Jim Aparo, master storyteller

I'm currently working on a new project which has had me looking to try some approaches I haven't really used much before. I've been talking over various storytelling techniques with my co-creator, the artist on the project, and as will happen, we've been discussing artists that were formative influences on us. Which in my case leads me back, time and again, to the great Jim Aparo. Here are just a few of the pages that we've found especially interesting or useful.

Looking at these, I'm amazed at how much he can fit on a page without it ever feeling cramped. The storytelling is so clear yet so dramatic. 10 panels and yet it still somehow manages to breathe.

And Jim obviously wasn't hesitant to go for panels that probably weren't all that much fun to draw, yet which did exactly what was best for the story—I mean, how clean and clear is this sequence with the motorcyclist? The way the locked-off camera adds to the tension (no pun intended) as the biker draws nearer and nearer to his doom?

How dynamic yet efficient are these upshots of the Batman and the KGBeast leaping over the alley? How great is the first combination of panels, with a closeup of the Beast and the Batman in the foreground contrasted with a dutched long shot of them in silhouette in the background, followed by the bird's eye view? That's a lot of camera movement, and yet there's never the slightest doubt what's going on and where. 

Check out these Milleresque vertical panels—curiously underused these days, yet utterly perfect for the actions involved in this sequence: climbing an elevator shaft, dropping cinder blocks down an elevator shaft...basically, the things one does when near an elevator shaft. 

These quick cuts are so effective. Notice how tight Jim pulled in for most of them, and why not? It heightens the drama, and it's not like there's any way for anyone to mistake who either of the faces on this page are. (By the by, that curving shadow from the Batman's ear? That is, in fact, the proper way to shade the Batman's cowl. For the record.)
I love the stat-and-repeats going back and forth between Bruce and the Joker—like the classic Clint Eastwood/Lee Van Cleef/Eli Wallach standoff from Sergio Leone's The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Also, that Joker chin, man—so awesome. 

I loved Jim Aparo's art from the very first time I saw it. But the longer I study it, the more I admire it.

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