As I write these words in a post Christmas 2014 haze of comic books and video games, it is the last, and I mean the LAST week of the year long celebration of Batman’s 75th Anniversary. The Year of the Bat has been good to the Brotherhood (and Sisterhood) of the Bat, leaving us spoilt for choice in how we enjoy Batman across a diverse range of media.
It has been a hell of a year for Batman fans, who have been spoiled for choice in comics, films, video games, toys, animated features and more.
2014 was the year I officially met and moved in with my girlfriend. We started talking over Skype last year. She not only doesn’t mind my superhero and Batman/Superman/Spider-Man obsession, she even encourages my unending passion.
For my birthday she gave me several Batman Tshirts. For Christmas she gave me not only the 1960s Batmobile toy, but an Adam West Batman action figure to sit in it, along with the Batman ’66 versions of the Riddler and the Penguin. On our anniversary (of when we first met over Skype) we went out to dinner, she gave me yet another Batman Tshirt which I wore to dinner with the lady of my dreams.
2014 was the year I reread the very first ever Batman stories by Bill Finger, Bob Kane and the various underpaid and under recognised ghost artists to gain a deeper understanding of the character.
2014 was the year I read Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s excellent Court of Owls and Zero Year Batman comics. It was the year I discovered Chipp Kidd’s Bat-Manga book and read Grant Morrison’s Supergods and Les Daniels Complete History of Batman.
2014 was the year that Marc Tyler Nobleman turned up the heat on the Bill Finger awareness campaign. Slowly people are starting to realise that Bill Finger contributed perhaps as much as 90% of the Batman character we know and love. While Bob Kane sat back taking the credit and the fat royalty checks, Bill Finger got little to no credit during his heyday, was booted out of the company he helped grow by writing Batman and later died without a funeral to be placed in an unmarked grave. I can’t wait to see Marc’s Bill Finger documentary .
2014 was the year the documentary Legends of the Knight was released to gushing praise and adoration by BAT-FANs around the world.
2014 was the year I played Lego Batman 2 and was thrilled to enjoy Will Arnett’s take on Lego Batman in the LEGO theatrical film, and crossed my fingers that we would see another film with Will Arnett voicing LEGO Batman once again, and it looks like that will be happening. His unique take on the character left me with a belly full of laughs.
2014 was the year I watched Nolan’s Bat-Trilogy for around the fifth (or possibly tenth) time.
2014 saw the release of the Batman ’66 TV show finally becoming available to buy on Blu-Ray, DVD and digital after being lost for years in a tangled never ending legal mess. It felt like Spider-Man movie rights syndrome all over again.
2014 was the year I replayed the Arkham Asylum, Arkham City and Arkham Origins video games back to back over several weeks. Still drunk on the art style of Arkham City, I went to the fields of ebay and then ordered a box set of Batman toys based on the Arkham versions of Batman, Joker , Harley Quinn and Scarecrow.
2014 was the year I reread the Dark Knight Returns as I do every year and enjoyed the dream come true animated version told over two epic installments.
2014 was the year DC made one announcement after another about the plans for their conquest of the box office with their cinematic Universe rapidly expanding in the wake of The Dark Knight, Man of Steel and Marvel’s Avengers.
We will soon see new movies featuring Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash and friends, and perhaps even more anticipated than Superman vs Batman, the LONG overdue appearance of the Justice League on the big screen.
The Justice League have appeared in numerous comics, animated TV shows (Superfriends, JLA, JLA Unlimited) and a not insignificant number of direct market DC Animated Movie specials.
The appearance of the JLA on the big screen is long overdue, most welcome, and when released is sure to be one of the biggest nerdgasms since fans and non-fans alike flocked in record numbers to see DC’s The Dark Knight and Marvel’s Avengers at the multiplex. Of course we also have Batman vs Superman to look forward to, and despite what the haters are saying, I think Ben Affleck is going to knock it out of the park. He’s directed some excellent films, and made a name for himself in memorable film roles. He’s smart and articulate. While he’s not the box office draw of a Tom Cruise or George Clooney, he is every bit as smart and passionate as those headliners. To all those who dismiss him I say;
“Some men, master Bruce… just want to watch the world burn” – Alfred
Perhaps most significantly for me, 2014 was the year that while reading Carey Friedman’s “Wisdom from the Batcave” and listening to Kevin Smith’s “Fatman on Batman” podcast that I was inspired to find a way to give back to my favourite fictional character of all time.
2014, or as I call it the “Year of the Bat” was the year I decided that my enthusiasm for Batman could no longer be contained within my own mind, and had to be unleashed. So far I’ve written a handful of articles, but I am just getting started.
