Posts Tagged ‘Jim Balent’

The Many Lives of Catwoman Moments, Week Eleven: Pals, Plunder, and Punches

July 17, 2017


With my new book The Many Lives of Catwoman: The Felonious History of a Feline Fatale available now in bookstores and online in a variety of formats, I’ve been showcasing key moments from Catwoman’s history on Tumblr. They’re a random, fun assortment of comic book panels and film stills drawn from her nearly eight decades of unique incarnations. Some are lighthearted, some are heavier, and they all offer a peek inside the book and highlight Catwoman’s fascinating history.

Last week, the ten moments that we looked at included:

And finally, my favourite Catwoman moment of the week is courtesy of Catwoman #54 from February 1998, written by Devin Grayson with art by Jim Balent and John Stanisci. This era of Catwoman is best remembered for Balent’s art; he drew an exaggeratedly curvaceous Catwoman in a skin tight costume, and did his damnedest to showcase her figure in every issue. However, his hyper-sexualization of Catwoman was often at odds with the book’s strong, clever writing, and this issue was case in point. It was a one-shot story in which Catwoman stole a diamond from a museum and, displeased with the museum’s security system, returned it. After they upgraded their security, Catwoman stole it again with ease and returned it once more, beginning a cycle of thefts, returns, and upgrades. The exasperated museum curator eventually decided to pull one over on Catwoman and purchased a ludicrously expensive insurance policy for when Catwoman finally kept the diamond for good, but Catwoman found him out. She then decided to leave the diamond in his care, where he’d be forced to pay for both the policy and the latest in his lengthy series of new security systems. It’s a funny, enjoyable issue that perfectly captures the chaotic fun of Catwoman and is a real standout from this divisive era.

You can catch up on all of the previous Catwoman moments here, and follow along for more fun! With the book out now, we’re shifting down to once a day as we run out the remaining moments over the next few weeks. The Many Lives of Catwoman is available for purchase in a variety of formats, so pick it up and dig into her captivating history!


The Many Lives of Catwoman is Officially Out TOMORROW!

June 30, 2017

Catwoman Cover 1

While The Many Lives of Catwoman: The Felonious History of a Feline Fatale is available online from several retailers and in a bunch of shops already, the official release date for my brand new book is tomorrow, July 1. Up here, July 1 is a holiday, and everywhere else it’s a Saturday, so let’s chat about the book today before all of the celebration and relaxation takes over tomorrow. Yesterday on Twitter I ran through twelve interesting and weird facts about The Many Lives of Catwoman, and here’s that list in a more expanded form:

