Paul Dini (; born August 7, 1957) is an American writer and producer who works in the television and comic book industries. He is best known as a producer and writer for several Warner Bros. Animation/DC Comicsanimated series, including Tiny Toon Adventures, Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, The New Batman/Superman Adventures, Batman Beyond, and Duck Dodgers. He developed and scripted Krypto the Superdog and contributed scripts to Transformers, Animaniacs, Freakazoid and Static Shock. After leaving Warner Bros. Animation in early 2004, Dini went on to write and story edit the popular ABC adventure series Lost. He has written a number of comic books for DC Comics, including Harley Quinn and Superman: Peace on Earth. October 2010 saw the debut of Tower Prep, a new live action/drama series Dini created for Cartoon Network. It was announced that after two decades of doing DC-related animated projects, Paul Dini has gone over to Marvel to serve as a writer and producer for Ultimate Spider-Man and Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H..
Paul Dini was born in New York City, the son of an advertising executive, Robert Dini, and his wife. He attended Stevenson School in Pebble Beach, California on an art scholarship. He attended Emerson College in Boston, where he earned a BFA degree in creative writing.
During college, he began doing freelance animation scripts for Filmation, and a number of other studios. In 1984, he was hired to work for George Lucas on several of his animation projects. Dini later returned to the Star Wars universe in 2007 to script several episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Dini wrote a number of episodes of the 1983–85 animated TV series, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe that became favorites amongst the show's fans over the Internet, as well as contributing to interviews on the released box sets of the series, though Dini has made no secret of his distaste for Filmation and the He-Man concept. He wrote an episode of the Generation One Transformers cartoon series, "The Dweller in The Depths," and an episode of the 1985 G.I. Joe cartoon called "Jungle Trap" and contributed to various episodes of the Star Wars: Ewoks animated series, several of which included rare appearances from the Empire. He also wrote the Jem episode "Music Is Magic" for the show's second season.
In 1989, he was hired at Warner Bros. Animation to work on Tiny Toon Adventures. Later, he moved onto Batman: The Animated Series, where he worked as a writer, producer and editor, later working on Batman Beyond. He continued working with WB animation, working on a number of internal projects, including Krypto the Superdog and Duck Dodgers, until 2004. In 1989 and 1990, he contributed scripts to the live-action television horror anthology series Monsters: "One Wolf's Family" and "Talk Nice to Me".
He has earned five Emmy awards for his animation work. In a related effort, Dini was the co-author with Chip Kidd of Batman Animated, a 1998 non-fiction coffee table book about the animated Batman franchise.
Dini and Bruce Timm introduced Harley Quinn in Batman: The Animated Series as her first appearance was the episode "Joker's Favor" and in 1994, they adapted the character into comics in The Batman Adventures: Mad Love one-shot. Harley Quinn was integrated into the mainstream DC Comics continuity in the Batman: Harley Quinn one-shot published in 1999. Dini has written several comics stories for DC Comics, including an oversized graphic novel series illustrated by painter Alex Ross featuring Superman, Batman,Captain Marvel, Wonder Woman, and the Justice League. A hardcover collection of the Dini and Ross stories was published in 2005 under the title The World's Greatest Super-Heroes.
Best known among Dini's original creations is Jingle Belle, the rebellious teen-age daughter of Santa Claus. Dini created Sheriff Ida Red, the super-powered cowgirl star of a series of books set in Dini's mythical town of Mutant, Texas. He collaborated with Kevin Smith on Clerks: The Animated Series. In 2001 Dini made a cameo appearance in Smith's film Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back during the scene in which Jay and Silent Bob wear ridiculous looking costumes for a film being directed by Chris Rock, in which Dini says to them "you guys look pretty bad ass".
He and Bruce Timm collaborated on the Harley and Ivy limited series for DC in 2004. Dini became the writer for DC Comics' Detective Comics as of issue #821 (Sept. 2006) and created a new version of the Ventriloquist in #827 (March 2007). While Grant Morrison was starting a seven-year Batman story on the Batman title composed of long, interlinking arcs, Dini wrote a number of done-in-one stories over the following year as well as two crossovers with Morrison's Batman, one focusing on the resurrection of Ra's al Ghul and another on the return of Hush. After Morrison's "Batman R.I.P." storyline in 2009, creators were moved around titles and Dini started writing two new Batman titles Batman: Streets of Gotham and Gotham City Sirens.Streets of Gotham started and ended with story arcs about Hush while Gotham City Sirens focused on the females of Gotham; he wrote the bulk of both titles during their existence including the first and last issue of both.
In 2006 he announced that he was writing a hardcover graphic novel starring Zatanna and Black Canary. The following year he was the head writer of DC's weekly series, Countdown. Dini co-wrote a draft script for the ill-fated Science Ninja Team Gatchaman movie, which never saw the light of day, resulting in him leaving the project. Dini wrote a series for Top Cow Productions, based in a character he created, Madame Mirage.
