Welcome back bat-believers to “Creator Spotlight”. Zach here again, and this time I will be tackling a further look into the career of a true architect of comics, the unforgettable artist, Jim Aparo.
Jim Aparo is one of those artists that will never be forgotten. He was truly a master at his craft. There is no debate over the man’s talent, but his influence on the character of Batman is absolutely astounding.
Jim Aparo began his career around 1966 at Charlton Comics. While at Charlton Comics, Aparo was distinctly remembered for being extremely versatile and working in many different genres. Aparo was also recognized to be one of the few artists who would pencil, ink, and letter all of his own work. After several years at Charlton, former editor of Charlton Comics, Dick Giordano offered Aparo a job and DC Comics. Aparo’s early DC work included such titles as Aquaman and Phantom Stranger. A few years later, Aparo was handed the gig to do the artwork on The Brave and the Bold, in which he began at issue one-hundred. Aparo worked consistently on the title until issue two-hundred, which was the final issue of the series due to cancellation. While working on The Brave and the Bold, Aparo also worked on several other DC titles including a brief time on Detective Comics. However, Aparo’s unforgettable Batman work was yet to come.
Following the cancellation of The Brave and the Bold series in 1983, Aparo and writer Mike W. Barr (future creator spotlight) co-creator what would be called the series, Batman and the Outsiders. Many of the Outsiders that we see in today’s comics, originated from this series. The series initially ran 47 issues from 1983 to 1987. However, Batman left the title after issue 32 and the name was changed to Adventures of the Outsiders. Of course, the Outsiders would later return to comics and receive their own title. During Aparo’s run on the book, Batman played a significant role. Batman even revealed his true identity to the Outsiders during the Aparo run. The stories often revolved themselves around Batman and the team globe-trotting around the world on rescue missions. While the stories were often quite quirky, these remain extremely enjoyable and presented the reader with Batman stories that were quite different from the others at the time. It is also important to note that Aparo worked on the title consistently up until issue 21, with brief absences.
With Outsiders wrapping up, Aparo return to the bat-verse and began working on the titles Batman and Detective Comics once again. By this point in Aparo’s career, he had stopped inking all of his penciled work and, most of Aparo’s work was inked by Mike DeCarlo from this point forward. Aparo worked on Detective Comics consistently from issue 518 to issue 522. However, Aparo would return and work on issue 627 of Detective Comics, which marked the 600th appearance of Batman in the title. He would also work on his final issues of Detective Comics, which would be issues 641 and 716.
During his entire career, Aparo ended up working on a total of 35 issues of Detective Comics from 1972 to 1997.
As I mentioned earlier, and as you all know, Aparo worked on the Batman main series often from 1977 to 1998. Aparo made some major contributions to some major storylines including; The Knightfall Saga, A Lonely Place of Dying, and A Death in the Family.
Many consider A Death in the Family to be Aparo’s most recognized work. The storyline appeared in the issues of Batman from 426 to 429. The story was written by Jim Starlin and revolves around Batman and Robin, then Jason Todd, finding out who Jason’s mother is, and hunting down the Joker in the Middle East. This is also the story in which the Joker beats Jason to death with a crowbar. This storyline would change Batman comics forever. Aparo stands out in this storyline because his pencils appear to be absolutely matchless.
The thing that I will always remember about Jim Aparo was the raw energy that he brought to his pages that so many other artists were and are unable to do. During A Death in the Family, he is able to take one of the most gruesome moments in comics and transform it into a beautifully rendered page. His characters seemed alive and in constant motion. His pages were also perfectly detailed; the backgrounds were never left untouched. He was a master of creating depth within a panel.
Unfortunately, Mr. Aparo passed away in July of 2005. While he has gone, his impact on the comics industry has and never will leave. He will be truly missed.
And that concludes our second installment of Creator Spotlight, which was on the truly unbelievable Jim Aparo. He was truly a master of the craft. Check out the blog for the next Creator Spotlight which will be on Alan Grant. Tune in next time, Same Bat-Time, Same Bat-Blog.
Posted by Zach