Wednesday, February 20, 2013

An Alternative History: What If Batman Never Became A TV Series?


In the 1960s the Batman movie serials from the 1940s were shown in the Chicago Playboy Club. This lead to ABC commissioning a Batman TV series, that lead to Batmania, and lead to a boost in the sales of Batman comics, which had been lagging for years. But, what would history be like if the Playboy Club never showed the Batman serials? What if the Batman TV show never got on the air? The following is my opinion on how history would have played out.

-A Night With Batman And Robin is not shown at the Chicago Playboy Club in the mid-1960s.
-Yale Udoff never gets the idea to make a Batman TV series from watching the reaction of the audience at the Playboy Club.
-Batman never becomes a TV series in 1966. Batmania never grips the nation.
-Adam West acts in commercials, and some TV appearances, before moving back to Hawaii to run a local TV station.
-Bert John Gervis, Jr. never becomes Burt Ward, never gets an acting gig, and becomes a real estate agent in the San Fernando Valley.
-The Batman comic is canceled in in 1967. The Batman character has backup stories in Detective Comics until D.C. stops using him altogether in 1970. He makes infrequent appearances in Justice League from time to time. His last appearance ever is in 1979 in the background of one panel in an issue of Action Comics.
-ABC television passes on a cartoon about the Justice League called Super Friends starring D.C. Comic’s best known heroes, Superman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and Flash.
-Denys O’Neil and Neal Adams work together at D.C. Comics, but never find a project that makes an impression. Denys leaves comics to become a high school English teacher. Neal Adams returns to advertising art. No one cares what he has to say about the Earth being hallow.
-Jim Aparo works in romance comics, before also returning to advertising art.
-MEGO eight inch superhero figures fail to catch on, and MEGO drops its line of toys after one year.
-With no one to help fight for creator’s rights, older comic book creators never get either credit or compensation for the characters they created. No one knows the names Siegel and Shuster.
-Attempts to make TV series based on The Incredible Hulk and Wonder Woman never go anywhere.
-D.C., seeing a decline in sales of comics overall, cancels a planned Crisis On Infinite Earths event to fix continuity problems.
-Frank Miller leaves Marvel to work at D.C. in the mid-1980s. After several projects fail to get off the ground he returns to Marvel. His remaining days at Marvel are uninspired, and, after quitting comics in 1993, he is never heard from again.
-The Justice League comic is canceled in 1987. It is never revived.
-Director Tim Burton does some comedies before returning to Disney Animation, where he doesn’t make waves. One Disney executive calls Burton’s work, “unimaginative.”  
-D.C. sees no reason to take a gamble on a comic idea by Alan Moore for a series called Watchmen.  Alan Moore, disillusioned with comics, later becomes a rock critic and has a column in Rolling Stone Magazine. His bizarre behavior and enormous ego get him fired. Some people say he works in a coal mine today.
-Nearly all direct market stores are closed by 1989 since there is little interest in comics.
-Comic books are never collected in trade paper editions. The only way to get old comic issues is to buy old comics, which are cheap.
-Due to low comic sales in the industry, Marvel Comics closes its doors. Characters are sold off, mostly to animation studios. Spider-Man is bought by Archie Comics. Peter Parker is moved to Riverdale, where he goes to school with Archie and the gang. Eventually, the Spider-Man persona and powers are dropped. Archie’s Pal Peter Parker, a comic about high school student Peter Parking who suffers from bad luck, runs for years and is sold in digest form in supermarkets.
-Mark Hamill works mostly in dinner theater and autograph shows after failing to get voice over work.
-Warner Bros. Studios, without any big hits in the late 1980s, has to sell D.C. Comics (they keep MAD Magazine, moving it to its periodical division). D.C. is sold over and over again to different corporations during the 1990s.
-Kevin Smith makes a movie about clerks working at a store. Since the characters have nothing interesting to talk about, people find the movie boring and it never finds a distributor. Smith never makes another film and becomes a yoga instructor.
-No superhero films are made in the 1990s, since comics are nearly extinct.
-A TV show based on Superman’s relationship with Lois called Lois And Clark is not picked up. One TV executive says, “Comic book heroes have never worked on TV.”
-Director Joel Schumacher is considered a film genius and racks up a bunch of Oscars for his movies.
-The Family Guy animated series has a character called “Mayor Don Adams”. The character is not popular with the audience or the writers, and is only used four times. Get Smart’s Don Adams sues Family Guy for using his name and image, and wins. The show is cancelled. Seth McFarlane becomes an animation director for Cartoon Network, where he hires an out of work Tim Burton to do storyboards.
-Director Christopher Nolan makes character driven dramas that never seem to make any money. He eventually turns to directing TV to make ends meet.
-D.C. Comics spends most of 1998-2005 selling reprints of old comics instead of making new material, before the company ends all operations in 2007. Superman is sold to Nickelodeon cable channel. They do little with the character after trying to make a new cartoon series fails.
-In 2013, my daughter finds an old issue of Batman, that belonged to my dad when he was a kid, at my mom’s house. She says, “Holy riddles, Batman!” as she reads it. I have no idea what she is talking about.

4 comments:

david_b said...

Nice ideas, even if some are a stretch..

Lest we not forget the impact on the entire comics industry in general..

- No Captain Action. Period.

- Marvel continues to struggle with attempts to sell comics with newly developed heroes, most failing.

- No affiliate interest in Marvel Heroes, no network interest in Fantastic Four or Spiderman.

- Stan Lee's showman banter is much more subdued, seriously hampering Marvel's style potential.

- Sci-fi and Bond-type titles become more predominant in the mid-60s, due to current movie/tv trends. Westerns still suffer a decline by end of '60s.

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