For the past year I've been working on a project that qualifies as an extreme "labor of love" - I'm compiling and editing a book of essays about the 1966-68 BATMAN TV series.
GOTHAM CITY 14 MILES, due out December 2010 from Sequart Publications, spotlights 14 essays from various writers (myself included) that strive to take a new, fresh look at one of the most cherished - yet reviled - TV series of all time. Personally, I've loved the show almost my entire life and it made me the Batman - and comic book - fan that I am today. And yet others hate it. Loathe it. Why? The show deserves a new forum for discussion and examination and GOTHAM CITY 14 MILES, if I've done my job, will be that forum.
This isn't a love-fest, mind you; there are more than a few critical opinions in the book. I like to say that GOTHAM CITY 14 MILES is for people who love the show...and hate it. What I hope is that by the end of the book the reader may walk away with a few new opinions about BATMAN '66 and its current standing in pop culture.
Over on the GC14M Facebook page, I've been revealing the book's chapters - and their respective writers - one-a-week, to build some excitement for the December release. Here's what's been revealed so far:
Mile Marker #1: "Bats in Their Belfries – The Proliferation of 'Batmania'" - by Robert Greenberger. Bob's essay covers the genesis of the show and the explosion - and quirky substance - of Batmania. From the show's popularity to the spinoff products and beyond, he characterizes this particular form of insanity that gripped the country - the world! - from 1966 to 1968.
Mile Marker #2 - "Batman – From Comics Page to TV Screen" by Peter Sanderson. The prolific comic historian and archivist delves deep into BATMAN '66's comic book roots, detailing all the published stories that inspired episodes and offering speculation and insight on other comic book aspects of the show.
Mile Marker #3 - "Such a Character – A Dissection and Examination of Two Sub-Species of Chiroptera homo sapiens" by Jim Beard. Comics historian and writer Beard sets up criteria to identify the "true" Batman and compares and contrasts the Adam West interpretation to the original 1939 Dark Knight - the results of which may surprise you.
Mile Marker #4 - "Notes on Bat-Camp" by Tim Callahan. Prolific essayist and comics historian Callahan address Susan Sontag - the infamous definer of "Camp" - in a series of incisive and often-hilarious notes, in an effort to answer that ages-old question: "Was BATMAN '66 truly Camp?"
Mile Marker #5 - "Aunt Harriet’s Film Decency League" by Becky Beard. Musician and raconteur Beard explores the amazing caliber of guest-actors the show attracted with a collection of brief biographies of friends and fiends - with a few insightful comments along the way.
Mile Marker #6 - "POW! – Batman’s Visual Punch" - by Bill Walko. Graphic designer and pop historian Walko looks into the impact of the show's vibrant visual design, highlighting such memorable facets as the unique camera shots, the use of color, the animated beginning and creative costuming.
Mile Marker #7 - "Known Super-Criminals Still at Large" by Chuck Dixon. Fan-favorite Batman scribe Dixon opens the cell door on a crafty coterie of crazy criminals, comparing and contrasting TV versions with their comic book progenitors - many of which he wrote himself. Dixon also calls out a few favorites among Batman's on-screen arch-enemies, a few also-rans and even some could-have-beens.
Mile Marker #8 - "May I Have This Batdance?" by Michael Miller. The Editor-in-Chief of Toledo Free Press spins a few platters in a musical look at BATMAN 66's sounds and songs. Miller not only examines the famous theme-music's undeniable impact but also its inspiration for a bevy of bat-spinoffs and confounding crooners.