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David Mazzucchelli Disavows Forthcoming Batman Reprint

I recently asked artist David Mazzucchelli about the forthcoming reprint of Batman: Year One, set for release March 14 from DC. David told me the following:

DC just sent me this book last week, and I really hope people don’t buy it. I didn’t even know they were making it, and I don’t understand why they thought it was necessary —  several years ago, DC asked me if I’d help put together a deluxe edition ofBatman: Year One, and Dale Crain and I worked for months to try to make a definitive version. Now whoever’s in charge has thrown all that work in the garbage. First, they redesigned the cover, and recolored my artwork — probably to look more like their little DVD that came out last year; second, they printed the book on shiny paper, which was never a part of the original design, all the way back to the first hardcover in 1988; third — and worst — they printed the color from corrupted, out-of-focus digital files, completely obscuring all of Richmond’s hand-painted work. Anybody who’s already paid for this should send it back to DC and demand a refund.

I asked if he’d contacted DC, and David explained that he “wrote letters and sent emails to the president, both publishers, and the editor in charge of special editions. No response.” I asked about his forthcoming Artist’s Edition of his Daredevil work, and he replied, “Scott Dunbier has been in touch with me from the beginning; I supplied all the scans of the artwork.”

This seems like a ridiculous and avoidable mistake by DC since, indeed, they had a willing collaborator in David, but somehow it’s not terribly surprising.

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81 Responses to David Mazzucchelli Disavows Forthcoming Batman Reprint

  1. DerikB says:

    Glad to hear he’s been involved with the Daredevil book, I’m quite tempted by that one.

  2. steven samuels says:

    Is there an artist that they’ve never pissed off one way or the other?

  3. Matthew Southworth says:

    Good to know! I’ve bought every iteration of YEAR ONE, my favorite comic book. But unless this was some huge oversized hardcover, there’s no way it could compete with the beautiful collection he mentions above.

  4. Ian Harker says:

    This seems to be another distinguishing characterization of the bifurcation of the comics industry. You have one industry that gives a shit about it’s creators and one that doesn’t. Can we be rid of mainstream comics please?

  5. This is a huge relief as I was debating which version of the book to keep at the Stately Beat Library. Now I know.

  6. Steve Flack says:

    While the interiors might not be up to snuff, at least the cover actually says “Batman”. Unlike Chip Kidd’s cover for Mazzucchelli’s preferred edition, which just says “Batm”.

  7. Yeah, how DARE an artist get pissed off because he’s been lied to, ignored, and about to see his work mistreated or corrupted!! Some friggin’ nerve, Mazzucchelli!

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  9. Stefan Blitz says:

    Batman: Year One is one of my favorite super-hero stories of all time.

    Kudos to DC for once again pissing where they eat.

  10. Salgood Sam says:

    Yes, when their work is not butchered and their efforts to get things are NOT written off by people who think artists are just being fussy.

  11. Pingback: Mazzucchelli hopes ‘people don’t buy’ new Batman: Year One reprint | Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources – Covering Comic Book News and Entertainment

  12. Steve Flack says:

    That’s just a pre-press mockup that’s been floating around the internet for years. The actual books look like this:

    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_r7SVnFoqsHg/S70MJsCR9lI/AAAAAAAAAnw/DD7G_ArL2u4/s1600/batman+year+one+mazzuchelli.jpg

  13. Jeff Phillips says:

    OMG WTF is “Batma”!?!?!?!?!? Batmarine!? Batmattress?!

    I can’t figure it out!!!!

  14. Lexavi80 says:

    I was unsure if I should buy this colleciton or not. I had the paperback, but I thought on upgrading it. When I found out that no real new extras were coming inside, I thought “leave it alone”. But after I thought “Deluxe looks good on the shelve”.

    Now? I think DC can shove it’s own thing. What kind of a moron ignores the work of an original collaborator?

  15. i knew marvel was obsessed with the shiny paper. i guess i was wrong in thinking dc had a little more taste. boo on them for this.
    Year One still rules harder than any hollywood b.m.

  16. Lugh says:

    I understand the sentiment, but instead of tilting at the windmill of some nebulously defined “mainstream comics” boogeyman, you’d probably be better served actively trying to get Marvel and DC to do better. That’s something we can all get behind, whether we like Neal Adams, Mike Mignola, Dan Clowes, Brandon Graham or Chris Ware.

  17. David Uzumeri says:

    It’s billed as a Deluxe Edition, which means it probably WAS oversized. I imagine that actually contributed towards the poor quality of the color reproduction that Mazzucchelli mentions, since they probably just used Photoshop to blow up the digital files, and then printed it on paper it was never meant to be on.

