Continuing my look at the Batman covers of one of my favorite artists, Kelley Jones. Jones started as a cover artist on Detective Comics and then Batman and eventually to the interior artist of Batman. These books along with some other various side projects constitute one of the most dramatic looks for the Dark Knight ever.
8. Batman: Gotham After Midnight #3
This cover separates itself due to the scale of it. A giant Clayface gripping Batman above the skyline of Gotham City. While, above them, police blimps float by in a crimson sky, obviously inspired by Batman: The Animated Series.
The clay being flung off of Clayface’s upper hand and body are really the only hints of motion we get on this cover. One can imagine the blimps drifting by, but not at a pace that would be considered “thrilling” like stated above the issue number.
Typically, Jones’ covers weren’t as “blockbuster” as this. If anything, the events being depicted skewed more towards a claustrophobic, horror feeling. To have this one with such a large scope to it is definitely a change of pace for Jones.
The enormous size of Clayface here climbing on the tower in the foreground with Batman in his hand, while also clearly stating the peril the Dark Knight is in, is in contrast to the background behind them. The sprawling city behind them, from the more realized buildings closer to the viewer, fades to just lights in the distance, and then darkness beyond. Having the blimps in the sky also helps the effect, shining lights illuminating Clayface, adding to the depth of the scene.
For the most part, any superfluous text on one of Jones’ covers would seem like sacrilege to me. This one however, seems to work well with it. The scene here could almost be a silver-age cover from the events, so it doesn’t seem as out-of-place here. I just know this piece looks beautiful in black and white too though. With the ink splatter technique used for the spotlights and the work on the sky, the original art for this one should look great.
As far as the coloring, the red Animated Series sky, working with the yellow light from the spotlights, compliments Clayface’s shades well. Just putting a brown mud man in an urban environment could go awry visually. Here, it is successful and the yellow highlights move the eye around the cover. The green city background contrasts with the scarlet sky without being distracting from the action in the foreground.
My only real problem with this piece is that Batman’s beautiful cape is completely clipped off from the cover! We only see the minimum of it on his shoulders. The missed opportunity of have a massive Batman cape flapping in the wind above the city is regrettable.
Once more that’s more than I originally thought I would have to say about this cover. Next time, I will be examining my pick for the seventh best Kelley Jones Batman cover.