I was a big Batman fan in the mid 1960s when the TV show was popular and Batman was less a “Creature of the Night” and more of a campy crime fighter. I don’t recall having any action figures or anything of that sort (were action figures even around then?), but I did have a bucket of Batman cards and I remember glow in the dark plastic Batman rings! I also had a homemade Batman cape – when I played with my friend, neither of us wanted to be Robin, so instead of Batman and Robin protecting the neighborhood, we were Batman and Batman!
By that time, Batman had been around for about 25 years or so, created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger in 1939 and making his first appearance in Detective Comics #27 the same year. Unlike Superman, who appeared a few years earlier, Batman’s origin was not as exotic and he wasn’t gifted with amazing superpowers. He was an athletic detective, but still closer to the average person than superman.
Batman became popular almost immediately and soon was featured in his own comic. His popularity grew as he faced his own group of colorful evildoers such as the Penguin, Riddler and of course, the Joker. He also accumulated a rather varied collection of allies, including Robin, Alfred, Batgirl, Commissioner Gordon, Batwoman, Ace the Bat-Hound and even Bat-Mite (a creature along the lines of Superman’s Mister Mxyzptlk). Some of these were a bit on the silly side, but they made for great reading for kids.
Unfortunately, due to a variety of economic and political factors, comic book sales declined throughout the 1950s and many once popular comic books were canceled. Although sales dropped, DCs Batman comics continued to be published throughout this period. This began to change in the early 1960s with the advent of Marvel Comics and reemergence of DC superheroes such as the Flash. But it was the classic Batman television show that ran from 1966 to 1968 (and is still a staple on many cable channels today) that brought Batman back into the limelight. The television series Batman was much campier than the earlier comics, but was so popular, the tone of the comic changed to match the television series. When the show ended, Batman’s popularity declined from its peak (until the Batman movies appeared), but along with Superman, he remained a classic superhero.