Friday, November 01, 2013

World´s Greatest Comic Artists : Jim Aparo

I know, I said my next post would be more about Spider - Man´s new black costume but since I like to have some variety on this little blog I thought it would be nice to look to the other side of the pond and write about one of the heroes of my childhood : bat artist par excellence Jim Aparo.

And yes, since I´m talking about the comics I read when I was a little tyke we are going to talk about german comics as you can see by the picture of BATMAN TASCHENBUCH ( Batman pocket book ) 9 here above.

Back then I wouldn´t have dreamt of reading the US versions, because I didn´t have the necessary linguistic skills and quite frankly I wouldn´t have had the slightest idea where to get american comics. Not that I felt the need for that. Because back then I wasn´t such a discerning reader and it wasn´t like there was any problem getting comics. Today you need things like comicshop locator if you don´t know where you can get comics or you don´t have a newsstand near where they sell comics. Back then you knew where to get your comics : at the newspaper kiosk, the stationery shop, the drug store, the supermarket or the local mom - and - pop store.

Now while at that time most people thought comics were cheap trash and only for kids there also was a general understanding that IF you wanted to sell comics to kids you had to make them available whereever kids were - or at least an adult who might want to bribe a kid with cheap four colored fun. You could find them next to packs of sherbet powder, candy and Rubbelbilder and other kids stuff. Like I said, I didn´t much care which comic I picked up because on one side I didn´t have an allowance - at least not on a regular basis - and you never knew which comics you could get. It might have been an issue of FIX & FOXY, MV - COMICS, ZACK, KOBRA, SILBERPFEIL, NICK, WASTL, PELEFANT, DIE SPINNE, GRÜNE LEUCHTE, DER ROTE BLITZ or a comic with SUPERMAN or BATMAN.

And I´m saying a comic with SUPERMAN or BATMAN because they were so successful that they appeared in various forms. BATMAN SONDERHEFT

was a special series dedicated entirely to Batman ( and various guest stars ). Previously he appeared in the SUPERMAN / BATMAN comic books - together with Superman - every two weeks, but due to the big demand for Batman he got this new series with four 32 page issues each year. And when I say 32 pages that includes the covers and while the inside cover was often the first page of the comic the last page was always used to promote other DC or horror comics published by the guys at Ehapa.

By the way, for longtime readers of my blog this might be boring, as I have probably gone over this litany various times - like in my COVER STORY series - and there also might be reposts of previously posted covers. But for the sake of new readers who might be surprised to find out that germans also loved their pulp reading I included it in this post.

But back to the various Batman titles Ehapa Verlag put out between 1966 and 1988 : there was BATMAN SUPERBAND, a 84 page album twice a year.

The title was kind of borrowed from the SUPERMAN SUPERBAND ( just to clear up why they weren´t called BATMAN BATBAND ) and I guess Ehapa just wanted to stick with a name readers were already familiar with.

The BATMAN SUPERBAND was continuously published from 1974 to 1986 and in 1981 Ehapa added another album sized Batman publication, the BATMAN SONDERAUSGABE ( Batman Special Edition ) which only had 74 pages and came out once a year from 1981 until it´s last issue in 1985.

But there were readers who couldn´t afford to shell out 5 or 6 Deutsch Marks to buy the albums but who still wanted to read more Batman stuff.

They bought the much cheaper pocket books I already mentioned ( only between 2.50 and 3.60 Deutsch Marks )  which came out every three months, from 1978 to 1988 and which had 100 pages. There also were BATMAN EXTRA pocket books which cost 1 buck more and had 164 pages. The title was added in 1980, ran until 1985 and came out twice a year.

Now the reason why I included this info is not because I get a kick out of listing details of german comic publishing or to impress my readers.

I did it because while Jim Aparo did the interiors for many of those comics the series he was working on like THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD or OUTSIDERS were scattered through the various german Bat titles. On some cases you were lucky, like with the for german readers indispensable BATMAN SUPERBAND 3 which included the complete BATMAN UNTER MORDVERDACHT storyline ( " The Bat Murderer " which originally appeared in Detective Comics issues 444 to 448, one of Jim Aparo´s best works in my opinion ) but in most cases the series ran through all of the above. And not necessarily in the right chronological order either.

The splash page of Detective Comics 446, found on the fabulous blog Diversions of the Groovy Kind which you can find on the blogroll.

Back to the way in which Jim Aparo´s comics were published in Germany there were also some pages missing, covers which were changed and in some cases whole stories were re - written by the german publisher.


Now if you have read my COVER STORY posts ( which I wrote a few years back but which are still included in the " best of " link so there might be readers who have read it ) you already know that very often the speech balloons were omitted from the german covers like in the case of THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD issue 192, used for BATMAN EXTRA 7 shown below.

Here is the ( much more dramatic ) original cover.

As you can see, some of the text would be blocked by the much bigger german logo like on the cover of BATMAN TASCHENBUCH 6

where Robin´s - most important - speech balloon is totally covered up.

