Dick Sprang’s ‘Secrets of the Batcave’ Art Is An Encyclopedia of Bat-History
Back in 1995, legendary Batman artist Dick Sprang produced a lithograph for DC called “Secrets of the Batcave,” and it is awesome:
I’m pretty familiar with it (my old boss used to have a signed copy hanging in the store), but it wasn’t until I was looking at it today that I realized just how much Sprang worked into the art. So much stuff is crammed in there, drawn, as you might expect, from Sprang’s Golden and Silver Age tenure as Bob Kane’s favorite ghost artist, that there’s barely any space left uncovered by something.
And today, I tried to figure out just what it all is.Here’s what I was able to identify:
SECTION 1: THE CRIME FILE
In front of that (the long yellow filing cabinet) is Batman’s Crime File (A-C), as seen in 1956’s “Detective Comics” #229. Also, the computer in the foreground is Batman’s Electronic Data Analyzer, depicted exactly as it is in that issue, complete with fluttering punchcards.
Dead center is one of the Batcave’s two most famous (and most consistent) trophies, the 1947 Lincoln Penny from “World’s Finest” #30’s “The Penny Plunderers!”
I can’t place the Penguin, the giant Joker and Two-Face Heads, or the 8-ball.
In the hangar, we have the 1952 Batplane, what is likely the tail of the 1950 Batplane/Batmarine, the Whirly-Bat (circa 1958), and the Bat-Copter. The latter looks like a later model than the usual stuff, as it’s more streamlined than the one from 1965.
The Robot Tyrannosaurus is the other most famous Batcave trophy, and originally appeared in 1946’s “Dinosaur Island!” (“Batman” #35)
The pink sign is leading to what I think says the Whit Ellsworth/Jack Schiff Memorial Park. Ellsworth and Schiff were both DC editors, probably most famous today for their hand in creating Starman.
I’m not sure where the fingerprints come from, nor do I know quite why there’s a little hatch in the stone where the bats live.
In the harbor itself, we have the silver Batsub as it appears in 1954’s “The Undersea Batman” (“Batman” #86), the Bathysphere from 1949’s “Detective Comics” #147, and the Batboat, which hit the comics page in 1968 with a redesign courtesy of the TV show.
Directly above the Batboat are the Famed Specialty Batarangs that we’ve mentioned previously on ComicsAlliance.
To the left of the stairs is the 1957 model of Batman’s Flying Eye (later the Bat-Eye) that first appeared in “Batman” #109.
To the far left is what I originally thought was a silver Batarang, but what I’m now sure is the Ceremonial Bat-Shaped Police Badge (made of platinum with diamonds!) that was presented to Batman by Commissioner Jim Gordon in 1945’s “Detective Comics” #95.
Next to that is what looks like a gun, which may be either Batman’s own gun from his early days, or maybe the gun that killed his parents.
Everything else, including the head with the axes, the framed gloves, and what looks like an autographed picture of the Green Goblin, I’m not sure about.
SECTION 4: THE VILLAINS’ TROPHY ROOM
If the display of The Penguin’s Umbrellas refers to anything specifically, it’s probably “Detective Comics” #134’s “The Umbrellas of Crime” (1948).
The blue arrow points to the Bill Finger Memorial Library. Finger, of course, is the often uncredited writer who scripted tons of Batman stories–including the one that introduced the Joker, which he did with artist Jerry Robinson–that was arguably as important in Batman’s creation as Bob Kane.
The strange yellow stone above the Joker, the red bird to his right, and the Lunar Rover-lookin’ thing I’m not sure about, but I know it’s not the Batman’s “Sleuth Machine.”
As you can tell, there are plenty of things in “The Secrets of the Batcave” that I’m not sure about, which is why I’m turning to you guys: ComicsAlliance would love to have a complete key to this amazing piece of art, so if you know something that I’ve missed, leave a note (and a source) in the comments section below!