Arlen Schumer Article On The Show

General goings on in the 1966 Batman World

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Keith Mayo
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Arlen Schumer Article On The Show

Post by Keith Mayo » Mon Jan 14, 2019 11:01 am

"It's the very essence of our democracy". - Batman, S1 Ep 11

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SprangFan
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Re: Arlen Schumer Article On The Show

Post by SprangFan » Mon Jan 14, 2019 1:25 pm

Obviously not a big fan. :lol:

I enjoy Arlen's book and his various magazine articles, but I've never shared his (and others') sense of indignation regarding the '66 series and its comedic approach to the Caped Crusader. I'm old enough to have lived through an era where fans (like me) of comics and sci-fi were picked on and bullied, and "geek" was not a compliment, but I still have trouble jumping on the bandwagon to stake a claim to "victimhood" because my favorite funny book character, or cartoon or whatever, isn't treated as seriously as the works of Hemingway or Longfellow. I find a sense of humor, and perspective, goes a long way.

From a purely pragmatic point of view, whether you love the show or hate it, there's no denying it saved Batman. As Arlen himself points out, Detective Comics (if not Batman...but maybe) was on the verge of cancellation by the early 60s and while Schwartz and Infantino gave the books a shot in the arm, nothing put Batman on the cultural radar like the TV show. Then, as now, many many many more people watch TV and movies than read comics, and the show gave the character a visibility and popularity no comic artist, even the great Infantino, could have managed.

The tremendous merchandising success of the show also opened the eyes of greedy bean-counters all over Hollywood to the potential earning power of superhero properties. You could make a strong argument that not only did the show save the comics, it also laid the groundwork for the modern age of Geek Culture, with more multi-million dollar superhero films than anyone needs or wants. There's a definite "through line" from Batman '66 to Superman '78 to Batman '89 to...well every 4 out of 5 films in your multiplex now. So like it or love it, the show's place in history, and importance to the genre, is assured.

That said, I'd have to agree with him that the stultifying sameness of the formula wore thin super-fast. But as far as humor, at least in the first season, it wasn't so much a case of "writing gags" as it was literally transferring -- not adapting -- dialog and situations from page to screen that generated the humor. Stuff you could do in a comic with a straight face became totally ridiculous when performed by live actors. I still think that's funny, and if anyone at the time thought Batman comics were more "serious" than what was on the screen, it's because they had their geek blinders on. I can easily see Arlen and his brother getting indignant over the treatment of their hero. I can just as easily see Dozier hoping for that exact reaction. If an elementary school student thinks an unbeatable hero dressed like a giant gray, blue and yellow bat is being presented as a silly concept...well, mission accomplished.
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Keith Mayo
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Re: Arlen Schumer Article On The Show

Post by Keith Mayo » Mon Jan 14, 2019 2:25 pm

I agree with you, Sir, but I'd like to point to the very last line of the article. I think that sums it up very well.
"It's the very essence of our democracy". - Batman, S1 Ep 11

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Re: Arlen Schumer Article On The Show

Post by BATWINGED HORNET » Mon Jan 14, 2019 7:27 pm

SprangFan wrote:
Mon Jan 14, 2019 1:25 pm

From a purely pragmatic point of view, whether you love the show or hate it, there's no denying it saved Batman. As Arlen himself points out, Detective Comics (if not Batman...but maybe) was on the verge of cancellation by the early 60s and while Schwartz and Infantino gave the books a shot in the arm, nothing put Batman on the cultural radar like the TV show. Then, as now, many many many more people watch TV and movies than read comics, and the show gave the character a visibility and popularity no comic artist, even the great Infantino, could have managed.
According to Infantino from the book The Amazing World of Carmine Infantino:

"As always, I had tons of other work, and getting Kane totally away from his creation was a sticky situation. So Kane continued handling the interior of the regular Batman title. We noticed right away that the sales of Detective Comics I drew featuring Batman jumped much higher than the Batman issues by Kane. So I was assigned to draw the covers of all the titles Batman appeared in. By improving the characters in general, through my Batman stories in other titles, plus doing all Batman covers, we saved the character

The sales started to increase pretty quickly; Batman was coming back."


