Tuesday, July 14, 2009
While digging through my stack of convention sketches, looking for the Dave Sim Cerebus sketch I've already posted and the other one I've yet to post, I came across another of my favorite sketches, this one commissioned at the 1990 Chicago Comic Convention. Back in the day, Chicago Con was second only to the San Diego Comic Con in terms of importance in the comic book world. Chicago Con always had tons of guests and the various comic companies were all well represented.
One of the guests that year was Terry Beatty, the co-creator and artist of what I consider the best private eye series in the history of Comics, Ms. Tree. Co-Created by Max Allan Collins, the author of Road to Perdition, True Detective, and many other novels, Ms. Tree was basically a female version of Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer. Tough as nails and with a tendency to shoot first and ask questions later, Ms. Tree cut a swath through mobsters, murderers, hit-men and the like over a long career that spanned many years and an impressive (and somewhat confusing) list of publishers.
Anyway, I swung by Terry's table and asked if I could get a sketch of Ms.Tree and the dark night detective, Batman. I'd always figured Terry would draw a cool version of the caped crusader and he didn't let me down. Beatty's Batman reminds me of the classic Dick Sprang/Jerry Robinson version of the character which seemed to fit right in with Ms. Tree. Terry threw in some clever dialog too. In case you can't read what the characters are saying, Ms. Tree says, "So, you're a detective, huh?" and Batman says, "Yup!"
In this age of great comic reprints, I really wish someone would put together some trade paperbacks of the full run of Ms. Tree. I have all the original comics and some of the older collections but they're getting a bit long in the tooth and the entire series was never collected. Even a couple of 'phone books' like Marvel's Essentials and DC's Showcase would be great. Meanwhile, Ms. Tree recently appeared in a prose novel, "Deadly Beloved" by Collins with a cover by Beatty, published by Hard Case Crime. And come to think of it, I'd still like to see Batman and Ms. Tree team up on a case. The hero who won't use a gun and the heroine who won't go anywhere without one. Sure to be sparks.