Denver Comic Con 2014 – Batman 75th with Adam West, Burt Ward and Julie Newmar

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Panel Name: Batman 75th

Topic: Q&A with the main characters from the 1960’s TV Batman series

Featured Guests: Adam West (Batman), Burt Ward (Robin) and Julie Newmar (Catwoman)


It’s safe to say that a lot of 80’s babies and beyond don’t have the same appreciation for Adam West and company that our parents did. Most twenty-somethings know Adam West as Mayor West of Quahog from Family Guy, and that’s great, but I think the world needs to be reminded of just how vital Adam West’s portrayal of Batman was to the legacy of Bruce Wayne. The show spanned 120 episodes over a three-year period and had it’s own spin-off movie; it was great fun for the whole family – something that Batman titles have since moved away from.

The Dark Knight, as he is today, is a brutal and melancholy figure. He’s seen multiple close friends die – including his own son. He’s terrifying to his opponents, and off-putting to his colleagues. Oh, and his rogues gallery is filled with sick, twisted freaks that murder children and blow up hospitals. Now, I’m not saying that I don’t love every stinkin’ second that I read Batman, but there’s no denying he’s become more of an adult figure than the one I’ve grown up with in the slightly-dark Batman: The Animated Series, let alone the Batman that my parents grew up with in the 60’s.

This has all been changing. Ever since the Batman 66 series launched last July, adults and children alike have been gravitating back to this light-hearted Batman, which grabs at the nostalgic crowd, and puts Batman back on a relatable plane for children to connect with a character that’s celebrating his 75th birthday this year. The idea of solving riddles and catching the bad guys is a universal concept; not every child needs to see their parents murdered in front of them to relate to the Batman.

Batman 66 Panel

Let’s get to the panel, shall we? As Burt Ward, then Julie Newmar, and finally Adam West made their ways to the stage, they were met with possibly one of the warmest welcomes that I had seen at a panel all weekend. Fans from 7-70 years old were so grateful for their chance to meet the cast of Batman. Burt Ward ran out like a contestant on The Price is Right, hands in the air and looking like the most excited person in the world to be there. After Ward comes Julie Newmar, who looked just fantastic! How Newmar manages to stay so fabulous is beyond me, she even smooched the two volunteers that helped her to her seat on the cheek; it was adorable. The real roar happened when Batman himself, Adam West, came strolling up the ramp and onto the stage.


Batman 66 Newmar 2

We went straight into the Q&A here, which led to some pretty thoughtful questions right off the bat. When one of the audience members asked the cast if anybody ever felt the show was too campy or silly, West broke the silence with, “No, we’re terribly serious crime fighters!” The show was designed as family entertainment and it was nailed to the history books as such. There was no need to pretend to be more dire than it had to be. When compared to modern Batman, West said that Christian Bale “may be the Dark Knight, but I was the Bright Knight.” Batman ruled the 60’s in pop culture. West said that in the 1960’s, there were 3 B’s: Bond, The Beatles… and Batman.

Julie Newmar was an absolute diva at the panel, which was very reminiscent of her days at Catwoman. She commanded attention, and often became animated when talking about how to be sexy. If you’ve never seen an 80 year old woman take control of her sexuality, all you need is five minutes with Julie Newmar. When asked how her milkshake managed to get all the boys to the yard – I’m paraphrasing here – she says that all you need to do if pour licorice all over your body (dress in all black, not actual licorice for those of you at home trying this) and walk down the street; it’s all in your mind, she says. Somewhere along the line, at this family-friendly panel, she pretended to go down on Adam West, which is shocking only if you don’t know who Julie Newmar is.

Batman 66 Adam West 3

It was Burt Ward, who was quiet for a duration of the panel, that had the funniest story to tell. There was a stunt being performed that involved the Batmobile speeding out of the BatCave, then taking a sharp, 90 degree turn at 55 miles per hour. So Burt hops into the Batmobile in costume and turns to see somebody who isn’t Adam West sitting next to him. When asking who is he and where Adam is, the stuntman explains that they are about to do a dangerous driving stunt, and that Adam is over at the break station, drinking coffee. Burt says, “If this is a dangerous stunt, where is my stuntman?”… “Oh, he’s over there drinking coffee with Adam.” When Burt asked why his stunt double isn’t performing the stunt, the response was a flabbergasting, “Well, he doesn’t look like you.” They proceeded to make Burt do the stunt, and when the turn was made, the Batmobile door flung open. The only thing keeping him in the car was one little finger, which dislocated. Burt told us how, over the span of the next week, there were multiple trips made to the ER due to various explosions and other stunts. He laughed it off though, saying that it was the producers’ attempt to make good on his hefty life insurance policy.

