Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (Shirley Walker)

A spin-off from the successful the animated show, "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm" premiered in 1993. Originally meant to be a direct-to-video release, it was given a last-minute theatrical release, and although it did poorly at the box office, the film has become a well-regarded classic, cited by many of one of the best Batman films of all time, animated or otherwise. The film sees Bruce Wayne kindling a romance with a childhood friend, as a mysterious new villain haunts Gotham. Directors Eric Radomski and Bruce Timm brought along their collaborator from the show, American composer Shirley Walker. Walker is one of the biggest female pioneers of Hollywood composing, being the first woman to score a modern blockbuster film, she was one of the most in-demand orchestrators and conductors in the 90's, and was instrumental in the early development of composers like Danny Elfman and Hans Zimmer. For "Phantasm", Walker expanded her sound of the show (itself following directly from Elfman's '89 score), creating a new theme for the film that is one of the best in the Batman catalogue, exploding with Gothic choral power, but also featuring a rich orchestral score that features noir, romance, and a Sherman Brothers-inspired Americana style. 

Reprise Records released a short, 30+  minute album at the time of the film's release, and it wasn't until La-La Land Record's 2009 expansion that the full score was finally released, doubling the length of the previous album. Both albums are based on the same piece of artwork--the film's central poster, a moody painting that I remember well from my childhood, even though I wouldn't actually watch the film till years later. Because the film is so beloved, there's been plenty of artwork created in the almost three decades since its release. A recent revisit of the score inspired me to tackle this project, and provide some more exciting alternatives, so enjoy a total of nine new from covers.

Cover 1 was created for Mondo by Phantom City Creative. Editing was fairly simple, although I wasn't able to get the image in high enough quality, and I ended up super-imposing a rusted metal texture to give the image a bit more visual oomph.

The second cover is my variant on the official poster, simply meant to be a slightly more elegant version, compared to the other two posters. I just had to clean up the original scanned poster, and then stretched out the sky on the sides to fill out the frame.

Cover 3 uses a piece of art created by Exilio Creative Workshop. I simply brought the lower characters further up in the image and blended them in.

The fourth and fifth covers use original paintings by Bruce Timm, which I cleaned up and sharpened as best I could, though the second one is still a little soft for my liking. 

Cover 6 uses artwork by Bruce Yan. Editing required cloning out text at the bottom of the image, and slightly editing the skyline at the top.

The seventh cover uses a piece by Corey Wolfe. I again removed the text at the bottom, to add my own cleanly, and then editing out the bat-signal light at the top, as it didn't fit well in this cropped composition.

Cover 8 uses artwork by Marko Manev. I had to paint out the bottom of the image, so then shrink and move the locket and photo up in the frame, as well as editing the bottom and top frames to sit within my new cropped composition.

The ninth and final cover uses art by Sam Gilbey, which I mostly left intact, other than bringing the Wayne tombstone from much lower in the image up.

Fortunately this set wasn't too challenging to edit, and I was able to breeze through them relatively quickly, and I think the artwork selections provide some dynamic new options that fit the music well. Let me know your favorites in the comments below.

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