The Best Kelley Jones Batman Covers #7

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Today I am continuing my look at the best Batman covers of artist 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.

It’s been a few weeks since I posted one of these, so if you want to get caught up here are the previous entries.

Number 10

https://detective651.wordpress.com/2017/07/26/the-best-kelley-jones-batman-covers-10/

Number 9

https://detective651.wordpress.com/2017/08/02/the-best-kelley-jones-batman-covers-9/

Number 8

https://detective651.wordpress.com/2017/08/09/the-best-kelley-jones-batman-covers-8/

And that brings us to today’s entry.

7. Batman#497

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This is probably Jones’ most recognizable cover from his Batman run due to the events within. If you haven’t guessed from the cover, this is part of the Knightfall storyline where Batman gets his back broken by Bane.

Here Jones portrays Bane with a truly monstrous physique. While this wouldn’t be the biggest that he would depict Bane, it is the first instance where he shows him being this much larger than the Batman. The enormous size of Bane evokes the threat he is and the danger he brings to the story. With the buildup of Batman’s physical prowess over decades, the villain needed to be built up to show how he could dominate the protagonist so fully.

The attack here is also well-defined. Bane has crushed Batman to the point where his leg and Batman’s back are apparently melding together. A lack of delineation with the coloring adds to this. You can feel the force of the strike as Batman’s body conforms around Bane’s knee. On Batman’s face his anguish is clearly visible along with his twisting hands. The pain of the act is palpable.

Behind them the Batcave is visible. While showing the location of the battle, it also shows a violation in that Batman’s sanctum has been breached, adding to his defeat. The stalactites and stalagmites form a jagged, jack-o-lantern maw implying a vicious mouth since Bane’s is hidden by his mask.

I have chosen to show the cover above as depicted, but more than likely you have seen this version of the original cover.

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DC released the book with this paper flap obscuring half of the front cover. There was also an issue of Justice League America with a similar add-on released around the time of the Death of Superman storyline. Presumably, this was done in an effort to make the book more attention grabbing on an overcrowded shelf. Surely, this was one of the most economical cover gimmicks of the ’90’s. However, when I look at it, all I see is that it’s blocking half of a great Kelly Jones cover.

In recent years, this cover has been re-used for the first volume of the Knightfall collection.

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With this cover’s lack of trade dress that the original was heavy on, more of Jones’ work is visible with this version. However, the re-coloring of this edition feels colder and makes the piece seem flatter, especially the background. Side-by-side, I prefer the original version. They were smart enough to not include a black flap over half of the cover this time though.

Be sure to check back next time for the number 6 greatest Kelley Jones Batman cover.

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We’ve Got Movie Sign! – The Sidehackers

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Welcome to the first installment of a new feature here, We’ve Got Movie Sign! These articles will review episodes of my all time favorite t.v. show: Mystery Science Theater 3000! Starting off is one that I find to be pretty accessible (figuratively, and literally as it is currently available on Netflix).

SPOILERS

The Sidehackers -Episode 202

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Era: Comedy Channel/Comedy Central

Host: Joel Robinson

Bots: Crow T. Robot, Tom Servo, Gypsy, Cambot

Special Guest Villains: Dr. Clayton Forrester, T.V.’s Frank

Summary: Baby-hatted protagonist Rommel takes us on a wild ride through the new “sport” of sidehacking and his tumultuous life as a mechanic with a poor choice in acquaintances. After befriending vagabond gang leader, J.C., Rommel spurns J.C.’s girlfriend’s advances. This leads her to convincing J.C. that Rommel has attacked her and J.C. retaliates by attacking and killing Rommel’s girl, Rita.

In his grief, Rommel raises a gang of mercenaries to help him seek revenge against J.C. The movie concludes with J.C., now on the ropes, shooting Rommel in the back, leaving him to presumably die in a puddle of mud. The only resolution for J.C. is at the audience’s inference as police are shown hurrying to the scene.

Host Highlights: Joel parenting the bots. Joel’s invention of Gretchen the Slinky is surely a prop from his stand up comedy career. Accusing them of stealing his ideas, the Mads remind Joel that “In space no one can hear you sue.” Mike Nelson in a pre-hosting cameo as J.C. from the movie. Joel and the Bots teach us that “only love pads the film.”

Best Riff: “Hey, they’re filming a Kotex ad!” – Crow. This line is as funny now as it was when I was 11.

Overall, this is a good episode for the riffing in general. After the public access KTMA run and a season on Comedy Central, (yeah, I know it was the Comedy Channel back then, trying to simplify here), they seem to really have hit their stride here.

