If you're getting a sense of deja vu right now, that's because you actually have read this article before. Right before the latest volume of Batman: Black & White began back in 2013, ComicsAlliance published a list of the ten best stories in the celebrated anthology series. But the fourth volume was really, really good, and included some stories strong enough to be considered among the very best.
Making a new version of that same list with just a few replacements would be cheating you, and require me to read my own writing (ecch). So instead, we're just going to stick with the 'ten best' thing. Here are the highlights from the latest volume of Black & White, and a few that were barely edged out of the first list. Will there be another version of this article after the next volume? You bet your ass. We're gonna stay here until we get this right, people.
The comic book, animation, illustration, pinup, mashup, fan art and design communities are generating amazing artwork of myriad styles and tastes, all of which ends up on the Internet and filtered into ComicsAlliance’s Best Art Ever (This Week). These images convey senses of mood and character — not to mention artistic skill — but comic books are specifically a medium of sequential narratives, and great sequential art has to be both beautiful (totally subjective!) and clear in its storytelling (not so subjective!). The words and the pictures need to work together to tell the story and create whatever tone, emotion and indeed world the story requires. The contributions of every person on a creative team, from the writer to the artist(s) to the letterers, are necessary to achieving a great page of sequential storytelling.
It is the special nature of comic books that we’re celebrating in this all-new recurring feature: Best Sequential Art Ever (This Week).
The comic book, animation, illustration, pinup, mashup, fan art and design communities are generating amazing artwork of myriad styles and tastes, all of which ends up on the Internet and filtered into ComicsAlliance's Best Art Ever (This Week). These images convey senses of mood and character -- not to mention artistic skill -- but comic books are specifically a medium of sequential narratives, and great sequential art has to be both beautiful (totally subjective!) and clear in its storytelling (not so subjective!). The words and the pictures need to work together to tell the story and create whatever tone, emotion and indeed world the story requires. The contributions of every person on a creative team, from the writer to the artist(s) to the letterers, are necessary to achieving a great page of sequential storytelling.
It is the special nature of comic books that we're celebrating in this all-new recurring feature: Best Sequential Art Ever (This Week).
One of my favorite cartoonists, Dave Bullock is well known to comics art collectors and the denizens of artist alley, and in comics has produced covers and illustrated short stories like the standout Deadman piece from Wednesday Comics. Most often he's worked as a storyboard artist and director on such impressive animated titles like Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Batman Beyond, Superman: The Animated Series, The New Batman Adventures and Justice League. Most auspiciously, Bullock directed the Warner Bros. Animation feature Justice League: The New Frontier, adapted from the work of Darwyn Cooke, who shares Bullock's affinity for mid-century stylings.
Naturally, Bullock is an ideal candidate for participation in the enduringly popular DC Comics art project that is Batman: Black & White, which reunites the cartoonist with his Wednesday Comics editor Mark Chiarello for a story that plays to Bullock's mastery of period style and dramatic storytelling. Written by longtime Batman associate Michael Uslan, "The Bat-Man In 'Silent Knight... Unholy Knight!'" takes inspiration from the era and aesthetics of silent film. Given Bullock's filmmaking background, it comes as no surprise that he put together a silent-film-style trailer for his story. What is a surprise is just how well it works, putting the traditional "comic book trailer" to shame.
It looks like DC Collectibles is going to make fans of DC's video game's pretty happy come March. Batman: Arkham Origins will get four more 6.75" action figures as part of the line's second series, including Deadshot, Deathstroke and the newly unveiled Firefly and Anarky. Scribblenauts Unmasked will also expand with 11 new 2.25" blind-boxed figures, such as Cyborg, Blue Beetle (Jamie Reyes) and Superman Blue. Joining all the video game goodness are more New 52 Crime Syndicate action figures, a Sinestro bust, statues of Huntress, Superman and Batman, and hefty Fables bookends. You can see all of DC's December solicitation info, after the jump.
A new volume of Batman: Black and White kicked off last week, continuing the DC Comics anthology's tradition of high quality. Debuting in 1996, the original Batman: Black and White series quickly set the comics world ablaze with a collection of short, powerful tales told by some of the industry's finest. Edited by Mark Chiarello, the four issues gathered sixteen original eight-page black and white stories from a who’s who of influential creators, including Archie Goodwin, Joe Kubert, Howard Chaykin, Brian Bolland, Bill Sienkiewicz, Neil Gaiman, and several more. It won the Eisner Awards for “Best Short Story” and “Best Anthology,” inspired a ton of great statues (one of which you can win), and two follow-up volumes in 2002 and 2007, mostly made up of backup stories from the Batman: Gotham Knights series.
