A Batman Legend Has Passed Away

Rest in peace.

By Michileen Martin | Published


Tim Sale, an Eisner-winning artist best known for his incredible work on the influential 1997-8 mini-series Batman: The Long Halloween, has died. Sale was 66 years old and many of his fans found out about his passing when his official Twitter account was updated with the news on Thursday. No cause of death has been released. You can see the tweet announcing his passing below.

DC’s publisher, and a legendary Batman artist in his own right, Jim Lee announced earlier this week on Twitter that Sale had been admitted to the hospital with “severe health issues.” The tweet was accompanied with a scan of original artwork from The Long Halloween. You can see that post below.

Tim Sale began doing professional artwork in the eighties, with his first paying gigs coming from WaRP Graphics on fantasy series like Myth Adventures and Thieves’ World. He later branched out to work for Marvel, DC, Oni Press, Dark Horse, and more. In fact, even if you’ve never picked up a Batman comic book in your life there’s a chance you’ve seen his art. One of Sale’s most frequent comic book collaborators was Jeph Loeb, who was also one of the writers and producers on NBC’s Heroes. One of the newly super powered characters in season 1 of the show is Isaac Mendez (Santiago Cabrera), a painter with the ability to paint the future. Rather than a psychic painter, those images were all done by Tim Sale.

heroes tim sale
Santiago Cabrera in Heroes

Tim Sale eventually became best known for collaborating with writer Jeph Loeb on prequel comic book series that unveiled new stories from iconic superheroes’ past. Over the course of 15 years, Loeb and Sale released four “color” prequel series for Marvel starting with 2001-2’s Daredevil: Yellow and followed by Spider-Man: Blue, Hulk: Gray, and finally the long-delayed Captain America: White. While all of those series were met with acclaim, it’s Sale’s work on Batman for which he’ll be best remembered.

Hulk: Gray #6 Marvel Comics, 2004

Tim Sale’s work on the Dark Knight’s mythos includes more collaborations with Jeph Loeb on prequel series like Batman: Dark Victory and Catwoman: When in Rome, but without a doubt the most influential of them all remains Batman: The Long Halloween. Written as a kind of unofficial sequel to Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s Batman: Year One, The Long Halloween does a lot of things at once. It serves as a retelling of the origin of Harvey Dent aka Two-Face, as well as chronicling what evolves into the final battle between Gotham’s growing number of costumed villains and the gangsters that monopolized Batman’s time up until then. More than any other comic before, The Long Halloween examines the idea that rather than preventing crime, by his very existence Batman is causing more costumed criminals to hound Gotham. Its influence is evident in this year’s The Batman, as well as in Christopher Nolan’s film trilogy — particularly 2008’s The Dark Knight. Other beloved prequel series from Loeb and Sale include Superman for All Seasons and Wolverine/Gambit: Victims.