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.

1 Comment(s):
sam said...
oh my gosh, kids love these cards spud! great fun for the whole family, did you ever think...
Friday, May 30, 2008 03:56:02 PM
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