Tuesday, May 6, 2014

COSTUME DRAMA : ROBIN'S NEW LOOKS

In the pages of giant-size Batman comics - Batman No.259 and Batman Family Nos.4 and 13, specifically (and possibly a few more, let me know in comments if I missed any) - Batman's then-college-aged sidekick Robin received some sartorial advice from his readership of adolescent shut-ins and amateur weirdos. These took the form of spreads under the heading "A New Look For Robin" or "Robin's New Look" or "Look, New, for Robin!" or "For Robin, A Look, Quite New" and so on. The end results were inevitably artifacts of the age, specifically the skin-revealing and body-hair heavy 1970s, to wit:

From Earth-1's US MALE catalog
In the two-page spread from Batman No.259 (December 1974), Carol A.Strickland of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, is the first - but not the last - entrant to suggest that Robin grow himself a Rob Reiner All In The Family style mustache. I'm sure she was thinking of George Harrison, but whatever the case, she at least had the courtesy to give Robin some long-ignored full-body protection. Anthony Kowalik, by contrast, decides what Robin's always needed is more bare skin and bigger flares on those pixie boots. It's a nice illo, whatever the case.


The spread from Batman Family No.4 (April 1976) is sly on skin and high on variation, but Chris Baker's daring belly-cut deserves some special recognition, as down Robert Aguilar Jr's hairy-chested Robin in what appears to be a Pepperland costume. I'll be honest, I like it. Mind you, it's not shit on the Dick Grayson of David Mouillesea's contribution, which appears to have transformed Robin into an immensely muscled, mustachioed, possibly Native American strongman. It's a bold decision and I stand by it.

But it's the single-page spread from Batman Family No.13 (September 1977) which takes the beefcakes:


Well worth noting is Michael O.Celeya (of your Humble Editor's one-time residence Tucson, Arizona - Go Wildcats! PS I do not give a shit about basketball or football) contributes a costume which cleverly includes a Robin insignia which had been trotted out in an old Batman story from at least fifteen years earlier - points for the obsessive compulsives!

More impressively, though, please note the lower left hand contribution from soon-to-be Batman artist Norm Breyfogle! First appearance, let's ask Bob Rozakis how much this issue might be worth!

Of course, Robin DID try out a costume change prior to ditching the Robin identity in favor of his Nightwing persona, way back in Justice League of America vol.1 No.92 (September 1971). When the combined Justice League and Justice Society have their collective asses handed to them by a giant, jaundiced alien baby, it's their respective junior members - the Robins of Earth-1 and Earth-2 - who end up taking the brunt of the beating. Licking their wounds and comparing notes on their respective shabby treatments by their elder associates, Golden Age Robin - now a grown-ass adult, probably has coffee breath and chews antacids like candies - shares with the younger Robin a costume designed by a designer friend of his, one "Neal Adams".

He must feel weird in pants.
It's no Skateman, but of the two it's definitely better than the elder Robin's weird Batman-pastiche, with the cape that makes him look like Butter-Colored Clam Lad.

3 comments:

Matt Fugate said...

In Detective Comics #481 (the first issue of the Dollar Comics Batman Family version), there's a Robin solo story (beautifully illustrated by Don Newton/Dan Adkins, by the way), in which he actually tries out some of the reader-submitted designs. The science department at his college even came up with a jet-belt for one of them, because any college science department can just whip one of those up.

Calamity Jon said...

Why so he DOES! Thanks for the heads up, I'll make it a future Costume Drama entry.

I see that the fan club is called "The Robin Rooters" which isn't at all humiliating, and that one of the costumes is the invention of Paul Decker (who designed a reader-submitted Legion costume, too!)

Nice find, thanks!

Chris K said...

I see Jamie Hightower of Rome GA took a bit of inspiration from Jim Starlin with his submission:
http://www.comics.org/issue/27237/cover/4/

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