A Little Detective Work

Where I work I sit in proximity to designers and one of them, in particular, I've a good rapport with and he and I talk about comics and design and theology and culture and kids and whatnot.

Well, today he was looking at some comic art as I walked by and it grabbed my eye and we 'ooohed' and 'aaahed' over some very nice looking images.

Oh, you'd like to see one? I'm glad you asked.
Here's my favorite -

What we have here, of course, is Batman on the cover of Detective Comics #27 from 1939.

But what is not so obvious (to some, perhaps) is that this IS NOT the way Detective Comics #27 appeared back then. The artist here is a man named Gabriel Hardman and my friend at work could give you all kinds of technical reasons why Hardman's work is praiseworthy.

Me - I can only tell you I like the way it looks and it reminds me of work I saw as a kid.

More of Hardman's work can be seen at this link.

Bob Kane, the creator of Batman (with important help from Bill Finger), drew the cover for the ORIGINAL publication and it was, as usual, in color.

So how did the original 1939 comic book look? You ask such great questions!

Here you go -

Immediately, you are struck by the color - it is so vibrant! And honestly, black and red and yellow is one of my favorite combinations to look at, for what that's worth.

There are some other details, though, that you should note.
Batman is more 'modern' looking on the Hardman version - notice the difference in the angle and length of the bat ears, for example. The older Batman wore a glove that was more ordinary rather than the stylish ones we've come to know in later years.
The biggest difference of all, however, and what, probably, makes the Hardman cover so fun is the villains. On the original, Kane drew some ordinary, garden-variety thugs. This was the first-ever appearance of Batman (or 'The Bat-Man', as the opening panel has it) in a comic book, so the lineup of familiar foes for Batman had not been developed.
Hardman, though, replaces those anonymous hoods with familiar characters - Riddler, Penguin, and, thrashing in the Caped Crusader's arms (don't you love it!), the Joker.
What fun!

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