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Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Holy Hundreds of Black-and-White Batman Covers!


A graphic look at Gotham’s crimefighter

Chip Kidd, one of the world's greatest and most renowned graphic designers, is also known as one of the world's greatest Batman aficionados. He is bringing his Manhattan Batman exhibition, "Batman Black and White: Sketch Covers, Commissioned by Chip Kidd," to Mainspace Artspace in downtown Shreveport on June 24. "BatFans" will have a chance to meet Kidd and hear him talk about his work on Saturday, June 25. Kidd's work will also fill artspace's upstairs exhibition space with giant-sized excerpts from his book, "Go: A Kidd's Guide to Graphic Design," taking a fun approach to teaching young people the principles of form, content, color, type and the history of graphic design.

Kidd is unquestionably a "Batmaniac." When DC Comics commissioned him in 2012 to write a Batman story for its "Batman: Black and White" anthology comics title, Kidd was inspired to invite some of the world's greatest illustrators to sketch Batman's black-and-white covers.

Rob Pistella, a curator of the Society of Illustrators in New York City (where part of this exhibit originated), said, "Kidd has a profound understanding of the Batman character and likes having people who wouldn't usually draw comics do covers for him that bring another richness to this collection. The result has been a magnificent exhibition of design creativity."

"I was born in 1964, and two years later the "Batman" TV show came out. That was my gateway drug, which led quickly to the comic books," says Kidd. "All the different elements about it really appealed to me visually. I was a kid watching escapist fantasy, and it was exciting. And the way all of these fantastic creators over the years have contributed to the story – it's incredible," adds Kidd.

This curiosity to see how others might portray Gotham's vigilante has resulted in the almost 150 Batman black-andwhite covers that will be on exhibition at artspace in downtown Shreveport. Beloved cartoonist for The New Yorker Magazine Roz Chast put Batman and Robin arguing on a couch. Sutton Impact's cartoonist Ward Sutton sketched "MadBatmen," a spoof on the television series "Mad Men," referencing the Joker stealing the Lucky Strike account. New York socialite Gloria Vanderbilt did a cover that portrayed Bat Woman with lush red lips and a sequined cat’s eyes mask. Shreveport's former Moonbot Studios artist, Vanessa Del Ray, also opted for the feminine side – her cover showing a Batwoman with long, bright, red hair. Hundreds of others jumped at the opportunity to pen their version of the Caped Crusaders, including a cover illustrated by Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk, one by Pulitzer winner Art Spiegelman, one by Shreveport's Academy Award-winning illustrator William Joyce and another by Joyce's son, Jack.

Kidd muses that it might have been his obsession with the design of the Batman comics that led him to a design career. His first major credit as an author and designer was for "Batman Collected" (1996), a photographic timeline of Batman collectibles and memorabilia. He's also chiefly responsible for bringing Jiro Kuwata's fantastic "Batmanga" from Japan to the U.S. Kidd worked with fellow Batman collector Saul Ferris on "Bat- Manga!: The Secret History of Batman in Japan." He entered the world of graphic design via a passion for comic books, which has endured through the years, and today he is considered one of the world's leading experts on Batman. He is fascinated with where creativity can take you and how many ways Bruce Wayne can be portrayed.

Kidd will tell you straight up that he is not an illustrator. Kidd is America's most indemand book jacket designer, best known for the thousands of book covers he has drawn over the last 36 years as a graphic designer and associate art director for Alfred A. Knopf Publishing House. He is routinely referred to as "the world's greatest book jacket designer" and has also been described as "the closest thing to a rock star in graphic design today." Louisiana's Academy Award-winning author and illustrator William Joyce says Chip Kidd is the most consistently innovative cover designer of our time and maybe of all time." His covers include Michael Crichton's "Jurassic Park," Haruki Murakami's "1Q84," Garcia Marquez's "Love in the Time of Cholera," and Cormac McCarthy's "No Country for Old Men," and "Possible Side Effects" by Augusten Burroughs.

It is Kidd's book, “Go: A Kidd's Guide to Graphic Design,” that will be featured in artspace's upstairs Coolspace exhibition. The entire space will be designed to take visitors to the exhibition deeper into a world made for curious kids who love to express themselves in posters for school, what to hang in their rooms, for designing their own websites and even use in videos. This is a playful exhibition that teaches graphic design to kids 10 and up so they can learn the secret of how to make things dynamic and interesting.

So … To the Batcave! (not in Gotham City, but artspace at 708 Texas St. in downtown Shreveport), on Friday, June 24, for the unmasking of “Batman Black and White: Sketch Covers Selected by Chip Kidd." And then "batarang" back to the same gallery to hear Kidd himself talk about both the Mainspace and Coolspace exhibitions on Saturday, June 25. It's all happening just in time for Shreveport's Geek'd Con on Aug. 19 and 20 and will remain up in artspace until Aug. 27.


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