed7

June 12, 2014 at 8:34 am

I voted for Alex Ross; something about the way he paints Batman really strikes a chord in me.

interesting did not expect to see both sheldon or dick show up on this list till way into the top ten. for both really added touches to batman . including a good ally like Leslie thomkins . plus also nice to see batman vs predator get some praise on this list for one of kuberts best take on batman .

Hey, Dread Lord and Master, maybe you know this: Why did creators not get their own bylines in the early days? I mean, I know that comics were so disposable that nobody cared who wrote and drew them, but you mention that Moldoff didn’t draw in his own style. Were Kane and Sprang getting the bylines, and other artists had to fall in line? And if so, why did they get the recognition? 

Bob Kane’s deal specified that only he get credit. Sprang wasn’t credited for any of his work until it began getting reprinted in the late 1960s.

Brian: Dang, that blows. I didn’t know he made his deal that early – I thought it was a bit later. Man, Kane was a dick, but he sure was shrewd.

Kubert’s Batman just doesn’t work for me. Which might be part of why I’m fond of Tony Daniel–he was a welcome change at the time, reading GrantBats.

I can´t stand Andy Kubert’s faces. Everything else is good, but those faces he draws…

My first voted one in Davis….though my mind was playing tricks on me, because I thought he had drawn more Batman. But maybe they were just more important stories to me.

I love how in that issue Batman become’s “The World’s Second Greatest Detective”….

I’m not on the Ross hate crowd, but pinning him to one character seems hard, since he liked to do them all. Justice, Kingdom Come, the oversized editions….He draws a great Batman, but he does mostly everyone else too, so it’s hard to associate him with just the one character.

I think I fell into the stereotype of “just tracers” because it never crossed my mind that I should be including inkers under “artists.” But this one obviously should be included, and probably higher if people like me had thought of him.

And while there may be a reason Death Man isn’t still appearing to this day, I kind of liked that the story/stories from that era were more straight crime without a lot of camp or over the top super villainy. Truly a crime fighter in this sense.

Frank Milla Batman Gorilla

June 12, 2014 at 10:02 am

Probably the best batch of pencilers yet.

Alan Davis is in my top 10. Really a pity he didn’t stick around Detective Comics for a couple years. I was devastated when he left.

I thought Giordano would be top 15 minimum.

I can’t stand Alan Davis. I thought it was an absolute crime when “Year 2″ went from McFarlane to him.

Herb Clerecidge

June 12, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Actually Jeff, Alan Davis only started Year Two (with DETECTIVE # 575); Todd McFarlane (inked by Alfredo Alcala) did parts two and three, and McFarlane did full art chores on DETECTIVE #578, the final part of the story.

Perhaps he got those names mixed up, everybody loves Alan Davis! Everybody that doesn’t have a cold black heart, that is.

It is a shame that Alan Davis didn’t stick around longer; his run with Mike W. Barr on Detective is one of my all-time favorite Batman runs. According to his interview in Modern Masters: Alan Davis, we can thank Denny O’Neil for that. I don’t have that book handy at the moment, but there was a history of communication problems between the two of them, if I remember correctly. What I do remember is that the straw that broke the camel’s back was the gun Batman carried in Year Two. It was supposed to be the gun Joe Chill used to kill his parents, but because Batman is so physically large, the script–approved by O’Neil–specified that the gun should be a Mauser, because it wouldn’t look tiny in Batman’s hands. Davis drew an entire issue with Batman carrying a Mauser, and that was also approved. Then, because David Mazzuchelli drew a different gun in a single panel of Batman: Year One, Davis was asked to change the gun throughout the pages he’d done for Year Two, instead of Mazzuchelli being asked to change that single panel. That was the point where Davis said he’d had enough, so he quit.

I gotta agree with Frank Milla up there. The whole list has been great, but this batch is just spectacular. Moldoff is one of the early, super-talented and important artists of the title. Davis, as far as I’m concerned, is not just a top Batman artist, but is one of the greatest comic book artists of all time period. Alex Ross is nearly above reproach, whether you like his style or not. Giordano is another incredibly important figure in Batman’s history, and will always be (deservedly) associated with him. And while Andy Kubert may have his detractors (who doesn’t?), there’s no arguing that he’s a brilliant storyteller and that he’s worked on some phenomenal Batman stories.

