With the debut of the 1966 Batman television series, a craze of camp swept through pop culture, especially comic books, and would infect the world for more than a few years. Whether you lived through this era, or it’s brand new to you, this is the book that has it all: Hero-A-Go-Go! from TwoMorrows, a swinging journey through nostalgia for pop culture and comics fans alike!
Like many folks of my generation (and a few after as well), the gateway drug into comics for me was Batman ’66. I was old enough to remember the last season airing for the first time, and lived for the syndicated reruns thereafter. The Adam West Batman was my jam, but by the time I got to the comics, the camp craze was ending, and the powers that be were revolting against the show’s perception and giving us a darker, more serious caped crusader in the work of Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams. I dug it, but it was the TV show that had my heart.
I came in on the tail end of camp, remembering the weird go-go checks at the top of the DC Comics my older brother and sister had and passed down to me. The checks somehow resonated in my young mind as cool, and yeah, those comics were cool. In the go-go checks days, Batman was featured prominently on almost every cover, and I didn’t mind. What I didn’t know until years later is that Batman was everywhere, and he influenced everything pop culture. In the words of Adam West himself, the sixties were about the three Bs: Beatles, Bond, and Batman.
With the wild worldwide success of Batman on TV, everyone wanted to get into the camp craze, and into superheroes, and it bled into all facets of pop culture. Hero-A-Go-Go! is your guide to the phenomenon. When I was given the book to review, I began to read and was quickly drawn in by the nostalgia. I was a little kid again, and I was mesmerized. I can’t recommend this book enough to folks out there who lived and loved the comics of the sixties.
Hero-A-Go-Go!, under the supervision of Michael Eury, brings together articles on the great camp comics of the swinging sixties like Metamorpho, the Teen Titans, Dial H for Hero, Jerry Lewis, the Inferior Five, Herbie the Fat Fury, Captain Action, B’Wana Beast, Dell’s Super-Monsters, the “split” Captain Marvel, and the “super” Blackhawks. And it’s not just comics; there are also pieces on camp TV featuring forgotten heroes like Captain Nice and Mr. Terrific (sooo different from the DC Comics version), and the various animated series featuring DC and Marvel’s superheroes, as well as those from Hanna-Barbera.
As if that’s not enough, this 272-page volume also features interviews with Ramona Fradon, Ralph Bakshi, Joe Sinnott, Jose Delbo, and Bill Mumy, among others. Did I mention there also articles about how camp affected music and vice-versa? Along with an interview with Dean Torrence of Jan and Dean (who did a cool rare album of Batman music at the time of the TV show), there’s also stuff on the Beatles, the Archies, the Monkees, and the Cowsills. This book even has an article on Palisades Park, one of the most memorable ads in sixties comics. It has it all, great memories, and hours of enjoyment.
Hero-A-Go-Go! will be available for purchase April 19th from TwoMorrows here, so check it out.