The Boy Who Loved Batman (book) Long read

General goings on in the 1966 Batman World

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John Mack
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The Boy Who Loved Batman (book) Long read

Post by John Mack » Tue Sep 11, 2012 9:30 pm

I came across this book, "The Boy Who Loved Batman" by Michael Uslan and thought it might be a good read. Being a huge fan of the 66 series, I saw lots of photos of him as child with 66 Batman items in this book, but reading it, I was totally shocked and never finished the book. It's a giant anti-1966 Batman bashing!! Mr. Uslan purchased the rights to Batman somehow and was responsible for the all the "Dark Knight" movies. He hates the 66 Batman and there's even a chapter in his book that I cannot even tell you the name of due to dirty language! I don't know if he has played some role in the non-release of the DVDs but as he owns the rights to Batman, he may.

If you like other aspects of the Batman saga, you may like the book, but if you're like I am and only like the series, you'll be upset. I don't know if Mr. Uslan knows that the series mimiced the tone of the comics at the time and that the series helped save Batman, boosting comics' sales beyond belief, but I rather imagine his hatred of the series clouded his vision. You can "Google" him and learn all about how he aquired the rights to Batman and "saved" the hero.

I suppose he must have gotten greedy at some point, since in the Spring of 2013 we'll see 1966 Merchandise coming out, some of the percentage of sales he'll no doubt receive himself. So, to wrap things up, it's an interesting book but his take on how the TV series made people "Laugh at Batman" is IMO totally off the mark.'

John
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Robin Holyisms
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Re: The Boy Who Loved Batman (book) Long read

Post by Robin Holyisms » Tue Sep 11, 2012 9:54 pm

Batguitarist wrote:I came across this book, "The Boy Who Loved Batman" by Michael Uslan and thought it might be a good read. Being a huge fan of the 66 series, I saw lots of photos of him as child with 66 Batman items in this book, but reading it, I was totally shocked and never finished the book. It's a giant anti-1966 Batman bashing!! Mr. Uslan purchased the rights to Batman somehow and was responsible for the all the "Dark Knight" movies. He hates the 66 Batman and there's even a chapter in his book that I cannot even tell you the name of due to dirty language! I don't know if he has played some role in the non-release of the DVDs but as he owns the rights to Batman, he may.
He was a childhood fan of the show. But he turned on the series when he saw that Batman in the comics was darker and more serious than Adam's Batman.
If you like other aspects of the Batman saga, you may like the book, but if you're like I am and only like the series, you'll be upset. I don't know if Mr. Uslan knows that the series mimiced the tone of the comics at the time and that the series helped save Batman, boosting comics' sales beyond belief, but I rather imagine his hatred of the series clouded his vision. You can "Google" him and learn all about how he aquired the rights to Batman and "saved" the hero.
Definitely not because he mentions these things in a documentary for the TV Series. Which can be found on the blu-ray release of the movie.

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SprangFan
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Re: The Boy Who Loved Batman (book) Long read

Post by SprangFan » Wed Sep 12, 2012 5:09 am

Uslan doesn't "own Batman," but he does possess certain film rights, dating back to the late 70s I believe when he (and someone) formed the "Batfilms" company. He has no say in what Warners, Fox or anyone else do with the TV show.

I've considered getting this book a few times out of curiosity but so far I've held back because of the "66 bashing." Not because I think the '66 show is the only valid interpretation of the character, but because I've already endured decades worth of fanboys whining about how "goofy" the show was and how Batman needs to be "grim and gritty" and ultra-serious, and the fact that Uslan happens to be a very highly placed and influential fanboy doesn't make the rants less tiresome and tedious. The fact is that breed of fans won a long time ago; they've got their "dark" Batman and have had him for decades. I'll leave it to others to decide whether that's been a good thing for the character (I have my own opinions, naturally) but the point is at this point the '66 show is a straw man. Those fans may have felt they were "fighting the good fight" back in the day when "Batman" meant "Sock! Bam! Pow!" to the non-comics-reading world, but by now "Batman" means something else entirely to most people, so why go out of your way to bash the old show? Surely at this point even the "dark Batman" fans can appreciate the show as, at worst, a harmless diversion and at best a huge source of fun. Generally you'll find that fanboys who "defend the character" are really trying to defend themselves. They desperately want to be taken seriously as fans of a guy who -- in whatever version you choose -- dresses up like a bat to fight crime at night. Whatever.

