How might a longtime Batman comics reader in 1966 have reacted to Burgess Meredith's portrayal of the Penguin? That's the question our friend Kyle hit on a few months ago, and in this episode he joins us to read pre-'66 Batman comics to compare how similar Meredith's Penguin was to the character in stories by Bob Kane, Bill Finger, Sheldon Moldoff, France Herron, and the like. How similar are the two versions, and where are they different?
http://tothebatpoles.libsyn.com/124-pen ... n-meredith
Penguin's first appearance - 1941
Penguin - 1942
Penguin - 1943
Penguin - 1945
Penguin - 1946
Penguin - 1951
Penguin - 1965
I think Meredith's Penguin was an upgrade from the comic version, as his motives, along with Meredith's range as a performer gave the Penguin a very manipulative edge, arguably a more sinister personality, especially in his early arcs. I never bought his Golden Age version as a major villain, but more of one of those annoying, pest-like characters so common in Golden Age comics.
If anything, TV Penguin elevated the character's pop cultural status to the point where he would become a villain adapted almost as much as the Joker in nearly every live action and animated production starting with Filmaton 1n '68. Although each adapted version was not a carbon copy of Meredith (especially Danny DeVito's interpretation), there's always a trace of the '66 villain's arrogant, scheming personality that was simply not to be found pre-Silver Age.
Regarding Dozier and Semple's use of vintage comics in addition to contemporary ones as the basis for TV episodes, at least part of the story lies in Batman #176 (December 1965), an all-reprint issue focused on costumed supervillains. It included "The Joker's Utility Belt" (originally published in 1952), "The Ice Crimes of Mr. Zero" (the 1959 story that inspired Mr. Freeze), and stories featuring Penguin and Catwoman (among others).
That issue and other comics that inspired TV stories are discussed at greater Iength in this board thread: Another comic story that's the basis of a Batman 66 episode.
As to Penguin's comics gimmick of using trained birds to commit crimes, there's no doubt that'd be tough to make work in live action. Catwoman had a similar habit of using kitties (and bigger cats) in her heists. They kept a little of that in her initial TV appearance (the lady or the tiger bit, Robin over the tiger cage) but ditched it in her later adventures.
One other thing worth mentioning: Supposedly the character of The Penguin was inspired by the advertising mascot for Kool cigarettes:
Check out this YouTube clip of the mascot character's animated debut.
Right, that was something I had meant to bring up in the podcast but didn't get to it. Wikipedia says that that was Bob Kane's explanation, but "Co-creator Bill Finger thought that the image of high-society gentlemen in tuxedos was reminiscent of emperor penguins." Not necessarily mutually exclusive explanations....
The green guy is Joe Crow. In Batman 11 (1942), Penguin teamed with Joe Crow, Buzzard Benny, and Canary in a "honest casino" story.Who's the green-faced guy in the 1942 panel?
I have to admit, being totally serious, as a childhood asthmatic, I was scared by Penguin smoking incessantly. It wasn't until later I learned most of the actors were doing it IRL, especially Gorshin, unfortunately.
My hobbies include gazing at the Siren and doing her bidding, evil or otherwise.
'She had a devastating, hypnotic effect on all the men.'--A schoolmate describing Joan Collins at age 17
http://www.mikesamazingworld.com/mikes/ ... micid=3682
I want to go at your analysis from the opposite, mirror direction. I first discovered Batman and his rogues watching reruns of the 1960s show in 1976, Penguin was the villain I found closest to his TV show image. That would have been in a David V. Reed two-parter in Batman 287-288. Admittedly, Reed's was the most light-hearted Batman of the Bronze Age. I also can see Englehart's Malay Penguin working as a TV show episode.
Next to Penguin, in the bronze age, I found Joker to be closest to his TV counterpart. While the Joker in the comics was certainly more murderous, in my two favorite bronze age issues, the Joker makes fish have his face and in the other one he straps his enemies to giant rocket candles on his birthday cake. The difference : in the comics everyone thinks these are crazy plots that don't make any sense. As Batman said, "The Joker's insane schemes make sense to him alone." On the TV show, every Gotham City citizen would have thought his plots made perfect sense.
The villain who was the most different was Riddler. I didn't like how much more calm and subdued he was in the comics after being wowed by Frank Gorshin's manic performance. The Riddler on Power Records Batman story was more Gorshin.
The "Four Birds of a Feather" Batman story from Batman 11 was later adapted into a Whitman Giant Comics to Color. I don't know why Whitman did a new adaptation and didn't just reprint actual comic book stories.
https://www.amazon.com/Batman-Robin-Bat ... B001KTQTJG
I want to go at your analysis from the opposite, mirror direction. I first discovered Batman and his rogues watching reruns of the 1960s show in 1976,
Great thought. The TV show certainly had it's influence on the characters and Riddler is a great example.The villain who was the most different was Riddler.