Welcome to the three hundredth and eighteenth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, in honor of When We First Met, our month-long look at comic book firsts, we will examine a couple of notable firsts plus one notable “last”! To wit, learn the strange tale of Yvonne Craig’s last appearance as Batgirl, plus the story behind the first original Star Wars story after the film and the first time the “thwip” sound effect was used!
Click here for an archive of the previous three hundred and seventeen.
COMIC LEGEND: Four years after the Batman TV series finished, Yvonne Craig played Batgirl one more time in a public service announcement about equal rights for women!
In 1968, after a three season run, the Batman TV show came to an end. You would think that that would be it for Yvonne Craig, who played Batgirl on the series in the final season. However, she returned to the role one last time a full four years after the last episode of the show aired.
You see, the cast was reunited to shoot a public service announcement for the United State Departmenr of Labor. In 1963, the Federal Equal Pay Act passed. The ACt made it illegal to pay men and women different salaries if they performend jobs that required equal skill, effort and responsibility. Nearly ten years later, though, many employers still ignored the law.
So the Departmenr of Labor enlisted the Bat-crew. Burt Ward, producer (and narrator) William Dozier and Craig all agreed to reprise their roles for the ad. Only Adam West (who was trying to get away from his role on the series) refused to do it, so Dick Gautier (Hymie the robot from Get Smart) filled in.
The ad shows Batman and Robin tied up in a warehouse with a bomb…
Batgirl shows up…
Batman tells her to save them…
She says not so fast. Why is it that she has been working for Batman for a long time now and she gets paid less than Robin?
Robin actually shouts “Holy Discontent!”
Batman says to talk about this later…
Batgirl says, in effect, nope, let’s talk about it now or I’ll just let this bomb blow you up…
Then the ad ends in a cliffhanger, stating “Will Batgirl save Batman and Robin? Will she get equal pay?” and then they tell you to write in to the Department of Labor to learn more about the issue…
Isn’t that awesomely wacky?
The awesome website TV Series Finale has a great article with insights on the shoot from Craig and Gautier here. One especially notable bit was the fact that Craig insisted on the shoot using one of her actual costumes from the series. How they got it done was quite amusing. Craig related…
They were unable to find one that was intact (because I did my own stunts we only had three – one that had completely lost its shape, the one I was currently wearing [when the show ended] and one that was in the process of being made and was missing a front panel and sleeve when we shut down). Suddenly we heard that Burt had a ‘friend’ who might just have one. It was definitely the one I wore, complete with wig!
Thanks to TV Series Finale for the great information!
You can watch the PSA here. Tell me what you think about Gautier’s performance!
Was Roger Moore Really Ian Fleming’s First Choice to Play James Bond?
On the next page, did the first original Star Wars story after the first film appear in, of all places, the Marvel magazine Pizzazz?
COMIC LEGEND: The first original Star Wars story after the film appeared in the pages of Pizzazz!
Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, released in 1978, is often thought to be the first “Expanded universe” Star Wars story. However, it was actually beaten to the punch by a story that appeared in the same year Star Wars came out, 1977, in the pages of, of all places, Pizzazz!
Pizzazz was this weird mish-mosh of a magazine. Here’s Stan Lee describing it…
It had comic-related content…
but it also had entertainment and sports articles…
And it also had the very first expanded universe Star Wars story!!
Pretty crazy, huh? The story continued through to Pizzazz #9, at which point a second story went from #10-18.
On the next page, did the “thwip” sound effect begin when John Romita took over Amazing Spider-Man?
COMIC LEGEND: The “thwip” sound effect was not used in Spider-Man comics until John Romita took over the art duties.
In a recent article about sound effects in comics, Alan Kistler (who is a nifty comic book historian) noted about Spider-Man’s famous “thwip”…
Spiderman’s web-slinging effect also underwent a sonic evolution. What started as a WHIZZZZZT in 1962’s Amazing Fantasy #15, became a TWNNNNG! in 1963’s Amazing Spider-Man #1. A year later, Steve Ditko (or possibly Stan Lee) gave Spidey’s web a THWUP! sound effect which again went through several subsequent iterations—including THWAP, WHAP, WHIPP and ZAP. It wasn’t until John Romita Sr. took over that the thwip we all know and love became a permanent fixture.
I suppose there’s something to be said for the fact that Romita, I guess, used the “thwip” frequently, but not only did thwip appear in Ditko issues, it showed up in two of the last three issues preceding ROmita’s run on the book.
“Thwip” first appeared in #36…
then in #37…
then Spidey does not use his web-shooters at all in Ditko’s finale issue and then Romita took over with #39 and “thwip” showed up right away…
It sure looks more like Romita was just following Ditko’s lead than making any sort of change, right? Or that whoever did the sound effects decided to use “thwip” as of #36 and just kept going.
Not a big deal, of course, it just struck me as interesting, especially as we’re in the midst of When We First Met month! No slight intended to Alan – he’s great. You should check his site out here.
Okay, that’s it for this week!
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See you all next week!
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