Anyway, I recently saw the book at an on-line retailer for $6 and pulled the trigger. It hasn't arrived yet, and I don't know when I'll get around to reading it, but I figure it could be interesting for the insights into getting the films made (people forget what an odyssey that was, now that it's a fait accompli), if not for the West-bashing.
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AndyFish
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Re: The Boy Who Loved Batman (book) Long read

Post by AndyFish » Wed Sep 12, 2012 7:13 am

I read it and I've spoken with Mike in the past-- he loves the character which is what brings us all here in the first place.
He doesn't hate the show-- he hates what the show became and how they made Batman a clown in the later episodes. As much as I love Batman in surfer trunks I have to agree-- it took a long time for the general public to see Batman as anything but a buffoon.

Overall the book is about perseverance; he wanted to make a serious Batman film at a time when no one could see it. At a time when WB thought the character had no value at all.

He did as much to save the character as Bill Dozier did in the mid 60s.

Uslan has zero say in the TV Series being released. There's this false notion that someone is holding it back, someone at DC or WB who only wants the public to see the dark and scary Batman-- and that's hogwash because if you look at the reprints DC often does of stories from the 50s when Batman is fighting aliens from space or turning into a giant ape-- or if you see the idolization of Adam West at the company you'd realize they want it released as badly as the rest of us.

I'm not saying there is a full bootleg set of DVDs of the 60s show right there in the offices, but I'm not saying there isn't either. And I can tell you for certain I've been there when an episode was playing in the freelancer room and a crowd would gather to watch it.

Mike also apologized to Adam for any negative comments he's made that might have seemed harsh.
Having said all that-- I liked the book but I resold my copy on Amazon after I read it. Felt no need to keep it.

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SprangFan
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Re: The Boy Who Loved Batman (book) Long read

Post by SprangFan » Wed Sep 12, 2012 9:39 am

Well, I will say this: It did get really tiresome after a while having every single newspaper or magazine article about comic books start with "Zap! Bam! Pow!" as if that was the alpha and omega of comics. The '66 series put the medium on the map for a lot of the public, but it also defined it in ways that would frustrate a lot of creators and fans for years to come. Then, as now, a lot more people see movies and watch TV than will ever read a comic book, so the only way to change Batman's image in the public mind was to do it with more movies, made in a different tone.

The power of the '66 series is evident in the way it shaped the first season of "Wonder Woman" in the mid-70s and even the Superman films. As much as Superman: The Movie is praised for taking its subject matter seriously, the truth is there is a huge shift in tone as soon as Reeve gets the costume on and the action moves to Metropolis. Gene Hackman's Lex Luthor is a scenery-chewing camp character who would've fit comfortably into 66 Gotham's Rogue's Gallery.

I still remember seeing Uslan's name for the first time at the end of the 70s when, in the wake of the Superman film's success, a new Batman franchise was announced. The plan at the time was to make it "more James Bond than Adam West," which sounded great. As it happened, it took a full decade to get a Batman film made and even then it was closer to a Hammer horror film than James Bond, though with the Nolan flics we've finally got the 007 approach, 30 years after it was promised.

And for me, it wasn't worth the wait. But your mileage may vary.
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Aussie Batfan
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Re: The Boy Who Loved Batman (book) Long read

Post by Aussie Batfan » Fri Sep 14, 2012 3:09 am

Thanks John for the review. i actually stumbled across this book recently in a Sydney bookshop and thought I must buy it. Looked good on face value!
However having read your critique, I think I'd be disappointed - particularly if it dishes Adam in the role.
Cheers,
Terry

WayneGrayson
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Re: The Boy Who Loved Batman (book) Long read

Post by WayneGrayson » Fri Sep 14, 2012 4:26 am

That makes two books I'd like to read - the other being by Dr Wertham. I heard excerpts of Wertham in the past and I'd like to check out the whole thing. Wertham's point of view didn't change my opinion of the character or the series, and I don't think Usla will either. I'd just like to know where they're coming from.

