Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Marshall Rogers

Like many comics fans – and especially longtime readers of Batman comics – I’m thinking of Marshall Rogers today.

There were a few notable Batman artists in the 1970’s – Wrightson, Simonson, Cardy and Kaluta are some of the prominent ones to come to mind - but I expect many will agree with me that three stood apart from the pack: Adams, Aparo and Rogers.

I should qualify that – Rogers and Austin.

Rogers was involved in quite a few Batman stories over the years, including a Secret Origins instalment, a recent mini series, and a few other one-shots and bits and pieces. But his reputation as one of the best Batman artists rests on his superb run in Detective Comics in the mid-1970’s with Steve Englehart and Terry Austin.

It’s one of those runs which, like favourite albums, I feel compelled to revisit in all its various reissued formats. When I rediscovered comics some 20 years ago this sequence of issues was one of the first to compel me to pay inflated back-issue prices for the ‘real thing’. Then of course I 'had' to chase down the Baxter reprints with the gorgeous new Rogers covers. Since then there’s been many reprints such as the Strange Apparitions trade paperback and the various chapters included in the Greatest Stories Ever Told series of books, and probably others. Is this the most oft-reprinted series of Batman comics? Must come close.

When I think of this run it’s as if a dormant file of images and sequences is activated for my immediate recall: Batman’s billowing cape and long ears; the banter between Batman and Robin as they walk past the giant penny, the dinosaur and the Joker playing card in the batcave and engage in a good-natured wrestle; the close-up of Silver St. Cloud as she recognises Bruce Wayne under the mask; the splash page with Hugo Strange removing the Batman mask, then the Bruce Wayne mask; or the one with Rupert Thorne behind the desk tossing the photo of Batman with an X across it; the architecture in every other panel; Bruce Wayne ranting at his parent’s portrait; Batman entering Silver St. Cloud’s bedroom (I can still picture the wallpaper!); their break-up; the Joker’s entrance and the trail of HAHAHA snaking around him; Batman waiting, looking out the window.

If you're familiar with these stories I'm betting your experience is similar.

And of course I recall many of these images in their black and white incarnations courtesy of the K.G. Murray reprints.

The core Rogers work from the Detective Comics run is reprinted in Batman Album #’s 43-45, which also include the Englehart-scripted Simonson stories, the Wein-scripted Rogers stories, and the framing sequence for the Adams reprint. Also worth noting is Batman Album #46 which reprints the O’Neil scripted “Ticket to Tragedy”. There are other Rogers reprints scattered about in the Australian reprints, but these 3 or 4 issues cover the best of the Englehart, Rogers and Austin team on Batman.

No comments: