When the rug from the Black Lodge meets the rug from the Overlook.
Hard to imagine this today, but back when I first began reading comics, both Superman’s girl friend, Lois Lane, and Superman’s pal, Jimmy Olsen, had their own regularly published books. Neither character had super-powers, neither fought crime—not really—and both books generally featured three stories in each issue! So how to fill up all those pages? One word: transformations…
Join us, Star Boy!
What’s wrong [with the comics industry]? … In the late ’70s, all the comic fans decided to get into the business. The problem is, it was a bunch of superhero fans. And an industry that had, up until that point, catered to almost every genre imaginable slowly and slowly was narrowed down and boiled down to a point where it was superhero comics, and that’s all there were. And then they all were writing these comics for each other — not for a mass market, not for young people. And then, as they aged, the content aged to suit their needs. And the idea is, when you’re an adult, you’re supposed to turn to other forms of entertainment, maybe, or appreciate comics for what they were. But that hasn’t been the case. So now we have superheroes that rape, we have heroin addicts, we have all this kind of bullshit that’s been heaped onto these characters that were meant to entertain kids and give them a little sense of right and wrong and adventure. I think it’s so sad. And you see what the strategy has done. … In 1972, Jimmy Olsen comics sold 200,000 copies a month, and it was canceled because that wasn’t enough to keep it going. These days, the best-selling book can barely scrape past 70,000 — never mind the worst-selling books. So let’s take a look at that strategy that’s been applied to this business. How’d it work out? Not too good. And the less people that read ‘em, the more expensive they have to be, and the more cryptic they have to be to cater to that tiny little market they’ve got. That’s what’s wrong.
From the VERY FIRST PAGE, before the VERY FIRST PANEL of the VERY FIRST APPEARANCE of Robin the Boy Wonder, in Detective Comics #38 (April 1940):
… “AN ALLY.” Oh. Ah. I see.
Because okay wow I just did NOT read it that … you know what? Not important. Never mind.
Seriously, though: Wertham, schmertham. This relationship was destined to inspire gay panic even before it began. Because BAD KERNING.
Yes, Rooftop Readers, the time has come to go back to the beginning.
February 28th will mark Project: Rooftop’s eighth anniversary. Following the absolutely insane response to the Draw Batgirl Meme in 2006, sparked by a blog post from the incredible Andi Watson, and fueled by original Batgirl redesigns by me and my friend Jamie Dee Galey, I pulled together some of my comics pals to create a venue to share, discuss, and celebrate the very specific art of redesigning superhero costumes. Here, we have tried to promote the idea that superhero costume redesigns require a particular set of skills and and demand thoughtful consideration. We found allies. We made an impact.
Since our inception, many of our artists have become top names in the superhero redesign game. Many of them were well on their way to superstar status (or had already achieved it), but here at Project: Rooftop, we’re proud to claim as contributors Ming Doyle, Joe Quinones, Kris Anka, Annie Wu, Stuart Immonen, Jamie McKelvie, and so many others who have made significant impacts in the world of mainstream superhero costuming and design. Superhero costume redesigns have become more frequent, more discussed, and more regularly credited, during our eight year tenure as the self-appointed high priests of superhero fashion.
Looking back on the original Draw Batgirl Meme, followed quickly by Draw Supergirl, Draw Green Lantern, Draw Superboy, and others that never had quite the zeitgeist, lightning-in-a-bottle nature of their predecessor, it’s easy to see why Batgirl attracted so many more designers. In modern continuity, the Batgirl most of us know, Barbara Gordon, was the first character to appropriate the iconography of Batman for herself, making it her own, without permission or apology. Like Batman, Batgirl is a hero without superpowers, but hardly without power. Her crimefighting skills and determined will are forces that defeat fictional villains and inspire real readers.
But there have been many Batgirls, of course. Bill Finger and Sheldon Moldoff’s original Bat-Girl, Betty Kane, was the sidekick of the first Batwoman. Cassandra Cain took up the mantle in an Alex Maleev designed costume in 1999, and became a fan favorite in the hands of her co-creators, Kelley Puckett and Damion Scott. In 2009, former Spoiler and Robin, Stephanie Brown, threw on a Lee Garbett designed cape as the Chuck Dixon and Tom Lyle created character took on her third costumed alias.
And there have been so many others, in various other worlds and short stories, and that’s not even taking all the Batwomen into account. Basically, to create a Batgirl, you need a girl and you need a bat-symbol. The thousand-plus permutations seen in just the first week of Draw Batgirl attested to that. For this contest, we are allowing ALL CONCEPTS. No restrictions. Redesign any of the previous Batgirls or create your own! Girl + Bat = Batgirl. The top entries will be judged and featured here on the site.
As usual, check our guidelines, include your name and website, and send your art as an attachment in .jpg, .png, or .gif format to email@example.com.
PLEASE FORMAT THE FILE NAME AS “artist-name-character.format” as this will save me a ton of time renaming your files.
And for eight years of making Project: Rooftop one of the most well regarded outlets for awesome art and whopping levels of talent, I’d like to extend a sincere thanks to our co-founder Chris Arrant and our contributors Vito Delsante, Joel Priddy, Jon Morris, Rachel Eddidin, Jessica Plummer, and Glen Weldon. Thank you all so very much.
Thanks also to every designer out there who has sent us their art, linked to our events, and visited our little art party over the years. It’s an honor for all of us to offer this space. I love comics and superheroes, and of everything I’ve done in my career to promote the medium and genre that literally saved my life, Project: Rooftop is one of the things I’m most proud of helping create.
And that’s enough self-back-patting to last us a couple more years. You’ve got one month. Get drawing! -Dean
Entries for Batgirl Begins Again must be received by February 28th, 2014.