ADAM WEST Launched a Thousand Comics Careers

Creators remember the greatest Caped Crusader — and his influence on them…

For ADAM WEST: A Celebration, a series of interviews and tributes to the greatest Caped Crusader, click here.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve interviewed someone or read an interview where a comics writer or artist said — like me and probably you — that their introduction to the world of superheroes and comics was because of Adam West.

So when the news broke that West had died at 88, I gathered remembrances from some of the top names in the field, with a specific eye toward those who have worked on Batman ’66 projects. I also included those who I happen to know have a particular affinity for, or connection to, the show and Adam West.

Side note: One of the biggest Batman ’66 fans I know is Mike Allred, the cover artist for the DC Comics series. Mike wrote an appreciation that you can find here. Do check it out.

And please enjoy these remembrances:

Craig Rousseau

Jeff Parker, writer, Batman ’66

It’s a sad day but should also be a celebration of a man who impacted so many of us, and you can easily make the argument that the comics industry wouldn’t be recognizable without his influence. When readers bring Batman ’66 for me to sign, almost every other one mentions that the West show is what started them reading comics. Adam was a tremendous talent with an effortless humor. I’m still grateful that as a kid I got to meet him at the point when I was so obsessed with the show. And I’m so happy that he had such a career resurgence late in life — that’s rare and very deserved. Thank you for so many good times, Adam West.

Michael Eury, editor, Back Issue magazine and author, Hero-A-Go-Go!

Where were you on January 12, 1966? That was the day I became a comic-book editor and writer—even though I was barely eight years old at the time.

January 12, 1966, was the day that ABC-TV’s Batman premiered, with Adam West in the role of a Caped Crusader deemed too campy for some comics purists. Not to this third-grader. On that night, despite my parents’ guffawing at Lorenzo Semple Jr.’s over-the-top dialogue and West’s deadpan delivery, Adam West’s Batusi-ing Batman so obsessed me that I knew right then and there that I wanted to be part of the world of superhero comic books.

Over a half-century later, as I look back at the many comics, magazines and books to my credit, I realize I would not have ventured down this path had I not tuned in, Same Bat-Time, Same Bat-Channel, back in ’66.

Thank you, Adam West, for being my childhood hero and for inspiring me to help preserve the legends of your crimefighting kin.

Jonathan Case, artist, Batman ’66

This goes out to a class act (and a pleasure to draw): Adam West. Much love to his family, friends and fans today. #adamwest

Barry Bradfield, designer, Diamond Select Toys’ Batman ’66 merchandise

Adam West’s straight-faced presence as Batman kept me riveted as a child and smiling as an adult. His sincere performance made the show so real even when it was at its campiest. I will always treasure the hours of entertainment he gave me, and how he taught me the definition of “hero.”

Tom Peyer, writer, Batman ’66

Adam West brought wit, gravity, silliness, sensitivity and skill to a role whose impact he couldn’t have foreseen. In other words, he didn’t have to do such a good job, but he did anyway.

To many of us, his was the best Batman; to others, it was the Batman we don’t talk about. The disapproving faction always seemed to miss an essential point: that, for all its campy humor, this Batman accurately represented the character portrayed in the comics of the day. The print version really was that square, that earnest, that impossibly good. Which must be why I feel today like Batman died.

Eugene Nock, owner, the original 1966 Batcopter

Today’s a sad for me. I have great memories of that gentleman. He was a professional professional. Actor and entertainer. Adam West was Batman at the infancy of splendid color television, at the infancy of tying in toys with the Batman likeness. They tied it into him: Adam West. He started it.

Kelley Jones, artist, Batman

Having drawn Batman over many years with a creepy and noirish slant, people will always ask me where did that come from. The idea came from several places, but first with the Batman TV series starring Adam West.

Batman was in syndication, and on UHF station Channel 40 when I’d get home from school. I know many will say it was campy (it was) and was played not with a serious take (can’t argue there either).

But what it had was a certain frisson as the French would say… meaning fear or terror about it. The villains were genuinely sociopathic and for the most part scary! Batman always felt like he was in real danger. The populace of Gotham were eccentric and the city kinda weird. And that’s another thing — Gotham felt like Gotham, not New York.

Adam West’s show has stood the test of time to me. I still love it.

So, along with Captain James T. Kirk and Secret Service special agent James T. West, Adam West’s portrayal of Batman has entered the rarefied position of classic TV hero.

And yes, he’s still my favorite Batman.

Art Baltazar, artist, Tiny Titans, co-writer, Batman ’66

Like many kids, Mr. Adam West was my first Batman. I watched him every day. I played with Mego Batman toys. I drew pictures him and the Boy Wonder all the time when I was a kid. The Batman TV show was a big influence on me and is partially responsible for me becoming a cartoonist.

So, imagine: A kid who grew up with Adam West’s Batman becoming a cartoonist. Then, getting an artist table at your first comic-book convention. And who sets up next to you? None other than…BATMAN! That’s right… Mr. Adam West!

Wow! I made it! I just became a real comic-book artist! This is awesome!

