Those with no place in their hearts for the camp-classic Batman TV series and film from the 1960s should click swiftly to another review. Speaking for myself, this absurdist take on the Batman family of characters and supervillains and gadgets can live alongside the tales of the Dark Knight: it's a matter of perspective—and sense of humor. As a proud owner of the first edition of Joel Eisner's The Official Batman Batbook (out of print since 1993), I can say that my only complaints were in the flimsy binding and a desire for more, more, more interview material and research. Joel Eisner, the world's leading authority on the 1960's TV/movie Batman, addresses those complaints with a new edition from AuthorHouse.
At over 450 pages (and nearly two and a half pounds), The Official Batman Batbook: The Revised Bat Edition qualifies as a "weighty" tome, but the clean, clear prose isn't heavy. In his new introduction "Memories of a Batscholar," Eisner explains his credentials, the history of both versions of the book, and what's new in this edition (more on that anon). Eisner collates personal interviews with the producers, writers, actors, and technicians behind the series, as well as a wealth of archival material—more interviews, internal series documents, etc.—for the definitive book on the Adam West Batman.
The meat of the book is a thorough episode guide, listing for each segment—or pair of segments, as two-parters were customary—the Guest Cast, Synopsis, Bat-Memories (culled from the interviews), Batscholar Trivia (further details about the actors, episode, and production), and Special Bat-Equipment specific to that story. The anal retentive in me loves the complete appendices "Batfight Words" and "Holy Batwords," listing every "OOOFF!" (not to be confused with "OOOOFF!"), "WHAP!!" and "ZOWIE!", and every exclamation from "Holy Agility!" to "Holy Zorro!"
Of course, Eisner leads off with a section called "Bat Beginnings," which details the origins of the series, and then a rundown on the stories behind "The First Season." The 1966 "Batman: The Movie" gets its own section, chronologically inserted between seasons, followed by an interstitial section on "The Second Season" and the series' plans to avert cancellation as the Bat-craze waned. An "Epilog" explains the circumstances of the series cancellation (and near-miss of a reprieve).
At a glance, the specific additions to the book aren't obvious, but once one dives into the material, the expansion is clear, with quite a bit more interview material leaping out of the episode rundowns, along with long-hidden details from the production archives (like cast salaries and guest-star-villain thank-you notes) that have only recently come to the light of the trusted Batscholar. The only downside to this revised and expanded edition is its formatting. Though the first edition's layout could be called childishly playful (and appropriately so), it was also crisp and used page space wisely. This version's full-sized, acid-free pages aren't used to good effect, with a whole page given over to each story's titles and credits and the printing of the priceless archival photographs and advertisements badly botched, with poor resolution and some images unforgiveably stretched out of shape.
Still, these are minor quibbles. With the series unavailable on home video due to continued legal wrangling, The Official Batman Batbook is an even more cherished resource, and the news here is that it's back in print, bigger and better. And if you learned your lesson about staying tuned—SAME BAT TIME, SAME BAT CHANNEL—there's another treat promised for the future: a third, ultimate, limited edition with color photos, one that will no doubt correct the layout issues. In the meantime, here's your complete guide to a classic series. Holy gratitude!