Detective Comics #40, June 1940, written by Bill Finger, penciled by Bob Kane
Clayface (Basil Karlo) debuts. He’s just an actor who puts a lot of makeup on his face as a disguise when he murders people. And he murders. A lot. Of people. The body count in these Golden Age Batman books is shocking (compared to ’60s Marvel).
Also Clayface’s first victim is an actress named Lorna Dane. Lorna Dane would go on to be used as Polaris (of the X-Men’s) real name. Really weird coincidence?
My comic book Tumblr is currently cycling through all the 1940s Batman comics that I have read over the past week. These are the first comics from the 1940s that I have ever read (only took me 20 years as a comic book fan to do so) and they’re very fascinating. It’s most fascinating that, I dunno, I can’t tell that much of a difference between these and the Marvel Comics from the 1960s I was reading for another Tumblr.
I mean, they are different. The art is much more complex and the ideas of the ’60s Marvel are much more out there. Stan and Jack’s Fantastic Four run positively pulses with creativity, whereas Bill and Bob’s Batman feels somewhat by the numbers. I don’t get a sense of excitement from these Batman comics. That may just be because I’m not aware of the context they were originally published in. Plus Stan and Jack are two creators that I know a lot about and whose personalities I can see in the comics. I know nothing about Bill and Bob. I’d love to know more.
Overall, though, the difference between the 1940s and the 1960s is so small compared to the light years between the 1960s and the 1980s.