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
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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