There is also a phenomenon I have noticed as far as quality of MST3K episodes. Whenever there was a “milestone” episode, such as the start or end of a season, etc., they seemed to be knocking it out of the park. Presumably, the pressure of the moment resulted in better quality. This being the second episode of the second season, after Rocketship X-M, some of that seems to have carried into this episode.

Memorable Movie Quotes: “He hit Big Jake!” – Big Jake. This would be a call back in later episodes of the series.                                                                                                                     “Now, Cooch, Cooch, tell me. Did I love him? Hmm? Did I love him? MY OWN FLESH I DON’T LOVE BETTER!” – J.C. This scene pretty sums up the character of J.C. This line is recreated by Mike and Frank in the host segment where J.C. and Gooch visit the Satellite of Love via hexfield.

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MST Musings: This is an episode I have seen quite a lot due to it being one that Rhino released on video cassette years ago. Watching it now though, I feel like I’ve known people like Rommel in real life. For the most part, he leads a normal life in his day-to-day as a mechanic and is interested only in sidehacking and his fiancée, Rita. Then, he makes friends with the wrong people. Presumably, Rommel assumed that J.C. and his gang were only passing through on their way to their next destination. Unbeknownst to him, this association would lead to his demise.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 has featured some darker movies over it’s run, but The Sidehackers definitely is one of the darkest. On the surface, it wouldn’t appear that way, but with the movie’s ending, there isn’t really any other way of looking at it. Rommel, the hero, wronged by the villain and shot down by him at the end. As the movie ends, J.C. is still alive. It is up to the audience to determine if he is arrested or shot down by the police at the end or makes his escape. The way the movie is now, it is possible that J.C. gets away with all his cowardly and nefarious deeds. Even in other episodes where the protagonist meets an untimely demise, it is usually at the behest of a moral lesson. With Rommel’s death, there is no lesson. At least the movie doesn’t make an overt one. The only message here is that life isn’t fair and that while maybe evil doesn’t win, neither does good. It could be inferred that Rommel’s relationship with J.C.’s gang or his pursuit of revenge was his undoing, but neither of these are laid out by the movie’s makers.

Later in life I would recognize J.C., actor Michael Pataki, in a small part in the far superior film, Easy Rider. Films like Easy Rider are probably how Sidehackers got made in the first place. However, Pataki isn’t the only one who would be recognizable to MSTies. Rommel himself, Ross Hagen would appear again in just 7 episodes in 209, The Hellcats. Maybe intentionally, Hellcats would make a great double feature with Sidehackers, originally titled Five the Hard Way. Big Jake, Bob Tessier, wouldn’t reappear on MST3K until the newest season, 11. Tessier, as Chief Thor, starred in Star Crash, featured in episode 1106.

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Sidehackers also has a unique place in the history of MST3K. As recounted by Mary Jo Pehl in The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Amazing Colossal Episode Guide, none of the crew realized that there was a rape scene in the movie until they were working on it. Apparently, procedure was to watch some of the movie until they got a feel for it, and then decide whether or not to riff it. Frank Conniff, T.V.’s Frank, then screened all future movies in their entirety before they were considered for the show. Conniff admitted on a recent episode of his podcast with Dr. Forrester, Trace Beaulieu, Movie Sign with the Mads, that occasionally, he would find a good film and watch it over an afternoon, knowing that it would never be on the show.

While editing movies featured on the show was commonplace, the story of Sidehackers really suffers from the omission. An average episode of MST3K runs around 90 minutes without commercials. Therefore, any movie going over that runtime, is edited down. It has always seemed that the crew is judicious in their trimming of the movies in that for the most part, the audience can still follow the plot. If there was one to begin with anyway.

In the case of Sidehackers though, the attack on Rita is a major plot point. It’s understandable why the creators decided to remove this scene. In one telling of the incident it was divulged that they tried to riff over the scene, but couldn’t. (And no, I can’t remember where I heard that specifically. I listen to a lot of MST related podcasts so I’m guessing one of those, but let me know if you know where that’s from.) Rommel’s entire arc is fueled by this incident though for the remainder of the story. First time viewers are sure to be confused by what is going on in the movie at this point. The crew was obviously aware that this would be an issue, and at the appropriate time in the movie, Crow states that Rita is dead.

Early on in the series, Joel used to have Crow and Tom Servo tell him one good thing and one bad thing about the movies they watched. In keeping with this, and to keep these reviews from getting too negative, they are bad movies after all, I will be doing the same.

Good Thing: Rommel and his mechanic friend’s good-natured ribbing in their shop. My father is a car enthusiast and being around him and his friends in their garages growing up, this is a scene that I can relate to. Breaking friends’ balls is a tradition I carry on to this day.

