Sunday, February 26, 2012

Batman Comics and Me in '66

The folks at DC Comics tried their best to walk the fine line between the more serious version of Batman they had debuted in '64 and the campy TV version but in '66 it was often a losing battle. The BATMAN comics of the day (as well as the Batman stories in DETECTIVE COMICS) were often bland or silly experiences to say the least. The covers that year, however, were glorious! Everything was signed by Bob Kane but nothing was. Above for instance, in the issue just before the show's debut, a Gil Kane/Murphy Anderson Batman with a sci-fi twist.  

Presumably timed to tie in with BATMAN's TV debut since the Riddler had only appeared twice in the 15 or so years since his debut, he became a major player in the Dark Knight;s rogue's gallery due to his TV appearances. 

Above is another Kane/Anderson cover, this one on the first issue to hit the stands after Batmania took hold. Writer Mark Waid once said that this was one of the biggest selling issues and the first BATMAN comic for many, many people. It was definitely my first!

The campiness took hold here with the debut of Poison Ivy. Although a good character, after part two, her only appearance for many, many years would be in a long, silly sequence in the Batman newspaper strip that same year, 

There were no less than three 80 Page Giant reprints out in '66, offering short stories from the past--mostly the sillier fifties and early sixties tales that had led the Caped Crusader's book to the edge of cancellation before the TV series saved it.

An often parodied cover clearly serving just to hype the series, part two of Poison Ivy's tale, interrupted by the reprint issue, actually is the main feature in this issue.

I remember buying this issue in the middle of the night at a Greyhound bis station somewhere in Virginia as my parents and I were on our way to North Carolina to visit relatives in July of '66. I also remember being very disappointed in it.

Another reprint collection, this one highlighted by a genuine classic Bat-tale, Sheldon Moldoff's "Robin Dies at Dawn."

After years of overexposure, the Joker had been put out to pasture as the more serious Batman emerged, only to be resurrected by the TV series and thus also in the comics. I recall reading this issue while sitting in the back seat of our car as my Mom had gone in to where she worked to pick up her paycheck on her day off.

This one also I read in the back seat of the car while my parents did grocery shopping on a Thursday evening. I had gotten it at Woolworth's and as the sun went down I had to turn on the overhead light in the car to keep reading.

This one has such a stylish cover for such a ridiculous story, I remember buying this issue at the drugstore three blocks from our apartment.

  Finally, I didn't buy this issue new at all. At age seven, the cover creeped me out! I do remember finding a copy at a friend's house months later, though, and sitting on the steps there reading it!


  1. that was also my first Batman comic.

  2. I miss those 80 page reprints for a quarter! Just seeing any of those DC's from the 60's and 70's with the checkerboard cover always brings back fond memories. There's a lot to be said for those brighter colors and light hearted stories compared to the dark and depressing stories that seem to be the norm now.

  3. I love your evocative, fragmentary memories of where you read those comics...those were the days...

  4. Batman #180 was also my first Batman comic. I was sick and my dad bought it for me since I was a fan of the TV show. I was 7 and 8 in 1966. Very fond memories.

  5. Also as a kid Bob Kane was my hero and I wanted to able to draw like him. Only years later did I discover Sheldon Moldoff was "Bob Kane."

  6. Magical moments, magical memories, a time and a place where everything sort of came together in a special, unique way: Dean Martin, Doris Day, Time Tunnel, That Girl, Batman, Lost in Space, Mission: Impossible, Nancy Sinatra, Ed Sullivan, Supremes, Creepy, Eerie, Famous Monsters, Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots, Creepy Crawlers, Frank Sinatra, Mia Farrow, Richard Speck, Charles Whitman, drive-in theatre, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (Don Knotts), Blood and Black Lace (Eva Bartok, Cameron Mitchell)...