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‘Batman: Death By Design,’ an Architectural Adventure by Chip Kidd & Dave Taylor

First announced last weekend at the Batman: All Access panel at New York Comic Con, Chip Kidd, the prolific graphic designer and Dark Knight documentarian behind such works as Batman: Animated and Batman: Collected, is working on an original Batman graphic novel for DC Comics. Illustrated by veteran Batman: Shadow of the Bat and Judge Dredd artist Dave Taylor and edited by Wednesday Comics (and DC’s VP of Art Direction and Design) Mark Chiarello, Kidd’s Batman: Death By Design will very likely be a real treat for readers with a strong appreciation of aesthetics, as the story deals explicitly with the theme of Gotham City architecture.While his name may not immediately ring a bell with every DC reader, Chip Kidd’s work is certainly well known to fans of the superhero publisher. His logo and trade dress designs, paired with the design-heavy illustrations of Dave Johnson, made the Batman line among the most beautiful books on the stands in the late 1990s. Kidd’s work on the logos for DC’s All-Star Superman and All-Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder has been well documented, as has the designer’s penchant for creating beautiful books: he co-authored and designed the coffee table tomes Batman: Animated, documenting the beloved Batman: The Animated Series; Batman: Collected, documenting the Dark Knight as a pop culture icon through countless pieces of amazing merchandise; and Bat-Manga, a celebration of the work of Japanese creator Jiro Kuwata; and has designed numerous other comics-based books and logos (including some from the New 52). And how can we forget Kidd’s luxurious, custom-made, glass-covered books containing the complete, original Frank Quitely artwork from two famous issues of All-Star Superman and Batman and Robin?

Batman: Death By Design is Kidd’s first scripted comics work, and naturally the master designer approached the project from an aesthetics standpoint first. “‘What if Fritz Land made a Batman movie in the late 1930s and had a huge budget? Go!’” There’s the visual platform,” Kidd told Comic Book Resources’ Kiel Phegley.

I also — and I’m certainly by no means the first to do this — drew on an architectural renderer from the ’20s and ’30s named Hugh Ferriss, who I know Bruce Timm also referred to quite a bit for the look of Gotham City [in "Batman: The Animated Series"]. And Ferriss did most of his things in pencil. They were [these] massive, monolithic buildings that were lit up from street level at night. They really are, to me, the ultimate Gotham City images. So that was something that I very much used as a reference to give to Dave. And he did an amazing job.

On his blog, where Taylor had been teasing fans with a steady stream of Batman artwork in anticipation of the NYCC announcement, the artist described Batman: Death By Design as a gig he’s waited for most of life, and that it’s “seriously the best project I’ve ever worked on.”

With all honesty and conviction I can say that this Batman: Death by Design is the best Batman story I’ve read in thirty years. Fact. Personally, it has many connections with my own life experience. It features the theme of architecture which is part of my family history, so you could say I’m biased…I’m not. How dare you!

I can’t wait for this book to be published because I genuinely think it’s my best work. Thanks to Chip, I had to become a better artist. I had to grow, to find a new way of telling a story and ultimately to be the artist of my design.

Batman: Death By Design is to be released some time in 2012.

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