Comic book fans around the world felt it when they heard of Adam West’s passing (especially those who grew up in the 80’s and 90’s). We owe Adam West a great deal of gratitude for the doors he would open. His passing is affecting me more than I thought it would have, it didn’t hit me right away but of course we all grieve and heal differently. And as the days passed, I realized exactly what he meant to me. Its strange how strongly tied he is to my childhood. And it feels like a piece of my childhood has died.
The setting, the late 80’s:
Before super hero films made comic books so prevalent and mainstream. There were very little sources for the very small group of us who loved this fandom; I for one couldn’t get enough of it. A fandom, that in the decades to come, would find itself in the televisions, bookshelves and movie screens of the majority of the world. I consumed these materials wherever and whenever I could get them.
To a young child that didn’t even know the language, Adam West and the Batman mythos was being introduced to a whole new generation as the Batman television series began syndication during after school airings. Adam West was the first Batman I ever knew. He was the first glimpse of America I ever saw. He was the definition of a genre, before I ever knew what that was, or there was one.
Comic books are how I learned to read and speak English. I’ve always said that with pride. And I have no doubt in my mind that Mr. West was at least in part, the reason I ever became a fan the super-heroes to begin with.
It’s hard to explain how you could miss someone you didn’t even know, and I know how pretentious it looks when you only pay your respects to someone after they’re gone. But nonetheless he made an impact on my life that he’ll never know. But I’m grateful for what he did, he introduced the world to something very important to me. Something that for a long time, felt like only I loved., only I dreamed of. He gave us the first Technicolor glimpse of the de facto leader of the Justice League.
He’ll forever be remembered as the caped crusader. The television series has been called many things throughout the years, “campy” and “psychedelic”, yet it got so much right, especially when you’re talking about the comic books from that era.. And for as “campy” as the show gets castigated for being, here we are 50+ years later and we’re still talking about it. And truth be told the show was wise beyond it’s years. Adam West practiced differing the tones I’m his voice ever so slightly when he portrayed Bruce Wayne and when he portrayed Batman, something that would not be done again until Kevin Conroy took over the reigns in Batman the Animated Series. Another groundbreaking show that molded my childhood. A show where Mr. West would provide his voice acting as the Grey Ghost, a character that [in the show] served as the inspiration for who Bruce Wayne would become.
There’s a preteen and a man in his thirties here who holds you in the highest regards. You inspired us all Mr. West.
Rest in peace, Bright Knight. I will always have a can of Bat-Shark repellent nearby, for you.