If someone were to hold a gun to my head -- which in and of itself wouldn't surprise me, given my checkered past -- and say "I don't care how many freakin' comic books you own, Foxy... I want you to get rid of all of them, except your top ten favorites!" I would agonize over the decision, certainly. But I know one of the books I'd save would be a comic from my youth, Batman #156, from 1963.
Back in the late 1950s and early 1960s, when I was learning to read, comic books were my main choice of reading material. (Well, those and the Whitman Little Golden Book series.) Anyway, two of my favorite titles were DC's Batman and Detective Comics, both of which featured Batman & Robin.
In those days -- in fact, all the way back to 1939 -- every Batman story was signed by Bob Kane. Kane was the only credited creator, writer, and artist on the feature due to a long, convoluted story which would fascinate you if you're a comic book fan (well, one who doesn't know it already), and bore you to tears if you're not a comic book fan.
If you want to know this "long. convoluted story," click here. As for those of you who don't really care, suffice it to say that what little artwork Kane ever did on Batman was mostly confined to the late 1930s and early 1940s, although he received sole credit for every Batman story written (never by Kane) and drawn (rarely by Kane) until DC Comics finally started giving all their creators credit in the mid-1960s! Kane never wanted anyone to receive credit for Batman, other than himself.
From 1953 to 1967, the vast majority of Batman stories were actually drawn by a comic book veteran named Sheldon "Shelly" Moldoff. Please note that the period from 1953-1967 very neatly includes the years "in the late 1950s and early 1960s" which I mentioned earlier... my formative years as a comic book fan, and my earliest years as a voracious reader.
In other words, it was Shelly Moldoff, and not Bob Kane, who drew the stories -- the writers varied -- which hooked me on reading in general. Therefore, Shelly Moldoff was "my" Batman artist, although I didn't know it until many years later.
I referred to Moldoff as a comic book veteran. Here are just some of his claims to fame, taken from Sheldon Moldoff's website:
Sheldon “Shelly” Moldoff of Lauderhill got his start in the comic industry more than 60 years ago drawing “believe it or not” filler items. In the 1940′s, the so-called Golden Age of comics, he drew such strips as Hawkman, Kid Eternity and The Black Pirate. he also drew covers for the first appearances of Green Lantern and The Flash.
But Moldoff is best known for a 14-year run with Batman from 1953 to 1967. He drew some of the goofiest but most beloved Batman episodes ever, including Zebra Batman and the Merman Batman, and he introduced Batwoman and the original Bat-Girl. And while we're talking about "goofiest but most beloved," fellow babies... They left out one of my favorite Moldoff-drawn characters from my faraway youth: Bat-Mite, the ultimate Batman fan from another dimension! (Yep, back then, Batman was far from the so-called "Dark Knight" he was in the 1930s and early 1940s, and as he is today.)
Unfortunately, two weeks ago, Shelly Moldoff passed away at the age of 91. And his loss affects me one hell of a lot more than the 1998 death of glory-hogging Bob Kane.
The following illustration is a Moldoff "re-creation" of the cover to Batman #156, pictured above.
And this is a Moldoff illustration of none other than Bat-Mite!
Both prints are currently up for sale on Moldoff's website. Sure wish I could afford them!
Thanks for your time.