Thinking Outside the Bat-Panel

Since my son recently alerted me to my old animated Batman commercials online, I figured it was a good time to look back on some other non-comic related Batman projects I did during my decades long association with the Batman (there’s still a Brave and Bold comic on the way, so the association ain’t over yet!)  I did T-Shirts, puzzles, Happy Meal Boxes, Colouring Books, DVD covers, magazine spot illustrations… I’d say over half of the Batman art I’ve done over the years was for sources OTHER than comics…

Let’s start with the HOW TO DRAW BATMAN BOOK, from the year 1998.

Copies of this book are still at a bizarrely high $140 dollars on Amazon, for what was a ten dollar book only a decade ago.  I’m as flattered as a drag queen at a Mardi Gras Debutante Ball that these books are at skyrocket prices, but I’m equally annoyed that Walter Foster has kept them out of print for so long.  They’ve repackaged parts of the book at least two different times, but each time cutting half of the original pages away, to add pages by John Delaney and Ron Boyd.  But now even those repackaged versions are out of print and also at sky-high prices.   They sent me a box of thirty copies when it was originally published, and I used to give ‘em away like candies, figuring I could always get more.  HAH!

In general, I’m very proud of the book, and the overall experience, as the final product turned out much how I wanted it to, and I got along with all concerned.  (Subsequent editions of the series caused me a little tsuris, and I famously got into a public internet tongue lashing, which I now greatly regret, and won’t dredge up at this point).  A bunch of the HOW TO DRAW BATMAN pages were drawn at a cabin in the woods, drawing it on my lap, or on the steering wheel of the car, parked under a street light out by the highway, where the light was better (and I may or may not have been nearly attacked by a moose, the family still debates this event…).  That was fun.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I’ve planned to write a HOW TO MAKE COMIC BOOKS monograph and publish it.  Sort of a collection of my lectures from art college (that I’ve been giving for years), mixed with some comedy and original stories, exclusive for the edition.  I’ve also been meaning to climb Everest, wrestle a live shark and curse out Perez Hilton to his face, just to see what he’d do.  But there are never enough hours in the day to get this stuff done AND to sit around watching my kid play Mass Effect and eating cheese balls.

I’ve never offered the original art from this HOW TO DRAW book for sale, because the art from happy meals boxes, toy designs, posters, DVD covers and HOW TO DRAW BATMAN doesn’t seem to interest the public at a comic convention.  But I’m happy to dip a toe in the water and see if there’s any interest in these non-comic Batman art pieces online.

Ty the Guy

PS:  Get me drunk, and I’ll tell you the time I was swimming in the Atlantic with a live shark, but didn’t wrestle it at all.

5 responses to “Thinking Outside the Bat-Panel

  1. Hi Ty, I love my copy of How to Draw Batman (the original copy). Who knew it was now so valuable? I would have kept it in better condition. :o) I remember sitting with it folder across my lap, trying to draw on the couch. I was a little disappointed at the time, that you wrote but didn’t draw the Superman version, and couldnt figure out why they repackaged the Batman book later. If you are thinking of parting with the Catwoman page from the Batman book, please let me know!!

  2. Ty is planning to sell some of the art from the books; he’s just trying to figure out pricing. Depending on the page, it’s not just plain pencil, pen and ink. These were done when Ty worked solely on board or paper–if, after inking, he became unhappy with a figure or wanted to change one element (or the editor asked for a last-minute change), instead of redrawing the whole page he would do a patch or an overlay with a new drawing.

    That was instead of re-tracing the whole page…which used to happen a lot! Artists are a crazy, strange, perfectionist, obsessive lot. (Ty has been known to bring me a stack of drawings all of the same figure and announce, “Look at these! I don’t know how to draw anymore!” I will stare at them intently and try to find a way to agree with him, that they are clearly the worst drawings ever.
    Generally–not possible. I’ve explained to him more than a few times over the years, that Ty’s “worst drawing ever” would be many an artist’s “wow, I wish I could draw that well”.

    If I can get him to back slowly away from the stack, go off and play piano, watch some Star Trek, go to sleep…he will come back the next day, whip off a quick drawing of the figure, bring it to me and announce how funny it is that he can draw one day and not the next. Then, I have to stare at them and say, “Oh, wow, yes, I can see the difference!” And, strangely, after so many years, I can see how the new one is really, truly better–but the truth is that the first 25 were pretty darned good.

    Anyways–the shorter answer is “yes, he’s thinking of selling the art”. I’ll talk to him later this am about what pages he’s considering.

  3. Thanks so much for replying and for inquiring with him. I can see how these sketch book pages were patched with different overlays, I bet he was such perfectionist especially when creating the “how to draw” segments.

  4. I picked one of these up years ago in a shop and flipped through it…and put it down – 20 bucks Canadian was too rich for my blood! For shame…

    Really wish I’d taken note of how to draw Selina Kyle’s hair. It had such an interesting shape with that flip in the front…

  5. Nice to see Ty covering this great How To Draw book in his blog. It IS sad that it’s not been kept in print, even as part of a collected edition with the Superman and Wonder Woman, as well as the single DC Comics character edition that showed you how to draw the likes of Firestorm. I even gave away my WW edition to a friend’s granddaughters a few years ago….still, they loved it so I did the right thing (even if it’s worth £90.00 now).

    Thanks for writing ‘n’ drawing this book, Mr. T, it’s a classic.

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