ArtGerm’s Villainesses

Bat And The Cat

Comics are as good a place as any to look for crime fiction’s bad girlz, DC Comics and the Girlz of Gotham City in particular. Stanley Lau (who uses the brand name Artgerm) renders some of the best versions of them. Go to his site at artgerm.com to view more of the artist’s work and collectibles, but enjoy Selina Kyle, Harleen Frances Qunizel and Pamela Lillian Isley, better known as Catwoman, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy right here for a start.

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Master Stylist: Darwyn Cooke

Darwyn Cooke - 6 - Parker

No one’s passing is good news. But when beloved or talented people leave us at a young age, it’s doubly painful. We can’t help but wonder what else they’d have created if granted more time.

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Canadian artist, illustrator and animator Darwyn Cooke was just such a case. The master stylist was born in Toronto but grew up in Nova Scotia, where he learned to draw at an early age by ‘deconstructing’ comics, attempting to replicate the style of the illustrations…and in doing so, developing his own very distinctive style. Know him for his stunning comics work on Batman, Catwoman (that’s where I first discovered his work) and Richard Stark’s Parker, or for his animation work for The New Adventures Of Batman and Batman Beyond, or know him for winning thirteen Eisner Awards. But know that, sadly, he succumbed to cancer in 2016 at age 53. But his work lives on…

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Lady Killer: Joelle Jones

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I never say this person’s the best artist, the best writer, the best actor, etc. But I’m not timid about saying who are my favorites, and the brilliant Joelle Jones is on that list. Incredibly skilled with design and composition as well as an artful stylist, Jones isn’t content being a terrific artist, but has to be an inventive and creative writer as well…the show-off. Some handiwork of her best project so far (IMHO) shown here: Lady Killer, about 1960’s suburban housewife Josie Schuller, who’s also happens to be a lethal hit woman.

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Enrique Badia Romero

Enrique Badia Romero 2Many know Italian artist Enrique Badia Romero for his sword-wielding Amazons and Red Sonja-style barbarians, Vampirella and various other alluring vampiresses, most of those rising from their coffins without their PJ’s.

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But to others, Romero is one of the main artists on the long running Modesty Blaise newspaper strips, running uncensored in Europe and in slightly less saucy versions in limited US distribution. A master draftsman and downright lethal with a brush and pen, here’s a few Romero illustrations and a daily strip to ogle.

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Battelli’s Lonely (And Dangerous) Beds

Lucrezia Batteli - StudyThey say a bed with only one person in it at night can be the loneliest place in the world. Maybe so, if you’re still licking your wounds. Maybe not, if you never intend to let it happen again.

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Beautiful artwork from the talented artist-illustrator Lucrezia Battelli, who also goes by Lulu Battelli. Look for more at @doclew on Instagram and for art prints at inprnt.com.

Sienkiewicz’ Natasha

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Call her Natalia Alianovna Romanova, call her by her alias, Natasha Romanoff. Better still, call her Marvel’s Black Widow, here rendered by artist Bill Sienkiewicz.

Blackjacked & Pistol-Whipped

Crime Does Not Pay

The Crime Does Not Pay comic book series debuted in 1942, the first of its kind to publish such unvarnished, gritty, violent crime tales in a marketplace that had become saturated with good-guys and their sidekicks flitting around in capes and tights, following the success of Superman, Batman and other costumed ‘superheroes’. The title lasted till 1955, though it was pretty watered down by then, following the parental and even Congressional scrutiny of the comic book marketplace.

This handsome trade pb from Dark Horse Books includes two dozen beautifully reproduced vintage Crime Does Not Pay tales, along with an introduction by Brian Azzarello and an informative essay by Denis Kitchen, which details one of the comic’s founders (Bob Wood) own criminal legacy: He arrested for the gruesome murder of his lover in New York’s Gramercy Park Hotel. Seriously, it’s a real life story straight out of Crime Does Not Pay comics. Even 70+ years later, these stories are still pretty, rough, tough and violent. Just how ‘true’ they are…well, who cares?

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Blue Estate

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So-Cal Neo-Noir comics fun with really, really bad guys and delightfully dangerous femmes fatales: The Blue Estate series concept and story was developed by Kosta Yanev, with the issues scripted by Andrew Osborne. Art direction and covers by artist Viktor Kalvachev with interior art by Toby Cypress. Don’t know why someone didn’t just buy the rights to this thing and make a movie already…like most comics, it’s pre-storyboarded and ready to go.

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