The panel was full of nostalgia, just as you would expect from the fan favorite Batman show. The chemistry that the three have is still apparent after nearly fifty years of being off the air. You almost have to remind yourself that these faces of American television are that old, because their faces still light up with life, their voices still bring joy to anybody still breathing. Never take yourself too seriously and always enjoy new experiences. And never be afraid to charge $80 for an autograph – right, Adam?


Denver Comic Con 2014 – Beware the Walkers Walking Dead

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Panel Name: Beyond the Walkers! – Walking Dead

Topic: Rooker being Rooker, Interaction between walkers and cast, Q&A

Featured Guests: Michael Rooker (Merle Dixon), Michael Koske (walker), William Hart (walker), Vincent Gonzales (Assistant Director)


Ah, back at it at the 3rd Annual Denver Comic Con. Friday’s programming began, for us, with a panel featuring The Walking Dead‘s Merle Dixon, Michael Rooker. After writing a “Respect My Craft” on him, we learned how much fun he is at panels, and how much he loves his fans. This was our first taste of Michael Rooker and, accompanied by two of the show’s long-time walkers and former Assistant Director Vincent Gonzales, they put on an entertaining and informative show for the us.

The convention was Rooker’s first time in Denver, and he had good things to say about the Mile High City. The first thing Rooker commented on was that this city has a whole lot of tattoos, and was impressed that we get around 300 days of sunshine a year (this is a debatable claim, but let’s just say that we get a butt-load of sunny days here). However, Rooker believes that, as a city, we have poor eyesight when he heard chants of “Rooker!” when asked who was the better looking star, he or cast-mate Norman Reedus.


This was the type of rhetoric Rooker had throughout the panel. From the get-go, he wrestled the spotlight away from the moderator (poor guy), introducing guests, asking the other guests questions and leading the overall discussion. It was awesome to watch, and even though the panel really became about him, he did a great job of interacting with the other panelists. Rooker and Co. go into detail about exactly how hard these actors work – all day long in over 100 degree weather, caked with “sexy dirt.” Nothing was more grueling or rewarding than the fight scenes.

Guest walker Michael Koske has played 43 different zombies on the show, more than any other walker on the show. His favorite scene was at Woodbury, when Merle and Martinez were putting on a show in the zombie pit. Rooker made more of a joke about the situation, but long story short, when they were choreographing the fight, Rooker got caught up in the moment and accidentally clocked Koske in the face with his metal stump of an arm. It wasn’t the first time either. Koske mentioned that actors will regularly get in a good lick or two, trying to make the stuntwork as realistic as possible. Did he complain? No, his biggest complaint is that he never gets the famous Death Dinner all his posthumous cast-mates did – a privilege that Rooker says gets revoked when you die 43 times.


The Q&A section of the panel was a lot of fun, but there weren’t a whole lot straight answers, just a whole lot of smart-ass answers to generic questions – true Rooker style. Who is your favorite actor on the show? Michael Rooker. Who from the show would you pick to be in your group of the zombie apocalypse? The fattest, slowest people – so all of them. How do you have your hand back now after you lost it in the show? I’m part lizard. Alarmingly, a lot of parents sent their little children up to ask questions. Who is letting their young children watch this show? Sickos – like the parents of this sweet little girl who asked what went through Rooker’s mind when he was murdering people. Perhaps the best question, or answer, rather, was the response to what the actors took away from the veteran presence of Scott Wilson (Herschel). William Hart, who had been quiet up to that point said, “I got his leg.”


At the end of the panel, we were in love with Michael Rooker and his ability to not take himself seriously, but still recognize his position as a total rockstar at the con. He’s a swell guy with a deep respect for his work and the hard work of others. Continue to follow us as we cover Denver Comic Con!

“Respect My Craft” – Michael Rooker

In this consumer-based industry, it can be easy to forget the years of hard work that the people in the business put in. Behind every panel, it takes a skilled writer, artist, inker and colorist to make the product complete. Behind each scene goes hours of preparation. Hush Comics’ weekly article “Respect My Craft” will dive into the history of these comic book and pop culture greats that will hopefully give a new perspective on how the men and women behind the pen (or stylus) contribute to the collective awesome-ness of the nerd world, or at least give you a reason to invest in their work.

