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Marshall Rogers, 57; comic book artist was fan favorite for work on Batman in late 1970s

Times Staff Writer

Marshall Rogers, the comic book artist whose landmark work on Batman in the 1970s was celebrated for its bold flair and stylish grace, has died. He was 57.

Rogers died Sunday in his Fremont, Calif., home “unexpectedly,” said his sister, Suzanne Schmachtenberger, who added that the family was awaiting the official cause of death.

Rogers was a relatively inexperienced outsider when he took over the plum assignment of penciling Batman’s adventures in “Detective Comics” in 1977. Paul Levitz, president of DC Comics now and a writer then, recalled that Rogers became “one of the radical young stylists bringing new looks to DC in the ‘70s.”

Born Jan. 22, 1950, in Flushing, N.Y., Rogers grew up in Ardsley, N.Y., and was trained as an architect at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. That schooling was evident in his meticulously detailed Gotham City, which was far more realistic than any previous vision of the hero’s city. His use of shadows added a film noir sensibility to the pages.

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That fit the sensibilities of his collaborator, writer Steve Englehart, whose character development, romantic subplots and dialogue were considered ambitious for that era.

The pair had a short run on Batman: Rogers drew the lead story in only six issues of “Detective Comics,” but they became prized by collectors and frequently cited by the next generation of comics creators. Along with Neal Adams, Rogers became the fan-favorite Batman artist of the 1970s.

“He drew a total fantasy world, but he wanted it to be a very real fantasy world,” Englehart said Tuesday. “It was very striking, it jumped off the page ... another artist could have worked on pages every month for 30 years and not made the impact Marshall did.”

Rogers also worked through the years on characters such as Silver Surfer, Mister Miracle, Dr. Strange, Iron Fist and G.I. Joe. In 1980, he drew the graphic novel, “Detectives Inc.: A Remembrance of Threatening Green,” for the upstart independent Eclipse Comics, where he also wrote and drew 1984’s “Cap’n Quick and a Foozle,” the fantasy adventures of a precocious child.

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Rogers worked in the video game industry in the 1990s but returned to comics and reunited with Englehart and inker Terry Austin for a Batman series titled “Dark Detective” in 2005. A Batman project by the trio was underway when Rogers died.

In addition to his sister, Rogers is survived by his mother, Ann White Rogers, and his stepson, Russell Young.

Memorial services are pending.

geoff.boucher@latimes.com

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