How did the Batman comics react to the Batman animated series?
Today we take a look at how DC Comics’ Batman comic book series paid homage to the early days of the Batman: The Animated Series.
In Meta-Messages, I explore the context behind (using reader Danjack’s term) “meta-messages”. A meta-post is where a comic book creator comments / references the work of another comic book / comic book creator (or sometimes even himself) in their comic. Each time, I will give you the context of such a “meta-message”.
Throughout the history of animated adaptations of comic book properties, the involvement of comic book companies in the adaptations has been really hit and miss over the years. It really depends on the comic book company’s involvement in the production of the series. For example, when Filmation was working on DC characters in the 1960s, the company was working directly with DC, who co-produced the series, and as such, on the first DC Filmation series, in the 1966s. Superman Adventures, DC writers like George Kashdan, Leo Dorfman and Bob Haney all worked on the stories and Superman artist Curt Swan ultimately used his art as the basis for the series and Superman editor Mort Weisinger had the last word on stories.
When the series expanded to add Aquaman in 1967, creating the Superman / Aquaman Adventure TimeGeorge Kashdan worked as a consultant producer on the series (as well as writing the scripts himself). As a result, he actually coordinated the introduction of Black Manta in the series as well as the comics, specifically retaining the introduction of Black Manta in the comics so that it came out just before the cartoon series at the time. The summer of 1967 (the way comic book magazines worked back then, a comic that came out in June usually stayed in the stands until October, so a September release for the cartoon was the perfect timing).
When Hanna-Barbera took over the character license from DC in the 1970s, however, there was much less connection between the series and the comics.
At the time when the works began on Batman: The Animated Series, however, the show was now directed specifically by Warner Bros. Animation, which was a sister company of DC Comics, so the connection was much more direct. In his brilliant oral history of Batman: The Animated Series in the previous issue # 99 of TwoMorrows my buddy John Trumbull interviewed the various personalities behind the show and they discussed how DC should sign the stories. Paul Levitz noted that DC had the approval rights for the series and the material. Obviously we’re a sister company, so it’s not really a legal rights issue, but our job at the company was to protect our property and that gave us some approval authority. “
At one point, the great Martin Pasko and Alan Burnett actually traveled to New York to visit the DC Comics archives where Paul Levitz showed them all of the past Batman comics to help them come up with story ideas. . Here is another part of John’s incredible oral history …
MARTIN PASKO: Alan and I also took a trip to New York City to browse the DC Library for stories to adapt and to give Alan a crash course in Batman lore. I was there to guide him through the past continuity and ask him [Batman assistant editor] Kelley Puckett to tell us some stories.
DENNIS O’NEIL: [They] I spent days in the DC library, typically telling 50 years of Batman stories, and then sending loads of Xerox back to LA. So they took it very seriously.
ALAN BURNETT: Marty and I were sitting in a DC room in New York City while Paul Levitz, then DC Comics vice president and former writer, literally walked through decades of Batman and Detective Comics from the mid-years. 50. He had read them all and has an encyclopedic spirit. I was quite impressed.
PAUL LEVITZ: I had read all the Batman stories up to that point, which not many people had. This is something that would be impossible if you read everything now, with more than twice as much material in existence. So I had a pretty solid memory of some of the old things besides my own enjoyment of reading them as a child, as a reader. And, of course, Marty was very familiar with the material as well, and Burnett was a former comic book fan. We probably also picked the brains of some of the other people in the office.
So there was a lot more interaction with DC and this series than with a typical animated series. It was even extended when DC decided to feature one of the new characters specially created for the cartoon series, Renee Montoya, in a January 1992 issue of Batman # 475 (by Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle) ….
so that she would already be an established DC Comics character for almost a year before her first appearance in the animated series…
Okay, so in September 1992, Batman: The Animated Series hit the airwaves.
That same month saw the release of Batman # 486 (by Doug Moench and Jim Aparo). The problem saw Batman stalking the villainous Metalhead. However, Batman had just finished a brutal fight with the Black Mask Fake Face gang and he likely had a broken nose, so he was still bleeding as he continued to try to continue his mission. This was all part of Moench’s setup for Knightfall, to show that months before Bane began his targeted attack on Batman, the Dark Knight was already exhausted …
Either way, in a cute piece designed as a tribute to the new animated series release, Alfred and Robin see a picture of Batman in the animated art style, although we find out that he is part of a computer program that Batman tech assistant Hiccup debugged while savoring some of the food Batman refused to eat because he was too busy …
It’s a very cute little tribute from Moench and Aparo.
If anyone else has a suggestion for a future meta message, message me at [email protected]
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