Naughty and Nice: The Good Girl Art Of Bruce Timm

This book kept coming up but I held it at bay, until it showed up at my local comic shop. One quick thumbing and Naughty and Nice: The Good Girl Art Of Bruce Timm was a must-have.

Bruce Timm Naughty and Nice cover

In a radical departure from his previous work on animated films and comics featuring superheroes, the award-winning artist Bruce Timm presents an extensive survey of the many forms that his shapely muse has assumed in his mind’s eye. Naughty and Nice: The Good Girl Art Of Bruce Timm showcases over 300 full-color, line and pencil images of partially clothed and nude women of almost every conceivable description and temperament.

This substantial collection provides shapely forms and earthly delights throughout its pages. Be it a sophisticated city gal or a savage jungle queen, a hard-boiled dame or an elegant lady from the land of fantasy, a quietly smoldering sorceress or a wild-hearted adventuress, each of Timm’s ladies is sure to please the eye.

Over 125 new images have been prepared especially for this handsome book. Timm explores the female form with absolute creative freedom, and pure personal expression is the result. The artist has granted Flesk Publications unprecedented access to his archives to provide the best representation of his private works. These rarely seen images span the last 15 years and are showcased in a single collection for the first time.

  • This book contains nudity: Mature Readers
  • Introduction by Jim Steranko 304 pages, 9 x 12 in.
  • Flesk Publications, January 2012
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-933865-40-9, Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-933865-41-6
  • Order online: Abebooks, eBay
Bruce Timm Naughty and Nice interior 2

The name says it all. Upon entering you’ll be privy to over 300 images from Bruce Timm, all of them women and most of them naked. It’s a bit of an odd duck for most comic readers since we know Bruce Timm for his work at DC animation, but leave that thinking aside and take a good long look at this book. Jim Steranko sums it up wonderfully in his introduction:

Like it or not, BT is subconsciously taking us into his confidence – he’s sharing his fantasies and his fantasy femmes with us. They are the women of his dreams: Barbie-doll hairdos; subliminally-exotic eyes; Bardot lips; perky, plum-sized breasts; waspy waists; flaring hips (he loves that line like his life depends on it); ample asses; schoolgirl legs.

Almost as important as what they are is what they’re not. Check ‘em out fellas. They’re breezy, not sleazy. Provocateurs, not pop tarts. Hipswingers, not hookers.

Bruce Timm Naughty and Nice interior 1

Apart from the introduction, there’s no other text, just chapter titles. And while Steranko provides a decent bio of Bruce Timm we’re here for the pictures. To be honest I don’t see the point of the nude chapters other than, to my eye, as a loose outline of image type. Spicy and Sweet, Bedroom Eyes, Dreamgirls, Beware of Curves and I’d Love to Turn you On are all chapters that feature predominantly nude pieces. Spot-on chapters include Swords and Sirens (fantasy), Dark Desires (horror themed), Deadlier Than The Male (Femme Fatales) and Avenging Angels (DC comics women, no nudes in case you were wondering).

Naughty and Nice: The Good Girl Art Of Bruce Timm is a nice blend of inked, coloured and painted images. We get to see a few times the work development from pencil to paint. John Fleskes on his blog has an excellent post on putting this book together.

My goal from the start was a book that was on Bruce Timm, not a book that revolved around the characters that he works on. I wanted to see “The Art of Bruce Timm,” not “The Art of Batman” by Bruce Timm.

Bruce Timm Naughty and Nice interior 3

By spring of 2010 Bruce started sending me art, and sending me extra art, and then additional art, and the pieces just kept coming. I was flabbergasted to see so much amazing art. The book kept growing, morphing and expanding. I found myself rethinking the book with designer Randy Dahlk several times and sending updates to Bruce for his thoughts. By Comic-Con 2011 I had a 304 page preliminary designed book to show Bruce at San Diego. On the Sunday of the show Bruce found some time to flip through the pages. I could tell by a few of his comments that we didn’t nail it. There were issues with the pacing of the book. I sent the dummy book to Bruce after the show to give him time to absorb the design and offer suggestions. Shortly after, I received an email from Bruce that basically put into words what I was expecting to hear. He expressed that book needed an extensive overhaul. Let me state how exceptionally well Bruce phrased his email and gave clear explanations regarding how the book could benefit from a redesign. He offered many examples and suggestions. Sure, I wish we impressed him more, but I was in no way disappointed. I was energized about the possibility of improvement.

Ultimately I enjoyed the topical material much better, especially the DC women. Big Barda is my favourite DC female character and Timm does the character so well. I greatly enjoy Timm’s style and his sense of layout, but that seems more pronounced in the non-nude work. Yes, there’s variation in the nudes, hairstyle and colour, posing, but it begins to blur since he has a specific body type. At least with some clothing and props we get more of that good girl feel, in the tradition of Gil Elvgren. Straight up naked isn’t good girl art.

Bruce Timm Naughty and Nice signature plate

What differentiates the two editions? For $50 you get the softcover volume. For $100 you get a hardcover volume with a dust jacket in a slipcase. The front and back cover of the hardcover are exclusive art, as is the signature plate shown above signed by Bruce Timm. Both editions use a wonderfully heavy paper stock that has enough gloss to make the images pop. Let’s talk value: this book seems a little pricey at $50. I know, it’s a very limited market but it being Bruce Timm should move it beyond the comic world and into animation fans. The extra $50 for the signed and numbered hardcover in my mind are worth it, based on packaging and it’s exclusivity. Fleskes noted the signed hardcover edition… are an exclusive with Diamond Comic Distributors or direct through us only. (These were the prices at publication: both are now out of print and command high prices.)

Naughty and Nice: The Good Girl Art Of Bruce Timm is a must-have book for any Bruce Timm art fan. While the nude material gets a bit monotonous the sheer volume allows for a deeper understanding of his style.

Originally published at Comic Book Daily.