Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Golden Age Batman Artist You Never Heard Of

When asked if he drew a number of the Batman stories listed below, Bob Kane said "Yes." He didn't explain why the creator of Batman, using this temporary new style, would be doing a few work-for-hire crime stories for DC a year later in Gang Busters and such. The pencils for those crime back-ups have been variously attributed to Jim Mooney or Charles Paris; evidently they evoked Batman in a way the indexers couldn't put their fingers on.

Dinosaur Island, Crooked Gambler

To be fair, I had some stories on this list (like "Nine Lives Has the Catwoman" in Batman 35) that I removed after a few more looks when I did see Bob Kane's work after all, or the work of various hands. (Maybe some of those Batman stories belong back here; maybe some here don't belong. The crime stories I'm sure of.) Although the inks for 35-36 have been attributed to Ray Burnley, with Jack Burnley's corroboration, I'd suggest there are different inkers on different stories; I won't try to ID them.

Above are tiers from two of the stories I saw in reprint in the Seventies ("Dinosaur Island" and "The Case of the Crooked Gambler"). For years I'd IDed this artist for myself as just the "Dinosaur Island artist." Then finally—last month—I saw a signed story by him at Atlas: "The House That Wasn't There" in Journey into Unknown Worlds 7 (Oct/51). The signature is Paul Cooper. He has other early-Fifties signed stories at Atlas as well as at companies like Youthful. He's not trying to ape Bob Kane at this point.

House That Wasn't There

Paul Cooper at DC:

Jun-Jul/46 35  Dinosaur Island
  Dick Grayson, Author
Aug-Sep/     36  The Penguin's Nest
  Stand-In for Danger
  Sir Batman at King Arthur's Court

Batman in Detective

Nov/46 117  Steeplejack's Showdown (plus cover)
May/47 123  The Dawn Patrol Crimes
Oct/     128  Crimes in Reverse

Batman in World's Finest

May-Jun/47 28  Crime under Glass
Nov-Dec/     31  The Man with the X-Ray Eyes
Jan-Feb/48 32  The Man Who Could Not Die
Jul-Aug/     35  Crime by the Book

Perfect Crime Mystery etc. in Mr. District Attorney

Jan-Feb/48 Studio Cop
Jul-Aug/     Border Cop
Sep-Oct/     The Murder with a Million Witnesses

Perfect Crime Mystery etc. in Gang Busters

Aug-Sep/48 The Case of the Crooked Gambler
Oct-Nov/49 12  The Case of the Perfect Alibi

Perfect Crime Mystery in Star Spangled Comics

Mar/49 90  Remote Control Murder


  1. Well that solves that problem. I remember discussing these years ago with you and Rich Morrissey. They really were by Kane I was told despite the fact that they don't really look it. I sort of always harbored a suspicion that a heretofore unknown ghost was involved- something more than Kane's attempt to mimic Dick Sprang, not that far-fetched a notion.

  2. Do you know anything about Cooper beyond this? His comics career seems to have lasted only a few years.

  3. I have been wondering about this artist since the reprinting of Dinosaur Island in the 70s. No other name/style fit. Good catch!

  4. Bails has him working for Iger, 45-48. That's all I've got at the moment.

  5. Incredible. I have wondered about this artist since the '70s, myself, when I bought a whole run of Golden Age Batman comics. His style was was just so different it jumped out at me. Thanks for the ID.

  6. When I entered "Paul Cooper" in the GCD search engine, half the entries turned out to be Sam Cooper--so, yes, Paul is hard to get info on.