An unplugged version of Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson’s 1966 masterpiece, if you will…
By JIM BEARD
When you look up the description for the 2002 Heritage auction of the original art for the classic 1966 Infantino/Anderson Batman and Robin “rooftop” image, there are words there I don’t think I can improve upon:
“For many of us that grew up in the 1960s and 1970s, this is the image of the Dark Knight Detective that we most fondly remember, making this not only a great piece of art, but a true cultural icon as well. … A better image of Batman would be difficult to find.”
When Dan Greenfield asked me to step back in here and do a follow-up to my previous piece on this image, he nudged me to wax a little poetic on it. I rebelled a little at that notion at first, because I’ve never been a fan of dissecting and analyzing things I like. I usually either like things or I don’t. Taking them apart to dig down into psychological terrain is, to me, an exercise in not only futility, but too often pretentiousness — sometimes pretty pictures and sounds and tastes just appeal to us and who cares why?
Still, whenever I have that Batman and Robin image in front of me, staring at me, inviting me to go on adventures across the rooftop with my heroes… yeah, I can dig up a little wax. It might even be slightly poetic.
1. This isn’t the 1939 Batman or the 2023 Batman. This is the Caped Crusader of a time and place in comics history when and where I think he appealed to a broader scope of people than ever before and ever since.
2. I love Carmine Infantino’s bat-cape. I don’t know if it’s realistic or physically impossible, but I dig the way that part of it flies out to the side from his right fist.
3. I love Infantino’s bat-mask. Carmine always had a way with drawing Batman’s cowl that appealed to me right down to the ground. As a kid, I was fascinated with the mechanics of it — how did it work? Was it cloth, or was it some kind of stiff material?
4. Aren’t those buildings great? I mean, they’re only blocks of straight lines, for Kane’s sake! How did they get them to look like a city skyline?
5. Bat-bricks. That rooftop edge and that spooky chimney hold real weight. They aren’t just props here; they’re an actual, physical environment.
6. Gigantic moon? Check, check, and check. Genius.
7. Clasps are for sissies. It’s the belt equivalent to a clip-on necktie. A real utility belt has a big ol’ buckle.
8. Bigger than life bat-muscles. Carmine and Murphy Anderson always had a way with denoting musculature and skeletal structure that seemed to not only be a continuation of every comic artist that came before them, but also solely their own.
9. What are they doing? Whither goest they? That’s the thing about this image — a kid can imagine any number of scenarios to place the Dynamic Duo on that rooftop. I have a few in mind; I’m sure you do, too.
10. Love that saying. “Best Bat-Wishes” is delightfully corny, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. Too bad it’s not on the original artwork. (Stuff has been whited out at the bottom, though I’m not sure what.)
11. Let’s rap about Robin. Focus always goes to the Big Bat-Guy, but Robin always looked so cool to me here. Fun thing is Carmine has given him a teenage look — our little bird was growing up in the ’60s.
12. Bat-gargoyle. Right? Didja ever look at it as that?
13. Finally, and most importantly to me personally: This could be Adam West and Burt Ward. The piece — part of a series of 1966 pin-ups and included in a ’66 issue of Detective Comics (#352) — exists most likely because of the TV series, and that friends is A-OK with me.
— BEST BAT-WISHES: 13 Tributes to the Classic BATMAN AND ROBIN Rooftop Pin-Up. Click here.
— CARMINE INFANTINO’s 13 Greatest BATMAN Covers — RANKED. Click here.
JIM BEARD has pounded out adventure fiction since he sold a story to DC Comics in 2002. He’s gone on to write official Star Wars and Ghostbusters comics stories and contributed articles and essays to several volumes of comic book history. His prose work includes his own creations, but also licensed properties such as Planet of the Apes, X-Files, Spider-Man, Kolchak the Night Stalker and Captain Action. In addition, Jim provided regular content for Marvel.com, the official Marvel Comics website, for 17 years.
Check out his latest releases: Rising Sun Reruns, about classic Japanese shows on American TV; a Green Hornet novella How Sweet the Sting; his first epic fantasy novel The Nine Nations Book One: The Sliding World; and the most recent Batman ’66 books of essays he’s edited: Zlonk! Zok! Zowie! The Subterranean Blue Grotto Essays on Batman ’66 – Season One, Biff! Bam! Ee-Yow! The Subterranean Blue Grotto Essays on Batman ’66 – Season Two and Oooff! Boff! Splatt! The Subterranean Blue Grotto Guide to Batman ’66 – Season Three.
He’s also published novels about a character very much like G.I. Joe (and Big Jim and Action Jackson): DC Jones – Adventure Command International.