In celebration of the new series, I read all three volumes of Batman: Black and White (I also did other stuff, I have a life), and after poring over all 600-plus pages, I can confidently say that these are the ten best stories from the original volumes, presented here in chronological order.
Originally launched in 1997, Batman: Black & White was an anthology in which DC Comics editor and art director Mark Chiarello got the best people he could find to draw and write new Batman stories with an emphasis on creative vision -- particularly that of the artists, whose contributions were enhanced both by the Dark Knight's compelling visual presence and the book's colorless format. The first run proved to be an award-winning and influential hit, bringing readers the first Batman work of Jim Lee, inspiring DC Collectibles' most popular line of statues, and leading to similarly tasteful, aesthetically sophisticated and critically acclaimed Chiarello-edited books like DC: The New Frontier, Solo, Wednesday Comics and Catwoman: Selina's Big Score.
Then after the last Black & White short story was published as a backup in Batman: Gotham Knights, Chiarello readied an all-new volume of Batman: Black & White that's basically the same deal but with different creators. As with the original, the new roster is a mix of the top artists of today and accomplished masters, including ComicsAlliance favorites like Joe Quinones, Sean Murphy, Neal Adams, Chris Samnee and Michael Cho, with covers by Marc Silvestri and Phil Noto. The book goes on sale this week but courtesy of DC, you can take an early look at some preview pages below.
Earlier this week, in celebration of the 50th statue in the Batman: Black & White line, we spoke with DC Collectibles VP -- Creative Services Kevin Kiniry and Design Director Jim Fletcher about the past, present and future of this enduringly popular line. Started in 2005 and based on the Eisner-winning Batman: Black & White anthology edited by Mark Chiarello, the statues have become favorites among collectors, due in large part to the various artists who have contributed designs for their three dimensional takes on The Dark Knight. Now, ComicsAlliance is teaming up with ScreenCrush and Arcade Sushi to give away a copy of the 50th statue in the series, designed by Sean Murphy.
Launched in 2005 by what was then called DC Direct, the Batman: Black & White statue series is DC Collectibles’ three-dimensional spinoff of the hugely acclaimed, Eisner-winning 1990s comic book anthology edited by Mark Chiarello that invited some of the world’s best and most idiosyncratic artists to express their own uninhibited visions of the enduringly popular and graphically compelling Dark Knight. Like the original book, the Black & White statue line has become a favorite among collectors and illustration enthusiasts for its high quality craftsmanship and impeccable taste in collaborators. Some of the artists who’ve designed for the Black & White series include Paul Pope, Simon Bisley, Eduardo Risso, Mike Mignola, Steve Rude, Alex Ross, Frank Miller, Matt Wagner, Neal Adams, Bruce Timm, Cliff Chiang, Darwyn Cooke, Frank Quietly... the list is very long and almost embarrassingly auspicious.
Having collected numerous DC and Warner Bros. Animation-related statues from the days when they were still licensed out to sculptors like Randy Bowen, the artists of Graffiti Designs and the talents at the much missed Warner Bros. Studio Store, I’m obviously a great admirer of the work of DC Collectibles. There’s something very hard to describe about how a great statue or other three-dimensional representation of your favorite hero can express their true, well, awesomeness in a way that’s utterly distinct from line art or even film or animation. It’s arguable that no collectibles line possesses this power in greater quantities than Batman: Black & White, as the line’s success with fans and creative professionals continues to demonstrate as it releases its fiftieth statue this week, designed by longtime ComicsAlliance favorite Sean Murphy (Punk Rock Jesus, The Wake).
To celebrate the occasion (which also syncs up nicely with the long-awaited return of Chiarello’s beloved anthology, for which a photograph of Murphy’s statue will serve as a variant cover), we connected with DC Collectibles VP - Creative Services Kevin Kiniry and Design Director Jim Fletcher to talk about the history of Batman: Black & White, the possibility of a Black & White villains spinoff, and why so many comic book artists consider working on the line a “badge of honor.”
If you were worried DC Collectibles had already shown its hand earlier this month with the reveal of its upcoming New 52 Swamp Thing and Supervillains series Deathstroke action figures, today's full September solicitations release ought to put the toy and statue segment of your mind at ease.
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