Series Creators

Here are the profilings for the two guys who first penned The Outsiders back in the 1980s.

Mike W. Barr (1952-)

His debut as a comics writing pro came in DC Comics' Detective Comics #444 (Dec. 1974-Jan. 1975), for which he wrote an 8-page back-up mystery feature starring the Elongated Man. Another Elongated Man story followed in Detective Comics #453 (Nov. 1975). He wrote text articles and editorial replies in letter columns for the next few years. By mid-1980 he was writing regularly for both DC and Marvel, including stories for Marvel Team-Up, Mystery in Space, Green Lantern, and various Batman titles.

With Legion of Super-Heroes #277 (July 1981), he took on editorial duties at DC, a position he would hold until 1987. In December 1982, he and artist Brian Bolland scripted Camelot 3000, a 12 issue limited series that was one of DC Comics' first direct market projects. Barr and artist Trevor Von Eeden produced the first Green Arrow limited series in 1983. When the long running The Brave and the Bold series came to its conclusion with issue #200 (July 1983), it featured a preview of a new Batman series, Batman and the Outsiders by Barr and artist Jim Aparo, which would be described by DC Comics writer and executive Paul Levitz as being "a team series more fashionable to 1980s audiences." Barr wrote every issue of the original series, and its Baxter paper spinoff, The Outsiders. After the series cancellation in February 1988, it was revived in November 1993 by Barr and artist Paul Pelletier for 2 more years.

In 1987, he wrote Batman: Son of the Demon graphic novel which was drawn by Jerry Bingham, proceeds from which reputedly restored DC Comics to first place in sales after fifteen years of slumping.

Jim Aparo (1932-2005)

He was self-trained as an artist when he began. He attempted to enter the comic book profession in his early 20s, first approaching EC Comics, but they declined to hire him. He then worked in the advertising industry in Connecticut, often drawing fashion illustrations for newspaper advertisements. He continued to pursue a career in comic books and comic strips while working in advertising.

His first break in the comics field was with a comic strip called Stern Wheeler, written by Ralph Kanna, which was published in 1963 in a Hartford, Connecticut newspaper for less than a year. In 1966, Dick Giordano, then an editor at Charlton Comics, hired him as a comic book artist, where his first assignment was a humorous character called Miss Bikini Luv in a series called Go-Go Comics.

Over the next few years at Charlton, Aparo drew stories in many genres—Westerns, science fiction, romance, horror, mystery, and suspense. Most of his work was for standalone stories in anthology titles, but he also drew the historical-adventure feature "Thane of Bagarth" in the comic book Hercules; the superheroine feature Nightshade in Captain Atom; the science fiction/Western/comedy backup Wander in Cheyenne Kid; and the comic-book adaptation of the comic strip The Phantom.

Aparo was one of the few artists in mainstream comics at that time to serve as penciller, inker, and letterer for all of his work.

In the late 1960s, Dick Giordano left Charlton for an editorial position at DC Comics and offered Aparo a job drawing the Aquaman series. After an initial issue (#40) for which Aparo provided only pencil art, Aparo resumed producing pencils, inks, and lettering for plenty issues of the series until its cancellation in 1971. Aparo continued for a little longer to provide art to Charlton for The Phantom, alternating between the two series month by month (both series were being released on a bimonthly basis at the time).

Eventually Aparo resigned his assignment on The Phantom and worked almost exclusively for the remainder of his career for DC Comics. Aparo's next series assignment at DC was Phantom Stranger. After Aquaman was cancelled, the bimonthly frequency of Phantom Stranger was insufficient to fill his typical production rate of one page per day, so DC assigned him several short jobs such as mystery stories for House of Mystery and House of Secrets.

In 1971, Aparo was assigned a fill-in job as the artist for The Brave and the Bold #98. This series routinely featured team-ups of DC's Batman with other characters, in this case, the Phantom Stranger. As the regular artist on the Phantom Stranger's own series, Aparo was considered an appropriate choice. Murray Boltinoff, the editor of The Brave and the Bold, soon assigned Aparo the regular artistic responsibilities for the series (beginning with #100), which he continued until its cancellation with issue 200, missing only a few issues. Aparo even "co-starred" as himself in The Brave and the Bold #124 (January 1976).

He won a good deal of recognition in the industry for his work, including the Shazam Award for "Best [dramatic] Individual Short Story" in 1972 for The Demon Within in House of Mystery #201 (with John Albano).

During the more than 10 years as the artist for The Brave and the Bold, its bimonthly frequency permitted Aparo to do many other significant works for DC. In addition to cover art, he served as the regular artist for a notorious series starring a ruthless avenging ghost called the Spectre, which ran in Adventure Comics, and which in 2005 was collected in a trade paperback edition. He also provided art for a revival of Aquaman in both Adventure Comics and a continuation of the previously-cancelled Aquaman in 1977. He was assigned the solo Batman series in Detective Comics for a rather short time and drew occasional stories for anthology series. He drew The Untold Legend of the Batman, the first Batman miniseries in 1980, inking John Byrne's pencils in the first issue and providing full art for the second and third issues.

When The Brave and the Bold was cancelled in 1983, it was replaced with Batman and the Outsiders. This series, which Aparo co-created with writer Mike W. Barr, would be described by DC Comics writer and executive Paul Levitz as being "a team series more fashionable to 1980s audiences." It would run for several years, continuing with a Baxter paper spinoff titled The Outsiders that did not include Batman. For the final few issues, DC began to request that Aparo provide only pencils, and a long and nearly unbroken string of Aparo inking and lettering his own work came mostly to an end.

Aparo's next major work consisted of pencils for Batman and Detective Comics, where his art was almost always inked by Mike DeCarlo. Aparo returned to the Batman title with issue #414 (Dec. 1987) in collaboration with writer Jim Starlin. One of their first storylines for the title was "Ten Nights of The Beast" in issues #417 - 420 (March - June 1988) which introduced the KGBeast. Perhaps the most notable product of this period remains A Death in the Family (Batman #426-429, 1988–89), depicting the death of Jason Todd (Robin). The storyline for A Lonely Place of Dying crossed over with The New Titans title and introduced Tim Drake as the new Robin. Aparo continued to draw Batman stories in Detective and Batman until the early 1990s. During this time he was the regular artist on Batman when Bane broke Bruce Wayne's back during the KnightFall storyline. In 1992, Aparo returned to do pencils, inks, and lettering for his Batman stories, but soon returned to contributing only pencil art.

Also that year, Aparo was given his last regular series assignment for DC as pencil artist for Green Arrow issues 81-100. Following that assignment, Aparo's work appeared less frequently, when Aparo was mostly assigned occasional Batman-related stories and covers in miniseries and specials. His published work in the late 1990s and early 2000s include a Batman Annual (inked by former Marvel Comics mainstay Sal Buscema), a G.C.P.D. miniseries, a Speed Force Special (featuring The Flash), an issue of a Deadman miniseries that revisited his "Death in the Family" story, and a single page of Legends of the Green Flame written by Neil Gaiman in which he had a final opportunity to draw the Phantom Stranger for publication.

His final work for DC during his life was the cover of the trade paperback Batman in the Eighties, published in 2004. In 2006, unpublished Aparo art depicting the unused, alternate ending of the storyline A Death in the Family, in which the Jason Todd Robin lives instead of dies, appeared in Batman Annual #25.

He died early on July 19, 2005 from cancer.

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