How great would this be?
UPDATED 10/5/22: Earlier this week, I wrote a piece about the joys of buying new Ben Cooper costumes. But I still haven’t given up my endless mission that the Rubies brand also release a series of T-shirts based on the designs below, so I’m re-presenting this column from 2019. Dig it. — Dan
Y’know, I really love Halloween. I really, really do. And if I could still dress up, I would, but apparently I’m “mature” and a “grown-up.”
So, instead I enjoy giving out candy and thinking back to my all-time favorite costume — my cloth Ben Cooper outfit from when I was Young Dan:
I’ve written about this costume before — it was the greatest one a kid could have — and you can click here to check that out. (Go ahead! You’ll dig it!)
But something has long stayed with me about that outfit: I think that top would make a dandy T-shirt design, don’t you? (And I’m not alone: Reader Ian Potash said the same thing on Facebook.)
I mean, I would love to greet Trick-or-Treaters wearing that. Or just wear it because.
Unfortunately, the closest I’ve ever seen is this shirt worn by actress Mary Louise Parker:
Anyway, I really hoped that when Ben Cooper briefly re-emerged a couple years ago, they’d wrangle the proper licenses to make something happen.
Alas, it was not to be — and it likely never will, even though we live in a Golden Age of re-releases and replicas.
But that’s not stopping me from thinking about the impossible: 13 GREAT BEN COOPER DESIGNS THAT WOULD MAKE GREAT T-SHIRTS.
Now, obviously, my Batman costume tops the list, so I’m not even gonna include it in the list below. (And you’ll see that it a couple cases, I’m offering two suggestions, so I’m bending the rules a bit. That’s OK. I’m the boss.)
Now, some of these really would legitimately make great shirts — especially Superman. Others would make great shirts because, well, they’re classic Ben Cooper. (By the way, forgive the varying quality and sizes of the pix. I got most of these from eBay.)
So, in no particular order:
1 and 1A. SUPERMAN
I would kill for that logo. This is from a full jumpsuit, as it happens, and I wouldn’t want the belt. But that’s just me.
By the way, the Ben Cooper Superman costume I had as a kid had the shirt separate like my Batman outfit. It had this creepy warning that the suit couldn’t make you fly like Superman. Now THAT, I would want on a T-shirt:
2 and 2A. CAPTAIN AMERICA
This is another case where I’m gonna give you an alternative. I can’t decide which I’d want more.
This is actually pretty badass.
4. PLANET OF THE APES
This is not a Zira costume. This is a Lisa costume. LISA.
5. PLANET OF THE APES — AGAIN
See, now, we’re talking. This is your classic off-the-hinges Ben Cooper design. Those eye-watering colors! That gigantic knife. That badge!
Amazingly, spectacularly off-model. Love it.
7. GREEN LANTERN
This cannot possibly look less like a Green Lantern outfit — all that yellow — but it gets major, major points for the reasonably executed, Gil Kane-inspired illustration of Hal Jordan and the use of GL’s early Silver Age title font.
Y’know what? There might already be something like this out there. Probably is. Love the faux John Buscema art.
9. THE FLASH
Another gloriously off-model design.
10. LUKE SKYWALKER
If you look really closely, you’ll see that Luke on the shirt is making a duck face. Hawt.
11. WONDER WOMAN
All the world is waiting for this…
12. IRON MAN
See, this is where Marvel Studios got it all wrong. Because how popular would this be if Robert Downey Jr. wore it?
I’ve saved the best for last. Because this is one of the Ben Cooperest Ben Cooper designs ever. Everything about it is so, so wrong.
Which makes it so, so right.
— THE SECRETS OF BEN COOPER: An Interview With Ira Cooper. Click here.
— The Greatest BATMAN Costume a Kid Could Have. Click here.
— The Goofy Giddiness of Disney’s CHILLING, THRILLING HAUNTED HOUSE Record. Click here.
October 22, 2019
This is a great idea! Despite my wearing them on nearly every Halloween of my childhood, the idiosyncratic nature of Ben Cooper’s designs bugged me as a kid, but their nostalgic, kitschy charm would make for a great T-shirt now!
October 22, 2019
Happy early Halloween!
October 23, 2019
A perfect example of how blurry-eyed nostalgia transforms crap into gold.
But thanks for that photo of the ever-fetching Mary Louise Parker.
October 6, 2022
The best thing about the Iron Man design is the nose on the helmet
October 7, 2022
That Green Lantern costume design is just so bizarre, it gives me life this day.
October 9, 2022
I think the Batman T-shirt that Mary-Louise Parker was wearing was a new old stock, vintage Underoos T-shirt c. 1981.