In this consumer-based industry, it can be easy to forget the years of hard work that the people in the business put in. Behind every panel, it takes a skilled writer, artist, inker and colorist to make the product complete. Behind each scene goes hours of preparation. Hush Comics’ weekly article “Respect My Craft” will dive into the history of these comic book and pop culture greats that will hopefully give a new perspective on how the men and women behind the pen (or stylus) contribute to the collective awesome-ness of the nerd world, or at least give you a reason to invest in their work.
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Name: Adam West
Notable Work: Batman television series (1966-1968), Family Guy (2000-2014)
“Pow! Bang! Crash!” – Adam West
Holy Onomatopoeia, Hushsters, the caped crusader will be at Denver Comic this year!” It’s only right that we pay homage to this iconic TV personality the Hush way, with spoilers! Enter at your own risk, we are going to drop some Easter Eggs on you for this episode of “RMC.”
William West Anderson was born on September 19th, 1928. As a kid, he was a legitimate Batman fan, which isn’t surprising. Media was limited in the 40’s and comic books were one of the few forms of media that were acceptable for children. He fell in love with entertainment and worked in everything from radio to theater. He changed his name to Adam West to be more appealing in Hollywood. Westerns were very popular on television, so it made sense. He starred in several westerns including: The Restless Four, Maverick, Geronimo, Bonanza and The Virginian.
Adam got the attention of ABC executives in the sixties due to his work as Captain Q, a secret agent in a NesQuik commercial. His line was, “Some people will do anything to get rich quick, toodle-oo.” He had an extensive resume, including a feature with The Three Stooges in The Outlaws is Coming. ABC was desperate to produce a show that could compete with its rivals. Lost in Space, The Munsters, and Star Trek were ratings giants for NBC and CBS. ABC pitched the Batman series in a risky attempt to keep up. They had a simple formula – over-the-top action and unwavering morality equals over-night success. Zowie! Although Adam and co-star Burt Ward (Robin) had to audition for their roles, they easily landed their parts after the show’s executive, William Dozier, also voice of the narrator, decided to produce the series as a campy adventure.
The first episode, “Hi Diddle Riddle,” aired January 12th, 1966. The series only lasted three seasons, but it aired twice a week. Imagine if Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones did the same! This show didn’t need sex or violence to be successful (not like they could have gotten away with it anyway); it had Batman and that’s all you need, and Batpoles, and an animated intro, and shark repellent, and villains, “Oh, the villains!” Thwapp!
Like most series of that era that targeted young viewers, each episode had a strong message of morality. Issues like pedestrian safety and doing homework were thrown into the action-packed show.
Sock! The villains the Dynamic Duo faced were splendid. Boom! They wore outrageous costumes and had henchman galore. Slap! Cesar Romero played a magnificent Joker. He was an instant hit. Eartha Kitt purred her way into the warm part of the couch as Catwoman. The fight sequences on the show felt like operatic dance numbers.
The gadgets the duo had were every boy’s dream, secret passageways, utility belts with tools to save the day, and a custom Batmobile to rival any sports car. The Lincoln Futura concept car from Ford was never put into production so it was a perfect choice for billionaire Bruce Wayne. Mechanic to the stars George Barris was commissioned to put the sleek model into action for the Batman series.
Life after Batman
Adam West’s career continued to thrive after Batman. He voiced the caped crusader and others for several animated series in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. He made guest appearances on Laverne and Shirley, The Love Boat and Bewitched. His cartoon voice over work is second to none, shout out Mark Hamill.
He has a Batman logo on one of his molars.
On April 5th, 2012 he earned his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
His resume is long, his work includes Johnny Bravo, Kim Possible, Futurama, and The Simpsons. Do you remember him as the voice of R. Kelly’s Lawyer on Season One of The Boondocks? “Maybe R. Kelly did urinate on this woman, but America urinated on R. Kelly!” Classic.
And then there’s Family Guy.
West’s popularity as Mayor Adam West of Quahog on Seth McFarlane’s obnoxiously funny Family Guy is astounding. He is a fan favorite and deservedly so for 14 years! His deadpan humor transfers well on the show. He is never too prideful to poke fun at himself and that’s what makes him so special. His character is moronic and insane, but most importantly hilarious. Isn’t it ironic that his longest continual role is of himself, and as an animated character?
West is the standard for actors who portray superheroes. Instead of being type cast, he created a persona that could translate well in any comedic medium. He built an empire for himself by remaining true to his art. He is a living legend and a guys like Tobey Maguire and Brandon Routh could take a page out of his book. After watching several episodes of the iconic series to prepare for this article I find myself in a state of nostalgia. Sure, the new Batman ’66 comic book can fill a bit of the gap, but it’s not the same. Where are the writers and actors of yesteryear? When did television become so bitter and boring, where are the Adam Wests of today? I guess we’ll find out next week, same Bat-time, same Bat channel.
Join us tomorrow as we continue our countdown to Denver Comic Con with Star Trek: The Next Generation alumna, Marina Sirtis.
All media belongs to ABC, Cartoon Network, Fox Television