No Howdy Doody for Batman
There may be some Wizard of Oz but Suzie is definitely not going to be waking up in this book.
When I first began work on my Batman novel, ‘Wayne of Gotham’, under license from DC Comics, I wanted to do a story about Batman’s father, Thomas Wayne. He was always such a saintly figure as though carved out of marble — the philanthropist doctor who was innocent of any crime and the sacrifice without blemish whose death catapults Bruce Wayne into become the Batman. I wondered how Bruce Wayne might react to discover his father was not perfect but a man who had problems and frailties as complex as his own? What if Batman had to discover that his parents had problems?
This led me to the heart of my novel ‘Wayne of Gotham’ — the complex relationships between fathers and sons. It also took me down the rabbit hole that is Batman’s background. I researched the various time lines, different realities and parallel universes and events that encompass the 70 years of publishing history of Batman. Then I had to take those elements and weave them together into a new and seamless whole. It’s been an amazing journey and one that I hope you’ll enjoy taking with me.
However, this brought me to write about Thomas Wayne and Martha Kane (who would become Bruce’s parents) as they were in 1957 and 1958. I loved the idea of going back to this time period and putting in all the color of that time when brand names were exploding, communist paranoia was rampant and rock and roll was taking hold. I was born in 1955 and wanted to write an homage to that time.
Except, when it came time for the book to be reviewed for approval — there were some changes that had to be made before it was acceptable.
First, I had to cut out Howdy Doody.
You see, Howdy Doody is a trademark and, as such, the rights to use Howdy Doody in a commercial work are controlled. Now, there is a doctrine of media law called ‘Fair Use’ which says essentially that if you limit the use — for example, if one of your characters says “We might as well walk into the police commissioner’s office and shout ‘Howdy Doody!'” that shouldn’t be a problem. But apparently the powers that be who watch over such ownerships of Intellectual Properties frowned on my use.
Don’t get me wrong; I make my living off of creating Intellectual Properties. That’s what my books are and, yes, I’ll be upset if you start copying and pasting pieces of my hard-fought text to pad your own work especially if you don’t pay me for it. Still, I don’t think I should yell at you every time you mention one of my characters in your book.
Still, I want you to be able to enjoy this story on time … so I’ve done the rewrite. ‘Wake up, Little Suzie’ and the Everly Brothers have disappeared from my text. The sparse use of lyrics to ‘It’s been a Long, Long Time’ from World War II have vanished as well. And while I do get to talk about Zorro — it has to be related to the 1920 movie with Douglas Fairbanks because a television series which was extremely popular in 1958 must not be mentioned lest we upset the Mouse.
Fear not, however, for we have been clever in our revision and the flavor of the time remains. So does the story of Batman discovering his parents past and how it is effecting his future. The icons of 1957 have been moved around a bit — the the ride remains a thrill.
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