Michael E. Uslan

Michael E. Uslan (/ˈjuːslən/; born June 2, 1951) is an American producer of the Batman films and was the first instructor to teach an accredited course on comic book folklore at any university.

Uslan has been a resident of Cedar Grove, New Jersey.[1][2]

Michael E. Uslan
MichaelUslan11.15.08ByLuigiNovi
Uslan at the Big Apple Con on November 14, 2008
BornJune 2, 1951 (age 67)
Bayonne, New Jersey, United States
ResidenceCedar Grove, New Jersey, United States
OccupationFilm producer, comics scholar
Spouse(s)Nancy
Parent(s)Joe Uslan

Early life

Uslan was born in Bayonne, New Jersey and was an avid comic book collector from a very young age, owning a collection that included the second issue of Batman and the first Superman comic, among others. He grew up in Ocean Township, Monmouth County, New Jersey and graduated from Ocean Township High School in 1969, by which time his collection filled the garage of his home with 30,000 comic books.[3] While still an undergraduate and a graduate at the same time at Indiana University School of Law – Bloomington, attempting to break into the film industry by sending off over 300 résumés (typed on a typewriter), Uslan "developed a course idea for the Experimental Curriculum program at IU".[4]

Career

Teaching

Uslan recalls that Roger Stern "has been teaching a one-hour credit experimental course on comic book history and art," while he (Uslan) was "having fun with an I.U. Free University course on 'The Comic Book Hero'."[5] Stern and Uslan discovered they shared interests, and when Stern "couldn't stand teaching the course any longer," Uslan took it over and changed it into one that took

an academic approach to the comics, divided into its history, folklore, art, sociology, psychology, and literary/educational value. [Looking] at their stages of relevancy and fantasy, the many aspects of censorship, their effects on other media, penciling and inking styles, their psychological implications, current and future trends, and the role of comics in school systems."[5]

Uslan intended that his course on comics gives students the full three hours of college credit, on a par with "history, physics, or chemistry."[5] Requiring (as an undergraduate) a sponsor in order to be eligible to teach, Uslan found a "progressive and enthusiastic" one in the form of Henry Glassie, a professor in the Department of Folklore, who, as a "leading expert in the field of folklore" was able to see superheroes as the logical descendant to Norse, Egyptian and Greek mythology.[4][5]

The Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences challenged the nature of Uslan's course,[5] but gave his approval.[6] Uslan's course, by then-titled "The Comic Book in Society," thus became "the first accredited course on the serious study of comic books."[4]

Uslan won fame for his comic book class by anonymously calling a local newspaper reporter and complaining about the course. TV crews filmed the first five meetings of the course, by then called "The Comic Book in America," including John Chancellor's NBC News.[5] Intending to invite different speakers each semester, Uslan found that Denny O'Neil was voted for by the class so often that he became the regular invitee (Uslan notes that Bob Rozakis was among those passed over in favor of O'Neil).[5]

Press coverage led to Uslan being invited to lecture at a number of colleges and high schools, as well as participate in talk shows on radio and TV (his first television appearance was alongside writers Steve Englehart and Gerry Conway).[5] It also led to phone calls from Stan Lee, and eventually to a job offer from DC Comics.[7] Uslan also wrote a textbook dealing with his course, The Comic Book in America (Indiana University, 1971).[5]

Producer

Batman films

Uslan is best known as an executive producer with Benjamin Melniker of all of the modern Batman films to date, starting with Tim Burton's 1989 film, and continuing to Justice League and also including various direct-to-video feature-length films, including those based on Batman: The Animated Series and The Batman.

Other work

As a film and TV producer, in addition to their many DC Comics film credits (in addition to all the Batman films and the two Swamp Thing films, Uslan and Melniker were executive producers on the Swamp Thing TV series, 2004's Catwoman and 2008's The Spirit film, among others), Uslan has "produced a surprisingly diverse list of film and television."

These include Three Sovereigns for Sarah (1985), starring Vanessa Redgrave, part of the American Playhouse series on PBS dealing with the Salem Witch Trials and the children's geography-teaching TV show Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?.[4]

Uslan created and co-produced the 1980s cartoon Dinosaucers and wrote a few episodes on the series. Uslan and Melniker were also associate producers on Disney's National Treasure.

Writer

Uslan attempted his first comics writing in 1975 at DC Comics' version of The Shadow (on which he is planning [8] a feature film with Sam Raimi) and publishing competitor Charlton Comics' Charlton Bullseye. He also wrote a comic-book adaptation of Beowulf for DC Comics in 1975. He wrote some Batman comics before moving on to motion pictures.

He initiated [9] Stan Lee's Just Imagine... and contributed short stories with renowned artists like John Severin, Gene Colan and Richard Corben to it.

He wrote some The Spirit comics, before producing the feature film.

With only some brief (foreword) writing and editing stints in between, Uslan scripted the 2009 six-part story, Archie Marries Veronica.

2011 saw the publication of his autobiography, The Boy Who Loved Batman.[10] Uslan then wrote the foreword to the 2012 Wiley & Sons book Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight, by Dr. Travis Langley.[11]

Charity and other work

In 2005, Uslan donated his 30,000 comic book collection to Indiana University's Lilly Library (rare books and manuscripts library), a collection which (according to his wife Nancy) "filled three rooms of their house."[12]

Uslan was the honorary speaker at the 2006 Indiana University commencement ceremonies, held on May 6, 2006.

Uslan was the honorary speaker at the 2012 Westfield State University commencement ceremonies, held on May 19, 2012.

