The first appearance of our villain, from 1959, by Curt Swan. He was "Mr. Zero" back then.
George Saunders: The FIRST Mr. Freeze on TV.
I got an email yesterday requesting I return to my series of never-before-seen cover sketches for my blog, and I do what I’m told, so today we look into the cover for Gotham Adventures #5, which featured the frozen monster, Victor Fries, vs. Batman on the rocks.
Otto Preminger. Freeze #2
I normally did three cover sketches for each one we used, but this cover got up a little higher, and the one that ended up being chosen was unique for a reason I’ll get to at the end.
Eli Wallach as the sub-zero bad guy. Clearly he went through a few versions as well.
I’ll start with the three cover sketches I sent in first. Let’s see if you can play Armchair Editor and figure out what went right or wrong with these, as we play Rejection Roulette.
Okay, not bad. A little too symmetrical perhaps, but all the elements are there.
Pretty well the same design. I’ll be honest, I was padding the trio of designs because I liked the third one best, and felt if the first two were essentially identical, I’d make the third one look interesting to my editor.
Now we’re talking. The interior story was about the TWO Mr. Freeze characters locked in a duel, and this cover told the story well. I noted that this was my favorite, and felt the editor would agree, and off I’d go to draw it. But the response was cold.
(I know that was unforgivable, but that’s what happens when you start to write about Mr. Freeze.)
I am to blame for all the puns.
So I did another one later that day, featuring the disembodied head-spider that Freeze was sporting at that point on the TV show. It was creepy and the cover featured Nightwing and Batgirl, just to shake things up.
So the next day, I went for a cover featuring a big action scene from the story, where Robin has to free a suffocating Batman with a baseball bat to the ice-encased head. I tried two different angles, to give the editor a choice. But I was sure THIS time, I’d come up with a dramatic moment and we were good to go.
This one had Freeze in it, in case there was confusion as to who was the villain. Never mind. They were both still rejected.
Finally the JACKPOT! It had the spider-head Mr. Freeze thing. It had Robin smacking Batman with a bat. It had Nightwing and Batgirl, and it had a lovely design. This was, by far, my favorite of the covers, and I was happy that the editor made me keep going until I had a truly memorable image. That’s an editor’s job, to push until you hit the zone.
So I was quite surprised to see it get rejected. Instead the editor went with:
This marks the ONLY time of the fifty or so covers that I worked on for Batman Adventures, where my LEAST favorite cover was chosen. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t submit a cover if I didn’t think it had merit, but this one was as close to filler as I’d ever sent in. Still, it was fun to work on, as I was really starting to learn how to colour on a computer, and I got to choose the trade dress colours as well as the image itself.
Here’s the cover, without the logos, etc, straight from my files.
I had this up on the wall over my desk as a really nice print for about six months, because I really liked the colours. I wish I’d gotten to do cover #7 though. Sigh.
Ty the Guy OUT!
HERE NOW, YOUR BONUS GOTHAM ADVENTURES #5 MOMENT:
Choosing sketch #2 affected someone else’s life FAR FAR more than it did mine. Meet Craig Kandiko, or at least a small part of him:
Craig is one of the biggest Batman Adventures fans out there, and he has quite a number of tats all over his body featuring artwork by Bruce Timm, myself and a few other BTAS artists. Craig liked the image of Freeze on Gotham #5 enough to burn it into his flesh, so maybe I’m not the best judge of what makes a good cover. You can see a little more of Craig’s ink here, where you’ll also find a link to his facebook page.