In 1939, artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger created one of fiction’s greatest and most enduring characters, Batman. Since then, this masked hero has been a staple in comic books, film, TV, video games, toys, shower curtains, and almost anything else you can think of. On May 5th, 2014, the Paley Center for Media in New York City hosted Batman at 75: To All a Dark Knight, a very special event celebrating 75 years of the Caped Crusader and the memories created during the iconic character’s history. New memories were created as well during this awesome event, which I had the honor and privilege of attending.
Writer Whitney Matheson of USA Today’s Pop Candy blog moderated a panel consisting of five key figures in Batman history. These panelists were Kevin Conroy (voice of Batman in many animated series’ and video games), Chip Kidd (designer and author of many Batman books), Marc Tyler Nobleman (author), Kevin Smith (filmmaker), and Michael Uslan (executive producer of all the Batman films since 1989). Each of these talented gentlemen had a lot to say regarding the Dark Knight and their anecdotes and recollections were truly enlightening, not to mention, highly entertaining.
Matheson started things off simply by asking about each of the panelists’ first experiences being exposed to Batman. Most said that the Adam West series from the 1960s was their first. They all basically agreed that the campiness of this show was rather contradictory to the dark, brooding nature of the character in the comics but they didn’t really care, Batman was a very entertaining show despite it’s colorful, slightly goofy nature.
Conroy delighted the audience with some quotes using his signature Batman voice. Uslan, being the oldest, regaled us with an anecdote of when he met Bill Finger as a boy. Kevin Smith, though, stole the show. Being a seasoned panelist from many events over the years, especially at Comic Cons, he certainly knew how to engage his audience and his sometimes rated R humor kept things edgy and fun. The Q&A after the panel was loaded with random questions regarding Batman’s behind the scenes. Uslan was understandably tightlipped regarding the future Batman vs. Superman film, so there wasn’t a lot given in terms of sneak peeks. But fans, young and old all had something to say or ask concerning the Dark Knight.
After the panel, Bat-fans were treated to a table signing where the panelists signed autographs and posed for pictures. Kevin Smith, however, fled the scene early since he was the biggest star there and probably wanted to avoid getting mobbed. But Kevin Conroy is a heavyweight in the voice acting business and he stayed for autographs, so that was bit confusing. All in all, it was a night to remember and being in the presence of these industry giants, as well as being surrounded by a plethora of fans, I definitely felt like I was in good company. Batman turns 75 this year, so go out, read some comics, watch some movies, and play some video games because Batman is here to stay. He is ingrained in our culture. He has been for 75 years and he will continue to do so for the next 75 and beyond!