Friday, July 3, 2009

20th Anniversary of Tim Burton's 1989 "Batman" Movie

The photo above is of Bob Kane, who created Batman 70 years ago in 1939. He's with Michael Keaton on the set of Tim Burton's "Batman" movie. Last week was the 20th anniversary of the release of that film in 1989. Despite having died in 1998, Bob Kane remains a controvertial figure, in part because he was perceived to have vigorously and inaccurately promoted himself as the sole creator of Batman (at the expense of, most notably, writer Bill Finger), and because from very early in his career he did little of the actual artwork, instead hiring uncredited ghost artists.

I met Bob Kane once. It was at the San Diego Comic-Con (back when it was called that) in the summer of 1987 or 1988. Comic-Con was on a much smaller scale then. It's emphasis was much more on cardboard boxes of comic books selling 3 for a $1, than on movie stars and summer blockbusters like it is today. Bob Kane was handing out yellow buttons (like the one I got from him above), promoting the upcoming film. At the time he handed me that button, the film was still not even in production and so the worldwide hype and "Batmania" that ultimately surrounded the release of the film itself was still over a year away. The Bob Kane I met was just a well dressed older gentleman handing out these buttons while standing in front of a card table. No one was surrounding him.

In many respects, it was the colossal success of that film that changed the "San Diego Comic-Con" into the much grander "Comic-Con International San Diego" that it is today, in the process ensuring (unfortunately) that the way I met Bob Kane would never be repeated in later years.

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