It’s National Alphabet Magnet Day! You know, those plastic letters that festooned many of our parents’ refrigerators growing up? They certainly helped me in learning the alphabet, and identifying which letters were which. Knowing the alphabet is one of the basic blocks of learning to read, and as a kid, my favorite alphabet book, and in fact one of my favorite children’s books PERIOD was Batman and Robin: From Alfred to Zowie! by Ruthanna Thomas and Tom Gill, originally published by Golden Press in the original year of Batmania, 1966.

As seminal in my burgeoning love for the Caped Crusader as Adam West’s TV series or the comics themselves, this book was a bedtime staple, with both of my parents, particularly my mother, reading it to me over, and over. Decades later, I’d do the same with my kids. But by then, I could recite it’s rhyming verse by heart!

So, in honor of this alphabetic holiday, here are 13 THINGS to love about this wonderful book — in reading order, of course!

13. The Shape of Things to Come

The first thing that drew me to this book was the cover and the format. The book is in the shape of Batman’s head and part of his cape! The die-cut image of a smiling Caped Crusader is burned deep into my brain. I have similarly shaped books of Spider-Man and Bugs Bunny from Golden Press as well, but this Batman tale is tops for me. We even get a version of the primary Golden Age Batman comic logo on the cover. Earlier versions of the book featured a Batman mask kids could cut out and wear, complete with Bat-logo on the forehead, just like Ben Cooper’s version!

Original printing back cover, courtesy of Worthpoint

12. The Opening Titles

How does every episode of the ’60s live-action Batman TV series begin? Well, after the teaser, the animated opening starts with the Dynamic Duo running right at us! Artist Tom Gill obliges, reinterpreting the classic Carmine Infantino image of the heroes mid-run. Plus, we get a huge masthead featuring the mid-’60s Infantino-designed logo, one of the character’s absolute best, along with a Robin tagline!

11. Alan Napier’s Alfred

Scan of original art, courtesy of Heritage Auctions

When Bruce and Dick are shown answering the Bat-Phone, of course Alfred hands it to them. But this is not the balding, dark-haired Alfred from the comics. No, Alfred here bears a striking resemblance to live-action’s greatest Alfred, Alan Napier, from the concurrent TV series! For an added bonus, we get the Shakespeare bust!

10. To the Batpoles

These pages came up in my TOP 13 MOST ICONIC BATMAN AND ROBIN IMAGES — RANKED in March. The Batpoles are a huge part of the Batman mythos, but having been conceived by the television creators, the comics have yet to fully embrace them. So, it’s a thrill to see comic drawings of the Dynamic Duo “deftly descend, donning disguise as they slide”!

9. To the Batmobile!

This double-spread image shows the comics’ 1964 “New Look” model Batmobile roaring through Gotham, while the citizens cower in fear at word of a new crime wave. Aunt Harriet gets namedropped, placing it squarely in the Silver Age. Robin exclaims a very Burt Ward-like “Holy Hatrack!” — again recalling the mega-popular TV series. But look at the flame on the Batmobile!

8. Underworld United

While the 1966 Batman movie gave us Batman’s top TV villains teaming up, this book has the Joker and the Penguin recruiting the Mad Hatter and Mister Freeze into their villainous club. The rogues are working together to kidnap Robin! Joker and Penguin look right on model for the time, but Mister Freeze is wearing a recolored version of his original comic costume when he debuted as Mister Zero — now with ice blue skin! The Mad Hatter looks like neither of the comics’ two versions; one based on John Tenniel’s illustrations from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, nor the mustachioed Jervis Tetch essayed by David Wayne in the TV series.

7. The Bat-SIGN?

As accurate to the comics and TV series as this book is, there are a few inconsistencies. Like referring to the famous Batsignal as “the Bat-Sign.” As a kid, I asked my parents to refer to it by its correct name. As a parent, I made the correction myself. But the art is iconic!

6. Faith and Begorrah!

The Penguin might not disguise himself as Commodore Schmidlap in this story, but he does mimic the Irish brogue of Gotham’s top uniformed cop, Chief O’Hara, another creation of the TV series! Just imagine Burgess Meredith trying to copy Stafford Repp’s perpetually dumbfounded tones!