About the idea of Batman being cancelled, there's the following passage from American Comic Book Chronicles: 1960-64:

"There was never any consideration of cancelling Batman because of poor sales in the 60s, outgoing editor Jack Schiff insisted. "All comics were bad across the board". Indeed, Batman was still considered enough of a draw to support regular reprint giants and Julius Schwartz previously had to fight to feature him in Justice League of America lest he be perceived as overexposed.

And yet, Schwartz, Infantino and even Kane genuinely believed that cancellation was a possibility. The truth may lie in part with Kane's contract with DC. "Bob got some kind of revenue out of it," Infantino learned after he became the company's Editorial Director in 1968, "which took most of the money. It cost us more than we made to get somebody else to do the strip."

Many DC titles moved significantly fewer issues than
Batman and Detective but they were also selling a higher percentage of the copies that were actually printed and thus made a profit. Infantino revealed that, at the outset of the revamp, 68% of a given Batman issue's print run was going unsold. Coupled with Kane's payment, it becomes easier to understand why the Bat-books had become unprofitable."

So, it seems there were always a great deal of myths told about the status of the early 60s Batman comics and ultimately, that also shines a light on any true influence/impact the TV series' had on it
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Re: Arlen Schumer Article On The Show

Post by Progress Pigment » Tue Jan 15, 2019 2:05 am

:) Seriously? Grandpa needs to calm down!!! Schumer is one of these dinosaurs who's appreciation of the Batman character begins & ends with the 1989 Tim Burton movie, and the Batman: TAS cartoon. I've read some of his stuff. For him Marvel comics, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby seem to be the end all of everything. And good for him! A guy eligible for social security who spends his days & nights obsessing over comics & superhero cartoons & TV shows all day? That's healthy! But anyone who has love for the Batman series, like about 90% of comics fans under 30 these days,and the rest of us, should just ignore this ... person? The guy subscribes to AARP magazine! Which is fine. I only mean, shouldn't someone his age have other ... interests? Nothing this boy said or ever could say affected my love of the Batman TV series one iota. By the time I finished one paragraph, I thought, OMG what a bunch of dog doo doo. And meanwhile, the old Batman series gains new fans everyday. :D

Oh, isn't he handsome! Not really.

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Re: Arlen Schumer Article On The Show

Post by SprangFan » Tue Jan 15, 2019 4:51 am

So, it seems there were always a great deal of myths told about the status of the early 60s Batman comics and ultimately, that also shines a light on any true influence/impact the TV series' had on it
Fair enough, but I think it's undeniable that the show accounted for a boost in comic book sales overall, and not just Batman comics. Of course it was short-lived, and arguably had an unfortunate impact on Batman and Justice League issues that adapted (poorly) the "camp" approach, but it did bring people in. Personally I'd never have sought out comics without the Filmation and George Reeves Superman entering my life, and I'm sure the cycle continues in the age of the MCU.

Its hard to believe any book that regularly saw 68% of its print run unsold wouldn't be a serious candidate for cancellation. But maybe then, as now, certain characters were sacrosanct to the company no matter how weak the sales. Better to hold on to the IP than worry about short term profits. I'm pretty sure that today's sales numbers for comics in general would have been enough to see DC shut it's doors in the 60s. Now it's the merchandise and Hollywood deals that pay the bills.

It is interesting, though, to see the above quotes reinforcing my view of Bob Kane's impact on Batman history, which I'd sum up as "more trouble than he was worth."
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Keith Mayo
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Re: Arlen Schumer Article On The Show

Post by Keith Mayo » Tue Jan 15, 2019 6:51 am

Progress Pigment wrote:
Tue Jan 15, 2019 2:05 am
:) A guy eligible for social security who spends his days & nights obsessing over comics & superhero cartoons & TV shows all day? That's healthy!



