As is often the case, fandom at large is hip deep in analyzing, and arguing about, The Caped Crusader’s latest cinematic outing. I saw The Batman on opening night, and one of the best aspects was how energized the audience was. It’s invigorating when “everyone” gets excited for a movie about a favorite character. For me, it’s less important whether I loved it or hated it. I get happy when everyone else gets happy about it.
Another one of the most amazing things about this movie, upon reflection, was how the cinematic Catwoman seemed like a Paul Gulacy illustration come to life.
Gulacy, a brilliant, prolific comics artist – burst on the scene in the 70s in groundbreaking series like Marvel’s Master of Kung Fu and, with Don McGregor, Epic’s Sabre – one of the first/earliest graphic novels (as we define the term today). Paul Gulacy’s slick compositions, cinematic layouts, gorgeous leading ladies, and fast paced storytelling was always a treat.
When there’s a scene with a fire in a Gulacy story, you can almost feel the heat on your face.
Gulacy was no stranger to Batman either, having illustrated many bat-stories over the years. Of note, he was always pushing himself, often developing new Batmobile designs and costume tweaks with each outing.
Gulacy also was an artist on DC’s Catwoman. He followed Darwyn Cooke’s memorable run on that series. Cooke was a tough act to follow, but somehow Gulacy managed to do it.
Paul Gulacy’s Catwoman is sexy and sly. She moves like a cat, even though comics art is, of course, static. She’s tough and enduring and likeable. And she looks a lot like The Batman’s Zoë Kravitz! Or maybe Zoë Kravitz looks a lot like Gulacy’s version of the Feline Felon.
Today, anyone who makes a super-hero movie has a wealth of source material to reference. I’m glad Matt Reeves and The Batman folks like Paul Gulacy art so much.
This should’ve happened last year. Marvel’ s Shang Chi movie, which seems to be referred to now as Legend of the 10 Rings, was based on a character that really hit his stride when writer Doug Moench partnered with artist Paul Gulacy to create a globetrotting spy adventure. In the 70s and early 80s, Master of Kung Fu was one of the most epic series, with larger-than-life plots, beautiful women, incredible fight scenes and cameos by favorite movies stars (Marlon Brando, Groucho Marx, etc.) No, really. Paul Gulacy made his mark on the series and was followed by several other brilliant artists, but it always seemed like “his” series to me.
The cinematic Shang Chi didn’t bear much resemblance to the comic version. That’s fine, I suppose, for the world at large. But it was a disappointment for some long-time readers. I wish Gulacy’s version of the character, and the fascinating supporting cast, had made it to the screen.
So, I’m grateful to see so many of Gulacy’s brilliant concepts and illustrations on-screen in this new Darknight Detective movie. And I hope to see more.
If you are not familiar with Paul Gulacy or interested in seeing what he is up to, he is on Twitter at pgulacy1.
Also, this is not the first time that the world has reminded Pop Culture Squad writers about Paul Gulacy’s art.