Holy licensing deal, Batman!

It seems that the campy, kitschy 1966 version of Batman—which was long verboten to be mentioned at DC and WB in general due to its campy, kitschy nature. But as many noted, a line of toys based on the show was introduced at Toy Fair, and now we see that a whole line of merchandise, including a digital-first comic, is coming.

The comic will be by Jeff Parker and Jonathan Case, with a cover by Mike Allred.

Comic book fans also got a special treat when DC Entertainment unveiled art for its all-new digital comic book series BATMAN ’66, launching in summer 2013.  Inspired by the classic TV series, the digital comic book features many fan-favorite characters like Catwoman, The Riddler, The Joker and, of course, the dynamic duo of Batman and Robin. Written by Jeff Parker, the series will feature cover art by Michael Allred and the first issue will be drawn by Eisner Award winner Jonathan Case. BATMAN ’66 will also be collected and available for sale in monthly print issues.

“The juxtaposition of offering a retro BATMAN ’66 comic as a current and modern digital first title is fun,” stated DC Entertainment President, Diane Nelson.  “DC Entertainment is the most prolific producer of digital first comics and, as we work to create new and compelling content, this is a great way to also preserve the legacy of our characters.  It’s exciting to roll out the new BATMAN ’66 comic as part of this bigger initiative with our Warner Bros Consumer Product partners.”

The line kicked off last night with an event at Meltdown, which was attended by Bruce Wayne himself, Adam West.

The jokey, ludicrous approach to Batman on display in the show has long been thought of a the single greatest setback to serious superheroes for a long time. But now, apparently after 30 years of grim and gritty, it can be appreciated as an outlier.

Sadly, the DCD collection of the show remains in rights hell, due to the need to get approval from the heavy hitting lineup of guest stars, and myriad other rights issues between WB, which owns the characters, and Fox, which owns the series. Maybe this is the first step in paving a way to what would be a goldmine for all involved?

Via DCWKA and Twitter.


  1. Four production companies (Warner/ABC/Fox/Greenway).

    The uncredited cameos might be a stumbling block, but that’s just paperwork… much like music clearances. If they don’t sign, then you digitally replace the celebrities. (Much like WKRP in Cincinnati replaced a lot of the radio music on the DVDs.)


    How is DC able to produce these comics? Is it something like a co-copyright, where the profits have to be shared, but each can produce merchandise?

  2. Not having read the licenses, I can’t say anything definitively, but one can imagine a few scenarios. One is the situation you mention above, where all the companies have a piece of original material derived from the show. Another possibility–maybe even a probability–is that the original contract provided for the production companies to have TV/video rights while DC retains rights for comics and merchandising. One could imagine that the featured actors also contracted away their publicity rights as well.

    This complex situation, along with Paramount letting the Fleischer Superman cartoon copyright lapse,* illustrates the substantial difference in corporate legal culture between then & now. DC had had a close call in the 1940s/50s with the loss of the Superman copyright through the newspaper strips, yet the licensing contracts continued to cause problems for decades to follow.

    All in all re the 1966 DVD/streaming rights, most unfortunate, since the show is a true pop art classic. It’s the closest thing to DC having licensed material to Roy Lichtenstein.

    *Why the effect of this is narrowly limited will be the subject of a future post.

  3. Finally a DC comic worth reading! They should have done this years ago!

    You can always get the bootlegs of the TV series as you’ll never see it out officially and some of the bootlegs are quite excellent in quality.

  4. Jeff Parker. Interesting. I liked his work on Thunderbolts and Hulk.

    Finally a book from DC I’m looking forward to.

    Could a George Reeves Superman book be far behind?

  5. @Ron I’d buy a George Reeves Superman comic just to see the panel where crooks throw their guns at him.

  6. Are we going to get a comic on the George Reeves Superman TV show or the Linda Carter Wonder Woman show? Cause those would be fun too.

  7. @ron
    I would love a George Reeves Superman comic book as well as Christoher Reeve.
    I wonder why it took DC to realize what an asset the George Reeves and Adam West franchises are?

  8. @STAM My first guess is licensing, but at this time I really think DC doesn’t have a clue what their audience is looking for.

    Anyone else notice they kept Cesar Romero’s mustache in the Joker panel? Attention to details like this makes me happy

  9. Just heard about this comic and found your site doing a search.

    This is great! Looks like they’ve done a good job of capturing the TV characters. I hope they are able to get the “rhythm” of the TV series too. Also, it would be nice to see some of the lessor villains plus BATGIRL!!

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