Here´s another cover that looks different than the original version :

since the Human Target story from THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD 144 was not included in BATMAN TASCHENBUCH 4, and there was a bar code on the cover most of it was cut out including guest star GREEN ARROW.

Now the cover for BATMAN TASCHENBUCH 27 - which features the Outsiders - may look all right on the first superficial glance.

But isn´t there someone important missing from the team´s roster ?

On the cover of BATMAN SONDERHEFT 40 ( an issue I still have in my comic collection ) another Batman was added for german readers

while a lot of the hieroglyphs were blocked or cut of. Maybe they thought the original was too experimental and would scare off too many readers.

BATMAN SONDERHEFT 27 had a speech balloon on the cover but the text was changed and I can only guess why this was deemed necessary.

The original text in the speech balloon, which was " Whatever happened to What´s`ername ? " is changed to " One of us is a killer - but who ? " which may have something to do with the second female member of the group that most people - and in this case the very Metal Men - have forgotten.

In issue 13 of the regular Metal Men series Tin builds himself a female robot because he is lonely who is later called Nameless by the others. In issue 187 of THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD fellow crimefighter Batman teams up with the Metal Men only to discover that they have completely forgotten their teammate. Which makes him throw a fit, one of the things I liked about 80s Batman. When he was pissed he showed it !

Anyway, the whole story revolves about Nameless and what happened to her after she split from the team. They are briefly reunited but only to witness her demise when she sacrifices herself upon which she is christened as Precious by Tin. It´s a touching story but I guess because the Metal Man series was probably not published in german - or at least the issues with Missus Tin - the original text made no sense.

Oh, and for all people who think Alan Moore used the story title for his 1986 classic WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE MAN OF TOMORROW ? :

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ..... was a series that ran as a back up in DC COMICS PRESENTS that would revisit Golden or Silver Age characters or other characters who haven´t been seen for a long time in the DC universe. It´s mentioned in issue 62 of Twomorrow´s BACK ISSUE magazine and there will be a full feature on the series in issue 64.

And on that final note it´s high time to wrap things up. There are a few things I wanted to add but I guess this will have to wait until another post where I will - hopefully - talk less about different covers and much more about Jim Aparo. And we will discuss the case of BATMAN AND THE DISAPPEARING NAZIS. But my next post will be all about DIE SPINNE, like SPIDER - MAN was called in the german versions of the Marvel Comics.

So, as you may have noticed I didn´t make a post on Halloween. While I like to make these posts for special occasions it just didn´t work out.

Not that I would have had anything important to add this year since we still don´t dress up or go trick - or - treating here in Germany. Yes, I have done a few Halloween posts about horror comics before but nothing really urgent this time around. The only thing I regret is that it would have been a perfect opportunity to post more pictures of hot cosplay massitas.

You know, sometimes less really is more. Holy chain mail bikini !


Now while I didn´t participate in the customary Halloween antics I did celebrate the holiday in my own fashion by finally watching the original CREEPSHOW movie which has been on my laptop for untold ages.

I don´t know if it was because of the long wait or because the sequel was so bad but I really enjoyed it more than I expected. Okay, the comic parts were shorter than in the sequel and the animation was not as elaborate but I really liked it. If you haven´t seen it you might want to check it out ( especially if you have seen the awful second and third parts ) but do take a look at the comic adaption which is done by Bernie Wrightson.

Since CREEPSHOW is not on YouTube and I already posted the sequel in full length on another post I wanted to post something else that totally creeped me out : the SUPER FRIENDS episode The Pied Piper from Space.

I´m not kidding. Since I found a few seasons of LOS SUPER AMIGOS on the internet I started to watch an episode before going to bed.They are absolutely hilarious, especially in the mexican version if you have already knocked back a few. Now, somehow I got the different seasons confused so after watching all the episodes of CHALLENGE OF THE SUPER FRIENDS I now have to watch the earlier episodes. Which is like watching SESAME STREET after watching FRINGE. Not really challenging your brain cells if you get my drift. But I was okay with that because after a hard day´s work you need something lighter to cheer you up and make you laugh.

But the last three episodes I watched were really creepy and I´m not sure if they are really for kids. They seriously didn´t help me get any sleep.

I don´t know who wrote these episodes or what his problem was at that time but they are seriously effed up, man. In THE PIED PIPER FROM SPACE there is a mysterious force which controls all kids on earth and makes them board a spaceship to fly to a distant planet where a life of mindless slavery awaits them. And while the plot is really your run of the mill story where the heroes neatly resolve everything at the end of the episode the images of the mind controlled children are really creepy especially with the underlying real world problem of child labour.

And the next two episodes have Dracula himself who turns everybody into vampires and a satellite that turns desert animals into giant monsters.

Anyway, it´s really high time for me to put a bow on this post so I´ll leave you with THE PIED PIPER FROM SPACE. Sadly I couldn´t find the whole episode on YouTube but I think this video with the first 10 minutes gives you a very good idea how scary it is. And this is for kids ? It scares me !

New to the blog ? Everything you need to know about TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN : top ten posts / more posts of interest

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