Never underestimate the power of humorous signage. Mel Brooks knew it. The Simpsons knew it. Looney Tunes knew it. Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker knew it. And, perhaps most keenly of all, the creative team of the 1966-1968 Batman series on ABC damned well knew it. Of course, unlike those other Hollywood mirth-makers, the people behind Batman were making a stealth comedy in the guise of an ostensibly serious superhero show. That called for a slightly different approach to the problem, one that matched the personality of the show’s straight-laced, literal-minded title character. The solution? Have Batman give virtually everything in his possession a big, obvious label, as if Bruce Wayne devoted most of his time between adventures to making neat little signs for all his various gadgets and paraphernalia. Canadian Bat-fan and Tumblr user Aaron Reynolds has been keeping track of these and has turned his findings into “A Collection Of Bat-Labels,” a daffily entertaining collection of screenshots from the LBJ-era series.The pictures, also posted to his Twitter account, prove that Mr. Wayne is nothing if not thorough in his labeling.
And Batman’s commitment to tidiness was contagious throughout the great metropolis of Gotham. Local merchants, for instance, were on board with the program, too.
Even the show’s villains got into the swing of things, labeling-wise, thoughtfully identifying the unspeakably horrible devices they planned to use on Batman and, to a lesser extent, Robin.
Increasingly, the Batman franchise in all its forms began to take on greater and greater ambiguity, with the lines between “good,” “bad,” “right,” and “wrong” becoming so muddled as to virtually become meaningless. The 1966 version, however, is free of any uncertainty whatsoever. Apart from wearing a disguise, leading a double life, and fighting crime under an assumed identity, completely outside the bounds of the Constitution, the Caped Crusader of the 1960s wanted to be totally above board with everything he did. But the Tumblr raises an important question: Was this an attempt at transparency or was it a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder on Batman’s part? Either way, it gives viewers a new prism through which to view the vintage series.
[via Laughing Squid]