To be honest, I never much liked the darker Batman movies, only as I couldn't accept Batman/Bruce Wayne in that sort of mode, and so I kept thinking "that can't be Batman". The one I know seems like a true humanitarian, always out to protect the innocent and bring the guilty to justice. He had no malice toward his nemeses. He operated under "hate the sin but not the sinner". Later on in life, I got the impression the 1966 series had a sort of spiritual bent on it - Robin's "holy" puns notwithstanding. Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson always came off as truly good, decent, altruistic men, which is an admirable quality. I saw none of that in any of the later films, and so I didn't like the latter-day Robin character as a street punk. The movies aren't bad ones, they were exciting and some of them were well done - it's just that these two guys in the latex outfits just weren't Batman and Robin in my view.

Finally, if the series had a more adult tone, if the goofiness were to be toned down somewhat, Batman and Robin's 1966 human qualities would have made it an even better series than it was.

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BatmiteReturns
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Re: The Boy Who Loved Batman (book) Long read

Post by BatmiteReturns » Fri Sep 14, 2012 8:56 pm

Honestly I bought the book because I wanted the inside scoop on the development hell that the Batman film went through. After Burton was on board I was hoping for a bit more inside info regarding Keaton, or Nicholson but it was a bit of a let down.

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SprangFan
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Re: The Boy Who Loved Batman (book) Long read

Post by SprangFan » Sun May 17, 2015 11:33 am

Resurrecting this thread because I'm finally reading the book, or trying to anyway.

I'm less than 60 pages in and while there are some fun anecdotes, and stuff any kid who grew up loving comics can identify with, there are also enough errors (if not falsehoods) to keep derailing the reading experience every few pages.

Some are little, like saying "I loved....Plan 9 from Outer Space, which featured a gorilla who wore a fish bowl with a 1950s TV antennae [sic] on top of his head." Well, of course that was Robot Monster, not Plan 9. Most bat-fans would know that if only because the film was shot, partly, at our beloved Bronson Canyon/Caves. But hey, an honest mistake.

But then there's the part where he says that in high school he drew parodies of comic book characters: "...Shang-Chi, Master of Kung-Fu, became Yuck-Fou, a comment on just how behind the times the comic book portrayals of Asians were circa 1967." Well, maybe comics were behind the times, but Uslan was obviously ahead of them, since Shang-Chi wouldn't make his first appearance until 1973!

More egregious is the entire chapter devoted to Dr Wertham's "Seduction of the Innocent" and the Congressional "witch hunt" headed up by Sen. Estes Kefauver. Even Uslan reports that this happened circa 1955, but he goes on to describe how as a result of the ensuing national frenzy, parents in his hometown started digging out their kids' comics and getting rid of them. His best friend's father, who up til now has been okay with the hobby, suddenly goes berserk and starts shoveling the kid's comics into the fireplace. "I watched helplessly as his comics went up in flames," writes Uslan, including Amazing Fantasy #15, Amazing Spider-Man #1, Fantastic Four #1-14, and so on and so on. Suffice to say not a single issue he lists was published before 1961, which means either (1) Uslan's town was really slow to get the news of the anti-comics Senate hearings (on this timetable, they would've been burning Beatle records around 1974) or (2) Uslan isn't about to let facts get in the way of a good story.

