Batman: The Animated Series – The Phantom Creative Collection
Publisher: Insight Editions
Release Date: Oct. 6, 2020
Press Release: Click here!
Description: Known for their limitless passion and incredible ingenuity for film and television posters, Mondo turns their attention to the highly acclaimed DC show Batman: The Animated Series. The show first aired in 1992 and was instantly met with critical praise for its sophisticated writing, bold storytelling and distinctive, noir-influenced art style, generating an intense following that thrives to this day.
Over the years, Mondo has received global recognition for their astonishing artisanal posters, and their creations for Batman: The Animated Series are no exception. The studio has partnered exclusively with the award-winning artist at Phantom City Creative, Inc., Justin Erickson, in order to bring this show to life in a striking and unparalleled way. Paul Dini, longtime writer and co-producer of the Animated Series (and co-creator of Harley Quinn), contributes a wonderful introduction. Filled with Erikson’s slick graphic design as well as beautifully rendered illustrations, Batman: The Animated Series: The Phantom City Creative Collection is a one-of-a-kind tribute to one of the greatest animated shows of all time.
Review by James Harvey
Collecting a wealth of artwork from Mondo’s series of posters, prints and vinyl soundtrack titles inspired by Batman: The Animated Series, Insight Edition’s Batman: The Animated Series: The Phantom City Creative Collection is not only one of the most visually striking releases of the year, but it’s a legitimate page-turner. It’s page after page of some of the most incredible Batman: The Animated Series-inspired art out there, which Insight Edition presents in stunning fashion, and it’s nearly impossible to put down.
For a bit of back-story, Mondo is a renowned art gallery and online store, dedicated to film, art, music and collectibles, and has gained global recognition for their artisanal works over the years. And their recent Batman: The Animated Series pieces are no exception. The studio partnered with Phantom City Creative, Inc. award-winning artist Justin Erickson to develop and create works inspired by the classic animated show for a series of products, including posters, soundtracks and more. And now, all of that material is right here and between two hard covers and it’s pretty amazing.
Batman: The Animated Series: The Phantom City Creative Collection is divvied up into a handful of sections. Following a foreword by Batman: The Animated Series‘ Paul Dini and a lengthy interview with Erickson, the remainder of the book is dedicated to Mondo’s Batman: Mask of the Phantasm art project, along with the works created for the Batman: The Animated Series posters and soundtrack releases.
Starting with the foreword, Paul Dini shares his thoughts of Batman: The Animated Series‘ initial launch and its subsequent popularity and heavy influence. Dini also discusses Erickson and touches upon some of his Batman: The Animated Series-based works (including “Two-Face,” “Trial,” “Christmas with the Joker,” among others). A lengthy interview with Erickson follows, in which touches upon his love of Batman: The Animated Series and its’ impact on him, and how his Batman: Mask of the Phantasm work for Mondo essentially laid the groundwork for everything that came after. He also points to some of his own favorite pieces inspired by the classic cartoon.
The foreword and interview lay the groundwork and context for what follows, giving the reader insight into Erickson’s approach and inspiration behind each piece. Fittingly, first up is the project that kick-started Mondo’s deep dive into the animated world of Batman, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. Given its own section of the book, it includes thoughts from Erickson, along with plenty of concept and production art and variant designs.
The real meat of Batman: The Animated Series: The Phantom City Creative Collection comes next, with a massive chunk devoted to all of the Batman: The Animated Series-inspired posters released by Mondo. Staggering in both quantity and quality, every Batman: The Animated Series-inspired poster gets a detailed look throughout the over 80-page section, and it is something to behold. There are just so many great pieces on display, and you can’t help but just devour every page.
The majority of pieces in this section come with a small write-up where Erickson breaks down his inspiration and approach to each, as well as calling out some of his favorite works (“Heart of Ice,” naturally). There are plenty of neat facts spread throughout this section (Erickson took inspiration from Japanese woodblock prints for “Night of the Ninja,” for example), and the insight provided really does add a new layer of context and appreciation. Even posters for the less-acclaimed Batman: The Animated Series episodes get the same treatment as the favorites, which really highlights Erickson’s respect for the show (the “Moon of the Wolf” poster, for example, is just so dang cool).
Erickson’s work here really captures the feel and themes of Batman: The Animated Series, be it’s the 1930s gangster vibe of “It’s Never Too Late,” the old-school serial look to “The Demon’s Quest” and “Beware the Gray Ghost,” (think Indiana Jones) among others. There’s brilliance in these designs, like how he juxtaposes Batman and his rogues gallery for “Trial,” or the use of braille for “Blind As a Bat,” there are so many neat touches that elevates the material. There’s passion, thought and long, long hours put into each image, and it shows in spades.
The last major section of the book is dedicated to Mondo’s vinyl soundtrack releases for Batman: The Animated Series. Here, we get a good look into the more technical, production side of things, with Erickson walking us through how some pieces were designed and laid out one format, and the subsequent changes and alterations needed when adapting them to multiple formats (altering poster imagery so it can be used as vinyl cover art, for example). There’s also a gallery of Mug Shots and Heroes of Gotham/Zeroes of Gotham cards by Erickson, included with some of the soundtrack releases, that are simply fantastic.
This is all housed in a really attractive package, too. Image quality is top-notch, and page layouts are clean and clear. The hardcover book is sturdy and strong, and the oversized format not only adds heft to the book, but gives everything within plenty of space and room to avoid an overcrowded or jumbled presentation.
Overflowing with some of the most striking imagery inspired by Batman: The Animated Series, all of it gathered together here in a gorgeous oversized hardcover, Insight Edition’s Batman: The Animated Series: The Phantom City Creative Collection is one of the most arresting books to hit shelves this year. It’s nearly impossible to put down, as you can’t help but want to see what’s on the next page. Erickson’s work with Mondo is imaginative, slick and bursting with admiration and respect for Batman: The Animated Series, and Insight Editions pulls out all the stops in making sure the presentation is second-to-none. It’s truly something special, serving as tangible representation of the enduring legacy of the beloved cartoon classic, and you couldn’t ask for a better example. Must Own!
Insight Editions’ Batman: The Animated Series: The Phantom City Creative Collection is available through your favorite traditional and digital retailers starting Oct. 6, 2020.
Please note that while Insight Editions provided a copy of this book for review, that did not impact or influence the product’s final assessment.
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