Bad Thing: The nihilist message of the movie. Yeah, we know that the good guy doesn’t always win, but there are so many films that express it so much more competently. Even at the time with the desire to eschew the “Hollywood happy ending”, this is a poor example.

Final Score:

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3 out of 5 Tom Servos

3 OUT OF 5 THE GOOD AND THE BEAUTIFUL

You’ve Got Movie Sign: If you are interested in viewing this episode Rhino released this on the third volume of the MST3K dvd box sets back in 2003. Previously, they had also issued the episode on VHS.

As I mentioned at the beginning, it is available on the new home of MST, Netflix, as of this writing.

It is available for purchase on vhx.tv. If you supported the MST Kickstarter and received digital rewards, you will be familiar with this site.

Even though most of the episodes are available to watch on YouTube, with varying degrees of legitimacy, Sidehackers does not appear to be. Interesting note: I did find an Un-MSTed version of Sidehackers on there. It claims to be an “uncut” version of the movie. As such, it has the scenes that MST had cut out, intact. I’m not sure if this is the case though, as the attack on Rita is not really portrayed. The viewer is only shown the aftermath with Rommel awakening and finding Rita’s body. While this may be too much for some, it is not the grisly scene I had envisioned for all these years.

Caution, this scene might be too intense for viewers, and it is definitely not in keeping with the all ages tone of Mystery Science Theater 3000. However, it is not as graphic as I had been lead to believe. This is why I am unsure if this is a complete version of the film. It is possible that it had already been edited down when it was renamed Sidehackers. The original version may only be complete in Five the Hard Way. Alternately, I may have had this story built up too much for me over the years and imagined something way worse than reality.

Stinger: Sadly, no stinger is attached to this installment. Only a Best Brains Productions title card.

 

 

 

 

Marvel’s The Punisher Trailer

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The other day, Netflix dropped the trailer for their next Marvel series, The Punisher. Jon Bernthal returns to the character that was a highlight of Daredevil season 2. If you haven’t seen it, what have you been doing with yourself? Check it out here:

SPOILERS

How great was that, right? Considering Hollywood’s hit or miss record with bringing the exploits of Frank Castle to the screen, this sure seems like it is going to be a hit.

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Pictured: Miss

I am a huge fan of Garth Ennis’ run on Punisher across Marvel Knights and Max lines, so to see something like this is promising. Clearly, there is a darker tone here, hopefully more so than even the other Marvel Netflix shows. If any of these series are going to super-dark, it should be this one. Frank’s life is a brutal one, and the trailer doesn’t shy away from this with the apparent slaughtering of his wife.

(Prediction: I’m betting the scene depicted in the trailer is a nightmare that Frank is having. Daredevil season 2 detailed how Castle’s family died on a carousel at the park. This shot is from later in the trailer and seems to relate to that.)
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In keeping with what is hopefully a leaning towards the Ennis work, Punisher is shown taking on multiple adversaries. Something that was a mainstay of his run and that Ennis said was necessary for Castle to accomplish his mission.

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Another aspect of the Max run is Castle’s apparent, matter-of-fact attitude when dealing with “bad guys”. The cold demeanor of Bernthal as he dispatches his foes really says that this is not a character who will be making quips. This is a character who won’t be taking any $#!#. As the Punisher should not.

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The big highlight of this trailer though, is the music. Like the fantastic Luke Cage trailer, this uses a song that is PERFECT for the story of the Punisher. Metallica’s One is an inspired choice and hearkens back to a time when the character was in his early heyday at Marvel. If there had been a big budget action movie of the Punisher back in the ’80’s, this song would have been ideal for it.

If you haven’t heard it in a while, here it is. (Please don’t sue me for linking to it here, Lars.)

Don’t be confused though, I’m not saying that the song is dated.  The staccato drums intentionally mimicking gunfire completely works for this trailer. Along with the song’s theme of a wounded soldier, could there be a better theme for a Punisher song?

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Even the opening, acoustic version of the song is well done when depicting Castle’s idyllic home life before the events that lead him down his inevitable path. Transitioning into the familiar electric version sends a clear message to the viewer: something is going to happen and it is going to be metal AF.

Apparently, Defenders has had the lowest number of views for a Marvel/Netflix outing. I blame this entirely on Iron Fist (to date the only show I haven’t binge watched within the first few days). Hopefully Frank Castle’s mission of vengeance will get audiences pumped to watch this series.

Now I can’t wait to watch this show, but how long do I have to wait?

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C’mon! What the hell, Netflix?