In July 2008, Dini started a partnership with GoAnimate to launch his Super Rica & Rashy series on the platform. Dini writes episodes released on the website on a regular basis. He lets anyone use his characters to create their own stories using the website's online animation creation application.
He returned to write animated version of Batman in Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Legends of the Dark Mite". In the very same episode, he appeared in an animated form in comic book convention parody scene, where he was wearing Harley Quinn's costume, along with Bruce Timm wearing Joker's costume next to him. He would go on to write several additional episodes for the series, including "Chill of the Night!", which contained a team-up between Batman and Zatanna, one of Dini's favorite characters. Dini penned the storyline for the Rocksteady Studios video game Batman: Arkham Asylum, released on August 25, 2009. He wrote three episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars: "Cloak of Darkness," "Holocron Heist," and "Voyage of Temptation."
On February 14, 2008 the first edition of Dini's column, "200 Words with Paul Dini" was released on the iFanboy site.
He is the creator of the Tower Prep series. On August 4, 2010, it was confirmed that Paul Dini will be involved in Marvel Comics' upcoming animated series Ultimate Spider-Man, which is set to air on Disney XD in 2012. He worked on Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., an animated series centered around the Hulk and his supporting cast.
Dini worked with Rocksteady studios once again to create Batman: Arkham City, which was a sequel to Batman: Arkham Asylum. He wrote a five-issue comic series set in the game continuity. A building in Arkham City is named Dini Towers in tribute.
Dini wrote the script for Bloodspell, an original graphic novel starring Black Canary and Zatanna.
Paul Dini and his wife, magician Misty Lee, created an online interview feature called "Monkey Talk" on Kevin Smith's website, Quick Stop Entertainment.com.
His graphic novel Dark Night: A True Batman Story, based on a mugging he experienced in 1993, was published in June 2016.
Dini and his wife Misty Lee appeared on Ken Reid's TV Guidance Counselor podcast on April 6, 2016.
Dini and his wife, magician and voiceover actress Misty Lee, live in Los Angeles. Their two Boston terriers, Mugsy and Deuce, were featured in "Anger Management", a 2012 episode of The Dog Whisperer, in which they sought Cesar Millan's help with their dogs' behavioral problems. Around this time, Dini began an extensive weight loss and exercise regimen, having reached a weight of 320 pounds.
- ^Miller, John Jackson (June 10, 2005). "Comics Industry Birthdays". Comics Buyer's Guide. Iola, Wisconsin. Archived from the original on October 30, 2010. Retrieved December 12, 2010.
- ^Contino, Jennifer M. (April 2000). "I'll Be There With Belles On! Paul Dini". Sequentialtart.com. Retrieved September 1, 2013.
- ^"One on One with Paul Dini". Hobo Trash Can. January 3, 2006. Archived from the original on July 17, 2012.
- ^Manning, Matthew K.; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1990s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 265. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9.
- ^Manning "1990s" in Dolan, p. 289: "Harley Quinn finally made her way into the DC Universe in her own one-shot prestige-format special by writer Paul Dini alongside artist Yvel Guichet."
- ^Smith, Zack (December 2012). "Paul Dini & Alex Ross Discuss a Treasured Format". Back Issue!. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (61): 69–77.
- ^Manning "1990s" in Dolan, p. 286: "Alex Ross teamed up with writer Paul Dini...to tell a powerful story of the Man of Steel. In this beautiful sixty-four-page oversized one-shot...Superman fought a battle even he couldn't truly win: the war on poverty and hunger."
- ^Manning "1990s" in Dolan, p. 289: "The second in the oversized prestige-format tabloid collaborations between writer Paul Dini and painter Alex Ross, Batman: War on Crime was just as successful as its predecessor, and just as beautiful."
- ^Dini, Paul; Ross, Alex (2005). The World's Greatest Super-Heroes. DC Comics. p. 404. ISBN 978-1401202545.
- ^Manning, Matthew K.; Dougall, Alastair, ed. (2014). "2000s". Batman: A Visual History. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 274. ISBN 978-1465424563.
- ^Manning "2000s" in Dougall, p. 290: "Paul Dini came aboard Detective Comics as its new ongoing writer as of this issue."
- ^Manning "2000s" in Dougall, p. 293: "Paul Dini and artist Don Kramer introduced a new Ventriloquist in this self-contained issue."
- ^Manning "2000s" in Dougall, p. 300: Detective Comics #846 "This issue began writer Paul Dini and artist Dustin Nguyen's 'Heart of Hush' story."
- ^Manning "2000s" in Dougall, p. 305: "Paul Dini and artist Dustin Nguyen introduced this ongoing series."
