The 30th anniversary of Batman: The Animated Series will be commemorated on September 5, 2022. However, I do this while knowing that the long shadow of that particular legacy has already produced a substantial body of critical work that would otherwise render any such effort redundant.
I could write about the origins of Batman: The Animated Series as a result of Tiny Toon Adventures in the 1990s, and how the show went on to redefine DC Comics' iconic masked vigilante, or about the show's triumphant and bold title sequence, but these are already well-trodden territory.
I can't remember a time before I was introduced to the Batman: The Animated Series. What I do remember, though, is that once I got hooked, like so many other children of my generation, I was hooked. It wasnt just a cartoon, it was appointment television. The adventures of the masked brooding vigilante Batman and his relentless assault against a cadre of villains in the anachronistic Dark Deco expanse of Gotham City sent a jolt through my young
I experienced the type of complete infatuation only a child can possess. From the engaging characters and captivating orchestral score to the stunning title card designs, there was a time when that love blossomed from infatuation to something deeper and more meaningful.
Even if I didnt have the time at the time to define what it was or express why I felt certain things on television, there was no other Batman series like it. I didnt have access to home internet nor the ability to type a question into a search bar and immediately get the answer to all my burning questions in a proper order. I had questions all the same, though without the means to pursue their answers, nor the ability to articulate why it made me feel something at the time.
So, without any other recourse, I did what only felt natural at the time: I continued to read and learn about art as much as I could, looking beyond my initial introduction to animation into the realm of films, visual art, music, and even architecture in search of the answers to those questions that remained close to my heart.
I discovered them in Robert Wiene's abstracted scenes in the background of Gotham City's back alleys. I discovered them in Hugh Ferriss' architectural illustrations, and in the art deco edifice of the Carbide and Carbon Building in downtown Chicago. Each of these discoveries pointed toward a past collective vision of a future that might have been but would not be realized.
My passion for Batman: The Animated Series transcends the character or the medium. The program opened my world to new perspectives on art and expression that I might not have encountered or encountered had I not encountered that series from an early age. I'm working on a career writing about art and sharing that knowledge and passion with others.
Since it was first released 30 years ago, Batman: The Animated Series has impacted the lives of countless individuals of all walks of life, inspiring the artistic pursuits and aspirations of people of all walks of life. How many young artists might have been introduced to the likes of Frank Frazetta, Hieronymus Bosch, and Alejandro Jodorowsky for the first time simply because they grew up watching Adventure Time?
Anything that is capable of provoking such a reaction can in no way be described as trivial. They are, in the very literal sense, amazing. Art matters. Animation matters. Stories matter. Go out and discover the ones that matter most to you, and then tell your own story. You are the only one who can.
On HBO Max, Batman: The Animated Series is available for viewing.