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Novel graphic: Flatbush shop selling new Batman with one-of-a-kind cover

The Brooklyn Paper
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Holy limited-edition cover, Batman!

A Flatbush comic shop is selling legendary author Frank Miller’s newest Batman with limited-edition covers made exclusively for its Nostrand Avenue store.

The special edition is part of a DC Comics promotion for Miller’s latest read. The publisher approached comic purveyors — including the honcho at Flatbush’s Bulletproof Comics — with a list of established artists to compose exclusive fronts. But the Brooklyn book-seller wouldn’t settle for any of the short list and threatened to walk if DC didn’t tap his anointed illustrator, Italian painter Gabriele Dell’Otto, he said.

“I just said, I only want this artist,” said Hank Kwon, owner of Bulletproof Comics. “He’s a very dynamic painter, almost a visionary, and whatever covers he does comes out like a masterpiece. I told them, ‘If I don’t get him I probably won’t do it.’ When I saw the final sketch, it blew me away.”

The cover of the new “Dark Knight III: The Master Race” #1 depicts a moment from the original “Dark Knight Returns” comic — a 1986 classic widely considered one of the greatest works of superhero art and storytelling ever produced — when an aged Batman stands triumphant over the homicidal head of a brutal Gotham gang.

Kwon’s finickiness has a bit to do with his admiration for Dell’Otto, but he also wanted to cover his financial bases — to participate in the one-off promotion, Kwon had to agree to buy $20,000 in advanced copies before the cover was even started. He only trusted to do a good job, he said.

“The investment was 20 grand, and there’s a good chance you could lose half of that,” the comic purveyor explained. “It was more of a business decision, than a fanboy thing.”

Kwon got to give Dell’Otto some artistic direction. The shop owner actually requested the artist depict the “Dark Knight Return’s” climactic battle between the Caped Crusader and Superman — a “suggestion” that Dell’Otto ultimately disregarded to Kwon’s slight dismay, the shopkeep said.

“I would have been more happy with the Superman cover, because it’s two iconic characters, but I got a home run instead of grand slam,” said Kwon.

In fact, the shop owner, who saw a rough sketch of the cover before Dell’Otto painted the final, was initially unsure about the concept, he said.

“When I saw the sketch I was nervous,” Kwon said. “I was already committed. I signed the contract and everything, Whatever he gave me — good artwork or not — I was already committed.”

But when Kwon saw that final finished product he liked it so much he had a poster-size version printed in time for Comic Con in October, and Dell’Otto’s art got an amazing response, Kwon said.

“The reaction I got from the fans made me relaxed,” he said. “I got nothing but an incredible response. They just went nuts saying it was the best cover out of the lot, it was the best cover ever.”

“Dark Knight III” with limited-edition cover art by Gabriele Dell’Otto at Bulletproof Comics and Games [2178 Nostrand Ave. between Avenue H and Flatbush Avenue in Flatbush, (718) 434–1800, www.bulletproofcomix.com]. Available Nov. 25.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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