Saturday, January 12, 2013

How Brian Bolland sees Cassandra Cain


This is the cover to Batman: Gotham Knights #2 (April, 2000), which hit the stands the same month as Cass's monthly series.  It's ol' Batman and his then-newest partner.  I just bought this from Comixology because if an artist of Brian Bolland's stature takes a crack at drawing Cass for a comic book cover, I have to own said comic book.  Unfortunately, while it's lovingly drawn, it's not one of Bolland's most exciting covers.
Very static, bland poses, 2/3 body portrait, no action, nothing really design-y about it compared to some of his other covers in this series, many of which feature the same finely-detailed rendering as this one-- a Bolland given-- but also loads more dynamism to go with the typically well-observed anatomy beautifully modeled with that almost machine-like Bolland hatching and crosshatching (I used to try so hard to emulate it and failed because I'm naturally shaky and lack his precision and control).  Lots more fun than this, although I do admire Batman's slouchy insouciance.  I would have preferred an action shot of Batman and Batgirl leaping right out at me.

Also, Cass is largely blocked by Batman.  Let's take a closer look at her, shall we?

Ah, that's better!

No two artists ever seem to draw Cass the same way, and it's up to you to choose your favorite.  I'm split between Damion Scott and Rick Leonardi, probably leaning a little more Leonardi due to my own traditionalism.  But Scott was the artist of record when this book came out (how I miss the title's spectacular early days) and did more to establish the character visually than anyone.  So let's compare Bolland to Scott.

Scott gives Cass a great big head, a wiry body, huge belt pouches and an overall shiny patent leather (or PVC) costume.  Bolland gives her a smallish head.  I'm a little troubled by that one neck vein that seems to run right over Cass's jawline and onto her cheek.  For it to poke through the material like that it must be thick.  Cass on steroids?  I hope not!  The head size makes her seem taller than the Scott's Batgirl, and Bolland also draws her in a more subdued costume with textural differences between the body stocking and the mask, cape and gloves.  Very similar to his Batman costume's cowl, cape and gloves and their almost satiny, TV-show appearance.  Her mask has a zig zag stitch closure, unlike Scott's large shoelace stitching.  Little Bat-symbol on her belt buckle, small pouches.  Bolland's Bat-symbol is more angular yet less ostentatious than Scott's and rides higher on Cass's chest.  The Scott version tends to wrap around and emphasize Cass's bosom.  Not so here.  Two distinct takes, resulting in what appear to be almost two different characters.

Well, I have to love it because it's Bolland drawing Cass.  I'd be over the moon if this comic art legend ever produced another take.  An action shot!


  1. I prefer Scott's Cass' mask to Bolland's, and Boland's Cass' belt and insignia to Scott's. I do not like how Scott draws Barbara.

    Bolland's cross hatching is amazing.

    1. I just clicked through the preview pages on this comic, and I really like Cass' outrageously huge cape.

    2. I agree about Scott's mask versus Bolland's and how Scott draws Barbara. What's funny is I was thinking a lot about the way Barbara looks in the early issues of "Batgirl" just recently!

      The interior art for "Gotham Knights" is interesting. I'd like to write something eventually about the Cass's body language in it.