Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Tribute to Dick Sprang

Dick Sprang was a longtime Batman artist, starting in the early 1940s and ending (except for a few special appearances) in the early 1960s. Sprang was the master of perspective, and some of his best work featured overhead oblique views of large areas. Here's a crowd getting a view of the trophies of Batman and Superman from World's Finest #86:

A similar overview of Mechanical City from Batman #114:

In a story from WF #87, Superman has lost his powers, while Batman, Robin and a crook named Eldon Craig have gained them. Look at the camera angles Sprang chooses for the first three panels:

They are carefully selected to show maximum action against an immense backdrop. Note that due to the scale, some of the characters are just blobs of ink. This is a signature of Sprang's work, something that appears in almost every story he drew. The guy could draw the details when required, but he also knew when to step back and show the action.

Check out this amazing little panel from Detective #229:

Is that beautiful or what? And check out this panel from WF #92, as Superman encounters Skyboy:

Another Sprang specialty is to reverse the camera angle from one panel to the next; this gives greater flow to the page as you can see in these two consecutive examples:

Noted for the realism of his historical objects, Sprang drew the lion's share of the Professor Carter Nichols stories in Batman comics.

Update: See also Bill Jourdain's post on the Secrets of the Batcave lithograph. I have the second Sprang litho, entitled Guardians of Gotham, hanging on my wall. They are beautiful pieces, an essential for any Batfan.

Update II: I had to add this sequence, even though it's from the Golden Age:

That last panel is breathtaking.