    It’s so weird that they didn’t consult him on this; they just did the 20th anniversary Killing Joke Deluxe Edition a couple of years back and they got Bolland to touch up and recolor the entire thing himself. It’s not like Year One doesn’t deserve the care.

  18. Joe Williams says:

    You guys really seem to be twisting Steven’s words here. Maybe you should read it again. His comment seems like a pretty clear shot at DC, not Mazzuchelli.

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  20. Briany Najar says:

    Wasn’t Killing Joke coloured by John Higgins originally?

  21. danieljmata says:

    Yeah, but Bolland never liked it. Personally, I for one loved how lurid and sleazy the colors were in an ’80s pop noir sense. That’s the same reason I love the original Watchmen colors. I could just hear the sleazy saxophone now.

    Bruh bruh bruhhh bruh bruh…BBBRRUUUUHHHH!

  22. danieljmata says:

    DC aren’t the only mainstream publishers. It’s all about an idea aesthetic, and Boom!, Dynamite, Image, IDW are all about the same thing.

  23. Ryan Cecil says:

    How on Earth does one “try to get Marvel and DC to do better?” It seems the only readers they listen to are those who mindlessly purchase as much as they can of the worst of the work…

    However I do agree with you and Daniel that referring to a “mainstream comics” boogeyman isn’t the right way to “tilt the windmill.”

  24. Briany Najar says:

    Marvel and DC will not do better; they are fucked in the head; Comics, for them, are tertiary merchandise.
    They had a good run, but the time for hoping that those two companies might produce excellent comics had passed before I was born.
    They’re peripheral; anachronisms.
    Sack them, they loiter.

  25. Briany Najar says:

    DanielJMata:
    Absolutely! Higgins was a colourific sensation in those days, and no-one else, or since would do it like he did. He was the man for the job, and that’s why he got it. Bolland, as fetishistically brilliant as he is, was never lauded for his colouring. Higgins’ lurid neon cyber-crass sfumato might look dated now, but that’s all the more reason to revel in it.
    The logotype for the first two editions of the TPB were tittilating pink, and bilious green, respectively.
    Higgins coloured The Killing Joke.

  26. Pingback: BATMAN YEAR ONE Artist Upset over Reprint | Dark Knight News - The #1 Site For All Things Batman

  27. Eric Reynolds says:

    I just can’t fathom why DC wouldn’t want the input of a creator of such a canonical text who so clearly has a vision for the work, knows how to print his work optimally, and is a willing collaborator. It’s kind of absurd. I mean, who on earth at DC would NOT want to work with Mazzucchelli on this? And if not, why do you even do what you do?

  28. Phil says:

    That comment read like poetry. Well done!

  29. steven samuels says:

    That is correct.

  30. steven samuels says:

    Money? No doubt that must come into play somewhere in there. How profitable are these reissues anyway? Even a perennial like this one….

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  32. Andrew says:

    There will always be good comics at the Big 2. Scott Snyder, Jeff Lemire, Grant Morrison, Jonathan Hickman, Warren Ellis, all produce excellent comics. Every company out there produces great comics, decent comics, and downright bad comics. It’s painting an entire company as a burden on the medium that’s the problem.

  33. Lou Copeland says:

    However bad this current printing of Year One looks, it can’t possibly be any worse than each and every collection of Born Again that Marvel’s published (and there must be at least a half dozen of ‘em). There’s yet to be a readable collected edition of it.

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  35. Mazzucchelli says:

    The first collected “Born Again” from 1987, with all its flaws, is still superior to any subsequent one. I always recommend that people buy the original comics books — they look better, and they’re still cheap.

  36. Whoops! Apologies… I did misread your statement, Steven.

  37. Kim Thompson says:

    It is profoundly astonishing to me that ANYONE, let alone major publishers, is still subscribing to the weird notion that printing a comic on coated (a.k.a. glossy, a.k.a. shiny) stock is somehow fancier and better and more collectalicious. Granted that we (and Kitchen Sink and that whole generation of alternative publishers) went through that madness back in the 1980s and 1990s, we got cured eventually and realized that 98% of comics look better on uncoated stock, and NO comic looks good on outright glossy stock. PARTICULARLY comics that were created to be printed on uncoated stock in the first place.

