Saturday, October 29, 2011

Tales of the Dark Knight: Marshall Rogers

The other day I received a comp copy of Legends of the Dark Knight: Marshall Rogers, an almost-500 page $50 hardcover volume containing virtually all the Batman art Marshall did. While Marshall is perhaps best-known for his collaboration with Steve Engelhart on a run in Detective Comics, his first Batman story was actually the last chapter of my Calculator series in 'Tec. And that almost didn't happen...

The Calculator series had been running as a back-up in the book, with the villain battling The Atom, Black Canary, Elongated Man, Green Arrow, and Hawkman in succession, all leading up to a confrontation with Batman. Mike Grell pencilled the first two tales and Ernie Chua (Chan) did the third before Marshall came on board. Editor Julie Schwartz and I loved how Marshall handled the GA and Hawkman chapters and wanted him to pencil the book-length final chapter.

But we ran into a bit of a roadblock. Vince Colletta, who was DC's Art Director at the time, did not think Marshall was ready to handle the lead story in a book, particularly a Batman story. Eventually, Julie prevailed, Marshall pencilled the story, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Anyway, back to this hardcover collection. The copy on the dust jacket flap reads: "Marshall Rogers was born in Flushing, New York on January 22, 1950. Rogers worked in comics for many years but is best known for his detailed and realistic work on Batman during his run on Detective Comics in the late 1970's. Considered extremely influential by both writers and artists to this day, he left an indelible mark on the world of comics."

And that's it! Despite the hefty page count and equally hefty price, this book has no introduction or foreword of any sort. There is no mention of any of Marshall's other work -- for DC and other publishers. There is no further info about his career and no commentary by any of the writers, inkers and editors who worked with him. There isn't even mention of the fact that Marshall died in 2007!

It's not like the information is a secret. Wikipedia has a long entry about Marshall and his career. Even DC's own online Database has more info about him than the book does!

One thing the book does have, however, is a misplaced apostrophe on the back cover: "Roger's (sic) Batman stories introduced  ideas and visuals that remain a staple in Batman tales to this day."

Maybe they could correct that when they do a second printing...and add some more biographical material to all the empty space on the end flaps.


  1. From Dan Didio's office: "Marshall Rogers... Marshall Rogers... what is he doing for DC right now? Which DCnU books does he draw?

    "NONE? Um, thank you for your submission, we'll get back to you on this."

    What a crime. Rogers did great art for a number of book. But no one will ever know.

  2. That Calculator series was the first issues of Detective Comics that I remember buying as a kid. Thank you for those fond memories.

    Jeff Hartz

  3. Sorry for being late to the party but just wanted to chime in and say that Marshall Rogers was an incredible artist, who left us way too soon.

    This Legends book is truly a wonderful thing - as are the other recent Batman "artist" books - namely Gene Colan, Don Newton and Jim Aparo. All gone but not forgotten.

    As you say, Bob, what a shame that, for all the love and attention lavished on the book as a whole, it doesn't give the reader any insight into Rogers' other work.

    Still, for all that, it really is great to see these artists showcased in such a fashion. The stories stand the test of time very well indeed and hopefully it'll lead to new readers finding and enjoying them.

  4. Thanks for your insight to the book Bob. The lack on a intro by you and maybe an end piece by Steve Englehart would have made this book something special. And the absence of more information on Marshall's career is a real shame. I did buy the book, but the lack of anything "special" made me think twice about it. I am glad that it IS in print to remind comics fans that don't know; Marshall Rogers Batman art had a huge impact on the character and will for years to come. Thanks again, David Donovan