There's some remarkable craftsmanship at work in this step-by-step video of making a large brass fidget spinner shaped like the Batman logo. The best part is they are giving it away to a viewer.
In 1966, Burt "Robin" Ward recorded with the Mothers of Invention under the direction of Frank Zappa. The result is really something.
From Burt Ward's autobiography Boy Wonder: My Life in Tights:
Read the rest
The image of the Boy Wonder is all American and apple pie, while the image of the Mothers of Invention was so revolutionary that they made the Hell’s Angels look like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Even I had to laugh seeing a photo of myself with those animals.
Their fearless leader and king of grubbiness was the late Frank Zappa. (The full name of the band was Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention.) After recording with me, Frank became an internationally recognized cult superstar, which was understandable; after working with me, the only place Frank could go was up.
Although he looked like the others, Frank had an intelligence and education that elevated him beyond brilliance to sheer genius. I spent a considerable amount of time talking with him, and his rough, abrupt exterior concealed an intellectual, creative and sensitive interior...
In an attempt at self-preservation, the record company had me just talk on the second two sides I recorded. That I could do very well! The material for the song was a group of fan letters that had been sent to me. Frank and I edited them together to make one letter, which became the lyrics for the recording. Frank wrote a melody and an arrangement, and we titled the song, “Boy Wonder, I Love You!”
Among the lyrics was an invitation for me to come and visit an adoring pubescent fan and stay with her for the entire summer.
Let me start off by saying, this black and white reprint of The Killing Joke is a gimmick. I know it’s a gimmick. You know it’s a gimmick. But dang in this case, the gimmick works. The Batman Noir series is part of a recent trend where DC is reprinting some of their most popular books in stark black and white, so that you’ll purchase them again or for the first time. While some of the other Batman Noir comics really lose something with their lack of color, The Killing Joke feels like it should have always been this contrasty.
Removing all the color makes one of the darkest stories in the Batman mythos, even darker. If you haven’t read it, Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s story dives into the Joker’s origins, and his belief that one bad day is all that separates humanity from madness. While generally considered non-canonical the story had a huge influence on the comics, and how Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan would depict the Joker on film.
So why should you purchase another copy of a book that most Batman fans already have? Well, it’s beautiful. The matte hard cover is gorgeous and the added art looks amazing. This edition also includes both additional comics from 2008’s deluxe edition, but does not have the introduction or epilogue, which I don’t miss. So, if you haven’t read The Killing Joke, or if your current copy is dog-eared and fading and you want something to display on your shelf, definitely pick up a copy. Read the rest
A 1989 documentary covering the birth of Batman through to the best on-screen Batman ever, Mr. Adam West.
Coloring DC: Batman: Mad Love Featuring Harley Quinn by Paul Dini (author) and Bruce Timm (illustrator) DC Comics 2016, 7.5 x 11.5 x 0.4 inches (softcover) $10 Buy a copy on Amazon
Over the past few decades the dynamic duo of legacy comic book companies, Marvel and DC, have introduced hundreds of new characters. Most have failed to catch on (sorry, Adam-X, the X-Treme!), and while recently many new characters have garnered acclaim and small cadres of devoted fans, the new Ms. Marvel and Prez have yet to become the next Wolverine.
2016 has seen two major breakthroughs that may pave the way: Marvel’s Deadpool and DC’s Harley Quinn. Both were created in the 1990s and have suddenly become the superhero equivalent of rock stars, with T-shirts and tchotchkes available at every Target and Hot Topic in America. One of them even has their own make-up line (I’ll let you guess who). My dad in his 70s now knows these characters, which I find equally amusing and eye rolling.
Which brings us to coloring books. Okay, maybe not directly, but the ascension of Harley Quinn as a character and the recent popularity of coloring books for adults has created a perfect storm, and now we have Coloring DC – Batman: Mad Love Featuring Harley Quinn, a coloring book written and drawn by her creators Paul Dini and Bruce Timm. This oversized tome contains a few extra stories of DC heroines and villians on the undercard, but the prime material is a reprinting of the terrific Harley story Mad Love. Read the rest
Dark Night: A True Batman Story by Paul Dini (author) and Eduardo Risso (illustrator) Vertigo 2016, 128 pages, 6.9 x 10.4 x 0.5 inches $14 Buy a copy on Amazon
Batman the Animated Series was perhaps the cartoon of my childhood. I remember watching it when it premiered, and followed it through its entire run. While I’ve loved the movies, and the comics, Batman for me will always be the voice of Kevin Conroy, and the Joker will always be Mark Hamill. I owe my love for Batman to this wonderful show that Paul Dini helped create, which is why I was so struck to read his chilling autobiographical Batman tale.
Like myself and many others, Dini too was hugely influenced by Batman through his childhood. The beginning of the book establishes how comics became a coping mechanism for Dini as he navigated through the world with social anxiety. His lonely but successful life is thrown upside down one night when he was mugged and beaten within an inch of his life.
Dini’s story is all about coming to grips with a world that can be cruel, dealing with demons, and finding a way to overcome. It’s a Batman story that doesn’t take place in the Batman universe. I found it tremendously moving, the artwork beautiful, and I highty recommend it. – JP LeRoux Read the rest
Wow. The Bat mobile and Bat copter alone make me want to pick up this fantastic LEGO set. The Adam West Batcave is interpreted with fantastic detail!