  38. patrick ford says:

    Much of this comes down to people liking things which are shiny. There is also still a bit of the old time “the slicks” vs “the pulps” class divide.
    Of course there have always been high quality matte finish papers, it’s just that pulp magazines, newspapers, and comic books were printed on newsprint.
    I would guess the uncoated stock Fantagraphics, D&Q, IDW, and other publishers use for reprints is more expensive than the “cheap” modern coated stock used by DC, Darkhorse, and Marvel.
    Modern coated stock isn’t even the same thing as old time plate finish paper. The old paper was hot pressed with clay to give it a hard surface with moderate gloss. The new stuff looks like it’s coated with a petrol based plastic.
    It’s always been my opinion only oil and acrylic painting look good printed on coated stock, it seems appropriate because the gloss of the paper mimics the paints.

  39. Lou Copeland says:

    Yeah, I had my Born Again comics bound. I hate all the ads, though.

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  41. Tony says:

    Dipshit Comics is pissed off Mazzuchelli left the salt mines 20 years ago and would’t be caught dead back there ever again.

  42. Pingback: Mazzucchelli descontente com a DC | Quadro a Quadro

  43. patrick ford says:

    The really sad thing is he ever drew Batman in the first place.
    I can hear it now: “Batman made Mazzucchelli famous, without Batman no one would know who Mazzucchelli is.”

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  45. Jeremy says:

    DC: I would have bought any special edition approved by Mazzucchelli. I won’t buy this edition.
    Dunbier: I love the Artist’s Edition series and am looking forward to Born Again. An Artist’s Edition of Year One would be great if logistically possible.
    Kim Thompson: You are right on the glossy vs. non-glossy stock. Nobody is putting out better comics than Fantagraphics on new or reprint editions.

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  47. Kim Thompson says:

    Sweet of you to say. I tip my own chapeau to the Mullaney imprint over at IDW, Peter Maresca’s Sunday Funnies, and some of the Drawn + Quarterly reprints (although I’m not wild about the scan/retouching quality of their color comic-book reprints — I think in terms of scanned comic book reprints we have the uncontested champ in Greg Sadowski, anyway, although Gagné’s work on YOUNG ROMANCE is sweet too). It’s nice that there’s enough of us to make it genuine horse race now.

  48. george says:

    I’m just surprised its taken this long before the book turned ‘shiny’
    Next, they’ll bitmap the linework which will make it all pixelated and jagged, then they’ll ‘enhance’ the colour further in photo shop using a storyboard colourist to replicate computer game harsh gradient skin tones. All the text will be replaced with computer fonts based on todd kleins lettering and there you have it, the modern Year One, welcome to the soulless 21st century

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  51. Todd Novak says:

    Totally agreed! This is one of the reasons I’ve chosen to buy IDW’s Artist Edition that’s coming out. As an artist I love seeing the original art but I was on the fence on this one. But Born Again is on my top ten comic stories list and the coloring is so so bad that I feel I need to have a definitive edition.

    I think Marvel’s response to this Batman Year One debacle is to get David involved in repackaging a definitive version of Born Again.

  52. Sean Michael Robinson says:

    >>>i knew marvel was obsessed with the shiny paper. i guess i was wrong in thinking dc had a little more taste.>>>

    Hm… http://www.amazon.com/Wonder-Woman-Archives-Archive-Editions/dp/1563898144/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1331169959&sr=8-1

  53. Sean Michael Robinson says:

    It’s not “bitmap”ping the line drawing that’s a problem–it’s that DC prints its linework from low resolution (i.e. 300 ppi) bitmapped files (low resolution for linework, that is, or any image that will be represented as a continuous tone and not through a screen). Very very strange to me. Then again, the new line of Penguin classics that have obviously been expensively designed and typeset have all their black and white illustrations printed gray scale, so obviously no one gives a shit anymore how something looks, unless they’re some kind of ink or graphic arts fetishist. IMHO, anyway.

    Sigh.

  54. patrick ford says:
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  56. george says:

    I dont know, the industry standard is 600dpi Bitmap, the problem I have with it is it stiffens the lines in a peculiar way and you lose the fluidity of brush marks. Eric powells black ink lines in the Goon are the only comics I see that are not bitmapped and his brush lines look so beautiful and fluid, I wish greyscale was the norm as you would see much better representation of the hand of the artist. What is also unique about Year One is the linework is totally crisp, you could zoom in with a telescope and not find any jagged pixelation, not sure why that still is seeing as its being printed in the digital age. And it matters to me a s a reader and artist because anything that distracts from being immersed in the artwork/story such as reflective shiny paper..you cant even read them next to a light as it glares in your eyes! Its ridiculous.

  57. Briany Najar says:

    Are you sure it’s not about 450dpi at DC? If it’s any better than that, it’s a recent improvement.

    I agree about the greyscale: now the printing is so much finer than in days of yore it would be nice to see more live blacks. Especially the large spots, it all seems a bit anachronistic when the colours have got so grotesquely sophisticated (and saturated).
    High resolution greyscale blacks and a more elegant approach to colour (on uncoated stock, d’accord) would have to look better than the current state of adventure based comic-book styling.

