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Batman: Still Inspiring Artists after 80 Years

  • J. Ellis
  • 31 October

When Bat-Man sprang to life in May of 1939, artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger captivated the imaginations of readers and proved their storytelling prowess. By refusing to surrender the character’s history, fans were gripped with a sense of tension and mystery. Who was Batman? Where did he come from? What powers does he possess? His dark and sinister appearance resembled something from a horror film, yet something about him alluded to a tragic and untold origin story. Seemingly, he was a mystery with no history. A recent painting, Batman by Guy Hobbs fittingly captures this same idea. Hobb’s portrayal of the Caped Crusader features Batman in full action. However, the backdrop completely white, with no Gotham City skyline, Bat Cave, or supervillains. It is as if he just appeared. Original readers of Detective Comics #27 would have to wait six months before Kane and Finger would reveal the Bat-Man’s dark details.


Finally, in November of 1939, the dramatic details of young Bruce Wayne came to light. Immediately he became identifiable to his audience. He was complex; fearful and fearless, haunted and holy, vulnerable, and victorious. What started as an ominous character emerging from the shadows, clad in a black cowl and wings, became the symbol of hope. He embodied both the hero and the human. Perhaps that is why he was and still is so beloved.


Batman encapsulates the story of all of us; only through his pain will he find power and only by facing his past fears will he be able to change the future for others. This same duality is symbolically highlighted in Blend Cota's painting, The Dark Knight. Our hero is perched high upon a gothic banister. Cota’s use of color is most evident on Batman himself, one of his muscular arms is a reflective red, indicative of his necessary use of force. The other arm, painted in gold and yellow hues, reminds us of his commitment to upholding justice. Over his left shoulder Gotham City seems to be burning, and over his right shoulder is the Gotham City Clock Tower hastening Batman to act before it's too late.


From the pixelated pages to the silver screen and every other medium in between, Batman reminds us of where we come from, what we are capable of, and if we are ever to restore order in the world, then we must, in the words of Bruce Cockburn, “kick in the darkness until it bleeds daylight.”


-J. Ellis
Content Writer at Art of Entertainment

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