Man. This is really sad. Jim Aparo, for my money, was the BEST Batman artist in comics. Part of this opinion is no doubt based on my nostalgic feelings for his long, long run on the Batman team-up title The Brave and the Bold, which I grew up reading. But his Batman was perfect: Less cartoony than Sprang or Infantino, not as realistic as Adams--but leaner, more fluid. I think "Batman," and Aparo's rendition springs to mind. His renditions of Aquaman and the Spectre are likewise definitive.
I recently read "The Wrath of the Spectre," which collected Aparo's classic run on the character, and was knocked out seeing Aparo in his prime, doing his own inks. He was right up there with Caniff and Toth in terms of storytelling, figure work and spotting blacks. A great, great artist who will be missed.
Here's an obituary that just appeared on Newsarama:
The Aparo Family has asked me to send this information out to all parties. It is with the deepest regret I have to inform you of the passing of the legendary Jim Aparo early Tuesday Morning, July 19, 2005. Mr. Aparo, who was 72, died from complications relating to a recent illness. All Funeral arrangements will be a private ceremony for Family and Friends of Jim.
Aparo, born in 1932, was primarily self-trained as an artist. After years of working in commercial fashion design in Connecticut, his first break in the comics field was with a comic strip called "Stern Wheeler," written by Ralph Kanna, which was published in 1963 in a Hartford, Connecticut newspaper for less than a year. In 1966, editor Dick Giordano at Charlton Comics hired him as a comic book artist, where his first assignment was a humorous character called "Miss Bikini Luv" in "Go-Go Comics." Over the next few years at Charlton, Aparo drew stories in many genres--Westerns, science fiction, romance, horror, mystery, and suspense.
Aparo was notable for being one of the relatively few artists in mainstream comics at that time to serve as penciler, inker, and letterer for all of his work. These tasks were typically divided between two or more artists.
In the late 1960s, Aparo moved on to National Publications/DC Comics, which is where he came to fame in the Comics Community. Originally starting at DC on the Aquaman title, he then moved on to also work on the Phantom Stranger and DC's horror titles.
In 1971, Aparo worked on his first Issue of Brave & The Bold. Issue 98 featured the Phantom Stranger teaming up with Batman. Beginning with Issue 102 Jim was then the regular artist on the series and provided pencils & inks on almost every issue from 102 until the end of the series with Issue 200. Jim's work on Brave and the Bold was his favorite work of his time at DC as he truly considered the series his "baby." Also during this period Jim did one of the seminal runs on The Spectre, where his realistic style made the Ghostly character truly come to life.
After the end of Brave and the Bold, Aparo was co-creator for Batman & The Outsiders and also worked on the regular Batman and Detective Comics Series throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. most notably doing the Pencils on the "Death in The Family" storyline, which featured a phone-in vote deciding the fate of Robin II, Jason Todd.
Following a run on the regular Green Arrow Series, Aparo moved into semiretirement, contributing an occasional special or cover and doing a few private commissions before he eventually decided to move into full retirement.
He is survived by his wife Julie, his 3 children, his 4 Grandchildren and two step-grandchildren.
The Aparo family has asked that in lieu of Flowers or gifts, anyone wishing to honor Jim's legacy make a contribution to any worthy charity, as Jim believed that all charities were worth donating to.
For those wishing to send along their condolences and best wishes to the family, a P.O. Box has been set up for the family to receive cards. The address is:
THE APARO FAMILY
P.O. BOX 28
NORWALK, CONNECTICUT 06852 - 0028
Thanks to all who have loved Jim's work and have supported his career.
Spencer R. Beck
THE ARTIST'S CHOICE