5. Robin The Boy Hostage

This page of Robin being nabbed by the villains disturbed me as a kid. I identified with the Boy Wonder (as his creators had intended), and these guys were kind of scary! But I did like how much Robin looked like my Mego figure here, with his double-cowlick hairdo! And notice the Joker is wearing a very modern gray/lavender suit, just like the one Neal Adams will give him seven years later in the iconic “The Joker’s Five-Way Revenge” in Batman #251!

4. Artist Tom Gill

Scan of original art, courtesy of Heritage Auctions

Tom Gill is not known for his Batman work, but his Masked Manhunter is a solid interpretation of the Silver Age version of the character, coming across as a somewhat more dynamic version of Sheldon Moldoff’s updated, mid-’60s take. Gill was more famously associated with another masked man, the Lone Ranger, whom he drew for Golden Press’ parent company, Western Publishing’s Dell/Gold Key comic line for over a decade.

3. The Batmobile’s Everchanging Dash

I’ve always been transfixed by the strange green bat-head shape above the view screen on Gill’s Batmobile dashboard. But two different pages show us the control panels of this powerful automobile, and the details change from page to page, except for that green bat-head! Does Batman have a sliding dashboard?

Also, Ruthanna Thomas’ text tells us Batman has a “Bat-Gassing-Gun to speed up the job.” Did she briefly get the Cowled Crusader confused with Greenway Productions’ other TV hero of the time, the Green Hornet?

2. Onomatopoeia Onslaught

Scan of original art, courtesy of Heritage Auctions

Batman vanquishes his foes in a flurry of flying onomatopoeias, as he punches Joker, who falls into Penguin, who smacks Mad Hatter in the head, and kicks Mister Freeze in the chin. It’s a TV series Bat-fight distilled into one action-packed image!

1. Story by Ruthanna Thomas

Unfortunately, I don’t know much about author Ruthanna Thomas. If the name wasn’t a pseudonym, one can assume she’s one of the earliest (if not the first) women to write a Batman story. But either way, her seemingly effortless weaving of the alphabet and the Batman mythos left an indelible mark on this young reader, especially her closing words: “But always remember, as Batman would say: Clean living is best, and right conquers evil, and never forget that crime doesn’t pay!”

Adam West couldn’t have said it better himself.


— The TOP 13 Most Iconic BATMAN AND ROBIN Images — RANKED. Click here.

— The TOP 13 BATCAVE PLAYSETS Ever – RANKED. Click here.

Chris Franklin is a graphic designer, illustrator, writer, and podcaster, who co-hosts several shows on the Fire and Water Podcast Network, including JLUCast, which he produces with his wife Cindy. He would like to dedicate this article to the memory of his mother, who encouraged a love of reading, and Batman.

Author: Dan Greenfield

Share This Post On


  1. Oh, that was wonderful! Thank you! I was about seven when the show was on and I’m sure I saw the book somewhere but didn’t bug my parents for it; I wanted the coloring book! The coloring book incidentally is the only other place I think I saw the bat Poles in use other than on TV!

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks Jeff! I had (and still have) a few of the Whitman coloring books that were orignally published in 1966 as well. They were in print for well over a decade!

      Post a Reply
  2. Does anyone have pictures of a “giant” Batman coloring book that featured the Bookworm? I vaguely recall having it as a kid around 1977. It reminded me a lot of the 60s series, which I was then watching in reruns.

    Post a Reply
  3. First time I’ve seen this, SO DOPE! I would be all over a reprint of this. I swear it looks like “Batman by Daniel Clowes,” and I mean that as high praise.

    Post a Reply
  4. This may be only of interest to me but I finally found the coloring book I mentioned above. I had misremembered it featuring first The Riddler and then, The Bookworm. My search took me to Mycomicshop.com, where I recognized its cover with Catwoman, which I had not remembered perhaps because, as Mycomicshop.com notes, she is only on the cover. The story inside involves none other than The Minstrel. Imagine that!

    Post a Reply
    • That’s the one with Batman and Robin leaping in front of her Cat-Car, right? I have had that one since childhood, too!

      Post a Reply

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: