Author: Cary Ashby
Saturday, April 7, 2007
EDITOR'S NOTE: A version of this op/ed originally appeared April 5, 2007 in the Norwalk Reflector newspaper, www.norwalkreflector.com, as a part of "Cary's Comics Craze."
The Batman never looked so mysterious or intimidating and his alter-ego, Bruce Wayne, never looked as handsome as when artist and trained architecture student Marshall Rogers drew them.
Sadly, none of us will see new art from Rogers.
He died unexpectedly March 25 at age 57 at his Fremont, Calif. home.
Rogers' 1976 collaboration with writer Steve Englehart and inker Terry Austin on Detective Comics demands top dollars from collectors. It was reprinted in the 1985 limited series Shadow of the Batman and compiled in 1999 in the Stranger Apparitions trade paperback.
The six-issue run was short but sweet and includes such classic foes as The Joker, Penguin and Clayface.
Rogers' iconic Dark Knight, with tall ears and a flowing cape, put a final nail in the coffin of the 1960s campy interpretations and undoubtedly inspired later renderings.
His Joker is menacingly creepy. The image of the dead fish with Joker-like grins from the Englehart story "The Laughing Fish" has stayed with me for years.
That same story has stood the test of time and rightfully is considered one of the greatest Joker stories ever told. It also was adapted for Batman: The Animated Series and aired first on Jan. 10, 1993. Director Bruce Timm, in the production notes on TOONZONE.NET, wrote that he wanted the music to sound like a horror movie.
Rogers also drew the characters Green Lantern, Silver Surfer, Mister Miracle, Dr. Strange, Iron Fist, G.I. Joe and The Shadow.
Englehart and Rogers reunited for the 2005 six-part limited series Batman: Dark Detective, considered a sequel to their original collaboration. It appeared as if Rogers hadn't been drawing for a while, but Englehart's creation, Wayne's ex-lover Silver St. Cloud, is as gorgeous as she was in 1976. The Joker looks as sinister as ever. The pair had planned on a third project with Austin.
Whenever I'm asked to list my favorite artists, Rogers is one of the first names that rolls off my tongue, along with Neal Adams and the late Jim Aparo. I would pay out the nose to do so, but I'd love to own every Batman-related issue Rogers ever did.
One "torn up" online fan put it best when responding to Rogers' obituary on NEWSARAMA.COM: "If Heaven really exists, what are the odds that all the Angels look like Silver St. Cloud?"
Comic book fans have lost one of the greats. My heart goes out to Rogers' family, friends and fans. I'm sure I'm not the only one who wishes he could draw The Batman as well as Rogers did in the 1970s.