  58. Sean Michael Robinson says:

    Ugh… hate hate hate gray scale representation of an ink drawing (unless its for some particular purpose, like examining the original art in full-color). Number one, it SOFTENS the LINE. There’s a reason you don’t print text this way–because you want it to be as continuous and seamless as possible. Even more important for line drawings, which often use lines to generate tone that are much finer than would ever be used for text.

    Printing from 1200 dpi bitmap files will result in a continuous image, even with a loupe, on most surfaces as it’s beyond the “resolution” of the paper. In other words, any detail finer than that is either going to be smudged out by the printing process or by the grain of the paper itself. As far as representing ink drawings in gray scale, sure, if you want weeny-looking, soft, wimpy edges and a bunch of random weakness in the blacks, go for it! Otherwise, super high res bitmap files for ANY IMAGE THAT DOESNT NEED TO BE SCREENED is the way to go. (this would apply to something printed in spot color etc.)

    And, I have only glanced at a DC comic in the past decade and a half, but there is no way their regular monthly books that I saw a few years ago were printing hi-res lineart. Look at any bit of feathering and you’ll see stair stepping visible.

  59. george says:

    I know what you mean by greyscale softening the line, and I wouldnt want to see greys in blackspot areas, the blacks should be consistant as in Year One, but if you scanned/printed year one at 1200 dpi Bitmap, I doubt it would look the same as it does now, just seems to impart a stiffness that I cant put my finger on. I could be wrong, I’m no technical expert, I dont know the procedure Year One is produced.
    I’m just pissed that the majority of comics printed in the 50s-mid 80s look way crisper than today, I have proof!

  60. Sean Michael Robinson says:

    George, I have no doubt that Year One from a few years ago was produced digitally–everything is these days–the post production end is just too time consuming to do otherwise. The difference, I have do doubt, was the involvement of the artist and his sensitivity to the results. Trust me in this–printed on the same paper, by the same press, there would be no difference between a line drawing reproduced from 1200 ppi bitmapped files and one shot to film, except the ease in which the former can be manipulated. The evil isn’t in the technology, it’s the ignorance of technique and widespread apathy. Or technology’s ubiquity convincing everyone that, because they have a bootleg copy of Photoshop and Indesign they’re ready to work for Penguin. Or whomever.

    It’s the same thing with digital sound. Once the technical barriers were scaled around 2004, there’s no reason all-digital recordings can’t sound great. But the availability of the equipment has managed to convinced every yo-yo with a band and a $600 protools rig that he’s an audio engineer as well as a musician.

  61. george says:

    I’ll take your word for it then in regards to higer resolution scanning/printing, I hope you are right, gives me hope as I have a personal bias/gripe against most things digital, including ‘mixing in the box’ audio production too.

    Yesterday my editor sent me a graphic novel that I had been working on for the past two years, and my negative reaction to it has coincided with Mazzucchelli’s statement, it’s irrelevant when it happens to average artists like myself but Mazz is the finest comic book artist of all time in my opinion, and I knew that when I was 9 years old reading the Micha Synn saga in Daredevil!

  62. george says:

    Also one last point about the shiny paper and I’m sure this has been said before, is that part of the beauty of comics is the idea that you are owning a drawing, a piece of artwork in your HANDS, you treasure that and if the work is really great you fall in love with it, it has physical value ( despite it being mass produced) It resembles the notion of being handed a drawing done on a piece of paper, which is special. when the surface is artificial (glossy) the drawings no longer have that same intimate attribute because we dont recognize that format in reality.

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  72. Allen Smith says:

    Don’t worry, Ian, it seems as though the powers that be in commercial comics are doing a good job of running the industry into the ground. Once the public tires of superhero movies….

  73. Scott Grammel says:

    Other than a goofy fake news page at the start (which certainly doesn’t seem original to the series), I thought the interiors of the book looked excellent as is. I think I’ve always found earlier printings probably murkier than I’d like.

    But what do I know? I also prefer Daryl Zanuck’s cut of My Darling Clementine to Ford’s version, too. I know. Heresy.

  74. Allen Smith says:

    Jeff, “Batma” is actually the title of a comic devoted to Batman’s late mother. She and Papa were shot because someone discovered her secret identity as “Batma”.

  75. Jay Evans says:

    I think Rubber Blanket 1-3 makes the point that Mazzuchelli knows how his art should be printed.

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  80. Anderson says:

    That’s funny, i initially misread it too. There is some kind of brain bug transmitted by the sentence

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