DC Comics threw Batman an 80th birthday party Saturday at WonderCon, noting as they did that the festivities would continue all year.
The next major Batman commemoration will take place on Wednesday, July 17, the opening night of the 50th San Diego Comic Con. It will happen in San Diego, too. Batman will be the first-ever inductee into the Comic-Con Museum Character Hall of Fame, with a special ceremony to be held in its future venue, the Federal Building in Balboa Park. Expect memorabilia, props, and celebrities in attendance. Tickets to that event will be available to the public on June 3. Also, there are plans to shine real life Batsignals in the skies above cities across the globe on Batman Day, which is Sept. 15.
Interested parties can keep up with all the tie-in events and activities via www.Batman80.com.
As for the WonderCon party, it was alternately raucous and poignant. It was led by a panel of famous celebrants, including pop culture aficionado Grace Randolph, famed artist and DC Chief Creative Officer Jim Lee, Batman video game voice actor Roger Craig Smith, Batman: The Brave and The Bold voice actor Diedrich Bader, Batman: The Animated Series voice actor Kevin Conroy, Gotham actor David Mazouz, and Lee Meriwether, who portrayed Catwoman in 1966’s Batman: The Movie.
The raucous parts of the party came with the crowd singing happy birthday as a lavish cake was rolled into the hall. There was also a massive Batman cos-player photo shoot at the end. The poignant bits had to do with each of the panelists sharing their earliest memories of Batman.
Lee had a really moving story about Batman being comforting, as the character was one of the rare things that his native Seoul had in common with the United States, where he moved as a kid. When he first started reading Batman comics, he couldn’t parse the English dialogue, and in turn paid closer attention to the art and action to follow the story. Not knowing then, of course, the he would grow up to draw such art for a living. Wanting to understand what the characters were saying was a strong motivation for him to learn English, he said.
Meriwether’s story spoke to the character’s longevity, involving as it did pulling weeds in her yard as a girl in Phoenix, so that her father would give her a pair of dimes that she could run with down the street to the drug store, where they sold Batman comics for 10 cents.
Conroy, who is the most celebrated Batman voice actor of all-time, said he knew the character from the campy show in his childhood, but he was not aware of its tragic origin or noir side until the day he auditioned for the part.
Conroy learned of the sadness that motivated Batman on the spot, which he said made it easier to get lost in the character’s feelings during his audition, ultimately helping him create his now-iconic Batman voice.
In fact, the most celebratory bit in the panel was when a hush (eh?) fell over the crowd, while everyone waited for Conroy to say his famous line…
“I am vengeance. I am the night. I…am…Batman.”
And like we used to say in college, no party is complete until someone starts yelling about being Batman.