DENNY O’NEIL: Why IRV NOVICK and BATMAN Were an Excellent Match of Talents

Dig this never-published tribute…

Alter Ego #183 is out this week and it’s a grabber, whether you’re a Golden, Silver or Bronze Age fan: The issue is dedicated to the late Irv Novick, one of comics’ most respected workhorses.

Novick has been a favorite of mine since childhood as one of the main Batman artists from the late ’60s into the early ’80s. Well, it turns out he was also a favorite of none other than the late Denny O’Neil, with whom Novick collaborated many times over.

So for this issue’s EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT, we present O’Neil’s 2019 tribute to Novick, intended for a book by John Coates and Dewey Cassell that hasn’t come to fruition. It’s a good read and you can check it out below, but first let’s take a look at Alter Ego #183’s cover and table of contents:

The issue is out Wednesday and you can get it at your local comics shop or directly from publisher TwoMorrows. Click here.

And don’t forget — 2024’s Back Issue #150 will also feature Novick. Plus, we have a bonus Novick Batman appreciation from Alter Ego #183 for you. (Click here.)

Long an unsung artist, Novick is finally getting sung.

Right on.

1975’s Batman #266


Hush, step over here, out of the light. I’ve a secret for you. But I won’t reveal it yet, not until I’ve compelled you to slog through about 462 words of questionable prose…

Our subject is M. Irv Novick. You may know him as an artist who draws Batman.

Elsewhere in this excellent volume, you can learn that Batman has been plying his trade, which is entertaining you by righteously, cleverly apprehending lawbreakers—call them “villains.” This he has been doing for, as I write this, 80 years, ever since his debut in 1939 in Detective Comics. Popular guy? I’ll say!

Listen, Batman has been featured in every medium that can be made to tell stories. Radio, television, movies, novels, drama, short fiction, roller coasters! (no kidding), bubble gum cards (still not kidding)! Did I mention theatre? Well, brace yourself for full disclosure: Although there hasn’t been a Batman Broadway musical yet, at least one has been proposed, and the day is young yet.

…Something I’m forgetting…

1972’s Batman #242

Oh yeah. Comic books. Batman’s corporate parent, DC Comics, has just published the one thousandth issue of Detective Comics. Let me lay that out in numbers: 1,000 consecutive comics! Has any other
periodical, apart from news venues, achieved that record? And, beginning with Issue #27, almost every one of them has featured a “Batman”story. Not exactly the same Batman: our hero, like the great literary characters—Hamlet comes to mind, as does Sherlock Holmes—is subject to interpretation; different creators see him different ways, which brings us to the true subject of these observations:

Irv Novick, comic book artist, and if you want to emphasize the “artist” part of that sobriquet, OK. Here’s something you may not understand: comic-book art is more than a collection of pictures sharing the same space. (Are you sensing a secret in the air?) It is integral to the story being told. The comics characters’ body language, expression, placement within the panel, distance from the imaginary “camera”—the reader’s eyes—all this and more is part of the information that shapes the story. Part of the narrative.

1974’s Batman #258

The earliest iteration of “The Bat-Man,” as he was sometimes known, was a tad effete, a bit soft around the edges, like Ellery Queen and such other fictional detectives as Hercule Poirot and Philo Vance. He evolved swiftly during the World War II years and although, back then, he wasn’t completely consistent from story to story, he was most often like the version Irv Novick and his collaborators presented to readers. In a word: hero. Tough, but never cruel or vicious; smart, but never arrogant; responsible but not smug… a virtual tourist attraction. (”Mommy, can we go to Gotham City and see Batman and Robin?”)

He was cheerful, but not a wiseacre, a good citizen who never cheated on his taxes. And not only was he all those commendable things—thanks to Mr. Novick, he looked like them. Excellent match of talents. Recently, a Hollywood guy who has directed a superhero flick or two told the world—smugly?—that Superman and Batman kill. He then advised us to “live with it.”

So: secret. No, they don’t. At least my Superman and Batman don’t. And I’ll bet that Irv Novick’s don’t, either.

Alter Ego #183 is out Wednesday. You can get it at your local comics shop or directly from publisher TwoMorrows. Click here.


— Dig IRV NOVICK’s Unpublished Cover for BATMAN #210. Click here.

— BATMAN’s Unsung Artists to Take Center Stage in Landmark BACK ISSUE #150. Click here.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. Irv just described Adam West’s Batman

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  2. Glad to see Irv Novick get some appreciation. He was always one of my favorite Bat-artists. I first discovered Novick’s Batman art in the Ra’s Al Ghul treasury and the Batman’s Strangest Cases Treasury. I was thrilled when Novick began to draw Batman on a monthly basis in Batman 310. The Wein/Novick run is one of the great underrated runs in Batman history.

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