Looking Back on Batman ’66 with Mike Carlin!

by Thomas ODonnell
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In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Batman, which first debuted on January 12, 1966, DCN reached out to a few industry professionals and asked them to share their memories of the show.  The response was so overwhelmingly positive that DCN will feature a monthly column highlighting each professionals thoughts and feelings throughout 2016.

Our first guest is none other than the Director of Animation for DC Entertainment, Mike Carlin!

Mike first officially became associated with DC Comics as an intern in 1974… Then, after a stint in College and at Marvel Comics, Mike found himself beginning a 30 year career back at DC. For 25 of those years Mike was an Editor, a Group Editor, and even an Executive Editor most notably being in charge of the SUPERMAN titles during the infamous “Death of Superman” storyline. For the last 5 years, Mike’s been Creative Director of Animation for DC Entertainment.

But it was January 12th, 1966 when DC first lured Mike into the DC Universe…


Read what Mike had to say about Batman below:

Where was I 50 years ago today?

Glued in front of my TV set like every other 7 year old!

The weekend before BATMAN first aired I accidentally saw a preview for it on AMERICAN BANDSTAND (My sister was watching, I swear… back in 1966 we only had one TV! And it was a Black & White TV to add insult to injury!) and I was hooked immediately! I had already been reading SUPERMAN comics because that TV show had been airing since before I was born— AND my mother was a comic book fan (I know!!! How lucky was I?). But she only really liked Superman and Wonder Woman (and TALES FROM THE CRYPT! I know!!! How lucky was I?) so  those were the comics she’d buy for me— so she could read ’em at night when I went to sleep! I only knew of Batman from the few WORLD’S FINEST or JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICAs I’d picked up.

But watching that first full episode (one of the few adapted from an actual comic book adventure) was so amazing to my 7 year-old self that I was clearly THE perfect audience for the show! Except for that Batusi, it was a pretty serious episode (and now, as an old man, I LIKE the Batusi! Even when John Travolta does it!)… and the Riddler was seriously scary due to Frank Gorshin’s manic performance! And the whole concept of a cliffhanger to bring me back the next day— GENIUS!

And that second episode… sorry, Burt Ward, but that Robin costume belongs on Jill St. John!

Gorshin as The Riddler
Jill St. John

After that I was there every week, two days in a row (until the 3rd season, anyways) but complaining to my parents that I couldn’t see the show “IN COLOR”! It said it was every week!!! A couple times we went to a neighbor’s house to watch with their kids— and that convinced my mom that this show actually NEEDED to be seen in color! And the day our color TV was delivered— was the night they aired “The Contaminated Cowl”– the episode where the Mad Hatter turned Batman’s cowl pink! Even then I was like “How would I have even KNOWN this if this was in Black & White?” Good timing indeed!

And now for 50 years I continue to revisit the show in reruns (even though I finally own the Box Set— which I was thrilled to be involved with on some of the extras— I still watch on MeTV just cause I know there are other “kids” sharing that experience with me, even today!

All in all I’d say this show has brought li’l Mikey a lot of happiness and fun (except for that one three-part storyline whose cliffhanger on the second chapter forced me to wait a WHOLE WEEK to find out if Robin was actually going to be eaten by that clam! Talk about stress! I was really worried)!

And remembering the time this show aired you have to appreciate the creativity brought to the screen. There had never been anything like it before that— and it arrived fully formed. And whether this is your Batman– or Tim Burton’s or Christopher Nolan’s or Zach Snyder’s Batman is your Batman– you have to admire that these people in the mid-60s set a target and hit it head-on with every Batarang they could find!

Mike Carlin
Director of Animation— DC Entertainment

January 12th, 2016

We at DCN would like to thank Mr. Carlin for taking the time to share his memories of Batman with us.

Bat Fact: Frank Gorshin was nominated for an Emmy for “Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Comedy” for his role as the Riddler in the first episode (Hi Diddle Riddle).

So, who will our next guest be? Guess you’ll have to tune in………

aug-18-same-bat-time-same-bat-channel                                                                                                                               …..to find out!

Have any stories you would like to share about Batman?  Please comment below and share.

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