Thursday, July 24, 2014


Batman's first comic book appearance
July 23, 2014 has been designated Batman Day to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Batman's debut.

I first became familiar with Batman through the Superfriends TV show. As I have mentioned before, the TV show was never in reruns in this area until Me-TV came to town earlier this year. However, we did have The New Adventures of Batman cartoon of the late 70s. One local TV station did air the movie on late night TV occasionally and I did have the View Master reel of the episodes "The Purr-fect Crime /Better Luck Next Time."

I liked just about all of the superheroes but for some reason I liked Batman, probably because he doesn't have super powers. You might say Batman has a scary outfit and PLENTY OF BLING (or as the Joker said in the 1989 movie "those wonderful toys"). He didn't fly, but he had a cool car, boat, plane and helicopter

When I was nine, my parents bought me the book Batman: From the 30s to the 70s, an anthology of great Batman comic book stories. We got it at a discounted price because the dust cover was missing. Above is the dust cover art by Carmine Infantino.

Of course, I have went on record saying that I disliked The Dark Knight movie. I only saw half of Batman Begins, but I liked it much better than The Dark Knight. However, my vote for worst Batman is an actor from Missouri. Robert Lowery was the second Batman First off, the costume is awful. My father made me a Batman cowl and cape out of an old dark blue and white polka doted table cloth my mom was throwing away. I looked more like Batman than Robert Lowery did. The main thing about Lowery is his lack of enthusiasm or excitement. He sounds like he is reading straight from a cue card.

Most hardcore Batman fans hate me because not only do I love the TV show, my favorite movie is the 1966 movie. ONE HINT...THE WORST IS YET TO COME!  My second favorite Batman movie is Batman and Robin starring George Clooney and my third favorite is Batman Forever with Val Kilmer. Fourth is the 1989 movie and fifth is Batman Returns. I hate the dead serious "Dark Knight" stuff. Some of you will just have to get over it!

Speaking of Batman humor!

World's Finest comics featured Batman and Superman teaming up. It also featured many of the notorious DC "Imaginary Stories." In this one Batman blames Superman for his parents death and goes after him with a vengeance. You may not be familiar with the story, but one panel of this story has become pop outside of the comic book story. Robin tells Batman he is out of control and Batman slaps him. That panel has become a popular meme on Facebook. People change the words in the balloon for various reasons. This is the original version.

TRIVIA: What other character did Adam West and Val Kilmer both play before they played Batman? Doc Holiday. Warner Brothers tried to sell a Doc Holiday TV series with West in the staring role during the 50s Western boom. He played Doc Holiday in episodes of Lawman, Sugarfoot and Colt 45. None of the three networks showed interest. West has joked that the networks didn't think TV viewers were ready for a coughing and wheezing hero. Kilmer, of course, played Holiday in Tombstone. Another added Batman connection: In the 1939 movie, Frontier Marshal, Doc Holiday is played by future Joker Cesar Romero.

The man pictured above is Olan Soule. He was the voice of Batman in cartoons from 1968 til 1984. First in the Filmation Adventures of Batman and then on The Superfriends. After 1984, he switched to voicing Professor Stein, the mentor of Firestorm. The voice of Batman was taken over by Adam West. Soule also appeared on the TV shows Captain Midnight, Dragnet and The Andy Griffith Show. The voice of Robin was Casey Kasem.

While on the subject of Batman cartoons, let's straighten something out. Many articles, websites and reference books have claimed that the character of Bat Mite, who was played a prominent role in the 70s New Adventures of Batman cartoon series from Filmation, was created for that series. Nope! He was one of several attempts by DC to copy successful elements of the Superman comics. Bat Mite was supposed to be a good version of Superman's villain, Mr.Myxlplyx. Batman got Ace the Bat-Hound much like Superman had Krypto the Super Dog.

And yes, Batman even had to marry his nosy girl reporter, Vicky Vale, in a cover story. Bob Kane claimed he modeled Vicky after a girl he met at a Hollywood party during the filming of the first Batman serial (which featured Bruce Wayne's first girlfriend, Julie Madison) named Marilyn Monroe.

Incidentally, Lewis Wilson and Douglas Croft (pictured above), who stared in the first Batman serial, are the youngest actors to play Batman and Robin. Wilson was 23 and Croft was 16. Croft and Burt Ward are the only actors to play Robin, who were in their teens (Ward was 19 when the TV show started).

No, this isn't the Joker from one of the serials. The villains in the serials were a Japanese mad scientist and a typical movie serial "hooded" mad scientist. This is the inspiration for the Joker. It is actor Conrad Veidt as Gwynplaine in the 1928 silent movie, The Man Who Laughs. Batman comic writer gave this same photo to artist Jerry Robinson, who drew the version you see on the right.

Last but not least, this is a 1966 children's record of songs about Batman. It credits "Dan and Dale." In reality it is the rock group the Blues Project and experimental jazz musician Sun Ra doing the music. This was the same year Blue Project released their Projections LP.  The Who, The Kinks and Jan and Dean also recorded versions of the theme song.

Let's leave with these words of wisdom from Batman.


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