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Gabrielle Bell’s Fleeting Dreams of Drawing Batman

There’s always been a bit of a divide between superhero and indie comics, but most of the comics readers I know are at least a little bit omnivorous, so I’m always surprised when I see something that reminds me how distinct the two worlds can be — like the superhero fan I met who had never heard of Brian Michael Bendis’s “Powers,” or the passionate indie aficiodano who didn’t know who Geoff Johns was.

I find it extra fascinating when creators from the two worlds collide, as when indie cartoonist Gabrielle Bell (“Lucky,” “Cecil and Jordan in New York) recently traveled to France and held an art exhibition with “Batman: The Long Halloween” artist Tim Sale. Her autobiographical comics journal details the trip, which includes a dinner where Sale describes his lucrative Batman commissions, causing dollar signs to dance in Bell’s thought bubbles.

Bell quickly abandons her Batman-drawing fantasy as she realizes how much she’d need to invest in learning about superhero culture to even begin the process, and what it would require her to leave behind. But it’s a moment in a bottle that captures the struggle many creators face between wanting to do creator-owned work and wanting to make enough money to move beyond hardship and hustling. Bell’s decision is made easier by her overall lack of interest superheroes and the fact that her Batman kind of looks like the rabbit from “Donnie Darko,” but fortunately her fellow cartoonist Laura Park has helped imagine what a bigger, burlier Bell Batman might look like, after the jump.

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