It was one of those comic-book shows where nobody attended. The place was empty. Hours and hours of no customers. But I was thrilled. Me and Mr. West sat across from each other all weekend talking back and forth. Sharing stories about Batman.

At the time, the Michael Keaton Batman movie was in theaters. He asked me if Batman was still popular. I said, “Yes, sir.” He asked me about my name. He asked me, “What kind of ART is Baltazar art?” True story. I gave him some drawings.

I met Mr. West approximately four times during my cartooning career. Including a handshake, a hotel line check-in with the Riddler and several autographs, and a jar of jelly. Adam West is Batman. Will always be Batman. And will always have a place in my memory.

Thank you for the inspiration, Mr. Adam West.

Craig Rousseau, artist, Batman ’66 (and that spectacular image at the top of this story)

Adam West WAS Batman… and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be drawing comics today if not for him. Drawing Batman ’66 was a childhood dream come true.

Sandy Jarrell, artist, Batman ’66

Robin had the BEST dad. He was moral, just and wise, had the world’s best speaking voice, the coolest car, the best dance moves. There was not an ass he couldn’t kick, a foe he couldn’t outwit.

I’ve met tons of Batmen since Adam West introduced me to the character, love a bunch of ’em. But after all these years, Adam’s still the one I wish was my dad.

Brent Schoonover, artist, Batman ’66

It kind of feels like the character of Batman chose Adam West. I always felt he was an underrated actor simply cause the camp factor got so much of the attention. But I think it took a real talented actor to balance the sincerity and parody the show aimed for. As fans we’ve been pretty lucky to have a lot of great actors play the Caped Crusaders. Today, we lost the man who carried that torch the longest. Onward and upward.

Thanks, Mr. West.

Mark Waid, writer

Hardest hit I’ve taken in a while. Adam West wasn’t just an idol to me, he was a good and congenial man. I met him enough times where he recognized me by name, and that’s the thrill of a lifetime. I join Gov. Stonefellow in my mourning of someone who meant so much to me and to all of us.

Arlen Schumer, historian, Batman ’66 lecturer

I have always had a love/”hate” relationship with the Batman TV series — you can read my essay on that here — so my reaction to the passing of Adam West is shaded by my immense dislike of the campy version of Batman.

But I salute him as a consummate professional who took his job very seriously.

Marc Andreyko, co-writer, Batman ’66 Meets Wonder Woman ’77

Adam West was my first Batman. As a kid, I was mesmerized by the colors, the f/x, and by Mr. West’s sly delivery. Of course, it wasn’t until years later that I appreciated the concept of camp and found a whole new enjoyment of his Caped Crusader.

Mr. West’s legacy cannot be overstated as he introduced (and through the power of Blu-rays and re-runs, still introduces) millions of people to Batman. Adam West may no longer be with us in the flesh, but he will live forever as one of our heroes.

Mike Allred

For ADAM WEST: An Appreciation, by MIKE ALLRED, click here.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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1 Comment

  1. I’m at work today, designing a Batman Easter egg dye kit.

    I’ve been working with the Batman license for decades now as a designer and illustrator and one of my favorite product SKUs was when I got to develop Christmas cards and tags for the 1966 Batman line. It was fun, very different from the plethora of Dark Knight merchandise that had been filling pegs and shelves since 1989. Nostalgia is a powerful drug and working on that part of the property gave me a great high because, as with so many others, Batman had a HUGE influence on my art and a big part of it was Adam West’s portrayal.

    He was my TV dad. Others latched onto Robert Reed or Andy Griffith or Fred MacMurray but mine was the Caped Crusader. He reminded me of my father; he drove a cool car (my dad had a ’66 Mustang), he was an inventor (my dad was a mechanic and a carpenter), he had a strong sense of justice (my father was also a cop), and he surrounded himself with colorful characters (I could write a book about my dad’s friends). While I wanted to be Batman, I was my dad’s Robin, learning from him and aspiring to be as good of a man as he was.

    When I was away in college, my father went to a car show in Florida. He knew Adam West would be there so he brought one of the childhood drawings he had kept to show Mr. West. My father had him sign it and sent it to me at school. While I thought it was cool that my two childhood heroes had actually met, I wasn’t happy that anyone else had signed their name to my art! Today, as a father myself, it’s one of my most cherished possessions.

    So here I sit, wearing a black t-shirt with the Batman TV show logo printed on it, working on Batman merchandise, grateful to a man I’d never met for helping to steer a kid who favored the black crayon to draw his way into a career of commercial art. “To the batpole!”

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  1. ADAM WEST: A Celebration | 13th Dimension, Comics, Creators, Culture - […] — ADAM WEST Launched a Thousand Careers: Comics Creators Remember. Click here. […]
  2. ADAM WEST: An Appreciation, by MIKE ALLRED | 13th Dimension, Comics, Creators, Culture - […] For a round-up of remembrances by Mike Allred’s fellow comics creators, click here. […]
  3. A Father’s Day Tribute to ADAM WEST: The Bat-Dad of a Generation | 13th Dimension, Comics, Creators, Culture - […] Sandy Jarrell said here that Robin had the best Dad ever. Mike Allred, the Batman ’66 cover artist, wrote…

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