I know that many will argue against that.
To some, the definitive Batman artist is Neal Adams, although others may root for Marshall Rogers, or Tim Sale, or Jim Lee.
To me, it is Jim Aparo.
I loved his work and his interpretation of the Batman.
Ironically enough, for the longest time, I had only a handful of comics with his work in it.
Why that is?
Batman was translated in French in Belgium if I am not mistaken, but sometimes it would be available in Quebec. That is how I discovered Jim’s work in the Batman and Robin comic issue #44.
It was featuring amongst other tales “Death has the last laugh” which was originally featured in the Brave and the Bold #111.
Then the next issue I saw by Jim Aparo was Batman #84 (by then they had dropped the “and Robin” part of the title) with Mr. Miracle in “The Impossible Escape”, which was originally featured in the Brave and the Bold issue #112.
How can this be??
Well it is something that sadly often happens when you read foreign translations of American comics.
The Batman and Robin comic was an odd mixture of stories from the Batman, Detective Comics, and The Brave and the Bold comic.
So thanks to that… for too long those were the only 2 comics I had drawn by Jim Aparo.
Heck for the longest time I had no idea who the artist behind such masterpieces was since too often in those comics, the credits were missing.
Until I started buying the American version of Batman which was, as fate would have it, Jim Aparo’s first issue. That was a good day. Loved that issue.
Then I got more Aparo goodness in “The greatest Batman stories ever told”. Although just one issue is by Aparo… I loved it.
Then I got “The greatest Joker stories ever told”. With my luck, it had “Death has the last laugh”, one of the few Jim Aparo stories I already had. Oh well.
Then I got “The greatest team-up stories ever told” with another tale by Aparo.
Then DC reprinted the “Wrath of the Specter”. Damn that was good. It was hard to believe that these tales were originally done more then 10 years before I read them.
Then in the early 2000s, the assistant director on a project I was working on was getting rid of a truckload of comics he had.
So I got the entire run of Jon Sable, Dreadstar, a truckload of Nexus comics, some The Maze Agency…
… and a pile of Brave and the Bold by Jim Aparo.
Now that was some great stuff. No longer did I have just a few Jim Aparo comics.
Life was good.
Then I managed to find a few Phantom comics he drew.
I even got my hands on a rare treat, “The Untold Legend of the Batman”. The first issue is penciled by none other then John Byrne inked by Jim Aparo.
And lately, I got the Phantom Stranger Showcase… and now…
The Brave and the Bold Showcases.
I would be tempted to say that Volume 3 features Jim Aparo’s best work. But then again I am still missing the work he did in Detective Comics (although I do have one issue) and surely a truckload of other comics.
For some reason, I seem to be one of the few Jim Aparo fans. I did not see many who were fans of his work.
Sadly to some, he seem to be little more then a lesser copy of Neal Adams, which might be why Jim Aparo does not get his own page in the book “The Great Comic Book Artists” by Ron Goulart. L Or that he barely gets mentioned in “Batman; The Complete History”.
I was heartbroken when I saw that book and that there was so little mention of the greatest Batman artist out there. : (
I can’t help but feel that his work has been greatly underappreciated. His work has been a great inspiration to me. His use of black, crosshatching and shadows to convey mood and atmosphere to a page is nothing short of breathtaking. And his work is even better in black and white.
Hopefully, others will be able to discover his work in the various black and white showcases in the years to come.
We shall see.
Here is a small homage to such a great artist.
Hope you guys will like it. ;)