The CHIP KIDD INTERVIEWS: The Brilliance of Marshall Rogers

One master designer considers another …

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For Part 3 of THE CHIP KIDD INTERVIEWS, it’s all about Marshall Rogers, who in my mind is the No. 1A (to Neal Adams’ No. 1) of Batman artists.

We’re running this in tandem with the late Rogers’ birthday, so if you want to see our 13 COVERS salute, click here.

You can also check out THE KELLEY JONES INTERVIEWS to read about how Rogers directly influenced Jones’ career (click here). Lastly, Steve Englehart’s appreciation can be found by clicking here.

But back to THE CHIP KIDD INTERVIEWS:

Part 1. An inside look at Chip’s massive Batman memorabilia collection. (Click here.)

Part 2. The greatness of Batman #1 and the Bronze Age DC treasury editions. (Click here.)

And now, Part 3:

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Chip Kidd: When Marshall Rogers came along, I liked that. I mean, I was totally a Neal Adams fan but Marshall Rogers was, like, “Oooooooohhhhhhh! THAT is so GREAT!” And that really appealed to the innate designer in me.

Dan Greenfield: Talk about that. Talk about the difference between an Adams and a Rogers.

Chip: Ohhh, God!

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Dan: You’re really speaking my language here.

Chip: It’s like the difference between…I’m trying to think of a really good metaphor. (Long pause) It became much more stylized. It was almost as if you took a modern sensibility that was informed by the ’40s. The way his cape would flow, the way the sound effects were integrated into the panels, the way… There’s a bit of Art Deco going on there—which there wasn’t in Adams at all. Adams was like a reaction to any kind of streamlining.

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Dan: Basically it was a reaction to the house style, the (Carmine) Infantino house style (of the ’60s). If you look at Adams’ earliest work with DC, he was trying to ape the style and eventually they took the shackles off and that’s really when he became a star.

Chip: Right. And the writing was so good. That was the other thing with the Marshall Rogers stories. I loved the way that the Marshall Rogers stories looked, but the Steve Englehart scripts! He had the Joker fish, Silver St. Cloud—the first interesting, credible female. They were always trying to come up with some kind of Lois Lane for Batman. Vicki Vale? I never thought that really went anywhere. But then Silver St. Cloud! There was just something about the way she was written, the way she looked, that you finally got the vibe of, “They’re totally meant to be together. They can’t be together.”

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Dan: And for once, she rejects HIM.

Chip: Yeah. Right! ‘I know who you are and I can’t deal with that.’ It was great! Really heartbreaking. And, see, that was why eventually — fast-forward to Son of the Demon or whatever — when he actually has a child with Talia, it just seemed like it jumped the shark. To me.

Dan: Did you ever meet Marshall Rogers or Steve Englehart?

Chip: I met Marshall Rogers. There’s a handful of people I would wait in line for and I waited for him. I thought he was great. I have one Marshall Rogers page. It’s good. It’s not amazing. But his stuff is very hard to find.

Dan: What I loved about them was the sense of place that those comics gave you. You really felt…I mean, the way he drew buildings…

Chip: Yes!

Dan: …the camera angles, the architecture.

Chip: The architecture…I forget. I feel like I used to know but I don’t anymore. I think he studied architecture.

Dan: I think he did. (He did. I looked it up later. — Dan)

Chip: Whether he did or didn’t, he drew it beautifully! The angles and… it was just beautiful! And stupid villains like Deadshot and then finally you get to the Joker. Just brilliant. And the Calculator!

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Dan: Yeah, right before the Englehart run!

Chip: A stupid villain but you cared because it looked so good! Also, there’s an adult Robin that seems totally cool!

Dan: And kinda sexy, too! Before George Perez, it was the first time that Robin didn’t look kinda silly. I mean, Irv Novick had done it a little bit in some of the solo stories but the way Rogers did it — and he brought back the old ’40s hairstyle, too.

Chip: And the dynamic of the two of them, and the sort of mock-fighting in the Batcave. But he looked cool! In that outfit! That’s not easy to do and he really did it and I loved that.

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Author: Dan Greenfield

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2 Comments

  1. i almost have the whole run, but that damn 1st deadshot, everyone wants a fortune for it – it should be expensive cuz its Rogers not deadshot

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  2. When I started collecting comics more seriously, it was because of Marshall Rogers. It was his run on Detective Comics that started it all. I began looking at other books where he had a hand — particularly Mister Miracle — and I was hooked. Chip Kidd’s description of his admiration for Marshall Rogers was exactly how I felt when I first noticed his work. When Marshall came to do a signing at The Silver Snail Comic Shop in Toronto, I must have hovered around his vicinity for a few hours. I asked about his big influences (he cited Kirby, of course); I told him how much I liked the way he drew Batman’s cowl — like it was an actual headpiece sculpted over Bruce Wayne’s head; and poured over the original pages of Doctor Strange he brought with him and had for sale. I sorely wished I had the cash to buy one of those pages. He was very personable and giving of his time; a great talent who passed away far too early.

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