I remember it like it was only thirty years ago. I was about eight or nine. It was the summer of 1974. I had grown up with Batman and everything Batman. I came home from school to watch Batman at 3:30. I sat enthralled as the Caped Crusader miraculously escape yet another impossible death trap (inside a giant hourglass, escaping a giant man-eating clam) to capture another gaudily-dressed super-villain. In a testosterone-induced frenzy, I would then explode into the great outdoors with a towel clothes-pinned around my neck and do imaginary battle with villains of my own.
One day, my dad came home and said, “Would you like to meet Batman?” WOULD I? We woke up early the next day and headed down to Charlotte to the convention center. I remember riding down surrounded by comic books and almost giddy with excitement. We arrived at the convention center and the crowd was huge (or at least it was huge in my nine year old mind). I saw the Batmobile. I’ve wanted one of my own but they cost about a quarter million dollars today.
Then, finally, it was time to meet the legend. I had on my favorite shirt - a long-sleeved sweatshirt with a classic action pose. I waited in line and then it was my turn. We met. Batman signed a photo for me (long since lost - still bummed out about that). Dad asked for a photo so I walked behind the table and Dad snapped the picture to the left. And then it was over - just like that.
It's strange the things you remember: Batman (Adam West) was hot in that crowded convention center in the summer. A fan was blowing right on top of him and the sweat was pouring off him. He had one of those old 70s-vintage microphones. And he was horribly out of shape. I remember thinking how fat he was. I dont' think he could even beat up Egghead at that time. It was a true bitter-sweet moment. I probably hung up the "towel and clothes-pins" after that.
However, the fascination with Batman continued and even remains. I never got over it and don't plan on it. I have collected comics over the years and have almost every single Batman comic book since my birthdate (Nov 1966). The only ones I am missing are Batman #238 (Jan 1972) and #241 (June 1972 - Ra's Al Ghul) and #256 (a 100-page giant from June 1974 - man, those were the BEST). Other than those three, I have all the issues from Batman, Detective Comics, Legends of the Dark Knight, Shadow of the Bat, The Batman Family, all the animated Adventure titles, Gotham Knights, Brave and Bold, World's Finest and a large assortment of Justice League titles. I also have a rather sad collection of Bat-paraphernalia.
It has come full circle. My two boys (age 9 and 4) also share a love for all things Batman (and Superman and Spider-Man and ....). How could they help it - doomed from the womb, indeed!). A few weeks ago, my wife was in the local "mall" and saw a sign at the toy store that Batman was going to appear. She came home and talked me into returning with the boys for some photos. AJ was thrilled and Joey was a little shy/terrified but they both gamely posed with this version of the Batman. You gotta admit - it's a pretty good looking costume and I finally ran into a bigger geek than myself! That's always a plus.