If you haven’t been reading Batman ’66 Meets Steed and Mrs. Peel, do yourself a favor and catch up. The eighth chapter releases Monday, September 19th, so you have plenty of time, and it’s been great fun so far. Plus, each installment is just a buck, and you can’t beat that.
A large part of the series’ success has been the pitch-perfect scripting of Ian Edginton, who took some time out of his schedule to answer some questions for us. Read on to get some insight into his creative process, the etymology of a certain character’s name, and the truly strenuous research Edginton put in to insure only the best of crossovers.
Batman News: Thanks for speaking with us. First off, the series has been great and really well-received, so thanks for continuing the legacy of Batman ’66.
How did you get the job writing these two iconic Sixties properties? Were you approached by BOOM Studios or DC? Did you have the idea and pitch it to them?
Ian Edginton: In actual fact, I owe it all to Suicide Squad writer, Rob Williams. He and I both work for 2000AD over here in the UK and we often share the same artist, Matt Brooker aka D’Israeli. We were talking over upcoming work when Rob mentioned the Batman ’66 gig and that I’d be a good fit, as he knew I loved all that stuff. That was the understatement of the year! Growing up in the 1960s I was a big fan of the Adam West Batman as well as The Avengers TV series, not to mention that I’d previously written Steed and Mrs. Peel for BOOM, so I was very familiar with both properties.
BN: The dialogue in particular has been phenomenal this series, with fantastic one-liners and spot-on characterizations across the board. How did you prepare for the book? Did you watch a bunch of episodes of each, or immerse yourself in other pop culture from the era?
IE: I kind of went overboard and used it as an excuse to buy the boxed sets of both TV series. I could legitimately sit on my butt and watch television and tell my wife it was for research. She ended up watching The Avengers with me, too. I kept a notebook with me to jot down certain expressions or turns of phrase that I could use. Not to copy but more to keep in mind the flavor and tone of the shows as I was writing the book. There was a fine line to walk, because as witty and surreal as it was, The Avengers (Steed and Mrs. Peel) didn’t shy away from people being murdered in often quite nasty ways. Obviously there was none of that in the Batman series, so it was a matter of striking a balance between the two.
BN: You’ve written Batman a few times before. What was it like getting the opportunity to write such a classic version of an already enduring character?
IE: It was the best. I grew up watching the show; it’s one of my earliest memories. I had the die-cast Batmobile, Bat-copter and Bat-boat for Christmas one year and that was all I played with. I didn’t open the rest of my presents until much later. There’s a photo of me aged about five wearing my Batman cape that I loved more than anything, so I can quite justifiably say that for me this job is a dream come true!
BN: Are there any heroes or villains you wanted to use and didn’t get the chance to?
IE: The terrible triumvirate of the Joker, the Riddler and the Penguin! I wanted to use them but fitting them in felt too contrived, so sadly I had to give them a miss. However, Catwoman, Mr. Freeze and Lord Ffogg fitted the bill perfectly.
BN: How do you and Matthew Dow Smith collaborate?
IE: I send in the scripts and once they are approved by all concerned–by DC, the various companies that held the licenses, etc,–they get sent to Matt. He sends me the layouts and I occasionally tweak the dialogue so it works better with what he’s done and that’s that. It is one of the best jobs I’ve worked on. Pleasant and painless, no unexpected surprises. So much so, that we’re talking about working on something else together.
BN: Whose idea was it to have Alfred dress up in the Batsuit? That was always one of the most charmingly hilarious images from the TV series, so it’s always a welcome gag.
IE: It was all mine! I remembered it from the TV show and it always seemed so crazy and incongruous that I had to include it. As a kid, watching the show, I was stupefied that people couldn’t tell it wasn’t Batman. Of course in hindsight, it was all part of the humor but back then Batman to me was no joking matter!
BN: The twist that Michaela Gough is the mastermind behind the Cybernauts was certainly surprising, and a good foil along with Lord Ffogg. Were there other Steed and Peel antagonists that were considered, or was an original character always planned?
IE: Like the Batman show, The Avengers/Steed and Mrs. Peel had a whole slew of villains of their own but it’s the Cybernauts that people remember the most. They have a great look to them and were a natural for the story I wanted to tell. The only other villain I did contemplate using was the Honorable John Clevery Cartney, from the episode “A Touch of Brimstone.” It was the one about the Hellfire Club where we saw Mrs. Peel in a basque, studded collar and high-heeled boots. It was perhaps a little too risqué, especially for poor old Robin. He wouldn’t know where to look!
BN: Is Ms. Gough’s name a genuine nod to the beloved actor Michael Gough, or was that coincidental?
IE: It certainly is a nod! In fact it was another reason why I went with the Cybernauts. In the TV show, Michael Gough played Dr. Clement Armstrong, their creator–and of course he was also Alfred in the Tim Burton Batman movies. I thought it was a nice nod to both franchises.
BN: Mr. Freeze was featured in the last digital installment. Are there any hints at other villains or plot points that you can drop?
IE: All the players are in the game now, so there are no new surprises. However, there are plenty of twists coming up that’ll keep you guessing!
BN: How about upcoming projects? Do you have anything else lined up soon?
IE: I’m working on an Assassin’s Creed series, several series for 2000AD and something special with a rather well known heavy metal band. I’m also in the middle of writing a novel that’s a sequel to HG Wells’ The War of the Worlds.
BN: If you aren’t aware, there’s a Twitter account called @Batlabels that, appropriately enough, catalogues all of the labels that appeared on the show. One of the most popular labels was Ffogg’s Death Bee Beehive Trip Wire, and with good reason. So less of a question and more appreciation for using such a great gag.
IE: I’ve done a few of those myself. It’s a bit of a thrill making them up and adding to the canon–or should that be Bat-canon?
BN: Bat-canon for sure. Are you active on social media at all? Is there anywhere we can follow your work?
IE: I should be but I’m not. I’m on Facebook but that’s about it. I did try Twitter and the rest for a while and while I can see the benefits, it’s just too much of a distraction from actually doing the work!
BN: Who is your favorite comic book character of all time and why?
IE: Batman, pure and simple. His story is so classic and iconic, timeless even. Batman was also the first comic book character I encountered when I was a kid and he’s stayed with me ever since. Because in the UK at the time I was growing up, we only had limited access to American comic books, “my” Batman (apart from the TV series of course) was the Dick Sprang, giant-typewriter era.
I loved that stuff!
BN: On behalf of Batman News, thanks very much once again for taking the time to answer our questions. We’re looking forward to seeing where the adventures of the Dynamic Duo and Steed and Mrs. Peel take them.
We have also been given an exclusive first look at the next chapter of the series, where Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson appear to be wearing that most misleading of disguises: a false mustache. Will our follicly-enhanced heroes be able to prevent the theft of the White Star Diamond? Can they apprehend those devilish fiends Ms. Gough and Lord Ffogg? What part does that frigid felon Mr. Freeze have to play? Read on to find out, citizens.
The White Star Diamond is well protected in the Tower of London, but it will take the combined forces of Batman, Robin, John Steed and Mrs. Peel to protect the Tower itself from Cybernauts disguised as Beefeaters!
Writer: Ian Edginton
Artist: Matthew Dow Smith
Colorist: Wendy Broome
Cover Artists: Michael and Laura Allred