The true story of a man who grew up loving comic books and made it his life’s mission to see Batman brought to the silver screen in a way that truly reflected the dark, gritty roots of the character…
Michael Uslan was born and raised in New Jersey, America, where he developed a life-long passion for comic books and the characters who populated them. When the 1960s television version of Batman was released he was horrified at the campy, slapstick way that the Dark Knight was portrayed and the way this version inserted itself into the popular consciousness. His journey to bring the ‘real’ Batman to the big screen would lead him eventually to the Tim Burton films and on to the Christopher Nolan interpretation that is due to complete its three film arc in 2012.
Uslan’s autobiography is an endearing love letter to the comics that have shaped his life. As the story of a boy captivated by comics unfolds one is swept away to a time when 10¢ could buy you the latest adventures of Batman or Superman, when there was no X-Box, Playstation, Facebook or YouTube, and Wednesday (new comic book day) meant excitement, adventure and suspense. Uslan’s genuine enthusiasm and passion is clear in his writing and makes for compelling reading. It is also clear from his memoirs that he has had an extraordinary career and fully embodies the notion of ‘do what you love’. From teaching the first accredited course on comic books, to working at DC Comics and finally bringing Batman to the big screen, Uslan has lived every comic lover’s dream.
The Boy Who Loved Batman is a fascinating window into the history of comics from someone who was actually present for a large portion of it. Uslan attended the first ever comic convention in New York, he bought many first issues as they were released, and picked up older seminal works in the genre for next to nothing at markets or through mailorder. Some of the titles he paid a few cents for are worth hundreds of thousands of US dollars today. He lived through the period of fear and paranoia when Dr Frederic Wertham’s persecution of comics whipped society into a fever of condemnation and disapproval. Even more interestingly, he lived in a time before blockbuster comic book film adaptations and the rise of the graphic novel as a respected mainstream medium. Michael Uslan truly was there through the birth of the comic industry as we know it today and rubbed shoulders with many of the giants of the genre. His story charts the evolution of not only comics but also comics fandom.
I found The Boy Who Loved Batman an engaging read as well as an educational one. Uslan reveals a personal side to many pioneers in the comic book world who modern fans know only as legends in their own lifetimes. His personal journey to realise his dream of bringing The Batman to cinema audiences is defined by dedication, perseverance and good humour.
Verdict: For anyone with an interest in comics history or collecting The Boy Who Loved Batman is a must read. 8/10
Abrams & Chronicle Books, out now