Tuesday, July 28, 2009

DICK SPRANG!...no...it's not the punchline to a dirty joke.

Richard W. "Dick" Sprang was born this day in 1915, he would have been 94 years old.

Dick was one of the unsung heroes of the golden age of comic books. He was hired by DC comics in 1941 to act as a ghost penciller for Bob Kane. Bob Kane had sold Batman to DC in 1939, fearing Bob would be drafted into WW II, DC wanted to cover their hinders and ensure someone was in place to keep the feature going in Bob's absence.

There were a slew of ghosts for Bob Kane. Ghost writers, pencillers and inkers, Dick Sprang, Bill Finger, Jerry Robinson, Joe Giella and on and on. Bob had sold the character to DC and signed the contract alone, so only Bob's name ever appeared on the feature.

But Dick stood out (so many dirty jokes here) and readers all could kind of tell that there were different artists involved, and Dick was probably the best of them all.

Dick Sprang's cartoony style really defined the character throughout the 1950's. He had redesigned the Batmobile in 1948 and no one drew The Penguin quite as bizarre as he did. He also did a great expressive job on Batman. Batman's head and face are 2/3's covered by his mask, but Dick made his chin so square, Batman's mouth could really show emotion, and by turning the blank slit of his eye holes into half-moons, his eyes let you know exactly what's going on.

Rather than dilute this man's visual ability down to words, Dick Sprang's work can actually be done greater justice by experiencing it. One of his other achievements was, he was the first artist to draw the Riddler. Below is that very first appearance from Detective Comics #140, 1948.

Dick Sprang's identity was eventually rooted out by the growing comic book fan-dom on the 1960's. He had retired from comics by 1963m but by the end of the decade he was a hot property suddenly again.

He never got to sign a single Batman story he worked on during his heyday, but we knew who he was. He spent his retirement years attending comics gatherings and conventions being fawned over by fans and even drawing recreations of his golden age works. All signed...Dick Sprang.

Sprang passed away in 2000.

Like it says above, "Dick Sprang remembers"...and so do we.

Thanks Dick.

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