Long title, yeah, but it’s worth the read because I’m putting the artist spotlight on 2 Golden/Silver Age artists who lived in the shadow of the Batcreator but never escaped the recognition of the Batmaniacs: Dick Sprang and Sheldon Moldoff.
Dick Sprang illustrated Batman and Detective Comics for roughly 20 years, from 1943 to 1963. He was hired by DC Comics because Bob Kane was thought to be sucked into WWII, and Batman needed a relatively similar production that would not disorient the already rabid fanbase. Although Kane averted the frontlines, Sprang was kept on the payroll, hush-hush to keep Kane’s credit base from corroding. Sprang’s character design contributed to the set-up of the “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” cartoon that re-enfranchised (‘zat a woid? yeah, i gotz da badge, i spin the chambiz) the Batfans infuriated by “The Batman”. Dick Sprang also co-created the Riddler, ol Jay’s favorite Batnemesis, and introduced Joker’s Utility Belt, a story molded into two episodes of the Cesar Romero-ized “Batman” in ’66.
Glaze on this, Batloonies:
What do you reckon is contained in Darkseid’s Utility Belt? Chaos, despair, the captured screams of orphaned children, and pretzel stix…
The other Ghost Artist of Kane was Sheldon “Shelly” Moldoff, whose simmering dissatisfaction with being the true workhorse of Bob Kane’s signature was re-directed to the creation of sundry Batsupporters, including Ace the Bat-Hound, Batwoman (who carried a purse!), and the original Batgirl, as well as a fistful of Batbaddies: Calendar Man, Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, and the shape-shifting Clayface (the legendary one-panel incidental demise of “Crisis on Infinite Earths #12 back in ’86, an unceremonious deathscape shared with the Bug-Eyed Bandit).
Sheldon Moldoff drew the Caped Crusader and his Chronology until ’67, when he was released, perhaps due to the change in weather and attitude for the Bat-entity, radically re-configured by the TV show that, at the time of Moldoff’s departure, was starting to sprout some gray hairs. I still find it funny that I was always confusing the art of Dick Sprang and Sheldon Moldoff, somewhat similar senses to their approaches, but understanding they are both Eternal Ghosts of Kane, and also knowing their exploits are being celebrated, provides ample justification for this minor mindfart.
A red purse! Did you think I was kidding!?!?
The villain was originally dubbed Mr. Zero and cured (one-panel, again!) by a steam treatment. He was benevolent and repentant, but we did not see this not-as-evil-as-you-thought side again until “Batman: TAS” years later. By the by, Batobscurists…does anyone recall THIS frosty foe? –>
It’s called the 1980s…it’s called retroactive continuity…just be patient, Bats…
One Final Thought, From the Birthday Files – Happy Birthday, Dr. Huxtable! Oh, wait, where’d he go? Oh, there he is…oh, no he ain’t…oh, no, there he is…wait, no, he’s not…ahhhh…you better lay off the Hawkwind and Captain Beefheart sandwiches, Billy…