Jim Beard is a passionate and industrious writer who has a new project in the works called SAME BAT-TIME, SAME BAT-CHANNEL. It’s a collection of essays focusing on the first season of the 1966 BATMAN television show. Contributors include folks like Will Murray, Robert Greenberger, Paul Kupperberg, Keith DiCandido and more. I’m also involved with this project, but I wanted to get the big picture from Mr. Beard.
Ed Catto: This sounds like such an amazing project, Jim, can you tell me the genesis of it?
Jim Beard: It’s a way to “get the band back together” from GOTHAM CITY 14 MILES, but without repeating the same setlist. I want to keep the chat going about the show, but in a different way, which led me to hit upon the idea of episode reviews with the GC14M set-up of a group of writers tackling an entire season.
EC: You seem to write so much, both fiction and comic-based articles. You sure seem busy. How have you fit it in?
JB: Well, some days very poorly! I seriously don’t know how I’ve ever finished any project, as scatterbrained and unorganized as I am, but somehow the spirit of the characters I write about lend me their strength and it all comes together.
JB: Yes, it’s called the Comic Chaos Podcast and my co-host is Toledo, Ohio radio personality Fred LeFebvre. We’re talking about comics and pop culture and everything in-between, and as chaotically as possible. And we’re having fun, which is important.
EC: What has the past response to your bat-projects been like?
JB: For GOTHAM CITY 14 MILES? It’s been nearly ten years of warm welcome and many, many great conversations. For the new book, we haven’t even gotten warmed up yet!
JB: Differently, I think. It’s more recently taken on a rosy hue, whereas once it was almost universally reviled. People seem to embrace it now, but I fear some of that is just jumping on the bandwagon. But, regardless, it’s nice to see it being looked at fondly, rather than abusively.
EC: I’ve been watching a lot of Twilight Zone for a special project I’m working on – and I’m surprise how relevant the episodes still are today. Is Batman the same way? Or are there any episodes that you feel didn’t age very well?
JB: Some did and some didn’t. “Surf’s Up, Joker’s Under” is like a transmission from a long-dead alien world, things that were once the height of hip but are now head-scratchers. That said, “Hizzoner the Penguin/Dizzoner the Penguin” is so now, so with-it in terms of socio-political commentary that it’s scary.
EC: What about all the actors who were involved in this show? What insights do you have into Hollywood’s involvement in it all?
JB: The popular saying on it is that “everyone wanted to be on BATMAN.” I don’t doubt it was “the” thing at that moment, and it was probably fun then to speculate who might be appearing on the show, but there was a lot of derision then in the professional lanes. It wasn’t loved by EVERYBODY. I treasure the stars we did get, though, but some of them have become lost in the mists of time as to who they were at the time, and why they were important, like Francis X. Bushman.
EC: Will this prose book be good for comic-fans, or is it more for the TV fans? Or for everyone?
JB: Both, though I suspect that diehard comic fans might not get as much bang for their buck as bigger fans of the show or pop culture enthusiasts in general. We’ll try to keep it well-balanced, though.
EC: Will this project be continued? In other words, will we see a sequel “Same Bat-Time, Same Bat-Channel”?
JB: Yes, this is a projected three-volume set! Seasons Two and Three will be covered in 2020 and 2021!
EC: Thanks very much, old chum.
Jim Beard’s SAME BAT-TIME, SAME BAT-CHANNEL will be on sale Summer 2019