- ^Renaud, Jeffrey (June 17, 2009). "Dini Takes it to the Streets of Gotham". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on October 9, 2012. Retrieved June 17, 2009.
- ^Manning "2000s" in Dougall, p. 306: "The villainous version of the Birds of Prey premiered in this new ongoing 'Batman: Reborn' series by writer Paul Dini and artist Guillem March."
- ^Renaud, Jeffrey (June 18, 2009). "Dini's Sirens Blare in Gotham City". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on October 9, 2012. Retrieved June 18, 2009.
- ^Khouri, Andy (May 22, 2007). "Darkseid Rules: In-Depth with Paul Dini and Countdown". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on December 22, 2008.
- ^"200 Words with Paul Dini #1 – Sweethearts". iFanboy. February 14, 2008. Archived from the original on July 22, 2012. Retrieved January 15, 2011.
- ^"Marvel Television Panel NYCC Highlights featuring Jeph Loeb". BadHaven.com. October 16, 2011. Archived from the original on April 25, 2012.
- ^Arrant, Chris (May 12, 2011). "Paul Dini, Joe Quinones working on Zatanna/Black Canary team-up". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on June 15, 2011.
- ^Tweedle, Sam (n.d.). "Everybody Has Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey: A Conversation with Paul Dini and RaSHy". Confessions of a Pop Culture Addict. Archived from the original on September 6, 2015.
- ^Kit, Borys (December 1, 2015). "Paul Dini Revisits His Traumatic Past With Dark Night: A True Batman Story (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on January 24, 2016.
- ^David, Peter (2009). More Digressions. Second Age, Inc. p. 96.
- ^Krug, Kurt Anthony (October 22, 2016). "Mt. Clemens native Misty Lee hangs with Houdini, Princess Leia, Spidey". Detroit Free Press. Archived from the original on May 18, 2017.
- ^"Anger Management". Dog Whisperer. Season 9. Episode 6. August 4, 2012. National Geographic Channel.
- ^National Geographic Channels. "Dog Whisperer: Anger Management". Nat Geo TV Blogs. Retrieved February 27, 2015.
- ^"Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming One Hour Or Less) 1991". Emmys.org. Archived from the original on July 23, 2013. Retrieved January 15, 2011.
- ^"2000 Harvey Awards". HarveyAwards.org. Archived from the original on August 27, 2013. Retrieved September 1, 2013.
- ^"Inkpot Award". San Diego Comic-Con. 2016. Archived from the original on January 29, 2017.
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Once again, I've joined Cory Barker over at TV Surveillance to discuss the first episode of a classic series for his Test Pilot feature. This time we tackle the one, the only, the legendary: Batman! Yeah, the Adam West one. Yes, it is as awesome as you remember from those weekday afternoons when you were a kid.
Here's my entry; head over to TV Surveillance to read Cory's take as well:
Not too long ago, when the average American thought of comic books, they probably thought of the 1966 version of Batman.
This may be disconcerting if your cultural consciousness has only developed within the last decade or so. Now we live in a world where comic book heroes populate the marquee blockbusters of the last dozen summers. A world of Christopher Nolan’s allegorical Dark Knight, of Sir Ian McKellan’s Shakespearean Magneto. Comic book narratives have more credibility in the broader pop culture universe than ever before.
Yet for many, comic books will only ever mean three things: BIFF!, ZAP!, and KAPOW! And the 1966 Batman is the reason why.
Adam West and Burt Ward as Batman and Robin defined the superhero genre for millions of TV viewers, through two years in prime time on ABC and dozens of years in syndication. It is my totally unscientific estimate that Batman was, by a longshot, the most ubiquitous live-action representation of comic book narratives for over 20 years (perhaps matched only by Christopher Reeve’s Superman movies). It’s fair to call this silly, low-budget confection a major landmark for not one but two art forms.
Each installment of Batman followed the same pattern: Villain Of The Week, flanked by thematically-garbed flunkies, initiates Dastardly Scheme Of The Week (usually this involves stealing one of the many priceless artifacts that keep finding their way into Gotham City’s poorly-guarded institutions). Flabbergasted, Commissioner Gordon and Chief O’Hara dial the bright red phone which puts them in touch with the Caped Crusader.
Then we visit Stately Wayne Manor, where dashing playboy Bruce Wayne and his youthful ward Dick Grayson are busy engaging in your average playboy-and-youthful-ward activities. The call from Gordon sends the Dynamic Duo scurrying to the Bat-Poles, which lead to the Bat-Cave, where they hop into the Batmobile and speed off to do some bat-investigating. By the end of the half-hour, one or both of them has been captured by the villain and is facing the Preposterous Death-Trap Of The Week. At this point the announcer exhorts us to tune in tomorrow for the thrilling conclusion—“same Bat-Time, same Bat-Channel.”
