8 Things You May Not Know About Batman, the Comic Book

Neatorama presents a guest post from actor, comedian, and voiceover artist Eddie Deezen. Visit Eddie at his website or at Facebook.

In 1939, just one year after the creation of the first comic book superhero, Superman, Bob Kane brought us a new comic superhero (a bit of an anti-hero, actually) named Batman. Like almost every cartoon character ever created, “Batman" has changed and morphed over the past several decades. Nonetheless, Batman’s popularity among his legions of fans has never waned and continues strong, to this day. Batman has starred in a classic TV series, a movie serial series, and several big-budget Hollywood films, but let's take a look at Batman, the comic book.

1) Why was he called Bruce Wayne?

Batman was, as we all know, the alter ego of millionaire Bruce Wayne. The “Bruce" was based on Robert the Bruce, the Scottish patriot. The “Wayne" came from Revolutionary War general “Mad Anthony" Wayne.

2) He originally used guns.

This would not seem logical, as young Bruce Wayne's parents were killed by a gun. And although nowadays Batman does, indeed, hate guns, the original character actually packed a six-gun. The Caped Crusader would carry his gun during his "night patrol" of Gotham City. But creator Bob Kane said it "didn't feel right" and eventually the six-shooter was dispensed with- permanently.

3) He was accused of being gay.

In 1954's highly influential (and controversial) book Seduction of the Innocent, American psychiatrist Dr. Frederic Wertham postulated that comic books contributed to juvenile delinquency. Although Wertham's study was mostly about crime and horror comics, Batman was included. As a suspected gay character.

Yes, that's right, Dr. Wertham put forth the theory that Bruce Wayne (Batman's alter ego) and his live-in youthful ward Dick Grayson (Robin) were more than just friends. Although this seems patently ridiculous to us now, in those years, Bruce Wayne was not the big-time ladies man he would later become, in not only the comic, but the later TV series and the Batman movies.

In fact, Wertham's book is often credited with the change in the Batman/Bruce Wayne character. As all Batman fans well know, the talk about Batman and Bruce & Dick's "relationship" persisted right into the campy TV series, although there was never any proof whatsoever to back up the theory.

4) Introduction of the “Bat" ladies.

Scholars have suggested that the female characters Batwoman (introduced in 1956) and (pre-Barbara Gordon) Bat-girl (introduced in 1961) were created to fend off suggestions that Batman was gay.

5) Hugh Hefner was a huge Batman fan.

If there is one thing Hugh Hefner loves (besides, of course, beautiful women), it is comic books. Yes, “Hef" was, and still is, a huge fan of the Batman comic books. In fact, his great love of the Caped Crusader led to him hosting a Batman-themed costume party in 1965. All the guests came dressed as Batman, Robin, or a villain from the comic. Batman serials were screened and everyone had a great time.

In fact, they had such a great time that an ABC executive named Yale Udoff actually ran to a pay phone and called ABC with an idea for a TV series, and this turned out to be the genesis of the Batman TV series with Adam West playing the Caped Crusader.

6) The Joker never had a name.

The Batman comic was filled with many classic villains, and each one had his or her own real name. Catwoman was Selena Kyle, the Penguin was Oswald Cobblepot, the Riddler was E. Nigma (enigma- get it?). Another big-time Batman villain was Two-face, who was actually Harvey Dent. But, for some odd reason, The Joker, one of Batman's all-time most popular villains, never had an alter-ego name.

Only recently did the Joker officially got his own real name: Jack Napier. The name “Napier" was chosen in honor of actor Alan Napier, who played Alfred the butler in the Batman TV series.

7) The first full-length screen adaptation was...

Ask any casual movie fan about the first-ever full-length Batman movie and many will answer Tim Burton's 1989 Batman starring Michael Keaton as the Caped Crusader, with a typically awesome performance by Jack Nicholson as the Joker. No, true Batman afficionados recall the 1966 Batman movie, based on the hugely popular TV series, starring Adam West in the lead role.

But wait, both are wrong.

In 1964, bizarre filmmaker Andy Warhol actually was at the helm for the first-ever full-length Batman movie. Done in collaboration with longtime Warhol collaborator Gregory Battcock in the lead role (the name is not a joke, i swear!). Batman Dracula came out in 1964, two years before the TV show-inspired Batman craze hit the country. The strange movie was completely unauthorized by DC Comics.

Only a few people ever saw Batman Dracula (like many Andy Warhol films) and all prints of the esoteric film are thought to now be long-gone. Surviving footage appeared in the later Warhol movie Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis (2006).

8) Where the heck is Gotham City?

The Batman comic originally took place in New Jersey, but like many comic books, the writers wanted a fictional city with a fictional history, to give it its "own world.” One day, a Batman writer opened a phone book and saw “Gotham Jewelers" listed.

The exact location of Gotham City is now forgotten; it was sometimes on the East Coast, and sometimes in the Midwest, near Metropolis, home of Superman. In a few cases, readers have spotted Gotham City, New Jersey, on license plates and once on a character's driver's license.

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