Going back to the Death Man story up there, how about that badass cop up there? Is he ever mentioned again? Batman or one of the other cops honoring him posthumously, maybe? He knows he’s outnumbered and probably has no chance of survival, but stands up to Death Man and his gang anyway, knowing that giving Batman and Robin a chance to catch up could save the lives of others. Awesome.

And are there any better last words in history than “Batman… take… over…”? His final act in life was to pass the torch to the Batman himself. They probably had to dig a second grave for just his humongous balls.

Alan Davis was my #7 vote. His style was a perfect fit for Mike Barr’s lighthearted stories.

tom fitzpatrick

June 12, 2014 at 8:55 pm

I remember that Sherlock Holmes story by Alan Davis! GAWD, I’m old!

I wish Kubert had done more with Morrison. I’m reading it now and the book just really lost something when he left the title. (Not including the JH Williams issues, of course)

I can only imagine how much better RIP would have been with as skilled a hand as Kubert behind the pencil.

Mike Loughlin

June 13, 2014 at 6:52 am

In hindsight, Andy Kubert’s Batman work looks better. I far prefer artists whose characters seem sleeker, though; Andy kubert does a good version of the style that dominated the early- to mid-’90s. Nothing wrong with that, but I think the early Morrison issues would have looked better if drawn by an artist who doesn’t delineate so heavily (Cameron Stewart, Darwyn Cooke, Steve Lieber, etc.). Still, I think he did a decent job.

Batman vs. Predator was awesome, however. The Kubert brothers’ art fit Dave Gibbons’s script and the look of both franchises

Alex Ross’s art looks purdy but I lost interest in it years ago. It’s the same thing over and over.

Can’t go wrong with Dick Giordano or Sheldon Moldoff. Two of the all-time greats.

Alan Davis was on my list. His fluid action scenes, facial expressions, and ability to infuse his work with humor make him one of my favorites. Too bad about O’Neill screwing things up.

Interesting that you showed Shelly’s work inked by Giella. It looks very different from much of the rest of his work. It would have been good to show at least a page of his pre-new-look work so that people could see the contrast. The interesting thing about this list is that it does include a few inkers, Giordano & Jansen, but they seem to be included for their pencil work, so this is technically not the top 40 artists, but rather top 40 pencillers. This is all to say that I am very glad that you did include the Shelly/Giella page, because I think Giella does deserve some recognition as he was a very fine inker and helped create the “new look” look. I was just re-reading some of those issues and Giella does wonders with Shelly’s art and really creates some great mood with the use of shadows and detailing. So let’s consider this his “honourable mention”. I assume Charlie Paris won’t make the top 40 list either, but he really deserves some recognition, too, so I do hope that we see some of his inked work in due course.
Fr. Dan

Such a weird grouping.

You have two artists in Alan Davis and Andy Kubert who had very brief runs on Batman. Both spent most of their careers at Marvel despite having styles that complimented the DC portfolio better. I like the work of both men and think that they drew perfectly fine Batman comics, but it feels a little high for (in effect) visitors.

Alex Ross is a great artist, but his interiors are nowhere close to his covers. Add to that his very limited run of Batman comics and he is like a DH.

On the other side, you have guys like Sheldon Moldoff. Moldoff had a huge, long-lasting run on Batman for which he got literally no credit.

Alan Davis is my second choice to make it – included due to a combination of his run occurring just as I was starting to read Batman, his exceptional talent combined with the thought he puts into his work, and, of course, local bias.

Alan Davis is awesome, Dick Giordano and Andy Kubert are excellent, and Alex Ross is such an incredibly stunning and unique talent.

Shelly Moldoff is an interesting case. His Batman work was ill-served by the lighthearted era he primarily illustrated. Some of his work is good, but some is less than stellar. However, check out his work on Hawkman and the Black Pirate – incredible. So much better than a lot of his Batman stuff.

And yet Moldoff is such an important part of the Batman story, his work actually having appeared as early as 1939. And of course his work on some Batman tales, the darker ones – The First Batman, Am I Really Batman? – is indeed great.

Alex Ross was my #7 mainly for the covers.

My bad about the Year 2 mix-up. But yes, Davis is not to my taste at all. I guess my heart is cold and black! Everyone has different tastes, though. I know many who can’t stand Frank Quitely, and I love his stuff.

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