The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

Batman: Strange Days


For me, and I suspect plenty of other people of a certain age, the noir-inspired Batman: The Animated Series, is still the most satisfying version of the character to come to screen. The series has long since ended but happily, Bruce Timm, co-creator of the series, has produced a new, wonderfully retro, animated short called Batman: Strange Days to celebrate the Dark Knight’s 75th anniversary:

In a recent interview with Comics Alliance, Timm talked about his work on the original series and the retro look of the new short:

I wanted to make the whole cartoon look as if it was like the cartoon itself was made in 1939, got stuck in a vault somewhere, and nobody has seen it until now. Not that I thought we were going to pull that kind of hoax, but that was the feel I wanted. I wanted it to be so authentically old school. I went back and looked at those early Bob Kane comics and even though they’re really super crude, there’s something really cool about the way Batman looks in those comics. He’s got the really long ears, they kind of stick out in an inverted “A” shape, or a “V” shape, on the top of his head because they kind of stick out on an angle; they’re really tall. He’s got tiny eyes, his trunks are long, his boots are long. He has short little gloves. I tried to incorporate as much of that in there as possible.

No surprise then that like the animated series, it reminds me a lot of the Fleischer Studios Superman cartoons from the early 1940s. The first episode of that series, “The Mad Scientist”, was released September 26th 1941 (before Superman could even fly!):

Personally, I like the episode 2, “The Mechanical Monsters, a lot:

And just as side note, when Batman first battled Hugo Strange’s giant monster men in Batman #1 (Spring 1940), he doesn’t mess about with tear gas — he actually takes them down with a machine gun. It would be the last time Batman killed anyone on purpose.

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