Despite having a few projects in the works, I managed to get a nice little personal piece knocked out recently. I am a big fan of Batman and especially Christopher Nolan’s take on the character. The end of his run on the character with The Dark Knight Rises is bittersweet in that I can’t wait to see how he concludes the series, but I have a feeling no one could replace him. Just look at Joel Schumacher and those damn Batsuit nipples as proof not everybody gets it.
Nolan managed to add a significant amount of legitimacy to the comic film genre with The Dark Knight in 2008. Hell, the Oscar Academy bumped up the number of accepted Best Pictures to 10 because it didn’t make the cut when they only allowed 5 flicks. Crazy.
While an avid fan of the movie series since Burton (I has 9 when it released and it was one of the 1st films I saw in a theater, so watch it haters), I also read the comic book. Recently, I became very fascinated with the original source material from the 40s and 50s. If you go back and look at the covers from this time period, they are really amazing. The use of such vivid colors and the simplicity of the character designs were really interesting to me. Plus, I contend that the original Batman comic logos are great examples of how to properly do a comic logo. They were bold, had great use of illustration and typography, and easily recognizable. You can find out more about the evolution of the Batman logo on Todd Klein’s blog. It’s a really interesting read.
I spent a lot of time on www.coverbrowser.com looking at all the different covers over the years and this sparked an idea. Kind of a “What If” moment for those comic book fans out there who remember Marvel’s What If series from the late 90s where major storylines were re-imagined with different outcomes. In this case I thought “What If” Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises was a storyline from the 50s. So I went about recreating a cover of just such an issue as a kind of movie poster for the new film.
I needed to figure out exactly what elements were necessary to make the cover look authentic for that time period. I studied nearly every Batman cover on coverbrowser.com to find all the common graphic elements. I knew I would need to recreate the DC logo from that era as well as the Comics Code Authority stamp of approval. Each cover also had a featured box, which highlighted the issues main storyline. I decided to use this as a way to reveal the movie title.
Colors were also a major consideration. I looked at the different color combos that appeared on many of the covers and found that depending on the issues main background color the Batman logo colors complemented them in a way that would make the logo pop. My research into the covers inspired the illustration style of Batman and the main villain Bane. An interesting little tidbit of information is that Batman and Robin often found themselves shrunk by the villain. If you look through all the covers from the 40s and 50s a common visual element would be that the caped crusader and boy wonder would find their nemesis towering over them with a dramatic fear inducing phrase. Shrink rays must have been in abundance. Hence the inspiration for my cover’s final composition.
To keep up the authentic look I added a little bit of texturing to give it a weathered feel as well as some halftones to mimic the printing resolution of the time. All in all, a nice sidetrack project to keep the creativity flowing. I actually liked creating the “old school” Batman illustrations so much that I am developing it into a style that I would like to use in future fan art.
So tune in – same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!