As a SS recipient grandfather who spends a great deal of his time obsessing over comics and superheroes myself, I will only say that your shooting the messenger without refuting what he wrote says more about you then he. :-)
"It's the very essence of our democracy". - Batman, S1 Ep 11

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Re: Arlen Schumer Article On The Show

Post by SprangFan » Tue Jan 15, 2019 8:44 am

I agree with Keith that Schumer is entitled to his opinions and he isn't alone in the "getting up there" department((and for the record, I'm not going to put Brad Pitt out of work as a heart-throb either). I also enjoyed his book, and don't wish him any ill.

What I don't get so much is the desire to beat a dead horse. The Batman show has been savaged by comic book fans for decades, and there can't be many readers out there who haven't heard a similar rant ("It makes fun of our hero! Boo!"). And yes, there were a lot of years there where it was a sort of "Boogey Man" for comic collectors because it defined "comic books" in the minds of people who watch TV and movies but don't read comics (which is most of the civilized world). I got as tired as anyone of seeing "Sock! Bam! Pow!" at the start of every newspaper or magazine article discussing anything vaguely related to comics, and I think the decision to make Lex Luthor a "camp" villain in Superman: The Movie created an awkward shift in tone at the halfway point and kept the film from being satisfyingly either fish or fowl. The show cast a long, long shadow. But it's been 50 years now, and things have changed a lot. Basically, the other side "won." After a LOT of (too many?) high-profile films, Batman is by now well established as a grim, tortured, humorless near-automaton, beating up criminals with RoboCop-like implacability and taking the occasional break as Bruce Wayne to mope about the sorry state of his personal life. The "general public" now sees the Miller-esque Batman as THE Batman, so there's no harm in enjoying the '66 series as a fun romp, a slice of 60s pop culture, a relic of a more innocent time. It no longer poses any "threat."

Which is to say, Arlen seems to be arriving at the party a bit late, unless the fact that previously hostile comic fans have started to soften up and warm to the series has inspired him to deliver a couple extra kicks, lest we forget how good the old days weren't. Maybe next he can pen a timely critique of "My Little Margie."
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Keith Mayo
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Re: Arlen Schumer Article On The Show

Post by Keith Mayo » Tue Jan 15, 2019 11:55 am

SprangFan wrote:
Tue Jan 15, 2019 8:44 am
............Which is to say, Arlen seems to be arriving at the party a bit late, unless the fact that previously hostile comic fans have started to soften up and warm to the series has inspired him to deliver a couple extra kicks, lest we forget how good the old days weren't. Maybe next he can pen a timely critique of "My Little Margie."
Yeah. We all tend to soften up as we become old geezers. :-)
"It's the very essence of our democracy". - Batman, S1 Ep 11

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Progress Pigment
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Re: Arlen Schumer Article On The Show

Post by Progress Pigment » Tue Jan 15, 2019 10:26 pm

Keith Mayo wrote:
Tue Jan 15, 2019 11:55 am
Yeah. We all tend to soften up as we become old geezers. :-)
Not me, I'm getting more crotchety! :) As you may have gathered. I came down a bit hard, but he was pretty rough! Bashing Adam West who's loss is still pretty painful, and trying to discount the idea that the Batman series "saved" the character. Which generally, comics fans who are by no means fans of the series, accept. Because it's true! Schumer was largely repeating stuff that comics fans in the 80's/90's were saying. That the series is/was a total embarrassment to the Batman legacy\mythos. Compared to probably about 9% of comics fans who believe that today. I don't mean to be ageist, but if someone a few decade younger than Arlen, an Adam West disparager of the old school, had said this stuff it would have bothered me worse. I tried to re-read it again. My G-d! The man's a butt-hole. I like that he's a Bill Finger booster, but his views on the series are in my opinion meaningless.
Next week, the Dynamic Duo meets the Clock King!

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