Batgirl of Burnside

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I was excited by the new creative team on BATGIRL- writer/breakdown artist Cameron Stewart, co-writer Brenden Fletcher, artist Babs Tarr, colorist Maris Wicks and letter Jared K. Fletcher– and I wanted to sculpt Barbara Gordon in her new costume.

I based this pose on the cover of her first appearance in Detective Comics #359, as drawn by Carmine Infantino, with additional design input by John Vukelic. This was done for the 6th Annual Hub Comics DARK KNIGHT ON A DARK NIGHT Batman art show.

These pictures were shot on-site in the display case. I’ll try to get some better pictures soon.

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HALLOWEEN MAN Mini-Bust

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‘Tis the season to be scary! Here’s Solomon Hitch,  the hero with the power of the horror movie (he always comes back!), star of Drew Edwards’ amazing HALLOWEEN MAN comic. This piece was designed for me by original artist Terry Parr (http://darthterry.deviantart.com/).

I worked on some HALLOWEEN MAN stories – mostly coloring and lettering- with such talented artists as Nicola (WONDER WOMAN, SECRET SIX, EARTH 2) Scott, David (BLUE BEETLE, YOUNG ALLIES) Baldeon, Sergio (SKYJACK, SAMURAI & DINOSAURS) Calvet , and many more under the guidance of the irrepressible Russell Hillman.

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MARVEL BOY Mini-Bust

The Marvel Boy is an older sculpture in honor of today’s release of YOUNG AVENGERS by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie (whose two PHONOGRAM miniseries I would highly recommend). Originating in the Marvel Miniseries by Grant Morrison and J.G. Jones, Marvel Boy was really Noh-Varr, a misanthropic, teenage alien, angry at the world and ready to conquer it for our own good. He’s mellowed some, but we’ll see how much of his old brand of “Zen Facism” will appear in this new series.

This piece was also designed by my friend Dann Lundie, who shared my love of the series (Dann also designed the Robin Node and Shaun of the Dead sculptures). He provided the sketches below:

I’m not sure why I didn’t incorporate either of Dann’s neat designs for the base. Hm.

12 DAYS OF THE BATMAN! DAY 10: TALIA

Batman’s war on crime leaves him little room for romance. Mutual attraction to Catwoman aside, Batman seems to have forsworn love for justice. Of all the women in Bruce Wayne and Batman’s life, I believe Talia, daughter of his enemy Ra’s al Ghul,  is the one he truly loves, and the only one who’s ever tempted him away from the dark.

Created in 1971’s DETECTIVE COMICS #411 by Denny O’Neil and Bob Brown, and later refined by Neal Adams, Talia was later revealed to be the daughter of the demon, Ra’s al Ghul, criminal mastermind. Talia and Batman fell in love almost immediately, but out of loyalty to her father would not leave him side. Over the years, Ra’s and Talia both considered Batman a worthy suitor for Talia, but of course Batman wouldn’t join them. Not until Batman and Ra’s joined forces and, by the laws of Ra’s (ill-defined) forebears, Batman and Talia were instantly wed and soon conceived a child. But to keep Batman fighting their common foe, she faked a miscarriage and the marriage was annulled. This story was later ruled out-of-continuity, a Bat-Son considered too big a loose end.

Until writer Grant Morrison revisited the idea with Damian, Talia and Bruce’s son, whom she raised in secret and trained as an assassin. Renouncing his evil heritage, Damian becomes the latest and most aggressive Robin.

Morrison also refashioned Talia to be a darker character, a subtle manipulator and head of the worldwide terrorist organization Leviathan. Now a full-fledged villain in her own right, she and Batman fight over the soul of their child across the globe.

While these changes have given Talia a lot more agency as a character- she was often merely a pawn for her father’s schemes- I think it’s robbed her of what made her most interesting before: her unconditional and contradictory love for two irreconcilable forces. She couldn’t choose either, because to choose one was to betray the other. Her resolve to remain true to both was as unwavering as Batman’s own resolve to honor his parents’ memory. Maybe more so.

I tried to give Talia fuller features and a straighter nose, suggesting Ra’s North African heritage. Hair by Bruce Timm, always.

