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A Tribute to Jim Aparo
Author: Cary Ashby
Monday, January 2, 2006

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Originally in the July 28, 2005 edition of THE NORWALK REFLECTOR.)

The comic book industry lost one of the greats with the July 19 death of artist Jim Aparo, 72, from complications related to an undisclosed illness, according to Newsarama.com.

Aparo will be known for nearly four decades of work with the Batman family of characters. He drew his first issue of "The Brave & The Bold" with number 98 (March 1971). Aparo then did nearly every issue of the series starting with issue 102 until the Batman team-up series was canceled in 1983 with number 200. He went on to co-create "Batman & The Outsiders" with writer Mike Barr.

Aside from penciling multiple runs on "Batman" and "Detective Comics," Aparo also drew characters such as The Phantom, Aquaman, the Phantom Stranger, Green Arrow and the Spectre. Newsarama credits Aparo with starting his comics career with "Stern Wheeler," a 1963 comic strip written by Ralph Kanna before moving onto Charlton Comics.

Aparo's pencils were clean and tight. It wasn't unusual for Aparo to assume penciling, inking and lettering duties -- which is virtually unheard of today. His rendition of the square-jawed Batman wearing the long eared-cowl and a flowing cape is instantly recognizable, an icon among countless icons.

Internet readers who posted responses to the Newsarama obituary praised Aparo. "Batman never looked so good as when Jim drew him," one person wrote. Another called him "a true professional," while someone else referred to him as "the definitive Batman artist."

One of Aparo's most famous pieces of work is the 1988-1989 "A Death in the Family" storyline, in which The Joker murdered the second Robin, Jason Todd. The image of a kneeling, mournful Batman cradling the bloodied, beaten body of Robin II used on the cover of the trade paperback is one of the most emotionally powerful scenes in comic book history.

BOF contributor Cary Ashby writes a twice-monthly comic book column for the "Norwalk Reflector." He is also the newspaper’s crime and education reporter. Cary has an extensive collection of Batman comics and has been an avid fan for nearly 30 years. He can be reached via e-mail at ashby@goreflector.com.


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