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Batman: The animated series that changed my life forever

September 5, 2022, marks the 30th anniversary of the day Batman: Animated Series. As a lifelong fan of the series, I felt compelled to write about the legacy and impact of Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski’s animated film on The Dark Knight. However, I do this knowing that the lasting shadow of that very legacy has produced a group of powerfully important works that would otherwise render any such endeavor superfluous.

I can write about the origin of Batman: Animated Series as a show that emerged as a result of the 1990s The Adventures of Tiny Toonand how the show went on to redefine not only DC Comics’ iconic masked vigilance but that of American animated television as a whole, but it’s probably a better told story. the creators of the program. I could have written about how this series recreated Batman’s gallery to the extent nuance and sickness unprecedented in any medium at the time other than the comics or on the show winning title sequence and bold. But these subjects, as you might have guessed, are already tightly controlled territory. Write about and celebrate Batman: Animated Series In a way that doesn’t feel completely superfluous, feels both true to myself and auspicious for the occasion, I have to tell a story I’ve never told or fully written before: my own. .

Honestly, it’s hard for me to recall the time before I knew about Batman: Animated Series. I can’t even remember the first episode I watched. What I do Remember, after I was introduced to the series, I, like so many other kids of my generation, was hooked. I’ve watched more than my fair share of cartoons up to that point; are from Looney Tunes and Pink Panther arrive Tom and Jerry and Jetsons. But Batman: Animated Series is something else. It’s not just a cartoon, it’s also a television. The adventures of Batman, the masked vigilante, and his crusade for justice against a group of villains amidst the vast “Dark Deco” space of Gotham City sent to the imagination. My immaturity like nothing else.

Panoramic view of the Gotham skyline, with tall buildings reflected in the water of the shore.  A red sky in the background and a large bright moon very close to the horizon to the right.  An illustration produced by artist John Calmette for Batman: The Animated Series.

Image: DC Entertainment / Warner Bros. Animation

I consumed that series with the kind of undivided indulgence that only a child could truly do. I love everything about Batman: Animated Series, from memorable characters and memorable orchestral scores to engaging storylines and beautiful title card designs. But there is a moment when that love matures from infatuation into something deeper and more considered. While watching TV in the living room of my father’s apartment, I asked aloud, “Why is that look so different from everything else? “

I know there’s something special about Batman: Animated Series, even if I didn’t have the knowledge at the time to define what it was, or put words to what I thought and felt. There is nothing else on television like it. Damn, there wasn’t even any other Batman story like it, for all I knew at the time. I don’t yet have home internet access and the ability to type a question into the search bar and be immediately taken to a full wiki page presenting the answers to all my burning questions in the order of preference. fit. What I’ve got is my immediate circle of friends and family, and none of them know or are particularly interested in animation, let alone how it was made, by whom, or for whatever reason. I had all the same questions, despite neither having the means to pursue their answers, nor the knowledge to categorize them correctly. I don’t just want to know what inspired Batman: Animated Series; I want to find words to express and describe why this particular show makes me feel something in a way that nothing else at the time did.

So, with no choice, I did what just felt natural at the time: I continued to watch, read, and learn about the art as much as I could, learning beyond the earliest introduction to animation. into the fields of film, visual arts, music, and even architecture in search of answers to the questions I’ve kept bottled up inside.

The background picture of Crime Alley as in John Calmette's

Image: DC Entertainment / Warner Bros. Animation

Three figures stand at the center of a jagged intersection in Robert Weine's Dr. Caligari Cabinet.

Image: Kino Lorber

Over the course of my life, I finally found those answers. I found them in German Expressionism movies Robert Wiene, the twisted corridors I recognized in the shape of the back alleys of Gotham City. I found them in the paintings of Giovanni Baglione, whose work chiaroscuro light I recognize in the illustration the logo of Batman is illuminated on the background of a blood-red moon, scowling and clutching at his cloak. I found them in the futuristic world of Fritz Lang’s Metropolisinside architectural illustration by Hugh Ferrissand in the art deco mansion of Carbide and carbon construction in downtown Chicago. Each of these discoveries points towards a foregone, shared vision of a possible future that has yet to materialize. But in the world of Batman: Animated Series, that future lived on. And finally, I found my answer in a copy of Paul Dini and Chip Kidd’s Cartoon Batman I found in a secondhand bookstore after college, which told the story of the film’s making in vivid detail and ultimately allowed me to connect the dots about the writer, the artist and who are the animators behind the series and what are they trying to accomplish.

My love for Batman: Animated Series pass characters or media. The show didn’t just introduce me to the character Batman, and it didn’t simply reinforce my love of animation; it opened up my world to a whole dimension of art, expression, and history that I might never have pursued or known about if I hadn’t encountered that series at an early age. With no certainty, Timm and Radomski’s program, however stripped of many degrees, is responsible for setting me on the path to pursuing a career in art writing and sharing my knowledge and passion. that with other people. I’m a curated editor at Polygon, which means it’s my job to sift through the catalog of movies, TV, comics, games, and games, and featured work that I find particularly noteworthy. , thought-provoking and beautiful. I will never sharpen those sensibilities, let alone think of writing about them, if it is not Batman: Animated Series.

John Calmette's Wayne Enterprise background art for Batman: The Animated Series.

Image: DC Entertainment / Warner Bros. Animation

An illustration of Hugh Ferriss' Majestic Hotel, 1930.

Image: Dover Publications

I am not alone in my story. Batman: Animated Series has touched the lives of countless audiences since its first premiere 30 years ago, fueling the artistic pursuits and aspirations of all walks of life. While a striking example of the transformative power of art, Batman: Animated Series How long does it take to get this quality? How many people do you think hear classical music for the first time because they watched an episode of Looney Tunes or Tom and Jerry? How many young artists could have been introduced to the likes of Frank Frazetta, Hieronymus Boschand Alejandro Jodorowsky the first time simply because they grew up watching Adventure Time?

Anything capable of causing such a reaction cannot be considered trivial. They are, in the truest sense of the word, amazing. art problem. Cartoon problem. Stories problem. Go out and find the things that are most important to you, then tell them to yourself. You are the only one who can.

Batman: Animated Series available for live streaming HBO Max.

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