Tomorrow’s Christmas Eve and time for the next million-dollar installment of 12 Days of the Batman.

12 DAYS OF THE BATMAN! DAY 9: THE RIDDLER

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Edward Nashton was an unscrupulous carny who rigged games of chance to always have the upper hand.  Smarter than everyone around him, he mastered every puzzle and brain teaser Soon he became Edward Nygma- E.Nygma- and turned to crime to enrich himself as he outsmarted the police. Which, of course, lead him to the one puzzle he couldn’t solve- the Batman.

People debate whether Batman’s presence truly prevents crime or encourages bizarre criminals to commit more elaborate and outlandish crimes. In fact most of Batman’s rogue’s gallery would exist whether or not he was there to oppose them. The Riddler may be the major exception: while he might still commit crimes if Batman wasn’t there to challenge him, he could just as easily make a fortune in legitimate enterprise.

The Riddler first appeared in 1948’s DETECTIVE COMICS #140, in a story written by Bill Finger and drawn by Dick Sprang, and wasn’t a particularly popular or memorable character until the first episode of 1966 BATMAN TV show with actor/comedian Frank Gorshin in the role. Offscreen, Gorshin had an insight into the character I liked, seeing the Riddler as a genius who did whatever he wanted for kicks:  he’d play piano at a concert level; he’d perform Shakespeare in the park; he’d fight the Batman. I didn’t necessarily like Gorshin’s hysterical line readings, but I liked his thoughts on who the Riddler was.

My take on the Riddler is fairly traditional, although I incorporated the receding hairline introduced by artist Alex Ross. Suave and self-satisfied, the Riddler is one of the few criminals who rivals  Batman’s vast intellect.

Tomorrow a mother of an edition of installment of 12 Days of the Batman.

12 DAYS OF THE BATMAN! DAY 8: POISON IVY

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Late at night when you’re sleeping, Poison Ivy comes a-creepin’ around.

Pamela Lillian Isley was created by Robert Kanigher and Sheldon Moldoff in 1966’s BATMAN #181. Over the years she’s been portrayed as a vamp, a militant feminist, a mere criminal, and an ecological terrorist. Writer Neil Gaiman and artist Dave McKean created an eerie, extremely-self aware Ivy in their series BLACK ORCHID. Locked in Arkham Asylum’s vaults, she created plant-animal hybrids to keep her company.

Unlike Catwoman, Batman and Ivy don’t share a particularly strong attraction to one another. They seem like genuine antagonists, and Ivy would just as soon be rid of Batman for good.

Once again BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES informs my depiction of Ivy. As designed by Bruce Timm and Lynne Naylor, Poison Ivy is short, curvy, and has some fabulous red hair. I gave her a growing sprig of her namesake vine,  to which- like all poisons- she is immune.

Who will appear in tomorrow’s  installment of 12 Days of the Batman?

12 DAYS OF THE BATMAN! DAY 7: RA’S AL GHUL

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In 1971’s BATMAN #232, writer Denny O’Neil and artist Neal Adams- the team that had brought Batman back to his noirish roots after his campy, TV series era- introduced Batman’s most formidible foe to date, Ra’s al Ghul (literally “The Demon’s Head”). Ra’s immediately deduced Batman’s secret identity of Bruce Wayne, but found it irrelevant. He saw in Batman a potential heir to his vast criminal enterprise, one with the seemingly noble goal of halting ecological catastrophe, but at the price of human civilization. He was as wealthy as Bruce Wayne, as smart and dangerous as Batman, and he was seemingly immortal.

There were obvious allusions to Fu Manchu and James Bond villains in his world-dominating archetype (Ra’s trying to marry his daughter Talia off to Batman seems lifted directly from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service). But it gave Batman an adversary who could match him in every way, and took him out of Gotham City for jet-setting adventures around the world.

Neal Adams designed Ra’s with no specific ethnicity in mind, made him of indeterminate, perpetual middle-age, and without eyebrows (a detail other artists frequently ignore). I sculpted him with a typical “Who Dares?” imperious kind of expression.

Hope you’ll return when tomorrow’s installment of 12 Days of the Batman comes creeping up!