Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Bruce Wayne: The Boy Wonder

I've only caught one episode of GOTHAM so far. But I actually liked it. A lot more than I thought I would. Good cast and an interesting take on how Bruce Wayne would ultimately decide to become Batman.

Robin Lord Taylor's performance as Oswald Cobblepot, the man who would ultimately become that fowl... I mean... foul fiend The Penguin is a particular favorite of mine. I also really enjoy Sean Pertwee as Alfred Pennyworth.

The series has some of the grittiness of the Christopher Nolan trilogy without being too "real". One of the things I think was a weak spot in the trilogy for me... that and the Christian Bale Batman voice. I missed many of the villains like the Riddler and the Penguin which were apparently too "lightweight" for the Nolan films.

Its also nice to see the series focusing on the origins of some lesser utilized Batman villains like Hugo Strange. A character I really like and someone I'm surprised none of the films have featured in some capacity.

The series focuses on Jim Gordon before he was the commish and a Bruce Wayne barely out of Jr. High School. Along with a few vigilante type character that came before the Batman. I does make me wonder if they might go in this direction.

Bruce Wayne becoming the first Robin: The Boy Wonder.

Some of you out there might not be familiar with one of the older continuities in the DC Universe which introduced Bruce Wayne as the very first Robin. 

It was originally used in a Batman story from the 1950's and later recounted in THE UNTOLD LEGEND OF THE BATMAN illustrated by John Byrne and Jim Aparo (seen above) in the early 1980's. Bruce would create the costume in order to meet Harvey Harris, detective he idolized, and learn the basics for detective work. It should be noted to Bat-Fans out there that the color scheme and domino mask of Robin's costume were actually originally intended for Batman.

Yep! If you didn't know that before, you read that right!!

The purpose for the secret identity was so Harris learning Wayne's true motives (avenge his parents death most likely) which could potentially lead to the detective discouraging Wayne from pursuing this obsession. Wayne ends up saving  Harris's life in the process of trying to meet him and in gratitude for the good dead, the detective agrees to train the lad and even gives him the moniker Robin since his costume resembles a robin redbreast. 

Many years later when Bruce Wayne would become the Batman, he would pass the Robin guise to his ward Dick Grayson.

This continuity has long since been retconned. Which I think is kind of a shame because I feel the whole idea of a young restless Bruce Wayne donning a mask long before he was Batman is a great idea.

Actually, I think it would work really well in the context of the series GOTHAM. Mock me as you may, but I think it would be great. Especially considering they are creating this bond between Wayne and Jim Gordon. Perhaps it's time to dust off that old story-line and substitute Jim Gordon for Harvey Harris...

...the detective Wayne idolizes.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Steampunk Alice Costume

Several months ago Carrie Nilles contacted me asking if her daughter could have permission to use the design Paul Loudon and myself created for our Steampunk Alice project to be used as her costume. They had found my design on my deviantart site and what her daughter liked about it was the fact the design was fun without it being all "corsets and cogs" as some Steampunk Alice costumes can be.
Carrie posted a photo of her daughter's costume yesterday and I have to say I was very thrilled with the results and very flattered they used my design.
I thought they did a fantastic job with visually realizing the character design :-)

Friday, October 10, 2014

William Gillette's Sherlock Holmes

Back in 2009 I released a graphic novel based on William Gillette's play SHERLOCK HOLMES... actually my association with the play goes back a bit further than that.

To give you a better idea, at the dawn of the 20th Century William Gillette WAS the face of Sherlock Holmes. A great deal of that had to do with his 1,300 stage appearances as the character. And some of it had to do with Frederick Dorr Steele using his likeness as Holmes in the artwork he created for Collier's Weekly's reprinting Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's original tales.

He WAS the face of Sherlock Holmes the way Basil Rathbone, Jeremy Brett and now Benedict Cumberbatch have become the face of the character to their respective generations.

While it's debatable he was the first actor to play the role, he should get credit for introducing the character to an American audience. Many of the elements we commonly associate with Holmes such as the deerstalker, hat the curved pipe (sometimes briar, sometimes a meerschaum) and the phrase "Elementary, my dear Watson" were due to Gillette's play.

Some of this made me dislike the Gillette play for the longest time. At first I felt like it watered down and dumbed-down the character. However, over time I began to appreciate both Gillette AND the play her wrote. In truth what he did was take some of the best elements of the very best Sherlock Holmes tales (i.e. A Scandal in Bohemia, The Final Problem and The Sign of Four) and wove them together to create one narrative.

The more I thought about it, it really was a great way to introduce an audience who may not be readily familiar with the character to give them what was really a "Best of" album of some of the great Sherlock Holmes stories.

This reason, and the connection of Gillette being a fellow native New Englander (go visit his castle along the Connecticut River. Its an amazing place) also helped me in my decision to choose Gillette's play to adapt into a graphic novel.

Recently, they found the only film Gillette did as Sherlock Holmes back in 1916. The film was said to be lost to the ages. But it was recently discovered. Apparently it had been misfiled or something. But as far as Sherlock Holmes films go, this is the absolute Holy Grail of Sherlock Holmes films. The only film appearance of William Gillette as the character he made famous on stage.

I'm actually surprised by this fact. Especially considering how many times he appeared on stage in the role I'm surprised this film is the only time he would appear as the character.

The film itself is in the process of being restored and is set to debut at a film festival in France next year. And in the United States following this.

However, if you cannot wait for that, you could always pick up my adaptation of the play which would ultimately become the film starring William Gillette: