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Posted By Art Baxter

batman - fire rescue

Here we have card #15 from the second series. It's a thrilling scene in which the dynamic duo attempt to rescue a cute blonde (in high heels, 'natch!) from a burning building. Contrary from yesterday's card, which takes place after the action, this card is at the dramatic peak of the event. Batman is precariously balanced on a thin line at least a half dozen stories above the ground with the girl in his arms. One more step and the girl is passed to Robin yet the line behind Batman is on fire and seems ready to go.

This was one of the first Batman cards I got back in 1966 and it certainly whet my appetite for more. This card is a standout for more than just the staging. I really like the brightness of the mid day sun and the glow of the fire on the two figures. I also like the powerful use of the perspective and the rendering of the action on the city street.  One can often tell a Norm Saunders painting from those of other artists is that he often paints flesh with a highlight that resembles a slick sheen of sweat. Here it is most notable on Robin's arms and cheek. I'll also mention that Saunders' originals were only  a half size bigger than the printed piece. His originals weren't larger than 4" x 5" and were cranked out one painting per day.

Posted By Art Baxter

batman - beaten to a pulp

This is a Batman card from Topps from the peak of Batmania in the summer of 1966. There were 3 series of painted cards followed by two series of photo cards. The first series had 55 cards but the subsequent two series had 44 each. The first two series are all pretty great while the third set is so-so. The photo cards are, y'know, photo cards. The first series was mostly one story featuring appearances of the Joker, the Penguin, Catwoman and the Riddler. The following two painted series had one-off scenes. There are captions on the backs of the cards explaining the action. The second series had a puzzle piece. They measure 3.5" x 2.5" This card #28 from the second series (indicated by the red bat insignia and red border).

The cards were laid out by veteran comic book artist Bob Powell (who died the following year). They were pained by a few different artists. The most prominent was Norm Saunders, a prolific 1930s and '40s pulp magazine illustrator. It is Mr. Saunders work you see above. Saunders was really grinding these things out. The first series art was polished but Saunders was clearly bored and hacking it out by the third series.  The second series struck a good balance. The cards didn't look like they took place in 1966 in 1966. They harken back to an earlier era.

Allright. LOOK at this thing! This image still shocks and appalls me. The dynamic duo beat those guys to a pulp and then congratulate themselves on a job well done. I'm appalled but also strangely attracted by how lurid it is. It's this lurid dimension that gave the Batman cards their appeal over the sanitized adventures on TV or the comics. These cards practically ruined my taste forever.

NOTE: My postings have been meager in the month of April (I felt beaten up like those thugs in the card most of the month). So, for May, I'm kicking off with a week of these vintage Batman cards to be followed by a series of my sketchbook drawings. There'll be a lot more stuff up this month.

Posted By Art Baxter


This HENRY cartoon was drawn by his creator Carl Anderson between 1932 and 1934 for the SATURDAY EVENING POST. Look for a new HENRY cartoon every Monday.

Find out more about HENRY here.

Posted By Art Baxter

sea hagpopeye

THIMBLE THEATER starring Popeye by E. C. Segar - March 27, 1937

Popeye, Olive Oyl & the Sea Hag © King Features



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