26 April 2011

Comic Art Tuesday: Moldoff, Mooney, and Mandrake!

I'm a big fan of goofy Batman.

Batman as a gorilla, Batman in Scotland, Batman as a zebra.  Batman, Batwoman, Bat-girl, Batman's dad in a Bat-suit, Bat hound.  Flying Bat Cave, Bat Mite.

Shelly Moldoff ("It's Clayface!")
Shelly Moldoff.

Shelly Moldoff is the admonition of Batman.  An entire career spent in the service of Bob Kane's narcissism, Shelly drew a significant portion of Batman-related comic publications for years without credit or a contract.  Unlike other comic creators, who employed a studio of artists to accomplish the required about of artwork on a daily and monthly need, Kane hired people out of pocket while taking full credit as the sole creator and artist of Batman-related material.  By some reports, Shelly "ghosted" for Kane as early as the first year of publication.  By the time The Powers To Be created the "Bat-Family" era of comics, Shelly was the primary artist.  When the "New Look" era ended and Bob Kane was removed from all input at DC, Shelly's livelihood vanished.

Jim Mooney (Batman and Robin)
Jim Mooney faired far better.  Jim worked on Batman in the Forties and became the artist for the Robin feature in STAR-SPANGLED COMICS.  He then became a regular Supergirl artist and did many of the Legion of Superhero appearances.

Jim's Batman and Robin is one of my favorites from the 1940's.  He distilled Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson's work into a perfect amount of action and detail.  Jim did Batman and Robin as "super-citizen", The Batman and Robin who were duly-deputized servants of public well being.

For all of the contemporary recollections of comics of the Forties as grim, Batman and Robin smiled a lot...

Tom Mandrake (Batman)
Tom Mandrake was the counterpoint to Gene Colan's Batman artwork in the Eighties.  Tom wields a thick brush, which I never thought the printing process could reproduce just right.  The amazing surprise of his art is his pencil work, which shows an amazing amount of grace.

This, from the guy who likes to draw zombies.

I loved his SPECTRE work, probably the best version ever published.

His Batman is equally scary.  


  1. Wonderful!!

    I love Shelly Moldoff, I have a Batman by him but I didn’t commission it.

    I got to talk with him on the phone when inquiring about commissions around 2002??, he had just come out of hospital and wasn’t up to it.

    He told me to give him a couple of months, which I did, but sadly he had really bad rheumatism in his fingers and couldn’t even hold pen properly which he said got him down… I never bothered him after that but he did give me Mart Nodells number and that is a whole other story.

    Jim Mooney, drooolll!! That’s just plain sexy!!...

    My favourite out of the three and against strong competition.

    Wow, great cape! Very delicate work from Tom Mandrake.

    I like his art because of his use of the thick black line.
    I think he was the guy who did one of my favourite Batman covers where Batman is getting pushed into a sarcophagus whilst having ruckus with Two Face and shouts to Catwoman for help, she is just walking off in the background?... sure that’s by him??

  2. Also, 'goofy' Batman is the best!! ;)

  3. I have more Shelly stories for the next installment. I love him and had the pleasure of meeting his wife.

    Jim Mooney is brilliant. He sent me a coloured print of Supergirl and Streaky. Artists don't draw like this in contemporary superhero comix.

    BATMAN 398.

  4. Awesome!

    My stories of Mart Nodell are mainly his wife. :)

    He is superb and what a nice gesture.

    So I was right! cool.

  5. Is it Comic Art Tuesday yet? :)

  6. The older I get, the worse atrocities I see in real life, the more I prefer goofy Batman.

  7. At the very least, you gotta take a step back from Joker as terrorist and remember the Joker Utility Belt...