The living legend, the Jimi Hendrix of comics art, JIM STERANKO tells 13th Dimension exactly how he came up with his Batman 75 variant for Detective Comics #33!
Jim Steranko. On Batman. What more do you want?
Well, I wanted to know how he came up with his outstanding image for the variant cover to Detective Comics #33, celebrating Batman’s 75th anniversary.
Steranko was typically unrestrained. And ambitious. All he set out to do was correct Bob Kane’s iconic cover to Detective Comics #27, Batman’s first appearance.
OK, it’s not exactly a secret that Bob Kane was a less than accomplished draftsman. And I’m not going down the rabbit hole of credits and all that here.
I’m just gonna turn it over to Steranko:
“Had editor Vince Sullivan access to a time machine and assigned me the task of creating the cover of Detective 27, the result would be the image on DC’s recent Detective 33 — the first appearance of Batman.
“One of the reasons I created it is because that monumental moment is so deeply flawed. The problem is the original cover has more compositional and elemental screw-ups than The Man Who Laughs has teeth!
“To begin, the swinging figures were copied from a Prince Valiant panel, revealing an idealistic hero whose legs are truncated at the knees. Artist Bob Kane was completely bamboozled about solving the design problem of the cape — which was about as far from batwings as possible. The thugs (if they are thugs) in the foreground are almost benign (certainly not threatening, unless one is intimidated by a puny cap pistol).
“The urban background — lifted along with most other qualities directly from the character’s resource material: The Shadow — is laughably inept. (Check out (Greg) Capullo’s handsome revision on Batman 24, which resolves all the above matters simply and dramatically.) The list goes on, but the most egregious goof is Batman doing his thing at high noon … !”
I thought the hooded figure on his cover was the Monk, one of the earliest Bat-villains.
Not so, he said:
“The thugs on my cover have no relationship to any other DC characters; they were envisioned exclusively for this image. And yes, my recolored and recast version will be available as a Dark Horse high-quality limited edition print later in the year. Keep an eye out for it!”
(Thanks to J. David Spurlock, agent of STERANKO.)