From comic books to small screen

Adam Ritz (‘10)

Since the 1980s, comic books have been adapted into television shows. From the famous likes of Batman and Superman, to lesser known heroes like Blade and Krypto the Superdog, these shows have brought comic book heroes to a media that even the non-comic fan can enjoy.

One of the most popular superheroes, Batman, has had more than 12 TV shows, ranging from live action to animation. One of his first appearances was on the TV show “Batman”, with Adam West portraying him. While at the time it was seen as having great technological breakthroughs, the show is now laughable due to how incredibly cheesy it is. But it still maintains a heavy fan-base of people that enjoyed it as children.

“Batman: The Animated Series”, one of the most popular Batman shows, was a cartoon that focused on Batman’s detective aspects. This show featured an all-star voice acting cast such as Kevin Conroy as Batman and Mark Hamill as The Joker. Today, Mark Hamill’s voicing of The Joker is considered one of the most iconic superhero cartoon voices of all time. “Batman: The Brave and The Bold”, is a Batman show aimed towards a younger crowd. In each episode, Batman teams up with a lesser known hero, such as Plastic Man and the Blue Beetle, to fight off some of DC Comic’s stranger villains. The show has received mixed reviews, ranging from good to horrible.

Superman has not had as big of a success as Batman, but has still had a pretty successful run. Like Batman, one of his first shows was the simple-titled “Superman”, with George Reeves (no relation to Christopher Reeve, coincidentally) portraying Superman. This show was in black and white, and ran for six successful seasons. “Superman: The Animated Series” was another successful cartoon that ran for multiple seasons. Unfortunately, the show didn’t get as many viewers as “Batman”. Because of this, both the Superman and the Batman animated series combined into “The New Adventures of Batman and Superman”, which showed an episode from each show in a half hour time slot.

Marvel Comics superheroes, such as The Hulk, Iron Man, The Fantastic Four and Thor have all had similar treatments. Most of Marvel’s superheroes had a cartoon in the 60s. These were mostly just stationary pictures, with only slight animation added, such as moving the faces, or arms. These were aimed at young children and comic fans. Then they were remade in the 90s, using better animation techniques and superhero crossovers. These were given great reviews from fans, due to the action they had, and the clever reinventing of some outdated characters. “The Spectacular Spiderman,” which premiered last summer, was a cartoon aimed at young viewers. It has only run two seasons so far, and has been given poor reviews.

A lesser known superhero, Blade, had a live action television series on Spike TV. The show, in which he was portrayed by hip hop artist Sticky Fingaz, followed the adventures of a vampire slayer, who was himself half vampire and half human. Unlike other superhero shows, this show was targeted towards an adult audience. It ran for only one season, but was regarded very well by fans of the Blade movies.

Comic book TV shows have been a staple of every child’s Saturday morning since the 60s. Now, comic TV shows are still holding strong among the ranks of serious shows like “24”. As long as a love of comics exists in the minds of children throughout America, comic book TV shows will continue to prosper.