ECCC 2019: Celebrating Batman’s 80th Anniversary

by Tito W. James

At ECCC 2019, comic creators gathered together to celebrate the 80th anniversary of everyone’s favorite caped crusader. The panel’s guests were Becky Cloonan, Tim Sale, Alex Sinclair, and Cully Hamner. Each creator has had an impact on Batman and shared which Batman story impacted them.

Becky Cloonan said that her attraction to Batman was that he was a character that can grow up with you. There are Batman stories that you can enjoy as a kid, in your teens, and well into your adulthood. Cloonan had this in mind when developing Gotham Academy. She wanted something that would appeal to younger readers without it screaming “YA.” Cloonan is also the first woman to draw Batman on the main title and will be contributing a story to Batman’s 1000th issue with writer Warren Ellis.

Tim Sale recounted the thought process behind Batman: The Long Halloween and Batman: Dark Victory. Sale wasn’t familiar with many of the Bat-villains and was glad that he could take artistic liberties when they appeared in The Long Halloween. Sale also had mixed feelings about including Robin in Dark Victory, but he connected to the character once he realized that it was a story about two orphans. He was also dating a woman at the time with an eleven-year-old son, so he could relate.

Alex Sinclair expressed how Batman: Hush was one of the hardest things he had to do because there was a new villain per issue. But, like many of us, he was a fan of Jim Lee’s pencils, so that motivated him to get the job done right. While the rogues gallery is a big draw to Hush for most fans, it was Batman’s romance with Catwoman that really touched Sinclair. Lee gifted Sinclair the original pencils of the image above and Sinclair said it is his favorite piece of art that he owns.

Cully Hamner broke down the design choices of Batman’s new partner, the Signal. Duke Thomas was a character introduced by Scott Snyder as early as Zero Year, who then took up the mantle of the Signal years later. Duke’s yellow costume reflects his role as Gotham’s protector. While Batman operates at night, Duke would be the day watchman. As such, every part where Batman’s costume is black, Duke’s is yellow. Even the Bat-symbol shines bright in contrast to Batman’s.

All four creators reminisced about their favorite Batman story. Stories mentioned included Joker’s Five Way Revenge, Detective Comics 500, Batman: Year 100, and The Court Of Owls saga. The creators came to a consensus that Batman: Year One was a masterwork of art and storytelling.

One creator also recommended the comic where Batman meets Elmer Fudd by Tom King. That issue was so much fun that Neal Adams read the comic aloud on his YouTube channel while doing all the voices.

The panel closed with the moderator asking the panelists about their favorite obscure Batman villains. Egg Head, Fire Fly, and Calendar Man were mentioned. However, Cloonan really stole the show by recounting a Batman comic where he fought a vampire whose heart was in a grandfather clock. Cloonan liked this B-list bad guy so much that he makes an appearance in the Annual issue of Gotham Academy.

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