‘Batman ’66’ swings into battle in Shag’s Comic-Con exclusive artwork

June 18, 2014 | 12:40 p.m.
Shag's "Batman Battle Royale," inspired by the 1960s "Batman" TV show, features Catwoman, left, King Tut, Joker, Penguin, Batman, Riddler, Egghead, Robin and Mr. Freeze. (Shag / Huckleberry)

Shag’s “Batman Battle Royale,” inspired by the 1960s “Batman” TV show, features Catwoman, King Tut, Joker, Penguin, Batman, Riddler, Egghead, Robin and Mr. Freeze. (Shag / Huckleberry)

In Batman’s 75th anniversary year, the 1966-68 TV camp classic “Batman” is having a BOFF!-o 48th.

The beloved (and sometimes bemoaned) show has an ongoing “Batman ’66″ comic book series, will enjoy its first home video release later this year, and is the subject of the above limited-edition, Comic-Con-exclusive, 21-color, hand-pulled silk-screen serigraph by Shag.

The Southern California-based artist, a.k.a. Josh Agle, born in 1962, is of the first generation that saw Adam West’s Batman and Burt Ward’s Robin SMASH! and POW! the likes of Cesar Romero’s Joker and Frank Gorshin’s Riddler.

His artwork, “Batman Battle Royale,” also includes the less-well-known villains King Tut, played in the series by Victor Buono, and Egghead, who was brought to life by Vincent Price. Shag has had work exhibited in museums including the Laguna Art Museum in Laguna Beach, the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, and the Naples Museum of Contemporary Art in Italy.

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Late producer Lorenzo Semple Jr.’s TV series was a pop-culture phenomenon in its day and has thrived with reruns in syndication, but has also weathered periods in which its lighter take on the Dark Knight fell out of favor and more shadowy iterations flourished.

At a Batman 75 panel at Anaheim’s WonderCon in April, filmmaker and “Fatman on Batman” podcast host Kevin Smith, cowriter with Ralph Garman of “Batman ’66 Meets the Green Hornet,” stood up for the show.

Recalling how dark representations of the character became prominent beginning with Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns” in 1986 and with Tim Burton’s Oscar-winning, big-screen blockbuster “Batman” in 1989, Smith said to laughter, “There was this general sentiment that if you grew up with the Adam West Batman, you kind of turned your back on it — the way like Peter denied Christ.” He added that he fell into that trap before having his mind changed by comics writer Matt Wagner. “From that point forward … [when other people] would bag on ‘Batman,’ I’d be like, ‘You know what, man? You’re a poser. You should honor that Batman.’ ”

And so Shag honors that Batman with Midcentury Modern flair. The 150 signed-and-numbered serigraphs will be available through the Northridge-based toy, accessory and fine art print maker Huckleberry at its booth, No. 3449, at Comic-Con International, which runs July 24-27 at the San Diego Convention Center. The 21-by-36-inch image on 24-by-40-inch paper is priced at $500 before tax.

— Blake Hennon | @BlakeHennon | @LATHeroComplex

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