The pilot episodes—it wouldn’t be fair to address Batman by only looking at the first episode, since every week was a two-part story—follow this format to a T. If you didn’t know that “Hey Diddle Riddle”/”Smack In The Middle” were 1×01 and 1×02, you’d get almost no clue of that fact from watching them. The only nods towards table-setting come in the prologue, which is oddly subdued compared to the tone of the rest of the series. First it lingers a bit while introducing Gotham. Then, when we first meet Bruce, he briefly references the murder of his parents—which is never again mentioned in the entire 120-episode run.
Both are key moments defining this series’ incarnation of Batman. In the very first shot, Gotham City is hosting the World’s Fair. This isn’t the Gotham of nighttime and shadow, the Gotham plagued by crime and corruption and every fear of urban life. This is a shining city upon a hill—Gotham as Metropolis.
Similarly, Adam West’s Batman is not a brooding soul, prowling the murkiest recesses of the city. He is not vengeance; he is not the night. He operates in broad daylight, interacts with police and average citizens with the upright grace of a town father. He isn’t even a vigilante: when he arrests The Riddler in the pilot, he explicitly identifies himself as “a duly deputized agent of the law.”
When Bruce Wayne, in the midst of forming an anti-crime initiative with some other local rich dudes, off-handedly mentions his parents’ murder, it is Batman’s lone nod towards the darkness and complexity at the core of its title character. And based on my research and recollections, the deaths of Dick Grayson’s parents are never brought up at all. It’s of a piece with the show’s somewhat infamous aesthetic: A kid’s program*, a candy-coated romp, a campfest sprinkled with occasional (maybe unintentional) doses of psychedelia.
*The clearest way the series speaks to a young audience is how Robin is the one to solve all of Riddler’s riddles—proof that he can live up to having the World’s Greatest Detective as a mentor.
These are the signifiers that come immediately to mind when you think of Batman. The “walking-up-walls” scenes. The climactic melees featuring colorful onomatopoeias splashed on the screen. “Holy ____, Batman!” Every conceivable object prefixed with “Bat-“ (including, in the pilot, a frigging HIDDEN BAT-LASERBEAM). At the center, Adam West’s stilted, impossibly earnest performance as a Dark Knight who’s neither—a role that came to define the actor more than vice versa.
Your affection for Batman relies almost entirely on how much you enjoy its most over-the-top elements. And the most over-the-top of these is the roster of guest villains: from comic book mainstays like The Joker and Catwoman to newly-invented goofballs like King Tut. Of course, they never posed any real threat. They existed primarily to give Old Hollywood journeymen like Cesar Romero and Burgess Meredith a chance to cut loose and chew some scenery. The entertainment level of any episode of Batman is usually in direct proportion to the outré hamminess of its guest baddie.
On that measure, “Hey Diddle Riddle” and “Stuck In The Middle” deliver grade-A results. As The Riddler, Frank Gorshin was the cream of the crop in Batman’s rogues gallery. Lithe, lecherous, a bundle of spring-loaded megalomania on a hair trigger—Gorshin’s portrayal of “that infernal Prince of Puzzles” remains a gold standard of comic book supervillany. He slips between manic and menacing with creepy aplomb. You remember Jim Carrey in Batman Forever? Yeah, he’s doing a demented and pale imitation of Gorshin.
Those recurring signposts aren’t the only bits of wackiness in these two episodes, though. You’ve got a whole set-piece in a groovy mod nightclub wherein Batman dances the Batusi. (I’m going to say that again: Batman. DANCES. The Batusi.)
You’ve got Riddler’s sexy assistant straight-up cosplaying as Robin, shortly before falling into the nuclear-powered volcano that happens to be smack in the middle of the Batcave. You’ve got gay undertones abound, like when Alfred refers to “what you and Master Dick have been doing on these supposed ‘fishing trips’ of yours.” There’s a lot going on in this hour, is what I’m saying.
Batman’s influence permeated comic book storytelling for decades after its initial run. Future kid-targeted series like Super Friends and Batman: The Brave and the Bold would pay it homage. And attempts to move the genre into more “adult” directions—the “grim and gritty” tendencies of comics in the 90s; the more high-minded film adaptations in the 2000s, including Nolan’s franchise; the “real world” melodrama of Smallville and Heroes—consciously pushed back against the zaniness of Batman and its Silver Age contemporaries.
Maybe the most important takeaway from Batman, though, is how it embodies the durability of superheroes in the American cultural canon. Very few characters can not only retain a hold on our collective imaginations for over seven decades, but also thrive within a wide variety of representations. A world that has room for the Adam West Batman, the Frank Miller Batman, the Bruce Timm/Paul Dini/Kevin Conroy Batman, and the Christopher Nolan Batman—all of whom can remain true to something within the character’s central conceit—is a huge and fascinating world indeed.