When did Batman become more popular than Superman?
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By the way, neither were particularly popular ,even by DC standards. Miller's Dark Knight was an overnight hit mainly because store owners had little faith in the book. Ronin was dismal and Batman unpopular, so many of us didn't buy into the hype.  Eating a hundred unsold sixty cent comics is one thing but missing on a 2.50 book  could wreck your cash flow. Luckily, D.C. overprinted it and then went into more printings. 

Superman sales were horrible until Byrne took over. At one point, his stories in Action were limited to the centerfold.  I'm surprised Superman Annual #10 doesn't sell for much more, it should be rare.

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33 minutes ago, shadroch said:

Batmania hit when I was in third grade. It was almost, but not quite a repeat of Beatlemania. When the movie came out, Adam West and Burt Ward came to Queens to appear at a local moviehouse. My mother agreed to take us to see him.  As we got close to Jamaica Avenue, we were turned around by police as the crowd had overflowed into the street. We were ten blocks from the stage and two hours early.

Batman was on twice a week, spawned hundreds of merchandising items. I had Bat man pajamas, had Bat rings, a Bat cowl and utility belt, most of the Topps cards and could do the Batusi.

It was the number one show on tv, while playing in theaters. I can't think of anything since that was as popular.  Maybe Star Wars, but not really.  Watch the original episodes and see all the stars doing cameos. 

Do you think Batman (1966) was bigger publicly than Batman (1989)?

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Posted (edited)

No doubt the Batman redesign of 1964 and then the Batman TV show of 1966 saved and propelled Batman forward. They somehow made Batman campy and it worked for a few years as that was the fashion of the day, but the 60’s were a time of rapid changes and camp was soon left behind, but then came Neal Adams and Dennny O’Neil and moved Batman back toward his roots and that worked as that was becoming the fashion of the day, (I always thought Dirty Harry was kind of like a Batman figure only with a gun in the real world). Now that I think of it, Batman’s voice as it has been sounding since 1989, has the rough inflection just like Dirty Harry was doing whenever he confronted a villain, “well, do ya, punk?!”.

Edited by Jaylam

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So maybe the progression of 1966.....Adams/O'Neil....Frank Miller.....then 1989 all propelled him past Superman?  Not one singular item.   

Again, there probably aren't any/many people on this board growing up in the 1930's thru 1950's who can speak to his popularity back then, but Superman (and to an extent Shazam) were big time heroes back in those days.   Batman was second fiddle.  Now the tide has turned.    

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Miller portrayed Superman as "the big blue boy scout" while batman got all the cool. I think that stuck in people's minds. So not only did FM make batman cooler than ever (perhaps) but he knocked down Superman as well, subjecting him to ridicule. Superman came to be known as a more simplistic character while Batman was nuanced and psychologically complicated. Then you had attempts to distill Superman down to the essence of the character in Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? and such, maybe John byrne's Superman as well. (I am less confident in the latter part of this than I am in the first part, which is clear but given my predominantly Marvel reading habits I may be mis-remembering the sequence onm Superman.)

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4 minutes ago, Bird said:

Miller portrayed Superman as "the big blue boy scout" while batman got all the cool. I think that stuck in people's minds. So not only did FM make batman cooler than ever (perhaps) but he knocked down Superman as well, subjecting him to ridicule. Superman came to be known as a more simplistic character while Batman was nuanced and psychologically complicated. Then you had attempts to distill Superman down to the essence of the character in Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? and such, maybe John byrne's Superman as well. (I am less confident in the latter part of this than I am in the first part, which is clear but given my predominantly Marvel reading habits I may be mis-remembering the sequence onm Superman.)

Great analysis

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4 hours ago, VintageComics said:

I read your previous post and thought it was fantastic.

I had no idea that readership went up with Infantino taking over.

I got to meet Infantino at a Motor City show about 10 years ago. While everyone was crowding all the other creators, there was nobody - literally nobody at the table of one of the greatest creators in comics and architects of the Silver Age. We talked for a good 20 minutes and I bought a book for a friend who loved his work.

Yep... his contributions are way underrated.

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1 hour ago, Bird said:

Superman came to be known as a more simplistic character while Batman was nuanced and psychologically complicated. Then you had attempts to distill Superman down to the essence of the character in Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? and such, maybe John byrne's Superman as well.

I personally liked Byrne's Superman.   I was watching the Justice League movie recently (first time), and Superman was actually more bad arse in that, than Batman.  (Movie was pretty bad btw). 

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8 minutes ago, Mercury Man said:

I personally liked Byrne's Superman.   I was watching the Justice League movie recently (first time), and Superman was actually more bad arse in that, than Batman.  (Movie was pretty bad btw). 

The CGI on Superman's mouth when talking was atrocious.  Looks like the worst chinese martial arts voice over ever.  watch the part where he says "Yes but does the world need you".

