Batman: Black and White is the Best Thing You Aren't Reading
Credit: DC Comics
Usually the idea behind Batman: Black and White brings out underwhelming and painfully pretentious results. The whole collection of short stories thing just doesn't work, but this is Batman. The genesis of the project goes like this:
Mark Chiarello in his introduction to the first collection, writes about a dinner table-discussion he had with "a few famous comic-book artists," which they pondered the "desert island" question in terms of a single complete run of comics one would be happy to be stranded with.
Ultimately, with "half a minute"'s thought, they "amazingly... all agreed, pound for pound, page for page" that the unequivocal choice was Warren Publishing's Creepy, a high point unmatched since "there has never been such a collection of stellar artists assembled under one banner publication" as in Creepy, whose pages were host to (among others) "Toth, Frazetta, Williamson, Torres, Colan, Ditko, Wrightson, Corben, etc."
Chiarello notes that "most of those stories" were written by one man: Archie Goodwin "probably the very best editor ever to work in comics, probably the very best writer ever to work in comics," (and early mentor to Chiarello when the two worked at Marvel) whose Warren work was itself an "homage to the favorite comics of his youth, the E.C. line."
Thus, Chiarello conceived Batman: Black and White, a collection of short (8 page) Batman stories by "All Star" Writers and Artists in black and white. Despite its low expectations, it was green lit by DC.
The result was truly an achievement in the medium that I can't recommend any more. It seems hard to believe but the 8 page limit that seems like a restriction has actually brought out so much. Other than Brian Bolland's dumb entry, every one is at least very good. My favorite was Simon Bisley and Neil Gaiman's "A Black and White World". I am hooked, and I am starting Volume Two later.