RIP: James N. Aparo (1932-2005)

The AP reports that James N. Aparo, an illustrator for DC Comics for more than 30 years who drew Batman, the Green Arrow and other action heroes, has died.

Aparo died Tuesday at home after a short illness, said his daughter, Donna Aparo. He was 72.


Aparo will probably be remembered primarily for long years of work on various Batman titles, dating back to the mid-1970s and continuing, at least intermittently, into the 2000s. For a lot of people, Aparo was the definitive Batman artist. He drew the character in BATMAN, DETECTIVE COMICS, BRAVE AND THE BOLD (Batman team-ups) and the BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS team book, which he co-created. Prior to the Batman assignment, his most prominent DC work was on AQUAMAN (late 960s/early 1970s) and THE PHANTOM STRANGER.

Aparo was one of the “brain trust” of artists that editor Dick Giordano brought with him to DC from Charlton Comics, in the 1960s. Prior to DC, Aparo had drawn THE PHANTOM for Charlton, along with mystery stories and other anthology stuff. One of the hidden delights of his resume was “Wander,” about a traveling salesman.

from outer space who’d crash-landed in the American post-Civil War west. The strip ran in the back of Charlton’s BILLY THE KID title. After transitioning to DC, Aparo continued to do the occasional PHANTOM cover for Charlton, but DC’s higher rates pretty much cemented his loyalty. Effectively all of Aparo’s work was for DC and Charlton, but he’d had a local newspaper strip for a while, too.

I really liked Aparo’s work, especially when he inked his own pencils, which was up until sometime in the early 1990s or so. His personal preference was to pencil, ink and letter one page a day, with clockwork precision, but DC scheduling needs ultimately led to the use of inkers and letterers.

Pierce Askegren