MAY 2013 COMMENCEMENT SPEAKER
Batman Executive Producer & Comic Book Historian
Michael Uslan is best known as the originator and Executive Producer of the Batman movie series, starting with Tim Burton’s 1989 film, and continuing to 2012’s box office hit The Dark Knight Rises.
Uslan recently published his fully illustrated memoir, The Boy Who Loved Batman. In it the author recalls his journey from early childhood fandom through to the decades he spent on a caped crusade of his own: to bring Batman to the silver screen as the dark, serious character he was at heart. Uslan’s story traces his path from the wilds of New Jersey to the limelight of Hollywood, following his work as Executive Producer on every Batman film from Tim Burton’s 1989 re-envisioning to 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises, creating one of the most successful pop culture franchises of all time.
Uslan’s start in the world of comics was as unlikely as his success in bringing Batman to the theaters. Born into a blue collar family in New Jersey, Uslan was instilled at an early age to find work to be passionate about. Knowing he loved comics and films, he set about creating a career. While attending Indiana University, he successfully created and taught the world’s first accredited college course on comic books. The class took an academic approach to the folklore of comic books. A media storm ensued, improbably leading to a job at DC Comics for Uslan.
In 1979, Uslan secured the film rights to Batman from DC Comics. He was turned down by every studio in Hollywood. The reason he was consistently given: Batman was from the funny pages and wasn’t supposed to be taken “seriously.” Ten years later, Batman was the highest grossing film of the year, breaking numerous box office records and spawning a genre of films adapted from comics.
In an inspiring program, Uslan takes audiences along on the journey of creating his career to bringing Batman successfully to the big screen. He shares the principles that allowed him to persevere despite repeated rejection and encourages audiences everywhere to reach for their dreams and believe in themselves. In a separate program, Uslan addresses the founders of the comic book industry and how, not coincidentally, the majority of them are Jewish immigrants or first generation American Jews. Personally familiar with these legends, Uslan shares their anecdotes. Along with many of these creators, Uslan appears in the documentary The Legends Behind the Comic Books. Uslan also reveals the connection of the super-heroes created by these men and women to Jewish lore and traditions - from how The Golem spawned The Hulk and just how similar Superman and Moses really are.
In addition to the Batman series, Uslan has produced or been involved with numerous other movies, including The Spirit (2008), Constantine (2005), and National Treasure (2004). Films he’s currently in development with are Shazam and The Shadow with Sam Raimi and Josh Donen. As an authority on comic book history, he has authored The Comic Book in America, America at War: A History of War Comics and Mysteries in Space: A History of Science Fiction Comics. He has also authored a children’s book Chatterbox: The Bird Who Wore Glasses and the acclaimed graphic novel Batman: Detective # 27. In 2008, Uslan lent his expertise to the Starz documentary Comic Books Unbound, which explores the popularity of comic book heroes in Hollywood and how they have transitioned from print to screen.
Uslan has received an Emmy for Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego,? the Independent Spirit Award, The Hoagy Carmichael Creative Achievement Award, The Distinguished Hoosier Award, The CINE Motion Picture Industry Trailblazer Award, and The Inkpot Award, the highest honor from Comic Con for lifetime achievement.
Uslan was the recipient of the world’s first Doctorate of Comic Books from Monmouth University in 2012. He also holds a Doctorate of Jurisprudence, a Master of Science and a Bachelor’s Degree from Indiana University. He lives in New Jersey with his wife. They’ve been married for 38 years - a Hollywood record.
“Don’t miss this spellbinding tale of one man who saw what Batman was-and realized what he could become. See how Michael Uslan took a comic book hero and, through the magic of motion pictures, helped transform him into a world-wide icon!” — Stan Lee
Fri, May 24 at 4:00 p.m
Utica Memorial Aud.
400 Oriskany Street West
Utica, NY 13502