Art For Art’s Sake #163 – Tim Sale R.I.P.

by Richard Bruton

We lost another creative genius in June with the death of Tim Sale at the way too young age of 66 on June 16th 2022. So let us take a little while in Art For Art’s Sake to celebrate his incredible body of work.

Tim Sale – May 1, 1956 – June 16, 2022

Art For Art’s Sake has always been about celebrating artists, but having to do them posthumously is always terrible, that sense of great loss, the sense of a career that was cut short. But still, even though Sale has been taken from us way too soon, it’s amazing to see the sheer talent and incredible body of work he leaves behind to inspire and entertain future artists, writers, and readers of his works.

Tim Sale’s work may be defined by his long-standing collaboration with Jeff Loeb and the likes of Batman: Long Halloween and Superman For All Seasons, but I still think of his work from when I first saw it, when I first realised this was an amazing talent who was sure to be huge. So, we begin this look back at some highlights of Tim’s long and magnificent career in 1988…

Although I’d seen his work on Thieves’ World in the mid-80s, it wasn’t until his name was associated with Matt Wagner’s Grendel published by Comico in 1988 that I really knew his name and saw his style. His first issues were 20-23 in 1988 (inking 20-22, pencilling and inking 23) were the difficult Devil’s Incubation storyline, a complex storyline that was made so much more readable and enjoyable with Sale’s involvement.

Tim Sales pencils and inks for Grendel issue 23, 1988

As Grendel writer and creator Matt Wagner wrote in the introduction to issue 20…

Tim is a master of line, texture, mood, and characterization, and I was thrilled to have him on this run. He has succeeded in giving things a visual flair that would’ve been sorely missed without him. Tim’s pencils for the last issue are equally exciting, and I’m sure we can all look for him to be doing more work on Grendel in future incarnations?

And he would return to Grendel, but not before the three-issue The Amazon series from Comico in 1989, an eco-thriller with writer Steven T Seagle that again showcased Tim’s amazing talent. His return to Grendel with the Devil’s Reign serial ran from issues 34-40 (1989-1990) and showcased his versatility, producing two very different styles in every issue.

Following this and the Billi 99 series with writer Sarah Byam at Dark Horse, Sale went to DC, where he’d make some of his finest works and go on to redefine legendary characters. First though, something slightly lower key, the Challengers of the Unknown limited series of 1991 and the very first collaboration between Sale and Loeb, one that would go on to be the defining collaboration of Sale’s comics career.

Because with Loeb, from 1993, Sale would go on to work on so many of the iconic characters at both DC Comics and Marvel Comics, beginning with a trio of Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight Halloween Specials in 1993, 1994, and 1995, collected in 1996 as Haunted Knight – leading obviously to the work that they’re still best known for, the brilliant Batman: Long Halloween in 1996-1997.

Across 13 issues set shortly after the events of Batman: Year One, the Dark Knight had to deal with the serial killer Holiday who kills once a month on holidays alongside working with Harvey Dent and Jim Gordon to keep the Maroni and Falcone crime families from ripping Gotham apart.

It was here that Sale’s Batman really did become one of THE great versions of the character, everything coming together to create a version of the Batman that would influence comic and film-makers for decades to come.

Following on from Long Halloween, there was the sequel Dark Victory, in 1999-2000, dealing with Harvey Dent’s tragic transformation into Two-Face, the origin of Robin, and a new serial killer terrorising Gotham, but not before Loeb and Sale switched from one DC icon to another in 1998, with Superman For All Seasons. It was just as definitive, tracking the life of Superman from his Kansas childhood through to his first adventures. This time though, where Long Halloween was all darkness and brooding shadow this was bright and beautiful, the big skies and fields of Middle America brought to life. And damn, so beautiful.

Of course, having dealt with two of the big three icons at DC Comics, Loeb and Sale switched their attention to Marvel, where they’d already made Wolverine & Gambit: Victims in 1995, but it was Daredevil Yellow (2001-2002) where the pair really clicked with Marvel, the first of their Marvel ‘colour’ series followed by Spider-Man: Blue (2002-2003), Hulk: Gray (2003-2004), and the much delayed Captain America: White (2008-2015).

In each of these, Loeb and Sale concentrated on one aspect or time for the hero, whether it was the early years of Matt Murdock as Daredevil, complete with the yellow and red suit, Spider-Man wistfully remembering Gwen Stacy, Hulk’s early days and Bruce Banner’s love for Betty Ross, and Captain America’s loss of Bucky Barnes.

Through all of these projects and so many more, you could see Sale’s talent in every brushstroke, every panel, every page. And I’d have loved to have seen so many more from him.

So, now some of that magnificent Tim Sale art… let’s start where I started, with Grendel from 1988…


And then Grendel: Devil’s Reign from 1989-1990



The Amazon – 3 issues from Comico, 1989 – these images from the 2009 Dark Horse remastered and recoloured version…


Billi 99 – Dark Horse, 1991


Challengers of the Unknown – DC Comics, 1991


Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight Halloween Specials – The Haunted Knight Collection – 1993-1995


Batman: The Long Halloween, DC Comics, 1996-1997


Superman For All Seasons – DC Comics, 1998


Batman: Dark Victory, DC Comics, 1999-2000


Daredevil: Yellow, Marvel Comics, 2001-2002


Spider-Man: Blue, Marvel Comics, 2002-2003


Hulk: Gray, Marvel Comics, 2003-2004


Catwoman: When In Rome – DC Comics, 2004-2005

Solo, DC Comics, 2004 –

Low Card in the Hole (From Solo)

Captain America: White, Marvel Comics, 2008-2015


And finally, a mixture of Tim Sale’s work from here and there… all of it just so beautiful…

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