 

Batman Day Week Part 5: The Bat-Drawing

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IMG_0347Today I am wrapping up Batman Day Week with this final installment. If you wish to peruse this week’s previous entries here they are with convenient links:

My haul from this year’s Batman Day.

https://detective651.wordpress.com/2017/09/25/batman-day-week-part-1-the-bat-haul/

An in-depth look at the comic books from this year.

https://detective651.wordpress.com/2017/09/26/batman-day-week-part-2-the-bat-books/

An interview with my friend about his awesome Harley Quinn art.

https://detective651.wordpress.com/2017/09/27/batman-day-week-part-3-the-bat-art/

My look at the promotional masks given away this year.

https://detective651.wordpress.com/2017/09/28/batman-day-week-part-4-the-bat-masks/

Last year I decided to do a Batman drawing for Batman Day. It was fun so I thought I would do it again this year, and probably turn it into a regular tradition. Originally, I had planned on doing an illustration of the Rebirth version of Batman. Since that is the Batman that is currently in the books this year, that made the most sense to me.

However, something else happened this year that I thought would be more meaningful for me to commemorate. Earlier this summer, we lost Batman actor, Adam West. I received the news while attending the Superman Celebration in Metropolis, IL. The news hit me harder than it might have because I had met Adam West there years ago. Literally the only place I had contact with him was where I was when I heard about his passing.

Later, I decided that I would do a drawing of Adam West’s Batman for my Batman Day drawing.

ADAMWESTBATMAN

I say “decided”, but it really feels like there was no decision to be made about this. The circumstances really dictated what I would be doing here. The 60’s Batman show was such a big part of my childhood that there was no way I wasn’t doing this.

After attending the Batman Day festivities at Campus Comics, my local comic shop, I came home and set about working on this piece. I dug up some Adam West reference materials I have and put on the old Batman show and got to work.

The piece took a few hours to do, but I’m pretty pleased with how it came out. Let me know what you think in the comments or on Twitter @detective651.

Not to end this week’s series on a downer, but I feel it was relevant to end with this. Hope you have enjoyed these articles about my Batman Day experience and be sure to come back for more fun stuff.

Batman Day Week Part 4: The Bat-Masks

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IMG_0347If you missed this week’s previous entries here they are:

My haul from this year’s Batman Day.

https://detective651.wordpress.com/2017/09/25/batman-day-week-part-1-the-bat-haul/

An in-depth look at the comic books from this year.

https://detective651.wordpress.com/2017/09/26/batman-day-week-part-2-the-bat-books/

An interview with my friend about his awesome Harley Quinn art.

https://detective651.wordpress.com/2017/09/27/batman-day-week-part-3-the-bat-art/

Or, you know, you could just keep scrolling.

Today I am looking at another promotional item given away as part of this year’s Batman Day Harley Quinn Day celebration. These are some of my favorite items DC has done recently, the masks.

BATMAN DAY MASKS

I’m like J.J. Abrams with my lens flares.

I think that these are a great, old-school idea and one that ties in well to the theme of superheroes. Growing up, Halloween was the only time I had access to masks. If masks like these had been available to me, I would have been thrilled. Even cardboard masks like these as opposed to the plastic costume masks that would eventually crack.

This was a sentiment that I saw from a few kids this Batman Day at my local comic shop, Campus Comics. They were running around, wearing their Batman masks, and were PUMPED. It’s always nice to see younger kids excited about comic books. For one thing it’s nice to see that there is a future to the audience, and another is that usually these kids are WAY more enthusiastic about comics than I have been for a long time.

After I thought about it, the closest Batman mask I could come up with to these was this one from the ’60s.

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Pic from mycomicshop.com used without permission.

On one side is Batman, and then flip it over for a Robin mask. It’s two masks in one! Why Batman has his insignia on his forehead like a crime-fighting Charlie Manson, I don’t know. Keep in mind this is also probably from the era where superhero costumes had the character’s name on the chest.

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Like the bat and the cape wasn’t enough.

I own this mask and have wanted to frame it for a while, but I really want another one to go alongside it so I can display both sides. Someday…

JIM LEE BATMAN MASK

The first Batman mask is based on the art of Jim Lee. Lee was the artist on the Hush storyline and also the maligned All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder series. But you know what? He’s a bigwig at DC, so he’s getting a mask. Actually, I’m surprised that Lee’s wasn’t one in the first round from the first Batman Day a couple years ago. I would imagine that he just barely didn’t make the cut. He is a high-profile modern era Batman artist so his inclusion here was sort of inevitable. However, I am surprised by how high profile of a “Batman” artist he is considered with his relatively short run on Batman books.

KUBERT BATMAN MASK

Speaking of Batman artists with smaller runs under their utility belts, Andy Kubert also fits that bill. I was surprised when I heard that Kubert’s Batman would be included in this year’s mask offering. Honestly, there are times when I forget about his short-lived run on Batman with Grant Morrison. I would imagine that he is included here for his contribution to the recent Dark Knight III: The Master Race with Frank Miller.

