Arts and Leisure

Jim Aparo, Batman’s Greatest Ally

Growing up in New Britain, Conn., Jim Aparo always wanted to be an artist. With only one semester of art school, he became a comic book legend, illustrating the exploits of Batman for more than a decade.

Jim_AparoIn the late 1980s, Aparo illustrated one of the greatest Batman comic-book novelsA Death in the Family, considered a milestone in American comic book art.

A Jim Aparo cover of a Batman comic

A Jim Aparo cover of a Batman comic

He was born Aug. 24, 1932, and took art classes at New Britain High School and Hartford Art School for one semester. Mostly he taught himself. After high school he started doing work for an advertising agency. Meanwhile, he submitted drawings to comic book publishers. For years he got nothing but rejection.

Finally around 1966 Jim Arpao got his big break. His work was accepted by Charlton Comics in Derby, Conn, a comic book publisher that existed from 1946 to 1985,

The Charlton Comics editor gave him his first assignment: a teenage comic strip character called Miss Bikini Luv. Eventually he was working full-time for Charlton. When his editor, Dick Giordano, moved to DC Comics in 1968, he brought Jim Aparo along with him and assigned him Aquaman.

That ultimately led to a 10-year stint illustrating a series that featured Batman, often with another DC superhero – a real challenge for an artist to research and render a different superhero every month.

Jim Aparo won the Shazam Award from the Academy of Comic Book Arts for his 1972 work on The Demon Within for the House of Mystery series.

He illustrated his last cover in 2004 and died at home in Southington, Conn., on July 19, 2005.

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