Batman: The Jiro Kuwata Batmanga Vol. 1 by Jiro Kuwata (illustrator) DC Comics 2014, 352 pages, 5.8 x 8.2 x 1.1 inches (softcover) $10 Buy a copy on Amazon
Available for the first time in English, Jiro Kuwata’s Batman is basically a Japanese version of the 1960s Batman TV series. It’s campy, humorous, and sometimes so on the nose it’s laughable. Maybe Batman will escape danger with a goofy, too convenient action, or the villain will taunt Batman with some of the oldest superhero cliches around. It will surely be an adjustment for readers who haven’t experienced any of Batman’s older stories, but it’s important to remember this was produced in the '60s, and Kuwata was essentially mimicking the style of Batman that was popular. If you can do that you’ll find a thoroughly enjoyable alternate take on the Caped Crusader and the Dynamic Duo.
Included here are six Batman stories, featuring Batman and Robin vs. unique villains like Lord Death Man and the Human Ball. The story arcs are all standalone and don’t reference each other, however each arc is sub-divided into three to four parts. These villains are all formidable foes and a good mix of character types. Lord Death Man for example keeps coming back from the dead, while the Human Ball wears a metal suit that allows him to bounce off any surface, including Batman’s punches. Each time, Batman is tasked with not just fighting the villain into submission, but using his classic Batman intellect to outthink them and set a trap. Read the rest
Slate's history of the gay subtext between Batman and Robin collects the best panels and earliest insinuations from critics and commentators. It also looks at how the goofy 1960s TV show made Batman camp yet sexless, leading to D.C. comics nervously heteronormalizing the characters, which only solidified their earlier gayness in the public imagination.
What's interesting about it from a queer subtext standpoint is that the people involved in creating the art and stories universally insist that there was never any nudge-nudge-wink-winkery going on in their work. Batman and Robin are not lovers; the relationship is traditionally paternal. In other words, the queer subtext is either unintentional or imposed by the audience. Is this really subtext, then? Or is it just derpy inadvertent homoeroticism? Weldon's argument:
Read the rest
Intention doesn’t matter when it comes to gay subtext. Imagery does. Remember: Queer readers didn’t see any vestige of themselves represented in the mass media of this era, let alone its comic books. And when queer audiences don’t see ourselves in a given work, we look deeper, parsing every exchange for the faintest hint of something we recognize. This is why, as a visual medium filled with silent cues like body language and background detail, superhero comics have proven a particularly fertile vector for gay readings over the years. Images can assert layers of unspoken meanings that mere words can never conjure. That panel of a be-toweled Bruce and Dick lounging together in their solarium, for example, would not carry the potent homoerotic charge it does, were the same scene simply described in boring ol’ prose.
Adam West still wins.
Vigilante superhero tales tend to revolve around seeking justice outside of a failed system, and the idea that one man or woman can cause real change within that system by punching people. In short, they are fantasies, and popular in part because they suggest impossibly simple solutions to complex problems. In Cape, an interactive fiction story created by Bruno Dias for the ongoing Interactive Fiction Competition, you become one of those shadowy figures trying right wrongs in a crime-ridden city. But since wealth inequality lies at the heart of all the problems you encounter, well... let's just say that it's an uphill battle.
You can choose your gender and your nationality, though your options for the latter are limited: Whether you're Kenyan, Vietnamese, Slovenian or Mexican, you're going to be an immigrant, you're going to be poor, and life is going to be hard. You begin your story in a moment of desperation, about to break into a townhouse in a recently gentrified neighborhood to find whatever valuables you can and survive another day.
The story opens with a newspaper clipping that signals the precise flavor of dystopia that awaits. The article details a "passing tax" that will be levied on buildings based on their number of entrances and exits; apparently, suspects trying to evade police drones have been ducking into "passing houses" to escape surveillance, and they'd like to discourage that.
Yes, the watchful digital eyes of a corrupt police state are all around you, co-mingling with the more traditional violence of thieves and gangsters. Read the rest
Leonard Robinson, a Maryland man known for paying visits to hospitalized kids while dressed as the iconic superhero Batman, was killed last Sunday night in a traffic accident. Robinson's Batmobile was not fully out of the line of traffic, and was struck by a passing car as he checked the engine.
More from the Baltimore Sun:
Robinson's custom black car — his version of the Batmobile — had broken down on eastbound Interstate 70 near Big Pool in Washington County about 10:30 p.m., state police said. Robinson was standing in the fast lane and checking the engine when he and his vehicle were struck by a Toyota Camry.Read the rest
He was pronounced dead at the scene, police said. The driver of the Camry was not injured and has not been charged.
Robinson, who has three sons, spent much of his time in the Batman character, spending his money traveling to cheer up sick children or promote charitable causes.
Jackie Tadeoni Sacha Goldberger created this wonderful series of superheroes (and Snow White!) as subjects of Baroque Flemish portraits. Read the rest
Photographer Rémi Noël explores the archetypes of American mythology: motels and their neon signs, desert expanses and the highways that crisscross them" and Batman. Read the rest