While I have no problems with Jim Lee or Andy Kubert’s Batman work, it would have been nice to see some of the older artists’ work represented here. After all, we are going to be coming up on Batman’s 80th anniversary in a couple of years. A Neal Adams or Carmine Infantino mask would be appreciated. I’m always going to hold out hope for a Dick Sprang or Kelley Jones mask. Now that I think about it though, the ears on a Jones mask might be cost prohibitive.

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Finally, in keeping with the theme of this year’s Batman Day, Harley Quinn, there was also a Harley mask.

HARLEY QUINN MASK

Since Joker is “Mr. J”, if Harley married him, would her initials be “H.J.”?

Here Harley is sporting her DC Super Hero Girls look. Since one of the free comics offered was a DC Super Hero Girls book with Harley, this ties in nicely. A “classic” jester Harley could’ve been nice too, but this one fits in well with the more modern look of the character. During the Batman Day festivities at my local comic shop the other day, I did hear a kid ask “Which Harley is that?” when looking at a bust of her in her original costume. I guess it’s inevitable that someday I will hear “That’s not my Harley!”

Until then I will have fun with my Batman masks and not worry too much about entitled nerds who don’t appreciate how good we have it now. Be sure to check back for more Batman Day Harley Quinn Day fun this week.

P.S.- I know DC also released a John Romita Jr. style Batman mask, but my comic shop didn’t get any in so I don’t have one. Maybe next time.

 

 

 

 

Batman Day Week Part 3: The Bat-Art

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This week’s theme is Batman Day Harley Quinn Day 2017. So far, I have been looking at giveaway items that were produced for the even. Today’s post will be a little different though. While I am still discussing a giveaway, it is not one produced by DC Comics for the event. This item was produced by my local comic shop’s owner, Mike Noe, and artist Matt Speroni.

Speroni (of Atomic Robo fame) has been a friend of mine for several years after we attended art school together. He has worked as an artist for several years and I was thrilled when I learned that Mike Noe, owner of Campus Comics, had commissioned him to make a print for this year’s Batman Day.

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In addition to featuring his print here, I decided I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to ask Matt some questions about the piece itself and the process.

How did you come to do this print?

A few months ago I did a custom cover commission for Scott Reed, of Burg Comics, featuring Wonder Woman, and then that lead to Mike asking me about doing a commission for him. He told me about Batman Day and asked if I’d be interested in doing something for that.

Were there any requests that Mike made when he commissioned you?

Nothing in particular. We agreed on a price first and then started coming up with concepts. One idea was Batman in his first costume (I can’t remember if Mike and I talked about that or if that was something I came up with on my own). Another idea we liked was a picture of every iteration of Batman over the years, but that didn’t seem very manageable to me for a number of reasons. The cost of that would’ve been three or four times the price we agreed on and I wasn’t really sure I wanted to pull the trigger on it. The only hard request Mike made was that it be 11″ by 14″. Other than that I was free to do what I wanted as long as it was Batman related.

Why “classic” Harley instead of the Suicide Squad or a more modern version?

It’s my favorite costume she has, and I think it’s also her most iconic one. It seems the most appropriate for her 25th Anniversary. I didn’t actually plan on doing a picture of Harley at all at first. I was still trying to come up with Batman ideas when Mike told me Harley was an option. Coming up with ideas for pictures of her was a lot easier for me because I’m an active reader of her comics. That’s not to say I don’t read Batman, but when I do it’s always the collections of classic stories (Long Halloween, Dark Knight Returns, Year One, etc).

Can you speak to your version of Harley Quinn? What informs the design or inspires you?

Harley’s not someone I draw a lot, even though I’m a fan of her, so I haven’t quite settled on a look for her yet. I feel like this recent pic is a step in the right direction. I want her face to look like Bruce Timm’s Harley, but still fit in with my general style. Trying to give her the right level of “unhinged” has been tricky. Too much one way and she looks too creepy. Too much the other way and she looks too cartoonish. She’s also pretty athletic in the comics, so I give her a fairly fit physique. Not so buff she looks like She-Hulk, but not lithe like Catwoman. Harley requires a lot of balancing for me to draw her right, which is odd considering her personality!

What was your process for creating this piece?

My pics start with sketches, and since I work purely in digital, turning a sketch into a full drawing is a breeze. The original sketch was actually of Classic Harley and Margot Robbie Harley standing back-to-back. However, I ran into some personal/financial issues and was forced to cut some things for the sake of time. I rearranged my composition and settled on the solo picture of Classic Harley.

