The Batusi Incident

Last week TIP! posted several different cover designs artist Mike Allred did for his issue of DC Comics' "Solo" title, including the fun, Adam West-ish "Batman doing the Batusi" version shown again here.

Well, as anyone picking up "Solo" last Wednesday knows, we got Wonder Girl doing the Batusi instead. Today, blogger Heidi MacDonald points to Allred telling us why the original cover got spiked:

Until this week I wasn't even completely sure that my SOLO book would come out (it would have been strike three for DC after ELSEWORLDS TEEN TITANS and METAL MEN) since I eventually realized the tension between DC and anything relating to the 60's TV show. And my BATMAN A-GO-Go story makes up 18 of the 48 page book.

I have to say that Mark Chiarello,our editor on the project, is one of the best and most inspiring editors I've ever worked with --and with the exception of the cover and a few minor details this comic is everything I was hoping for. It's one of my favorite things I've ever been a part of.

After "Batusi Batman" was taken from me by (overly?) cautious higher ups, I struggled with a replacement--An impossible task given that the "Batusi" cover is among my top favorite covers I've ever done and, arguably, received the most enthusiastic reaction ever, when released with the soliciation.

So, I did several alternatives hoping I'd come close to an equal replacement.

No such luck. But Wonder Girl was ultimately MY choice--and she comes second only to Batman to represent my "childhood to adolescence" affection for DC comics which my SOLO book largely signifies.

And Heidi points further to this interesting missive from cartoonist Jay Stephens, whose retro-take on the Teen Titans (featuring a script by the late Bob Haney) got spiked last year:

This confirms the not-so-secret policy at Dan Didio's DC. Campy, funny, playful, all-ages or accessable versions of DC Universe characters are forbidden. Didio hates that stuff (I hear he literally HATES Metamorpho and Metal Men), and only wants to push grim & gritty superhero work. I also have it on good authority that clean-line, 'cartoony' art is definately OUT. No more Darwyn Cooke/ Mike Allred-ish stuff for Dan Didio, no siree. Call me when his ass is out the door, thanks.

Interesting. Given the awful grim'n'gritty stuff DC is churning out these days, this seems pretty accurate. But, as Heidi also notes, Darwyn Cooke did get the go-ahead to do a revived version of Will Eisner's "Spirit," so maybe Didio's attitude isn't as hard and fast as Stephens thinks.

My theory is that playful takes on DC's core superhero characters probably are discouraged, but that there's more room for experimentation with other, licensed characters such as the Spirit.

Which is why Cooke's "Spirit" is likely to be a lot more fun and creative than anything we see coming out in DC's mainline superhero titles any time soon.

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