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Name: Michael Rooker

Profession: Actor

Notable Work: Notable Works: Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Cliffhanger, Days of Thunder, The Sixth Day, Jumper, The Walking Dead (TV Series), Guardians of the Galaxy


[Interview on Merle Dixon’s Death and Departure from The Walking Dead]

EW Interviewer: What was your reaction when you got the news?

ROOKER: You really want to know my real reaction?

EW: Give it to me!



Thanks to his portrayal of the infamous Merle Dixon on AMC’s The Walking Dead Rooker has gathered quite the following – more on his TWD influence later.  You may be surprised to learn that Rooker has been working the silver screen for almost 30 years now.  His initial debut to film was the lead role in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.  He portrayed serial killer Henry Lee Lucas who was convicted on several counts of murder in the 80’s.  Highly acclaimed for his performance, Rooker established himself as a type-cast bad guy.  Roles such as Hal Tucker in Cliffhanger and Robert Marshall in The 6th Day showcase his tendencies for evil and no-good.


If you’re a bit fuzzy on your 90’s action thrillers (like me), fret not!  Our generation need look no further than the ruthlessness and cruelty of Merle Dixon to experience the genius villainy of Rooker.  For those of you unfamiliar with TWD (first of all – shame on you!), Merle Dixon is a zombie apocalypse survivor.  From the moment we first meet Merle he becomes an automatic candidate for most hated survivor.  That’s pretty powerful considering that this happens in the series’ pilot.  What’s even more impressive is how Rooker was able to evolve Merle’s character as the show progressed.  Viewer relationship went from hate to love-hate in almost no time.  By the time Merle made his dramatic departure from the living and joined the ranks of reanimated dead, viewers had become so invested in his character that was downright saddening to see him leave the show.  The droves of followers and TWD fans that jumped on the Rooker band wagon is testament enough to how cool this guy is.  “I just love every part of working on The Walking Dead and developing this character… I enjoyed the hell out of it,” says Rooker on his role as Merle.

Though Rooker’s resume is extensive and growing still, there is a certain significance to his role on TWD.  Something easily forgot is that Merle was not an original comic book character.  Nearly every pivotal character in the show must attribute their origins to the workings of Robert Kirkman and Imagine Comics.  Merle is a self-made character and even after leaving the show fans continue to site the significance of this individual as the show progresses.


Rooker’s TWD role looks to be just a warm up round for this super star’s career.  His newest project has landed him in the Marvel Universe.  He’ll be playing the role of Yondu, the Centauri mystic, in The Guardians of the Galaxy movie scheduled to hit theaters this August.  Out of the norm for Michael, Yondu is a good guy – fighting for the Guardians and not against them!  “I’m very much looking forward to the end product… I’m crazy happy to be involved with these guys [at Marvel],” exclaims Rooker in an interview.  In a day and age where superhero movies all but set the standard for the action and adventure genre, portraying a renowned comic book character is pretty much success incarnate.


Rooker’s on the rise and he’s not slowing down.  In fact, he been on a steady climb since the beginning.  He’s achieved this by remaining versatile in his work.  In addition to his headline roles in movies and blockbusters, he’s done a ton of feature work on numerous TV shows as well as voice work for video games and animated series.  This guy doesn’t slow down.  Jumping from one convention to another, scoping his next role, perfecting his already impressive craft, Rooker is an exemplary model of what it means to be dedicated and determined.  For the better part of three decades he’s been cast as a supporting actor and after continued input he’s seeing results all aspiring stars aim for.


Rooker makes himself even more lovable by staying humble and thankful.  He frequently describes his opportunities as “beautiful” and states that he’s “lucky” to get to work with talented actors, directors and staff.  Add loving father and husband to the list of things he’s great at and you’ll be hard pressed to find anything to dislike.  The entirety of entertainment medium is enhanced by his contributions and general demeanor towards all things nerd.  Hush is thrilled he’ll be gracing Denver with his presence at DCC this June.


None of the media in this article belongs to Hush Comics; it all belongs to their respective properties. Join us tomorrow as we continue our countdown to Denver Comic Con as we spotlight long-time Whedonverse comic book artist, Georges Jenty.