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When Bat-Mania Even Hit the Pages of Batman Comics!

In Meta-Messages, I explore the context behind (using reader danjack's term) "meta-messages." A meta-message is where a comic book creator comments on/references the work of another comic book/comic book creator (or sometimes even themselves) in their comic. Each time around, I'll give you the context behind one such "meta-message."

In one last Batman Day piece, we'll look at how Bat-Mania was so big that it even invaded the pages of Batman comics!

By early 1967, the success of the 1966 Batman TV series had led to a proliferation of merchandise tying in with the TV series, even as the TV series cooled off considerably in popularity in its second season.

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This merchandising bonanza even influenced the comic books themselves, playing a role in two comic book stories in the Spring of 1967.

Going out of chronological order, the one with the least notable tie in was Batman #194 (by Gardner Fox, an unverified penciler and Joe Giella), where the staggering amount of Batman merchandise in Gotham City led to Blockbuster (who had a sort of insane fear/hatred of Batman) going crazy again as he is inundated by Batman material everywhere...

Eventually, Batman calms him down with this weird plot involving Solomon Grundy (Gardner Fox was leaning heavily on continuity between his various comic book series).

The more prominent example of Batmania merchandise being the center of a story was Detective Comics #365 (by John Broome, Sheldon Moldoff and Joe Giella), where the Joker tries to counteract the popularity of Batman merchandise by selling cheaper Joker merchandise designed to undercut the sales of Batman merch...

Batman assumes that the Joker is just jealous, and jealousy might have played a role, but it turns out that the whole thing is part of the Joker doing his own Joker TV series designed just for the Underworld, who fund the production through direction donations to watch Joker beat up Batman!

However, Batman and Robin track him down and effectively "cancel" the Joker's TV show...

This leads to Batman and Robin attending the Emmy's while Joker wins the underworld equivalent of an Emmy...

Happy Batman Day, everyone!

If anyone else has a suggestion for a good Meta-Messages, drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com!

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