  1. It covers EVERYTHING. Comics, television, movies, video games, animation, unfilmed scripts, online videos, and more. If Catwoman was there, it’s discussed. It’s all within a larger, chronological framework that explains the broader evolution of the character, though, so it’s detailed but also organized and accessible.
  2. All of the chapter titles are cat-related puns. This was hard than I thought it would be; half of them came together pretty quickly, and the rest were like pulling teeth. “A Conspicuous Pause” is probably my favourite of them all because I really wanted to get “paws” in there. I was hoping to make something work with “bastion” but I just couldn’t figure anything out.
  3. The book opens with a ten page take down of Bob Kane that becomes a celebration of Bill Finger. Bob Kane often gets sole credit for Batman and the larger Bat-mythos, but Bill Finger was a far more important figure who Kane actively screwed over for decades while hoarding all of the money and fame for himself.
  4. Catwoman disappeared for TWELVE YEARS, from 1954 to 1966. The timing suggests that it was entirely the fault of Fredric Wertham and his contention in Seduction of the Innocent that there were homoerotic undertones to Batman and Robin’s adventures. Catwoman was called out in this portion of Wertham’s book as a “vicious” woman who, when it came to dating Bruce, would “have no chance against Dick.” Seduction of the Innocent was published in 1954, and Catwoman was benched immediately afterward.
  5. The chapter on the 1960s Batman television program has more quotes from the show than is probably necessary, but they’re all amazing. It’s all just too much fun. The dialogue in that show is so specific, and I find that when I read it I can hear the campy cadence with which it was delivered in my head. So I quoted the great lines as much as possible.
  6. Selina dated Bruce Wayne in the 1980s, then turned into a stalker when he started dating Vicki Vale, then dated Batman. It’s all very bizarre, an eight year soap opera that made Catwoman a fixture in both ongoing Bat-books for most of the decade. I do a deep dive into it all, of course. It’s a fascinating era on several levels.
  7. The chapter about Frank Miller’s various takes on Catwoman is… not complimentary. From The Dark Knight Returns to Batman: Year One to All Star Batman to Holy Terror (a non-DC book that features a Catwoman analogue), Miller sexualizes and brutalizes Catwoman again and again, often in the same ways. His misogynistic tendencies become very pronounced once you take a closer look at the patterns in his work.
  8. On the other hand, the chapter about Michelle Pfeiffer’s take on Catwoman is… extremely complimentary! Because she is the BEST. Daniel Waters and Tim Burton deserve some credit for Batman Returns, of course, but the effort and dedication Pfeiffer brought to the role was considerable, with fantastic results. She’s so good that she steals the entire movie.
  9. My discussion on Catwoman in the 1990s includes a section about Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose, and god help us all. Jim Balent’s hyper sexualized art dominated this era and was often at odds with the interesting stories in the book, and looking at Balent’s next project, Tarot, offers interesting insights into his approach to Catwoman. Balent’s intentions were good with Catwoman, but his execution remains rather divisive for Catwoman fans.
  10. Halle Berry’s horrible Catwoman gets a full chapter. The film’s awfulness is inversely proportional to how fun it is to write about; it’s so bad that you can revel in how fascinatingly terrible it turned out to be. Watching the movie several times while I wrote the chapter wasn’t a blast, but it’s a sacrifice I made for you, dear readers, in service of what I think turned into a fun and compelling chapter.
  11. The Gotham section is half praise for Camren Bicondova, who is GREAT, and half side eying everything else about the show. Bicondova really is a wonderful Selina, but the show around her is a bit of a mess. When I watched it all for the book, I ended up skipping every scene that Selina wasn’t in, and I 100% recommend watching the show that way. When it’s just the Selina show, it’s pretty good.
  12. The New 52 chapter has some serious side eye as well, but only for the first three years of the relaunch. After that, Genevieve Valentine and Garry Brown launched Selina’s mob boss era, which was AWESOME. It’s a real shame that it only lasted a year; creatively, it was something fun and new for Selina that made for great stories, and commercially it brought a new stability to the book after it had tumbled down the charts over the three years previous. DC were fools to end it.

So yeah, Catwoman is amazing, the book was so much fun to write, and I hope that you’ll all check it out! I love sharing the fascinating histories of these great comic book heroines, and a strong reception for The Many Lives of Catwoman will hopefully lead to further historical showcases for the wonderful women of superhero comic books. I definitely have lots more I’d love to cover! But for right now, I hope you all enjoy this one and have a good time learning all about the unique history and evolution of Catwoman!

New Wonder Woman Design On Conan

December 17, 2010

Thursday night was a busy one for Wonder Woman references!!  After Penny dressed up as Wonder Woman on The Big Bang Theory, Wonder Woman popped up on Conan as well.  In a taped segment, Conan visited with Warner Bros. Animation Director Peter Girardi, and brought Pierre Bernard with him, an animator from the show best known for his “Recliner of Rage” segments:

Conan had asked Pierre to redesign some of DC Comics’ characters and, after a discussion of Batman and Wonder Woman’s relationship (Pierre thought they were dating on the animated series, but not having sex), he revealed his new look for Wonder Woman:

His Catwoman and Ma Kent were similarly well-endowed.  It was a hilarious segment (Pierre and Conan are always a good time together), but what I found most amusing was that Pierre’s supposedly outrageous designs actually weren’t much of an exaggeration from art I’ve seen in comics before.  Compare Pierre’s chesty Catwoman:

With Jim Balent’s Catwoman art from the cover of an actual REAL comic book (a Catwoman/Vampirella one-shot from 1997):

Pierre’s designs really aren’t that ridiculous in comparison.  Comic books are hardly known for their accurate, realistic depictions of the female form.  Go google some Red Sonja covers… it’s pretty embarrassing.

You can watch the full segment over at Team Coco.

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