Got a lot of email about my Batman Top Artists post-- and I always appreciate that.
Chief among the comments, however, was "Where can I read some of these stories?"
Luckily, both DC and Marvel Comics have spent the last twenty years reprinting their most iconic stories in multiple hardcover and softcover collections. Sticking with Batman-- here's where you can sample some of the artists I was talking about;
GREATEST BATMAN STORIES EVER TOLD V1 There is a copy on Amazon right now for 38c so this is not going to break the bank.
Ignore the review by a "new" fan who is looking for more of the trite comics Batman has been in for the past five or so years. This is really a selection of classic Batman stories including works by Bob Kane, Dick Sprang, Neal Adams, Marshall Rogers and Irv Novick just to name a few.
BATMAN YEAR ONE by Frank Miller and David Mazzuchelli is one of the greatest Batman epics ever told-- and it's more a crime drama than superheroes. This was the basis for the film Batman Begins. If you want to know how Batman started out-- this is where you want to go. This 1986 series first ran in the pages of the regular Batman title, but was soon collected and remastered.
BATMAN CHRONICLES V1 On the other hand, if you want to read the actual stories in the order they were first printed from 1939 on this series (10 volumes to date) collects them all. Keep in mind these stories from the Golden Age of Comics are crudely done, but I love 'em. Featuring the work of Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson-- later volumes include Dick Sprang and Shelly Moldoff.
BATMAN ILLUSTRATED BY NEAL ADAMS V1-3 Neal Adams work on Batman was so popular that DC Collected it ALL in three hardcover volumes recolored by Adams. If you really dig Adams work you'll want these.
LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT: MARSHALL ROGERS The guy I placed second in Great Batman artists has been completely collected in this 500 page hardcover book.
They also did similar volumes for Gene Colan, Don Newton and Jim Aparo. All of them are great-- the Aparo one collects only his early work, later Aparo was much weaker.
Bernie Wrightson's BATMAN Story from Swamp Thing #7 is collected in SWAMP THING DARK GENESIS which means you get 10 issues of Swamp Thing and one issue with the Batman story I'm talking about-- but the whole series is absolutely great so go ahead and get it.
Trevor Von Eeden's BATMAN story from Batman Annual 8 has apparently never been reprinted, so you'd have to get the comic book to see it. Surprising because it's so well regarded.
Frank Miller's DARK KNIGHT RETURNS is a great compliment to Batman Year One-- even though it came out first it tells the story of a retired Batman coming back to Gotham when things have gotten pretty bad and chronicles his last adventure. Epic. Don't confuse it with Miller's DARK KNIGHT STRIKES AGAIN.
So there you have it, a few places to start if you want to get cozy with the Caped Crusader.