Then I did the drawing (which is to say I tightened up my sketch) and went on to the coloring. Coloring Harley was the easiest step. The most difficult part was the bat-signal and getting the sky right. For the sky I wanted a very “Batman: Animated Series” look, very orange and red. The buildings are flat black with tiny white rectangles for windows, which is something you see a lot in the backgrounds in that show. Almost like construction paper cutouts (they may be that for all I know). I thought about putting in some blimps like in the opening of the cartoon, but I couldn’t work them into the image effectively.

How long did this piece take you?

Normally a picture like this would only take a day or two, but like I said, some personal issues came up and delayed it a little. Also Mike wasn’t too keen on it not having any elements of Batman at all, so I came up with the idea to add a smashed Bat-Signal. It wasn’t in the original version. Since pictures are built from the ground up, adding things like that when you’re far along into the process can be tricky and cause some delays. Still, I think the Bat-Signal adds a lot of oomph to it and I’m glad I added it.

What were people’s’ responses to the print?

People seemed to like the print a lot. I think Mike had given them all away by the time the day was over. I printed another Harley picture as well, and I sold half of them. I’m pretty encouraged to make more (not just of Harley, but of other characters). I have quite a few pictures that people have been asking for prints of, and so I’m looking forward to finally being able to get them done!

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Do you take commissions? How can people request a piece from you?

I take commissions. People can either follow me on twitter at @msperoni  or email me at matts_1104@yahoo.com

Where can people find you online?

Mostly on Twitter these days. I post a few things on Deviant Art (my username is: ExMile) and some other sites but I’m really not active in any communities these days.

Anything else you want people to know about the print or your work in general?

Nothing about the print, really. I suppose I should explain some things about my body of work online though, in case people track me down and are…surprised. I keep my ideology to my personal projects, but when it comes to commission work I take almost any job that comes my way regardless of the content.

There are things I won’t draw, but not many. That being said, my Deviant Art gallery can be a bit weird and all over the place. I try to filter and sort things the best I can, and indicate what is/isn’t NSFW, but I still like to warn people before they go browsing through my stuff. The internet has a way of sucking people into it whether they like it or not.

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I want to thank Matt for his time and openness. Be sure to check out his work online and come back all this week for more Batman Day Harley Quinn Day fun!

Batman Day Week Part 2: The Bat-Books

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Continuing this week’s theme of Batman Day Harley Quinn Day 2017, today I am looking at the comic books for this year’s event.

BATMAN DAY COMICS

You should not be reading this for my photography skills.

HARLEY QUINN BATMAN DAY SPECIAL EDITION

HARLEY QUINN COMIC

This issue is a reprint from the current Harley Quinn series by the creative team of Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner, and John Timms. The story starts off with the Joker appearing uninvited at Harley Quinn’s home. After Harley demands that he leaves, Joker says he wants to talk to her about their future. Outside, Joker has a run in with supporting character Red Tool.

Later, Harley and Red Tool go to a chamber with a series of doors. Apparently this place has been mentioned previously in the series, but since I haven’t been reading it, I’m not familiar with it. They then proceed to blow up one of the doors and discover a huge, gelatinous tentacle monster within.

Once they have destroyed the monster, Quinn returns home to rest up for her meeting with the Joker. However, Red Tool sabotages her plans and meets with the Joker in her stead. The story then ends with an implied confrontation between Red Tool and the Joker in the next issue.

This is an alright story and it’s nice to see Joker in Harley Quinn’s world, but I’m not sure if it’s appropriate for a promotional giveaway. Between the door sequence and a subplot involving something with the mayor, there were too many things I was either confused or didn’t care about, and I’ve been reading Batman comics for 28 years! I realize they want the reader to be interested enough to pick up the monthly series, but after this why would they? It’s probably a good cross-section of the book, but this doesn’t make me want to check it out.

BATMAN DAY SPECIAL EDITION

BATMAN HARLEY QUINN COMIC

For the giveaway Batman book, there is a reprint of number 16 of the latest volume. This is the first part of the I Am Bane storyline. I loved this issue when it came out and there is an AMAZING scene where the Robins meet with Batman, sans costumes, in a Batman inspired fast food restaurant. The character moments alone from this scene make the book. As far as I am concerned, that scene is a high point of Tom King and David Finch’s run.

While this is a reprint of a recent issue, which has become DC’s m.o. of late, see recent Free Comic Book Day offerings from them, this issue had an added bonus. Harley Quinn has a framing sequence before and after the story here. She talks directly to the reader and references the story within. Fitting in with the whimsical theme as portrayed on the cover, adding a silhouette of Harley onto Frank Miller’s classic Dark Knight Returns cover. The only way they could have enhanced this would be to have her interrupt the story within. While this would have been extra work, it definitely would have added some MST3K-like shenanigans to the book.

I would have preferred an original story as a freebie book, but this is a nice compromise and keeping with the theme of Harley Quinn taking over Batman Day.

DC SUPER HERO GIRLS BATMAN DAY SPECIAL EDITION

DC SUPERHERO GIRLS HARLEY QUINN

The final offering from this year’s event is a preview of the upcoming DC Super Hero Girls book, Out of the Bottle, by Shea Fontana, Marcelo DiChiara, and Agnes Garbowska. I have been a fan of this concept since last year’s Free Comic Book Day issue.

In this issue Katana, Supergirl, Wonder Woman, and Harley Quinn are work on an art assignment to make their own comic books. We see the stories that Katana and Supergirl have come up with while Wonder Woman and Harley struggle to finish the project. The story is set to take a turn though as Harley discovers magic paints that are sure to lead to some mischief in the graphic novel.

The remainder of the book is file pages giving information on the characters. Towards the end there is also a maze you can complete. For a new reader, this is a pretty easy story to get into. Not a lot of backstory and confusing subplots to bog down the fun. This should be very accessible for any reader.

Throughout the comics there are also Harley Quinn themed ads for upcoming products. The oddest is probably a Build-A-Bear one with Joker and Harley themed bears. Another bonus is that all 3 books come with digital codes. This is nice since you usually have to shell out $3.99 for a book before DC will give you a digital version. However, all these books are free on Comixology, so the inclusion of the codes seems unnecessary. Also, be sure to check with your local comic shop and see if they have any copies left if you missed out.

All-in-all, these are good comics that will hopefully bring some new readers into the world of comic books. Plus, they’re free so you can’t complain too much.

 

 

Batman Day Week Part 1: The Bat-Haul

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As you probably know if you’re reading this, last Saturday, September 23, 2017, was Batman Day. Up to this point, the theme of the day has simply been “Batman.” However, this year, DC Comics decided to honor Harley Quinn on her 25th anniversary by also making it Harley Quinn Day.

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As I did last year, I attended the Batman Day festivities at my local comic shop, Campus Comics in Carbondale, IL.

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A.K.A. the comic store with the best signage.

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So, this week’s posts will all be about Batman Day Harley Quinn Day 2017.

Today I am looking at what I picked up on Batman Day. Technically, this is my haul from the day, but it also serves as an overview of what I will be discussing this week. Everything here I will be discussing in greater detail throughout the week.

BATMAN DAY HAUL

I picked up 3 comics, 3 masks, a Red Death pin, and a Harley Quinn print. All of the items pictured here were giveaways. For what I think is the first time, everything in this haul was free, so I got all this without spending anything.

DC released the comic books and masks for Harley Quinn day.

RED DEATH PIN

The Red Death button is a promotional item for the Metal tie-in book Batman: The Red Death that came out last week.

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Exclusive to the store was this Harley Quinn print.

HARLEYQUINN PRINT

The owner of the store commissioned this print by Matt Speroni. You can check out more of his art on his Twitter feed @mSperoni or at https://exmile.deviantart.com/ I have known Matt for many years so it was great to get a print of one of his pieces. These were given to the first 25 people in the store, so I made sure I got there early to get one.

I got there so early, that I missed out on some of the fun at the store. There were several local artists in attendance there, including Matt. However, most of them didn’t arrive until after I had left. Some of my friends came out later in the day too but, hey, I’m a busy guy and I had stuff to do that day. I probably should have snagged some cake, though.

It’s interesting to see DC go with a theme beyond just “Batman.” Instead of Harley Day for next year, I think they should go with Charlie Day.

CHARLIE DAY 18

The Paley Center For Media's 2013 Benefit Gala Honors FX Networks With The Paley Prize For Innovation & Excellence - Arrivals

I bet he’d be up for it.

Hey does anybody remember the Photoshopped actors section on comics2film.com from back in the day or is that just me? Good times. Be sure to check back throughout the week as I go into more detail about the fun stuff from Batman Day Harley Quinn Day 2017.

 

 

Batman Vs. Two-Face Trailer

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Last week, the trailer debuted for the next Batman ’66 cartoon DVD. Batman Vs. Two-Face is the follow-up to Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders which reunited Adam West, Burt Ward, and Julie Newmar, reprising their classic roles.

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Just so we’re all on the same page here, if you haven’t seen the trailer, here it is.

Overall, this trailer looks great. Having the remaining cast members reunite is fantastic and probably the reason for these cartoons to exist. Two-Face’s introduction into the Batman ’66 universe is an outstanding idea since he was really the only major villain absent from the show at the time. I realize that Harlan Ellison’s unproduced script has been adapted into a comic book featuring Two-Face, but having Adam West and Burt Ward involved in the project takes it to another level.

The big question surrounding this release was after the passing of Adam West, if he had recorded his dialogue already. Shortly after his passing, it was confirmed that West had recorded all his lines for this feature. While that is good news, it also casts a shadow over this movie, in that, this is Adam West’s LAST performance as the caped crusader. On the special features for Return of the Caped Crusaders, some of the voice talent speculate that the Batman ’66 features could be a series unto themselves. Although having Burt Ward and Julie Newmar still with us, it is unlikely that the series will continue without West’s Batman. It does beg the question though, was a third animated feature being developed that we will now never see?

My main issue with this project was William Shatner’s performance. Casting Shatner as Two-Face, the villain who was never on the ’60’s show with the actor could never have guest-starred on the show, was a great move. Aside from his appearance on Futurama, where he played himself, I am not familiar with Shatner’s voice work. I was concerned that West’s last outing as Batman would be scarred by a phoned-in reading by Shatner. After seeing this trailer though, my doubts have been put to rest. Harvey Dent sounds great and feels like Shatner is taking the role seriously.

Once I heard Two-Face’s voice however, I was worried it wasn’t William Shatner. The voice is so rough and different from Shatner’s I worried that they had cast Fred Tatasciore or someone. According to IMDB, Shatner is credited as Harvey Dent and Two-Face. Watching the trailer a couple more times and listening carefully to Two-Face’s lines, there is some Shat in there. I was really impressed by the transformation that he has seemingly been able to undergo for this dual role. Hopefully, there will be an interview with him on the DVD describing his preparation for the role when it is released.

Another nice aspect of Shatner’s casting is that the animators have apparently designed Dent to resemble a period appropriate version of him.

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Of course, had Shatner played Two-Face on the ’60’s show, that is what the character would have looked like. It’s a nice touch that shows the thought that is going into this production.

Back in the day, the creators of the Batman show had apparently discussed having Two-Face on the show, but it was determined that the character would be too frightening for children. Apparently, their choice of actor was Clint Eastwood. I’ve always wondered what Eastwood would have done with the character. It seems like a great “what could have been” scenario. Also, it brings up the question of did the producers contact Eastwood for this project? The 87 year old’s voice would probably be perfect for Two-Face today. Whether or not Eastwood was considered, William Shatner is an inspired choice considering the context of the time.

In the trailer itself, there is a weird effect on Two-Face himself. Several shots show Two-Face with his unscarred side in shadow.

These shots don’t appear to be a natural shadow that is covering his face, but more intentionally placed maybe for story reasons. Possibly, Two-Face shows up after Harvey’s accident and is supposed to be an unrelated villain that (shocker!) is in fact Harvey Dent. It seems like an odd choice story wise, because who would be watching this and not already know, or be able to figure it out from the cover, that Harvey Dent is Two-Face? Now, this is all speculation on my part, and I have nothing but intuition to back this up. If this is a twist in the film though, it seems like a poor choice especially considering what the trailer does at the end.

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The “post-credits” scene of the trailer features the revelation that Hugo Strange is a villain who is working with Two-Face!!! GASP!!! Why spoil this in the trailer? Everyone will know that Dent and Two-Face are two-and-the-same, but there is a strong possibility that someone watching this may not know that Strange is a villain. Especially since he was never featured on the 60’s Batman show and has a lower profile than most major Bat-villains. Casual viewers are more likely to not know who he is and may be genuinely surprised. If you already have a twist everyone can deduce with Dent, why throw this one away? It’s misguided.

You also can’t convince me that that’s not Dr. Harleen Quinzel in there with Strange.

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From her appearance and accent, there’s no question they are setting up Harley Quinn here. Whether or not we see a fully formed Harley in this cartoon or they are setting her up for a later feature remains to be seen.

Batman Vs. Two-Face is set to be released physically in October with digital coming a few weeks earlier. While I can’t find confirmation on their website, it seems that Target will be offering an exclusive steelbook edition. Since I am still a sucker for physical media, and especially steelbooks, that will be the version I seek out. It will be a nice companion to my steelbook Blu-ray for Return of the Caped Crusaders.

With the high bar from the previous entry, Batman Vs. Two-Face has a lot to live up to. Unfortunately, it also has the expectations that come from being the defacto last performance of Adam West. Will this be the greatest Batman ’66 story ever? Probably not. However, it promises to be a good one with the assembled cast and will hopefully be an appropriate sendoff for the Caped Crusader.

The Best Kelley Jones Batman Covers #8

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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

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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.