Kelley Jones’ technological Batman

When I did a post on Kelley Jones’ eccentric Batman art a couple of months ago, I talked about Jones’ flair for the grotesque, the gothic horror influences, the exaggerated capes and shadows, the neat chapter headings and preview blurbs.

One thing I forgot to mention, though, was the way Kelley Jones keeps drawing these ultra-elaborate gadgets… In his comics, the Dark Knight’s detective work often relies on a set of impractically intricate microphones, microscopes, binoculars, and computers adorned with anachronistic lightbulbs and multiple screens. They look futuristic, but from a future imagined by older science fiction, when illustrators and set designers still assumed technology was going to become larger and visibly complicated rather than compact and user-friendly. Together with the extravagant architecture, this gives Jones’ tales – both canon and Elseworlds – a time-displaced look, which I find quite appealing.

Here are my ten favorite gizmos:

Batman 522Batman #522
Batman 523Batman #523
Batman 529Batman #529
Batman 530Batman #530
Gotham After Midnight 7Gotham After Midnight #7
Haunted Gotham 3Haunted Gotham #3
Batman 527Batman #527
Batman Unseen 2Batman: Unseen #2
Gotham After Midnight 1Gotham After Midnight #1
Gotham After Midnight 10Gotham After Midnight #10


NEXT: Winter is here.

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2 Responses to Kelley Jones’ technological Batman

  1. C.K. Dexter Haven says:

    I refer to the gadgets that Jones draws as “Clunky Technology.” In addition to the insanely-cool machinery Jones drew, the concept itself is something I’ve always found fascinating is when this Jones-esque stuff appears in movies and TV shows of a certain era. I’m thinking the late 1950s to maybe the early 1980s featuring unwieldy, (“clunky”) large gizmos with various handles, dials, and switches that served only a few purposes. Reel-to-Reel tape recorders like Mike Hammer’s wall-mounted answering machine in KISS ME DEADLY (1955). The Mission: Impossible TV series is a goldmine for stuff like this, with Greg Morris’ Barney Collier character and his bright metal gadgets. There were also Early FAX machines and unwieldy “triangulation” devices in the original Hawaii Five-0.

    Seems to me that gadgets should be obvious and not-so slick. They should only be in the hands of “experts” like The Dark Knight Detective instead of in the hands of every overly-bearded Millennial or ancient Baby Boomer as they are nowadays. It just takes all of the glamour out of cutting edge technology! 😉

    • I.M. Baytor says:

      Yeah, Jones’ clunky technology is definitely a callback to the times of Kiss Me Deadly and Mission: Impossible, not to mention to Ken Adam’s set designs for the early Bond pictures (with a lot of obvious echoes of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil as well).

      Boy, I wish I could visit the Batcave from Gotham After Midnight

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