Archives for : Batman

Michael Uslan Made Batman Fandom His Career

Batman is the arguably the most relatable superhero for humans.  He doesn’t have super powers, he’s relies entirely on his brain and honed skills, and his grief stricken backstory makes everyone shed tears.  The only thing “super and powerful” about Batman is his bottomless fortune.   We could consider that superpower if you refer to the 2017 Justice League movie script.  Flash asks Ben Affleck Batman what his superpower is and Affleck Batman replies, “I’m rich.”

I’m a Batman fan and one of my goals is to write either a Batman animated movie or a comics story arc.  My dedication to the Dark Knight pales in comparison to Michael Uslan, who is probably the ultimate Batman fan and responsible for making the Caped Crusader part of the modern zeitgeist.  Check out this Mental Floss article, “The Boy Who Saved Batman.”

Ulsan has been a Batman fan since he learned to read from his older brother’s comic books.  He amassed a huge collection of 30,000 books that consumed his parents garage.  He eventually sold 20,000 of his books to pay for his wedding and college education.  His first claim to fame was becoming the first professor of a college-accredited comic book course.  I wish I had access to his syllabus!

Ulsan so loved Batman that he wanted to buy the rights to the character and make a movie restoring the character from his campy Adam West days.  After earning a law degree, Ulsan worked in United Artists’s legal department.  Through sheer determination and persistence, he persuaded a production team to buy the Batman film rights for $50.000 in 1979.  Ulsan’s plans for a Batman movie languished in Hollywood for years, which is nothing new for any creative property.

Ulsan needed a steady cash flow to keep his Bat dream alive, so he

As the clock ticked, Uslan grasped for salable ideas. Then one day, he had an epiphany: What about dinosaurs from outer space?The kid-friendly lightning bolt resulted in Dinosaucers, a 1987 animated television series that provided just enough cash to get by.

Come the late 1980s, Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns was published and reinvigorated interest in the Caped Crusader.  Ulsan’s Batman producing partners were attached to Warner Brothers, whileTim Burton had finished directing Pee-wee’s Big Adventure and was about to film Beetlejuice with Michael Keaton.  Burton asked screenwriter Sam Hamm (also a Batman fan) to work on a script inspired by Miller’s work and finally the project got the AOK.

Batman directed by Tim Burton, starring Michael Keaton as the Bat, Jack Nicklson as the Joker, Kim Basinger as Vicki Vale, and Michael Ulsan as a producer premiered on June 23, 1989 and quickly became that year’s summer blockbuster and more:

Batman’s cultural impact was enormous. In November, Uslan watched the Berlin Wall fall on CNN and saw a boy in the wreckage wearing a Batman hat. “This had become more than just a movie,” he writes. “It was, indeed, revolutionary.” In North America, the film was the highest-grossing movie of 1989.

Ulsan has been a producer on every Batman movie since 1989, including the Christian Bale Dark Knight Trilogy.  

Professional fans are are the ones who truly make franchises successful.  When a fan like Ulsan gets their hands on a property they have loved since childhood, they can do some serious wonders with it.

 

Toon-In Talk Episode 20: Interview with Joseph Phillip Illidge

Hello and welcome to twentieth episode of Fanboy Nation’s Toon-In-Talk, your rendezvous for animation interviews. Whitney loves comic books and graphic novels, so when she’s not watching cartoons she’s reading comics.  One of her favorite cartoon sagas is the DC Animated Universe, including the fabulous cartoons Static Shock and Batman: The Animated Series. Whitney had the luck to speak with Joseph Phillip Illidge, who helped shaped the hero Static at Milestone Media and also reinvigorated he Batman comic book series.  Joseph continues to write and edit comics as well as expanding his talents into other creative endeavors.

Episode 20

 

  • Joseph is a writer, editor, and columnist. He writes a column at ComicResources.com called “The Mission” about diversity in comic books, he is currently the writer of the graphic novel The Ren published by First Second, and writes the series Solar Man.
  • Whitney is a huge fan of the DC Animated Universe hero, Static Shock. The founders of Milestone Media created Static in the 1990s. Joseph had the awesome opportunity to work at Milestone and with Static.
  • Joseph and Whitney discuss about Static’s character was a great superhero and identifiable for teenagers.
  • Joseph was an editor at DC during the Batman: No Man’s Land He delves into exciting details about how he shaped Batman as a series as well as the characters.
  • This is one of Whitney’s favorite sagas in Batman.
  • They discuss how the Joker has changed from his incarnations during No Man’s Land to the current version in the New 52. Both Whitney and Joseph agree the Joker has gone in some extreme directions.
  • The Suicide Squad is going to take Harley Quinn to new levels. The movie will be a good test to see whether or not if DC can face-off against Disney’s Marvel Entertainment.
  • The Ren is a teenage love story about a young bass player from Georgia who moves to Harlem, New York with dreams to become a famous musician and he falls in love with young dancer. It’s about what they go through from 1925-1926. It was written due to the lack of black romance graphic novels in the medium.
  • Joseph explains about the lack of graphic novels starring characters of non-European ancestry, how he wants to expand the offering, and some of his favorite graphics novels that do fit this niche.
  • Whitney talks about her own graphic novel and wanting to see more heroine-centric comics sans romance.
  • As comic geeks always do, Whitney and Joseph suggest titles to read to each other.
  • Joseph declares a desire for a better and friendlier comic book industry.