I didn't like Lee Bermejo's take on the Batman costume at first. For someone like me who grew up on Jim Aparo and Don Newton's versions of the Dark Knight in the 1970s and 1980s, the way he rendered certain elements of that classic costume felt… off. The stiff lower part of the cowl? The chunky seams on the uniform? Visible eyeballs?! Where was all that signature Bat-sleekness?
But then it clicked. Bermejo's Batman threatens to jump off the page and into reality. If a real person was as rich and crazy-driven as Bruce Wayne, then he could get all the stuff on Bermejo's drawings. Buckle-laden boots, multiple layers of Kevlar, military-grade ouch belts… all of it could be cobbled together. And Batman would exist. That thinking — "what would this creature-of-the-night look like if it swooped past me tomorrow night?" — is readily apparent in Bermejo's work. He's one of the most distinct artists working in comics today. Here's why I like him.
Why His Style Rocks: With Bermejo, it's the way that he grounds the fantastic to real-world materials. Costume stitches pucker across superhero musculature, fending off the easy cheat where a uniform is just a coloured physique. The singlemindedness — whether maniacally evil or altruistic — of superhero fiction comes alive on a Bermejo page. Superman, Joker and all the rest really, really have to believe what they do to do it. And Bermejo really has to believe in what they do to draw it.
Best Known For: Loads of covers for Marvel and DC. His highest profile projects are probably Batman: Noel, Lex Luthor: Man of Steel and Joker (both of the latter two with writer Brian Azzarello).
Personal Favorite: Joker. Azzarello writes a Clown Prince of Crime that's multifaceted in this graphic novel: almost sympathetic, repulsively sexy and lethally stylish. Bermejo makes all of those aspects hypnotic to look at in one of the most memorable takes on Batman's mortal enemy.
Original Art: If you want to own a piece of Bermejo's work, Splash Page Comic Art (http://www.splashpageart.com/artistgallerytitles.asp?artistid=85) is a good place to start.
Have a favourite piece of Lee Bermejo art? Tell us in the comments below.