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Here's what's right and wrong with Superman, he's just too "super". The only other hero that could probably contain him is a Green Lantern or maybe someone with magical powers. Batman might be able to outsmart him. If I remember right, back in the Silver Age, Superman made sure Batman had a way to off him in case he went rogue. 

justice league 63.jpg

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11 hours ago, Bird said:

Miller portrayed Superman as "the big blue boy scout" while batman got all the cool. I think that stuck in people's minds. So not only did FM make batman cooler than ever (perhaps) but he knocked down Superman as well, subjecting him to ridicule. Superman came to be known as a more simplistic character while Batman was nuanced and psychologically complicated. Then you had attempts to distill Superman down to the essence of the character in Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? and such, maybe John byrne's Superman as well. (I am less confident in the latter part of this than I am in the first part, which is clear but given my predominantly Marvel reading habits I may be mis-remembering the sequence onm Superman.)

I've also read (somewhere, can't find the source now) that Miller isn't really doing Superman so much as he's doing a riff on Kurtzman's Superduperman, which makes sense to me.

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16 hours ago, VintageComics said:

I read your previous post and thought it was fantastic.

I had no idea that readership went up with Infantino taking over.

I got to meet Infantino at a Motor City show about 10 years ago. While everyone was crowding all the other creators, there was nobody - literally nobody at the table of one of the greatest creators in comics and architects of the Silver Age. We talked for a good 20 minutes and I bought a book for a friend who loved his work.

I met Infantino at DragonCon, that was somewhere in the 10 to 15 year ago range. He was very, very crabby. I got away from him as quickly as possible. Maybe he was scaring people away from that table at Motor City!

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39 minutes ago, Jaylam said:

Here's what's right and wrong with Superman, he's just too "super". The only other hero that could probably contain him is a Green Lantern or maybe someone with magical powers. Batman might be able to outsmart him. If I remember right, back in the Silver Age, Superman made sure Batman had a way to off him in case he went rogue. 

justice league 63.jpg

I agree.  As a kid in the '60s I never much cared for Superman.  He was so powerful that in order to have any conflict, they had to keep dragging out nuggets of kryptonite in every issue.  I preferred heroes with no powers, or with offbeat limited powers.  I was in the minority in the '60s, but my favorite heroes were The Challengers, Sea Devils, Doom Patrol, and Metamorpho!  And in the '60s, I'm pretty sure every kid I knew preferred Batman to Superman.

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16 hours ago, VintageComics said:

I wasn't there so I can't say for sure.

Are you sure it's not just you remembering it that way because you were young at the time?

How old were you in '66?

Shadroch is right.  I was around for both Batman booms.  In the '50s & early '60s, TV was looked down upon by movie stars.  If you were considered a major film star, your agent would NOT let you do TV (except for talk shows, and that was to promote your latest movie).  Batman changed that.  Not only did film stars play villains in the series, but truly mega-stars would appear in cameos, because it was considered good for your career and "cool" to be seen on the show.  And of course, as Shadroch said... there were the products... hundreds of them.  The odd thing is, by the time the campy TV show arrived, the Batman comic had turned more serious (as has been pointed out in previous posts).  But kids are more sophisticated than are given credit.  We knew the TV show was silly and meant to be spoofy.  But it got kids to look at the comics... and reading them, we preferred the more serious stories in the comics (to the reprints of those '50s stories with caveman Batman, zebra Batman, obese Batman, etc.) while still being able to be amused by the TV camp.

I think that in the '70s it's probably true that the TV-effect began to wear off, and so that by 1989 it seemed to be a unique phenomenon to those who didn't grow up in the '60s.  But (to their lazy discredit) journalists still use Bam! Pow! to initiate stories about comic books... but they aren't quoting lines from the 1989 movie.  1966 moved Batman into the forefront of public super-hero consciousness.  1989 ensured that Batman would maintain that title from then onward.  The interesting things is... I was over 30 at the time and was dreading the 1989 release.  When it was announced Keaton would be playing the role, everyone I knew groaned as we thought for certain the movie would simply be doing the campy TV show version on the big screen.  I agree with VintageComics... when the opening score started playing, we knew something was going to be different right off the bat (pun intended).  And though there is some camp to the movie... it was by far the darkest and most serious treatment of a super-hero in cinema up until then... and was clearly influenced by Miller's version.  

So like most things in the world... it was a progression of events.  But the question was, when did Batman first take over from Superman... and I give the nod to 1966.

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Posted (edited)
17 hours ago, VintageComics said:

Have another Adavan (or whatever it was) and then let's negotiate once it kicks in.

Huh? I can hear your lips moving but I can't see what you're saying. 

Edited by NoMan

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Posted (edited)

Superman was wildly popular in the 50's thanks in part to the TV show, the Adventures of Superman featuring George Reeves. No doubt this contributed to Superman outdistancing Batman for many years. The popularity of this Superman TV show and the cast gave rise to the fantastic expansion of all things Superman from the comics books of Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen to the introduction of Supergirl and so on in the 50's and early 60's. I know my older brother that is just 7 years older was a huge fan of Superman and watched these TV shows in the 50's and collected all the Superman family comic books. I remember watching them myself as re-runs in syndication growing up about the same time as the Batman TV series hit the air waves. So that made me kind of a bridge fan of both Supes and the Bat. To this day though, my brother prefers Superman over Batman and is puzzled by the recent longstanding popularity of Batman, as in contrast to when he grew up, Superman was all the rage.

Edited by Jaylam

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There are a lot of specific details being shared that are inaccurate in some posts, but attempting to address them is not tolerated. Suffice it to say, everyone should do their own research, and not rely on comments on a message board...from anyone...without independently confirming any information presented in those comments.

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