Battalion

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Fan Club
Name: Battalion
Dates: 1989-1995
Founder(s):
Leadership: Ian McLean, Stephen Ford
Country based in: Australia
Focus: Batman
External Links:
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Battalion was a fan club, the "Australian Legion of Batman Fans", formed in Sydney.

Its Birth

In 1989, teacher-librarian and Batman fan, Ian McLean, was interviewed by journalist Anthony Dennis, for The Sydney Morning Herald [1] newspaper regarding the then-forthcoming motion picture, Batman featuring Michael Keaton & Jack Nicholson, and directed by Tim Burton.

As a result, he was invited to appear, in costume as Robin, the Boy Wonder, on the Nine Network's breakfast television show, Today, and interviewed by Liz Hayes.[2] Radio interviews about the club were with 2BL (with David Dale), 5DN (with Jeremy Cordeaux), 2CN and 3AW.

The fledgling fan club was created only weeks before (after an industry sneak preview of the movie) by Ian and comic shop assistant, Stephen Ford. The aim of the club was to embrace all aspects of Batman: the original comic books and strips, the 1940s' Columbia serials, the 1966 Adam West & Burt Ward TV series and its spin-off feature film, various cartoon series, Teen Titans comics, TV specials, books, gum cards, toys, other Bat- merchandise, plus the new Tim Burton-directed motion picture and anticipated sequels.

Publicity from the interviews saw the club's ranks suddenly swell from 30 to 100 members. Member Jonathan Sequeira represented the club at the official Sydney press conference with director, Tim Burton. Premiere night celebrations of Burton's long-awaited movie included an afterparty - and the inaugural meeting of Battalion - at the Sugar Reef Cafe, Glebe. The events were reported by Dennis in the Herald's The Good Weekend supplementary magazine.[3] In 1990, Ian was interviewed about Battalion and its activities on an episode of TV's Couchman,[4] which examined Australian fan groups and pop culture.

Its Name

Stephen had already visited the New York offices of DC Comics and secured "special permission" from a DC Liaison, Phyllis Hume, to publish a regular newsletter, Utility Belt.[5] The editorial team included McLean, Ford & Chie-Hoon Lee.

In official correspondence from DC Comics, reprinted in Issue #3 of the newsletter, Ms Hume reminded the club's leaders to ensure that all article headlines and banners avoid the use of Bat- prefix words, such as Bat-Shelf, and sound effect words, such as "POW!" and "BIFF!" In other words, the club was not to mine too closely the 1960s "camp" style of the live-action TV series. The newsletter editors suggested that members' artwork created for the club's use should not breach copyright, and was thus restricted to drawings of the actors (ie. not in costume), generic bats, or gothic-looking cityscapes (rather than recognizable Gotham City landmarks). Book and comic covers could be used for illustrative purposes only, to accompany a review.[6]

The club name, Battalion, was allowed to continue because the term was in the dictionary. Interestingly, DC Comics soon added a new superhero - named Battalion! - to its comics universe in November 1992. The character first appeared in the second issue of a spin-off Teen Titans/New Titans comic, entitled Team Titans.[7] That new comic series was short-lived, but the club itself was to fold by March 1995.[8]

Zines Published

References

  1. The Sydney Morning Herald, July 21, 1989, p. 7
  2. Today (television series), Nine Network, July 24, 1989
  3. The Sydney Morning Herald: The Good Weekend, August 31, 1989, p. 10
  4. Couchman (television series), Science Fiction Fans episode, ABC-TV, 1990
  5. Utility Belt #1, 1989, p. 1
  6. Utility Belt #3, 1990, p. 2
  7. Team Titans #2, DC Comics, November 1992
  8. Utility Belt #8, 1995, p. 1