Thursday, 10 January 2013

THE BATMAN 'FORGERIES'...


 

In the May 1969 issue of DETECTIVE COMICS #387, the very first
BATMAN adventure was re-presented to readers of the time. Note that I
said 're-presented' and not 'reprinted', because the story featured was a
re-creation, a 'tracing', effectively, of enlarged copies (in all likelihood)
of the printed pages from issue #27 in 1939, and not from surviving
period-proof copies from the editorial files.


At the time, this was common practice whenever NATIONAL/DC
didn't have proofs or original artwork from which they could reprint a
particular tale. This tracing was used again in Batman FROM THE '30s
TO THE '70s, Detective Comics #627, and Batman ARCHIVES. I
don't recall whether it was used in the FAMOUS 1st EDITION Treasury-
sized publication, so perhaps someone out there can let me know.


Out of all the 'reprints' of this tale, the only one I've got which
seems to come from more accurate proofs is the DC MILLENNIUM
edition published in 2000. Strange that it took thirty-one years for
DC to republish the original story (in standard comic-sized editions
at least), instead of what was essentially a forgery.


Anyway, just for you, here's the re-created and original pages
side-by-side, so that you can play 'spot the difference'. (Open each
page in a new window and then skip between them.) Also included is
a photo of a page from an actual, original 1939 issue (as printed in
Batman THE GOLDEN AGE), so that you can compare it to
the other two examples on view.


Go on, play 'Dark Knight Detective', and see if you can spot
all the subtle (and not so subtle) distinguishing points between both
versions of the pages. Unfortunately, the fact that a tracing of the
premiere story was used in the Archive Editions volume makes
a mockery of its claim to be the "definitive collection".


If you happen to own the afore-mentiond Famous 1st Edition
issue of this tale, take a look at the story's second page. If the middle
of the top two tiers are out of alignment then the tracing was used as
the source, not proofs of the original printing. Unfortunately, I can't
remember if I've got it or not, otherwise I'd check for myself.

 

As promised, below is a slightly angled photo of page 3 from an
original 1939 issue, as reproduced in the excellent book on Batman
by writer and comics historian, the late LES DANIELS.


So there you have it. Unless you're lucky enough to own an original
issue of Detective Comics #27 or the Millennium Edition reprint
(the jury's still out on the Famous 1st Edition), then the chances are
that you've never actually seen the first Batman tale - only a mere paltry
imitation. Just think - "You wuz robbed!"  Better call Batman. Oh, and
 just for completists, here's the cover to ol' Bats' debut appearance.

 

******

Click on images to enlarge, then click again for optimum size.
(Extra-large images will reduce on first click, then increase to
full size on second click.) 

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