It feels odd to say an author can't even tell his own autobiography correctly, but so far this kind of thing doesn't instill a lot of confidence in the guy as a source of information on...well, anything. Frankly after a beginning like this, I'm inclined to take anything he says with a grain of salt.
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Re: The Boy Who Loved Batman (book) Long read

Post by SprangFan » Sun May 17, 2015 11:39 am

Oh yeah, forgot to mention: besides just the chapter title Batguitarist mentioned at the start of this thread, Uslan has a real potty mouth throughout. Word to the wise.
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Progress Pigment
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Re: The Boy Who Loved Batman (book) Long read

Post by Progress Pigment » Sun May 17, 2015 2:04 pm

The guy's a worthless sanctimonious little troll! I read his book. He's certainly got a potty mouth on him. He "saved" Batman. What audacity! He's the reason Adam West & Burt Ward weren't able to do the planned "serious" Batman TV movie for CBS. He optioned the character in 1980 and held It hostage. He's the reason we got NOTHING live-action Batman related for nearly ten years. I liked the review below on Amazon. HIS Batman, and yes Batman was his, let us make no mistake. His Batman had to be dark. I'll just say it, I hated the Burton movies. They were soul-less two-hour PG rated toy commercials. The renaissance of the TV series -- now beloved by today's intelligent comics fanboys -- and the fact that that the Burton films are swept under the rug must really gall him. He's so crusty, he even came out a while back and tried to take some credit for the Nolan films! As he did for Tim Burton's. And as much as I'm not a fan of Burton's Batman, unlike Uslan he has actual talent. And Christopher Nolan, a real fan of the TV series -- which Uslan certainly is not -- put the heroism back in Batman that was completely lacking in every live-action Batman project since Adam West.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Boy-Who-Loved ... geNumber=1
Next week, the Dynamic Duo meets the Clock King!

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Progress Pigment
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Re: The Boy Who Loved Batman (book) Long read

Post by Progress Pigment » Sun May 17, 2015 2:13 pm

WayneGrayson wrote: Finally, if the series had a more adult tone, if the goofiness were to be toned down somewhat, Batman and Robin's 1966 human qualities would have made it an even better series than it was.
I very much agree. If after the nearly flawless first season, the second season had become slightly more grounded in reality instead of Stanley Ralph Ross-ed into oblivion, that would have been a fine thing.
Next week, the Dynamic Duo meets the Clock King!

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Re: The Boy Who Loved Batman (book) Long read

Post by WayneGrayson » Sat Jun 27, 2015 1:16 pm

Progress Pigment wrote:
WayneGrayson wrote: Finally, if the series had a more adult tone, if the goofiness were to be toned down somewhat, Batman and Robin's 1966 human qualities would have made it an even better series than it was.
I very much agree. If after the nearly flawless first season, the second season had become slightly more grounded in reality instead of Stanley Ralph Ross-ed into oblivion, that would have been a fine thing.
I totally agree. The first season was tops! Mr Freeze, Zelda and False Face - what a triumvirate.

Now - as for the book...I read it recently but lost interest after reading the TV-show bashing. Good thing I just borrowed it.

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Re: The Boy Who Loved Batman (book) Long read

Post by LA Batfan » Tue Jun 30, 2015 6:37 am

This guy is a self-aggrandizing blowhard. He twists facts and dates as he sees fit. For years he's been talking about how he brought Batman to the big screen. Well, he did wisely acquired the screen rights, but ever since then, producers have just been writing checks just to make him go away. If you want to know how much (or little, more accurately) he's been involved over the years, read a great book filled with FACTS about Batman in the media called "Billion Dollar Batman" by Bruce Scivally. http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/billion ... 0615306414

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Progress Pigment
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Re: The Boy Who Loved Batman (book) Long read

Post by Progress Pigment » Tue Jun 30, 2015 7:45 pm

Absolutely agreed! He however has snowed a lot of comics fans into believing he's the second coming. Here he is at a Bill Finger tribute. Finger being a man, who unlike Uslan, contributed greatly to Batman. And who unlike Uslan made practically nothing for his efforts. Bill Finger even wrote an episode (my favorite!) of the TV series that Uslan reviles! And here he is talking to Lee Meriwether! I don't doubt that since the TV show is HOT right now, that Uslan, con-artist that he is, has softened on the show a bit.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/15543694@ ... 014682376/

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Next week, the Dynamic Duo meets the Clock King!

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