Todd Dezago and I were talking yesterday, and he mentioned during our conversation that he’d always wanted to draw a sketch of a grim-faced SUPERMAN flying through the BAT SIGNAL as it’s being projected on a cloudy night sky in Gotham City– suggesting the tension that exists between the two DCU icons. I thought it was a great visual… and so I asked him if he’d mind if I took a crack at it for the blog (to which he gave an enthusiastic “Heck yeah, go for it!”). That conversation and sketch idea got me thinking about how amazingly influential some creators have been on the superhero genre…. and really, comics in general. Len Wein and Dave Cockrum set a pace and a feel with their UNCANNY X-MEN revamp beginning with GIANT SIZED X-MEN that reverberates through the X-MEN franchise to this day. John Byrne’s revitalization of the SUPERMAN mythos is only NOW beginning to get chipped away at… but large chunks of that influence still stand. Certainly Alan Moore’s seminal work on WATCHMEN (along with the brilliant art of Dave Gibbons) created a feel of dark deconstruction that sent shock waves through the industry that creators are still to this day striving to match with their own attempts at grim superhero epics. One of those utterly influential paradigm shifts that caused Todd’s sketch idea is the work that Frank Miller did with his BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS in the mid-80’s. Miller’s work was a one-two punch with Moore’s WATCHMEN, setting a tone for the long-underwear set that is still influencing and inspiring creators some 20 years later. You can see evidence of that with Kaare Andrews’ recent SPIDER-MAN: REIGN– which, if we’re going to be honest, is more of a direct (and I’ll be politic here) HOMAGE to Miller’s DARK KNIGHT than it is a work of influence. I think that beyond the ‘deconstructionist’ themes of DARK KNIGHT’s impact on creators over those 2 decades — it’s also interesting to note that DK set a new tone for the relationship between SUPERMAN and BATMAN. Before Miller’s epic, the two had been, if not friends, then at least close allies. AFTER Miller’s work, that adversarial tone he set in DARK KNIGHT (a story set in a possible future of the DCU and not attached to continuity of the main comic line) bled into the regular ‘Universe’ of DC. Since that point, there’s been an uneasy truce between the two– they stand for different approaches to justice and that’s set up a tension between them that has been reinforced not only in the comics but in the various animated series based on the DCU Warner Brothers has produced in recent times as well.

I don’t know if these folks dwell much on their accomplishments… and I can’t imagine what it’s like to have had that kind of influence on an entire entertainment medium. I can say, though, that as a fan AND a comic book artist…. I’m impressed to no end from BOTH sides.

OK.. that’s it for another week. Have a great Easter weekend.

This is Entry 361.


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