by Leon McKenzie & Edward Gross
We were as surprised as anyone to find ourselves co-writing Bluewater Productions’ The Misadventures of Adam West. For both of us there was just something very cool about chronicling the adventures of our first versions of Batman (though Leon caught the reruns and Ed was the ripe old age of six when Batmania swept America in the 1960s). While the title is from Bluewater, collectively we’re Yakman Press, so we thought it would be fun to offer up our brief behind the scenes comments on each of the issues that we wrote (the first few of which have been collected as a graphic novel).
The concept of the comic – established before we were a part of it – is that actor Adam West is the recipient of a mystical amulet that has not only made him younger, but is plunging him through time and space to embark on a series of Quantum Leap-like adventures. Our goal from the very start was to try and make each of these adventures as different from one another as possible. Naturally you’ll have to be the judge of that one.
LEON: This was meant to be our first issue. Go in and shake shit up!!! But the artist had other ideas . . . I have NOTHING nice to say about this entire experience. He came in and nearly f***ed up the entire run we had mapped out. He replaced a pivotal character with a monkey. A MONKEY??? What made it even more tragic was the boasts he wrote on his blog (yeah, I read it because I’m a passionate bastard!!) about what he had to do to make the script readable!”
ED: I’m with Leon on this one. This was definitely one of those situations where you work on something creatively and you’re filled with a certain excitement about getting your hands on the finished project – which is a feeling that, whether it’s a magazine article, a book or, now, a comic book, never goes away for me no matter how many years I do this. But when I looked at this issue for the first time, I simply couldn’t believe it. I had no idea what the hell had happened. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE talking monkeys – I can’t convey how important Planet of the Apes has been in my life – but NOT in this comic book. Needless to say, a less than auspicious start for our run.
LEON: Adam meets up with Dirk Benedict and he’s got to save the world from clone replacements of modern day c-list celebrities. Ed took the lead on this one because I knew he had this idea bubbling in his head for a while to question “would we even notice if these reality stars were replaced by even blanker slated versions of themselves??” Dirk comes across as a space age gun slinger quite organically and we had fun building him up as a tough guy who does his best not to be reduced to West’s sidekick.
ED: The storyline actually served as the “pilot” for a Dirk Benedict comic book spin-off. Dirk was a lot of fun in the original Battlestar Galactica and we wanted to lay down the groundwork for his sci-fi adventures. The future world of Dirk’s comics would have him battling a race of robots, so we thought this would be a good place to introduce the concept. One of the highlights of the issue for me was the rapport we created between Adam and Dirk. That was a lot of fun.
LEON: This issue was going to be slapstick issue mixing the Scream with the Step Up film franchises. But during the breakdown and plotting stages it was difficult to get the correct tone, so I went with a slightly more serious edge and highlighted West’s compassionate side. As a nod to fictional events folding into themselves, I had characters mention issue five and how it didn’t logically fit into the continuity of The Gentleman. We also started to show that the magic amulet was sentient and had the ability to forcibly rip Adam from whatever story he’s involved in. Oh, there’s also Adam as a samurai fighting a dinosaur AND zombie clowns!!!”
ED: Leon really ran with this one and when he described the plot, I have to admit I didn’t know what the hell he was talking about. Yet when he sent me his draft, I couldn’t believe that he had pulled it off so successfully. I added little bits here and there and tightened up some of the dialogue, but this was a real glimpse into the mind of Leon McKenzie – a very strange place to visit.
LEON: The Warden. Before Ed and I got the Adam West gig we put together a pitch for a Burt Ward comic. One of the ideas was he gets kidnapped by aliens and remade into a biological super soldier. Burt couldn’t work out what he wanted, so the project sort of stopped. We took the idea and placed it onto a new guy. Aliens had mistook the 60s Batman show as documentaries and kidnapped the guy who first auditioned for the role of Robin and changed him into a one man army. Ed wrote a nice bit showing that casting a more than capable black actor into the role (of Robin) during the 60s would have been the death of the Batman franchise. The Warden and his abilities are heavily influenced by Warren Ellis & Bryan Hitch’s The Authority.
ED: To be honest, I think this is the issue of our run on Adam West that I’m most proud of. While we had been kind of trading off being the lead writer from issue-to-issue, #8 represented a full-blown collaboration all the way down the line. We attempted to add heart to this super soldier, and we just felt that his background – an aspiring actor at a time when the odds were so against him – worked really nicely. There was also a certain poignancy – at least we hope it comes across that way – in a young man who not only is unable to pursue his dreams, but loses control over his own life due to the interference of others.
LEON: Fleischer meets Adam. I swear to God, I can barely remember writing any part of this because it was around the time I had a kidney infection. I do know that we discussed it had to end with Fleischer punching the amulet and the entire issue fades to white.
ED: We were doing the Fleischer comic with Bluewater and realized that since Adam West was bouncing around to different dimensions, why couldn’t he end up in Generic City and Fleischer’s world? Remember how poignant we thought issue #8 was? Not a poignant moment in this one, although we think it’s a lot of fun as Adam reluctantly teams up with Fleischer as they take on that odorous fiend, Flatulence! One of the highlights for me is watching Adam try to understand this world he finds himself in and, more importantly, who or what Fleischer is. Believe us, he’s unlike anyone Adam has met before.
LEON: The Hyper Meta Crisis Crossover. (I nicked that title from an event in Dr Who!) All of time and fiction are smashed together in a new universe where Julie Newmar (set ten years in the future of her own title . . . And kinda the direction I would have taken that book if I had a chance to write it!) has a team of special operatives within the Hourglass time travelling agency (The Gentleman, Warden, Dirk Benedict and Bill Mumy) move through time and space trying to locate Adam West who is trapped behind the storytelling fiction of a rumor.
ED: This was one where I had to stand back and let Mr. McKenzie do his thing. The man blew me away as he took a wide variety of disparate characters and brought them together logically and with an unbelievable amount of action. The other beauty of it is that it takes many of the themes we’d been dealing with in our various issues and brings them all together between this issue and the next two chapters that wrap it all up…. which is then supposed to lead into a spin-off mini-series.
To check out the graphic novel version that features issues 5-8, just click on the Amazon link below. All of the issues of The Misadventures of Adam West can also be ordered through Comixology.