by Chris Lambert
I don't have a lot of memories of buying those paperbacks back when I was a kid other than the few I alluded to in the earlier essays. I do remember that I looked forward to buying them when they came out. Actually, I did not know when they actually came out, but the fact that I saw some of the early ones made me think to look for these pocket books after that to be on the lookout for when they were released.
Now I've lost most of the ones from my childhood and am hunting down conventions to find the ones I need to reclaim my childhood.
by Chris Lambert
Today, I'm going to talk about an artist and in particular one of my favorites. I have many who have drawn Batman, but today I talk about Jim Aparo. And much like the theme of today's E-Comic Gazette, Jim (along with John Byrne) drew one of the great Batman tales of all time… "The Untold Legend of Batman." And in the early 80s, this story was placed in a black and white paperback book.
Really though, this is just an excuse to talk about the great artist that Jim Aparo was. Starting to draw comics only later in life, the artist was in his mid-late 30s when he began drawing The Phantom for Charlton Comics. But when editor, Dick Giordano, left Charlton in 1968, he brought many writers and artists with him to DC Comics. Jim was among them.
Taking over from lush illustrator, Nick Cardy, on Aquaman, Jim moved over to take on the comic book adventures of, The Phantom Stranger. This led to a strange coincidence that brought Jim over to a long term commitment on the Caped Crusader.
You see, Brave and Bold (a Batman team-up book) needed a one issue fill-in artist. Since the team-up was Batman and Phantom Stranger that month, editors thought that they could get Jim to draw the fill-in issue since he was already drawing Phantom Stranger. But that allowed all of the editors to see how Jim handled the artistic look of Batman! The fact that Mr. Aparo (except for maybe three issues) drew the next 100 issues of Brave and Bold pretty much explains the importance that Jim held at DC, wouldn't you think?
Over the years, Jim also drew Batman and Detective comics, long enough to help with the "Breaking of the Bat" storyline that came out in the late 90s and was a respected cover artist as well.
But I have another tale to tell about the man that has nothing to do with his art. Back in 1989, I went to Chicago right after the Tim Burton Batman movie was released. Jim was signing autographs and there was one…long…line!
I stood in the line for a few hours after being told that "Mr. Aparo will only sign his name and will not personalize it due to speeding up the lines."
I was fine with that, but what scared me was the fact around lunch time a fellow from the convention stated, "It's almost lunch and Mr. Aparo has to break for lunch. So we'll stop the line right after…"
I started panicking.
The fellow dropped his arm behind me with a flourish stating…
…right behind this tall guy!"
I beamed for the whole several minutes it took the line to dissipate and when I came to the table top, all alone and waiting for an autograph from my favorite Batman artist at the time…
He got up from the table and walked back to get his sport jacket.
He was leaving me! Oh, no!
That's when a bigger smile crossed my face as he came back to the table and asked my name and if I wanted to have lunch with him.
After recovering from the shock, I replied, along with the proper spelling.
I received four signed comics, all of them signed and stating…
…"To Chris, the last one in line."