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Nick Gazin's Comic Book Love-in #47

Most nerdy nostalgia hounds should know a lot of this stuff, but being a nerd doesn't mean anything anymore.
January 26, 2012, 12:00am

Dear Graphix Enthusiasts,
How are you? I am fine. I've been working on some clothing work that's related to science fiction so I've been thinking a lot about dying alone in outer space and trying to isolate myself so that I can feel as lonely as possible and like I'm drifting in a vacuum without hope. It fucking sucks.

I was looking at the Comics Alliance website and saw that they'd posted some of the more interesting trading cards from the 1966 series that were painted by Norman Saunders. I'd heard about them but never seen them before. They're pretty fucking out there.

The cards are muddily painted images loosely inspired by the live-action 1960s TV show. I say loosely because none of the characters look much like the actors from the show and their costumes aren't that closely on-model. It seems like Norman Saunders was given one reference image for each character, and having no familiarity with Batman, made a bunch of paintings. The Joker's white face appears to be make-up since his ear and hands are caucasoid color.

Beyond the odd offness of the likenesses there's the weirdness of every card portraying either Batman or Robin being tortured or one second away from getting ripped into pieces.The threat of danger feels surprisingly urgent in the cards.

While I get pretty annoyed at people who like to claim between giggles that Batman and Robin are a gay couple, these cards are pretty fucking sexual. It's not just the obvious BDSM-ness of the whole thing. Look at how Robin's arching his back. You want to rip him apart worse than that propellor ever could.

Here are some more from his Batman series.

If you don't know about Norman Saunders, he was a pulp artist who worked in the 50s and 60s and is best known for being the painter of the Mars Attacks trading cards from 1962 that the Tim Burton movie was inspired by. Do you know these things already? Most nerdy nostalgia hounds should, but being a nerd doesn't mean anything anymore. Here are some of the better images from that series.

The most famous image in the series is probably one of the Martians shooting a dog while its owner loses his mind.

While googling around I found that the kid was modeled on Norman Saunders' son, David.

Check out this haunting photo. Norman Saunders' kids David and Zina both became artists/illustrators. David Saunders has this sort of ridiculous chronology of his life on his website. His daughter Zina is more of a traditional illustrator.

I also found some of his other work.

Somehow all this googling led me to this Flickr, belonging to Jimmy Tyler, which looks like a sad yard sale of shit he's selling. Sifting through his trash I noticed that his photos of action figure weapons were beautiful.

See you next week when I'll be talking about comics,

Previously - Comic Book Love-in #46