Legendary writer Harlan Ellison wrote a story for the original Batman television show that would introduce Two-Face to the Bat television world. The show never made it to air but Len Wein talks to us about how "Batman '66: The Lost Episode" is bringing this lost story back to life.
Charlie Chang: The Lost Episode is such an exciting new book especially for fans of the original Batman tv show. I’d like to know what your reaction was when you were approached to work on this project?
Len Wein: Yeah it’s amazing! It was basically all Harlan [Ellison], as everything is always Harlan. He’s my oldest friend, we’ve been best friends for over 40 years. We see each other all the time, we do dinners, and hang out. He called me and said that he was going through some old files and had found this old outline that had never been produced so we called DC and said “are you interested?” and DC being sane said “Yeah!” Then he said someone’s got to do a script off my outline and I immediately said “well, I’m available, that sounds like more fun than I could possibly have.” He said “Done!” and he said he was going to call DC and see if it was okay and then an hour later I get a call from DC asking if I’d like to write this.
CC: What is your most vivid memory about the TV show?
LW: This is going to sound like one of those “come on!?” kind of stories but that show literally saved my life. I was very sick a few weeks before the show was going to premiere and I had been misdiagnosed as having the flu when I had actually had terminal blood poisoning. They rushed me to the hospital and they told my father “we’re so sorry, there’s nothing we can do, he’s probably not going to last the hour.” And I overheard this and I’m going “Are you kidding? Batman premieres in six weeks, I’m not going to miss that!” and I hung on by force of will. So they found an experimental antibiotic because I couldn’t take the regular one. So yes, Batman literally through my own force of will saved my life.
CC: What was your reaction when you finally got to see it?
LW: It was mixed, I of course was hoping for exactly the treatment that the Nolans gave them but you weren’t going to get that in the 1960s on TV. I loved it for the most part and still watch the reruns. I loved a lot of the characters and the way they were portrayed. Some of the newer ones not so much but I still loved the sense of the show and this character that helped form my life was on TV every week!
CC: I’m so excited that a character like Two-Face is going to get this treatment. Who’s voice do you hear when you’re writing Two-Face for that era with that Batman and Robin.
LW: Mine. [Laughter] There was no model to follow except for in tone of the dialogue that was in the show. So I’ve written the character a half dozen times in the comics so I used my voice. I adjusted slightly for the tone of the show but that was the voice.
CC: Looking back on this book now what are you most proud of?
LW: Everything and I don’t mean that facetiously. When we first started it was issue #18 now it’s a one-shot special with all this extra stuff. It was one of those weird cases where it started out with just me and Harlan and he managed to get Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez to pencil it and then other guys heard we were doing this and they jumped on the bandwagon. Joe Prado said “I can ink” then Alex Sinclair called and said “you promised me the next Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez job so I want to color this” and then Alex Ross called and said he wanted to paint the cover. People kept joining the cast. It’s been absolutely amazing!
This interview was conducted and transribed by Charlie Chang. Interested in comics and graphic novels? Sign up for Comics Delivers, a weekly email featuring the best in comics each week - from weekly booklists to deals and exclusive content from creators.