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Batman Birthday: Dick Sprang


The late Dick Sprang was one of the most important artists in the early days of Batman.

Sprang was responsible for the post Bill Finger/Bob Kane redesign of Batman’s look, the new Batmobile, the Batcave, the first design of the Riddler.

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He defined the look of the Caped Crusader all throughout the 40’s and 50’s and remains one of the most easily recognizable Bat-artists of all time.

"Anticipating that Batman creator Bob Kane would be drafted to serve in World War II, DC inventoried Sprang’s work to safeguard against delays. Sprang’s first published Batman work was the Batman and Robin figures on the cover of Batman #18 (Aug.-Sept. 1943), reproduced from the art for page 13 of the later-published Detective Comics #84 (Feb. 1944). Sprang’s first original published Batman work, and first interior-story work, appeared in Batman #19 (Oct.-Nov. 1943), for which he penciled and inked the cover and the first three Batman stories, and penciled the fourth Batman story, inked by Norm Fallon. Like all Batman artists of the time, Sprang went uncredited as a ghost artist for Kane.Sprang thereafter worked almost entirely on Batman comics and covers and on the Batman newspaper strip, becoming one of the primary Batman artists in the character’s first 20 years. In 1955, Sprang got the chance to draw Superman, when he replaced Curt Swan as the primary artist for the Superman/Batman team-up stories in World’s Finest Comics, on which he worked until his retirement in 1963. Sprang also worked on a couple of stories for the main Superman comic, “including the tale that introduced the first, prototype Supergirl“.Sprang’s work was first reprinted in 1961, and “nearly all subsequent Batman collections have contained at least one of his efforts.”[8] However, his name never appeared on his Batman work during his career, due to stipulations in Bob Kane’s contract. These stated that Kane’s name would remain on the strip, regardless of whether he drew any particular story, and this restriction remained in place until the mid-1960s. It was subsequently revealed, however, that Sprang was Kane’s favorite “ghost“.[14]Comics historian Les Daniels wrote that Sprang’s “clean line and bold sense of design” set him apart as “the supreme stylist” of the early Batman artists. Sprang used to study the way children read comics in order to experiment with page layouts and panel to panel transitions, hoping to create “the most suspense and the most fluidity to keep the pages turning”. Daniels singles out Sprang’s work on the 1948 debut of the Riddler as “a superb example of story breakdown and page design”. The tardiness of Sprang’s friend and frequent collaborator Bill Finger sometimes produced situations in which he would have to send in pencils for a story before the ending had been written, actions that “required some careful figuring”. In Batman #34, “Sprang drew Batman and Robin capering across….Mount Rushmore”, over a decade before Alfred Hitchcock filmed a similar scene in North by Northwest.[19] One story drawn by Sprang, “Joker’s Millions“, was adapted into an episode of Batman: The Animated Series.-wiki"

Sprang died on May 10th, 2000. He would have been 100 today.

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