Followup Batman Question (UNCLASSIFIED)

Tue Jan 25 17:43:40 UTC 2011

        Although there is no reason to think that the Batman TV show
writers had any specific comics in mind, sound effect words of that type
certainly had been used in comics for many years, probably since comic
books' earliest days.  I suspect that they go back to earlier newspaper
comics and perhaps to even earlier illustrations.

        Wikipedia says that Batman's utility belt was introduced in
1939, although it doesn't say whether it was called that in that story.
I have the story at home, but can't check it right now.  Accord to
Google Books snippet view, "utility belt" was used earlier in American
Gas Engineering Journal:

        <<A questionnaire recently sent to our servicemen revealed that
a great majority of the men did not carry all of their tools into the
home on all service calls, and that on a large percentage of our service
calls, a few selected tools were sufficient.  It was therefore thought
desirable to design a utility belt with leather pockets for . . .
[snippet view ends]>>

        The 1938 date seems to check out, so that would antedate
Batman's use.  This leaves open the possibility that Batman could have
played a role in popularizing the term.

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
Of Mullins, Bill AMRDEC
Sent: Tuesday, January 25, 2011 12:04 PM
Subject: Re: Followup Batman Question (UNCLASSIFIED)

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
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The "new look" Batman started in May 1964 (Detective Comics #327), which
rebooted the character (the first appearance of the yellow ellipse on
Batman's chest, new editor with contemporary story ideas, new design for
the Batmobile, etc. -- see the Wikipedia article on Batman).  The TV
show started in Jan 1966, and was so successful it was an influence on
the comic book. (The Wikipedia articles on the character Batman and the
TV show Batman are both reasonably good).

The "biff, bam, pow" words were originated in the TV show, and didn't
come from the Batman comics, or any specific comic at all -- they were
originated in the TV show.

Add to your Batman words list:

"stately Wayne manor"
"To the batpoles/batcave!"

A previous post offered "the boy wonder" as a linguistic contribution
from Batman, but the phrase "boy wonder" was prominent before the comic
character was invented.  I'm pretty sure the same applies to "utility
belt", but I can't figure out when it entered the Batman canon, or
determine if Batman made the phrase more popular.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On
Behalf Of
> Shapiro, Fred
> Sent: Monday, January 24, 2011 8:24 PM
> Subject: Followup Batman Question
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Shapiro, Fred" <fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Followup Batman Question
> -
> Thanks for the excellent responses to my query about Batman's
> contributions.  I am hoping some comics mavens can help with me with a
> followup question.
> The Batman TV show of the 1960s was famous for its fight-scene
> words like biff, bam, and pow.  Were these words taken from usage in
> specific Batman comic books, or were they general comic-book
> employed by the Batman TV writers for their campiness?
> Fred Shapiro
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE

The American Dialect Society -

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