Ah, damn it. Who didn’t love Dick Giordano? We lost him over the weekend. Not unexpected, but still…
Both of this blog’s regular readers might have noticed
how often his name or his work has come up around here, which is notable, considering how rarely I mention any other cartoonists in this solipsistic e-rag. He was part of those delightful Lois Lane covers from last week, he inked the issue of Batman (#251) which I consider one of the two most important comic books of my life, mentioned a months or so ago on Art Land.
But let’s talk about this.
This issue is a very close second for my favorite Batman story of all time, and once again, Denny O’Neil and Dick Giordano are on the creative team responsible for it. The cover is gorgeous, and the art and story inside are great…a Twilight Zone style tale of Batman traveling to another dimension where he again witnesses the murder of his parents, and changes THAT Bruce’s destiny. It’s been reprinted many times, most notably in THE GREATEST BATMAN STORIES EVER TOLD, so I’m not the only one who loves this issue.
The idea of the story stuck in my head my entire life, and when I was asked to write a “try-out” issue of Batman Adventures all those years ago, the first
thing that occurred to me was “What if I could make Batman re-live the murder of his parents, and change the destiny of another child…?” The story I wrote is not at all the same to Denny and Dick’s masterpiece, but I certainly drew water out of the same inspirational spring as the above issue, and my script was well enough received that I’ve been writing comics for a living ever since.
But, what really blew my head into brain chunks about Detective #457 was that it showed me how much Dick Giordano was responsible for the greatness of those Neal Adams comics that I thought Dick had been “just inking”. This was a comic drawn with beautiful realism, perfect line work, dramatic lighting, phenomenally beautiful women, and all the things that made those Neal comics wonderful, only Neal wasn’t around for this issue. It turned out DICK WAS THE GUY who had been doing much of that all along. And there was a subtle difference in the storytelling. It was somehow more accessible, more “readable”, more directly told, than I was used to from this familiar style, and in many ways I LIKED IT BETTER!
As a kid, I copied the images from ‘Tec #457 over and over. I traced a copy of the cover so I could see it without the logo covering up the ears (hated that!). There’s a panel inside of Batman swinging over the city, that I hand-copied as a three foot high poster that hung on the back of my bedroom door for years. From this issue on, as far as I was concerned, Dick Giordano was one of the greats, the gods, the Beatles of DC comics. I know, I know… he’d been great all along, but this is when I discovered it.
In the delightful Neal Adams cover above (for the magnificent Adams/Giordano Superman vs. Muhammad Ali giant comic) the crowd is filled with “real” people. Jimmy Carter, Sinatra, Wolfman Jack, Raquel Welch, and so many others. There’s a map on the inside cover to tell you who everyone is, but when I got it, I tried to see how many I could figure out on my own. Up in the crowd, about eight or nine rows back, was a couple of people I assume to be Warren Beatty and Clark Cable, and some kids nearby.
It turned out to be Neal Adams and Dick Giordano and family. I thought Neal had drawn he and his partner a lot more handsome than they probably were…and it was pretty cool to discover that they really did look like that when I met them a year or so later at conventions.
I got to know Dick just a little, over the years I worked at DC, and the two things I remember most about him, was that he always looked great, (he could wear a suit and a mustache like a pro)…and that he loved talking the craft and comics with anyone who wanted to start up the conversation. In those days, when Dick was our fearless leader, it was inspiring to see him in the DC hallway, and to know he was still producing top flight penciling and inking work at home, after a full day at the office.
And talk about inspiring, he was still producing it, right up until the end. The March issue of Jonah Hex, 2010, was the work of the one and only Mr. Giordano, head into your local comic store and pick one up, and enjoy the last work of a creator who inspired more than one generation.