A Plague of Batmen

I was fortunate enough to be asked to draw some more covers for the DC Universe, focusing primarily on the "Big Guns" like Superman, Batman, etc., so I figured I'd start with Batman like anybody else. The difficulty is that I am meant to draw covers for no issue in particular, so the imagery can't be story-specific. Instead, I am to go for iconic shots that could be used anywhere.

"No problem", I replied hastily as I accepted the job from my editor, and then proceeded to draw strikingly original images of Batman perched on gargoyles, hunching and moping, or flinging a Batarang. I'm told it is my take on the tired themes that will make it unique, but I am starting to think this tune can be played out sans my solo. Or maybe if I jam a little more I will stumble on a new riff. What note hasn't been played? I'm running out of blue pencil.



Scott Forbes said...

Wow! These are great J! I like the way you draw Batman, and I am also glad you are drawing him. Finally someone other than Jim Lee or some other artist (not that they are bad, just refreshing for a change). You bring a fresh look to the old character.

Man, you have such iconic poses, I cannot wait to see what you bring to the finished pieces. These prelims look great!

Now time for bed!

Chris Sims said...

I'm digging the motion you're putting into these sketches. #4 from the first set of sketches is HOT! Well, they're all tight but that one stands out to me. I can't wait to see how you incorporated all of these studies into a finished product. Great Work!

Chrispy said...

Man J, these are tight yo. See this is what i like about Batman drawings, when he has the build that would fit somewhere between SpiderMan and Superman, i feel like that build fits him perfectly, seeing that it allows for his Agility to be MORE believable, amazing stuff yo. Are you going to be in NY for the NYCC in Feb, i'd love to get your opinions/POINTERS on my new work. PEACE!

plau said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
plau said...

Awesome! :D :D Love the look of what you've got so far.
If you're still looking for something, how about batman masking/unmasking himself in a portentious looking way :D That could be quite cool.

Krypton Knight said...

Beautiful! Your composition and fluidity of work never ceases to amaze. I look forward to seeing these covers in their finished states.

All the best,

Jim Di Bartolo said...

2 words: "Lucky mutha!"

These are great man and I know luck has little to do with it, but what a DREAM phonecall that must have been!

Continued success!

Tautai said...

not that you should listen to me but:
what about a zoomed in upside down head shot (cos thats how bats sleep/hang) with intense open eyes (cos batman never sleeps!).
Or just stick with the iconic but vary the setting beyond the usual - enough of the sunsets/doom laden clouds and rain, what about Batman in Winter (snow) or in the aging golden light of Fall? Maybe that's been done too?

John H. said...


I love how you let the cape have a personality of it's own. Also making Batman lean rather than a body builder is good to see.

'New' poses : I've always liked
Neal Adams' low running of Batman (e.g. Batman #251). The Batman surveying the nighttime cityscape is always used.

juliabax said...

They´re all HOT as always, but #6 from the batch on the top is definitely my favourite. Great composition - very graphic

Kelsey said...

I mean, DAMN! I, I just want to, I don't know...fuck! Your Batman is killer! Sorry for cursing, but SHIT!

I can't stop, you sonofabitch! This is awesome!

You make me want to try harder.

Great work my friend!

arnie said...

my two cents Josh, you've forgotten the detective aspect of Batman. you know at the scene of a crime. visiting the graves of viticms of crimes he wasn't able to solve?

Nick Curtis, Seele Brennt Publications said...

I have to agree with Arnie regarding the detective aspect of Batman. But, Josh, I think moreover that almost everyone forgets the Bruce Wayne aspect of Batman. I know the trend (esp. of late) has been towards the idea that Bruce Wayne is the mask and Batman is his true identity, but... part of what makes Batman so extraordinary is that he is a man walking amongst gods.

To me, Grant Morrison's JLA run will always be memorable if, for nothing else, that he broke the norm on Batman in it. When Lex Luthor attempts a corporate takeover on the JLA, it is not any (or all) of the superheroes that can stop him. But Bruce Wayne, businessman, who has probably had to stop countless similar takeovers of Wayne Corps.

And, I realize, that everyone says you need Batman on the cover to sell the book but let's face reality: the people who buy Batman are buying the book regardless.

You asked for feedback and that's mine. I would love to see Bruce Wayne take center stage on the cover.

Brian said...

Bruce on the cover has a lot of possibilities.

Also, if you want to do a twist on the gargoyle cliche', how about Batman in a Museum hidden in a heavily shadowed bas relief frieze along the wall getting ready to pounce on some unsuspecting art thieves below.

Peter Bangs said...

The pictures are nice as they go, it's good to see someone drawing a believably lithe and athletic looking batman for a change. (I always had a problem with Jim Lee's bodybuilder Batman achieving anything gymnastic). Trouble is you're playing with the cliches in a very cliched manner. With the brief you've got your options are limited but how about juxtaposing Batman with some less traditional urban backgrounds? Glass and Steel towers, gothic arches instead of gargoyles, dumpsters in neon lit alleys, fire escapes with things going on in windows, climbing over public art, on the various bat vehicles? For something like this it's the background Batman interacts with that can make the artwork stand out. Another Batman/gargoyle cover is not going to get my attention, even if you're drawing it.

smoky man said...

ciao Joshua,
in 2002 at a Bristol Con you did for me a Miller-Batman sketch.
You can see it here:


From Italy
smoky man

Joshua Middleton said...

Thanks everyone for the thoughtful feedback, especially Kelsey.

I agree with many of the points raised and will definitely keep all of your suggestions in mind when I take another swing at it.


David Wade said...


As a fan of Batman for 40 years, I think these are great. They aren't just a generic superhero in the batsuit - so you've accomplished the challenged of finding the uniqueness to the character.

As a fan of yours for many years, I love whatever you do!

Would you be willing to sell any of these prelims? I'd be honored to own one.


David Wade

-Michael said...

Hi Josh
You've gotten good feedback here. The Bruce unmasking idea still has a lot of untapped potential, and the suggestion to see Bats in less common settings is good at well. You should just take your camera out with you on a car ride and photograph a whole mess of locations that draw your interest. See what you can pull from there.

You're doing some beautiful stuff on the American V covers by the way.

Keep it up.

Christian Ward said...

hi josh, been a fan for a long while...any chance any of your batman sketches might be for sale?


Leonel Castellani said...

Man, those are some of the best Batman images I´ve ever seen...
The composition, the atmosphere, the dynamics...they´re UNBELIEVABLE!
Joshua, you´re UNIQUE.


aksel said...

yeahhhhh !!! what great sketch of batman you did !!! sorry if you don't understand me but i'am french ! So in my land we have just one of your book : Nyx !!!
We want to see more work like this in our country !!!! your batman are very great !!!

Joshua Middleton said...

Thanks again, everyone.

For those of you interested in owning a prelim, if I ever intend to sell anything, I will post a notice here on the blog first. With stuff like this, I typically wait until I have a cover finished, then when I sell that, I throw in the prelims to sweeten the deal. We'll see how it goes with this. I've had to put Batman on the backburner for a while due to some other obligations, but I hope to get back to something soon.

I'm getting really busy with a lot of new things (about time!) and I can't wait to start sharing. Hopefully, it won't be long before I can reveal some new projects.

And hello Aksel from France! I was just in Paris a few weeks ago for some business and I will be returning next month, possibly to attend Angouleme. Maybe I will see you there.



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