2014 was also the year I wore 14 different Batman Tshirts if you are wondering what’s up with the pictures of Batman Tshirts.
I have topics planned for over 200 more articles to write about in depth on this blog. While some will be more light hearted articles, most will be in depth features with an emphasis on writing the kinds of articles I just don’t see anyone else writing. Not online, nor in print. The exception being Back Issue magazine, which has more of a historical scholarly well researched basis to their articles, my articles have a little of that, but I am more interested in exploring the themes and ideas of Batman and I am equally excited about his future as well as his past.
Before I started this blog, I went online to find good quality Batman related articles. In an overpopulated world, surely there would be no shortage of quality content. While there are great news sites, and up to the date information on the comics, games, films and animated features, there is not much else for those who crave something more. For those who like Batman in whatever medium and like to go beyond the surface of things, and head into the real depths of a topic or field of knowledge, and immerse themselves.
The British cult magazine SFX put out a wonderful magazine called Comic Heroes, and sadly that magazine ended recently. It was filled with the kind of in depth features that were fun to read and you felt a little smarter after reading them, I love those types of articles, well researched and full of passion.
Feature articles that don’t just tell us about a characters history, but talk about what that character means to us, a real celebration of comic books and superheroes by people who live and breathe comics.
Two Morrows Publishing of course publishes long running magazines such as Back Issue, Alter Ego and Jack Kirby Collector. More of their content is now available to read on digital platforms, as well as in print through the direct market. If you’ve never read it check it out, as they have some fantastic articles.
I loved the all Batman issue of Back Issue #73, which is available for under $5 for the digital version. As good as that issue was, be sure not to miss Back issue #50 which was another Batman focused issue, full of awesome articles, the digital version again for under $5. You can find them here:
Scroll down below the yellow box to find the option to buy the digital version. Currently the are $4 US each, a real bargain. I am so grateful I found those issues, they made for great Christmas reading on my Nexus tablet.
The Two Morrows Publishing articles are wonderful, but sometimes a little too dry for my tastes, in contrast I really loved the fun attitude of Comic Heroes Magazine, it will be missed. But any magazine that cares enough about comics to dedicate page after page, month after month to fictional characters gets my interest. Despite the proliferation of superheroes in Hollywood blockbusters now several times a year, real life comic books (whether print or digital) are still somewhat of a niche.
There is no shortage of lightweight Batman related content online, it serves its purpose and hey I’m not complaining, I am grateful for the free articles and news that spread the good word about the Bat. But the thing to remember is that many of those sites exist purely to sell advertising, you could say the same about any print magazine. I don’t know why it is, but a magazine can manage to have decent content and ads, and it doesn’t bother me.
But when I see sites that exist purely to generate web traffic to crummy articles, and are there just for clicks and ads, well something in me dies a little. I love Batman, and I think that filling the internet with lightweight articles of little substance does a dis-service to the Dark Knight Detective. He deserves better in my opinion.
For those who like to go above and beyond good articles, and enjoy their Batman theory and essays, there are some wonderful books available, and I am going to cover every single one of them here on this blog, at length in the coming year. I’m hoping to do some brief Q&A’s with authors of various Great Books about Batman, some of whom I have already been in contact with. Books such as The Complete History of Batman by Bat-ologist Les Daniels Soul of the Knight by Bat-Theorist Alex M. Wainer and Improving the Foundations: Batman Begins from Comics to Screen by Bat-Apostle Julian Darius of Sequart.com
I don’t want to give away all my bag of tricks, but I have a number of multi-part articles and regular features that will be showcased here on this blog in the near future, that you will not find anywhere else on the internet, nor in print magazines. You may see some similar content, but every article here is written and researched by me in my spare time, and I love every grueling minute of it.
One of my most recent articles (not yes posted) I’ve been working on for over three weeks, I went away and read more books, articles and comics just so I could make it the best article I can possibly write right now. I retreated into my Batcave and went over every little detail searching for clues I could have missed, because some things you just can’t rush. When you work for print publications you always have a deadline, but you write for yourself you can take your sweet time about it, and put in everything you want to. The danger is that you over-think something, and over-write it, instead of finishing it and moving on to the next project.
Well, my mantra of 2014 has been “Done is better than perfect”, borrowed from a wise man by the name of Fred Gleeck who I have learned a lot from. It means if you have something to do, get it done and stop making excuses.
I’ll leave you here with one final picture of my bargain basement PC surrounded by Bat-Men, you may as well chain me to it, as I so much more to say about Batman.