Awards

With his co-executive producers, Uslan won a 1995 Daytime Emmy for Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, and he was also awarded an Independent Spirit Award at the 2005 Garden State Film Festival.

In 2009 he was awarded the West Point Cadet Choice Award for the character Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight.[13]

In 2011, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Peace River Film Festival.

On October 10, 2012 he received an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Monmouth University in West Long Branch, New Jersey.[14]

Personal life

Uslan is married to Nancy Uslan.[13]

References

  1. ^ Genocchio, Benjamin. "POW! Take That, Hitler! Men of Steel and Their Times", The New York Times, September 9, 2007. Accessed December 26, 2007. "One of the single biggest lenders to the exhibition is Michael Uslan of Cedar Grove, the executive producer of movies like "Batman" and "Batman Begins." He obviously has a thing for superheroes."
  2. ^ Meoli, Daria. "That’s Entertainment" Archived 2005-12-14 at the Wayback Machine, New Jersey Monthly, October 2005. Accessed December 26, 2007. "Fans of the Caped Crusader can add the summer blockbuster Batman Begins to their personal collections. Like all Batman celluloid, it was produced by Cedar Grove resident Michael Uslan."
  3. ^ Voger, Mark. "'The Dark Knight Rises' executive producer remembers", The Star-Ledger, May 29, 2012. Accessed August 20, 2012. "Uslan, a Jersey City native who grew up in Ocean Township, achieved that goal as executive producer of eight Batman movies beginning with the 1989 film "Batman," directed by Tim Burton, and including the forthcoming "The Dark Knight Rises," directed by Christopher Nolan.... 'By the time I graduated Ocean Township High School (in 1969), I had a collection of 30,000 comic books dating back to 1936, which took up my folks' entire garage.'"
  4. ^ a b c d "Batman Producer honored with Exhibit: Comics as Cultural Mythology" Part 2 by Kalynn Huffman Brower; accessed May 13, 2008
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i Uslan, Michael "Confessions of a Comic-Book Professor" in The Amazing World of DC Comics #3 (Nov, 1974), pp. 26-29
  6. ^ Uslan, Michael "Confessions of a Comic-Book Professor" in The Amazing World of DC Comics No. 3 (Nov, 1974), pp. 26-29)
  7. ^ "Comics as culture? Holy textbook, Batman!: IU's Lilly Library displays Michael Uslan comic book collection" news release, September 8, 2005. Accessed May 14, 2008
  8. ^ Columbia & Raimi Team on The Shadow
  9. ^ Bouley, Charles Karel (July 20, 2012). Just Imagine Stan Lee Creating the DC Universe Reviewed by Joe Crowe, © October 26, 2002
  10. ^ "Michael Uslan IS The Boy That Loved Batman". The Huffington Post.
  11. ^ Akers, Laura (March 31, 2012). "Travis Langley: Getting Inside Batman's Head". Comics Bulletin.
  12. ^ "Batman Producer honored with Exhibit: Comics as Cultural Mythology" Part 1 by Kalynn Huffman Brower. Accessed May 13, 2008
  13. ^ a b Bartlet, Eric (May 14, 2009). view archive/09may14.pdf "The winner of the 2008-09 Cadet Choice Award is..." Pointer View, Vol. 66, No. 18. p. 1. United States Military Academy (PDF).
  14. ^ Adair, Torsten. "Michael Uslan to Receive Honorary Doctorate from Monmouth University". Comics Beat, October 7, 2012. Accessed June 4, 2013.

External links

Batman

Batman is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. The character was created by artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger, and first appeared in Detective Comics #27, in 1939. Originally named the "Bat-Man", the character is also referred to by such epithets as the Caped Crusader, the Dark Knight, and the World's Greatest Detective.Batman's secret identity is Bruce Wayne, a wealthy American playboy, philanthropist, and owner of Wayne Enterprises. After witnessing the murder of his parents Dr. Thomas Wayne and Martha Wayne as a child, he swore vengeance against criminals, an oath tempered by a sense of justice. Bruce Wayne trains himself physically and intellectually and crafts a bat-inspired persona to fight crime.Batman operates in the fictional Gotham City with assistance from various supporting characters, including his butler Alfred, police commissioner Gordon, and vigilante allies such as Robin. Unlike most superheroes, Batman does not possess any superpowers; rather, he relies on his genius intellect, physical prowess, martial arts abilities, detective skills, science and technology, vast wealth, intimidation, and indomitable will. A large assortment of villains make up Batman's rogues gallery, including his archenemy, the Joker.

The character became popular soon after his introduction in 1939 and gained his own comic book title, Batman, the following year. As the decades went on, differing interpretations of the character emerged. The late 1960s Batman television series used a camp aesthetic, which continued to be associated with the character for years after the show ended. Various creators worked to return the character to his dark roots, culminating in 1986 with The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller. The success of Warner Bros. Pictures' live-action Batman feature films have helped maintain the character's prominence in mainstream culture.An American cultural icon, Batman has garnered enormous popularity and is among the most identifiable comic book characters. Batman has been licensed and featured in various adaptations, from radio to television and film, and appears in merchandise sold around the world, such as apparel, toys, and video games. The character has also intrigued psychiatrists, with many offering interpretations of his psyche. In 2015, FanSided ranked Batman as number one on their list of "50 Greatest Super Heroes In Comic Book History". Kevin Conroy, Rino Romano, Anthony Ruivivar, Peter Weller, Bruce Greenwood, Jason O'Mara, and Will Arnett, among others, have provided the character's voice for animated adaptations. Batman has been depicted in both film and television by Lewis Wilson, Robert Lowery, Adam West, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Christian Bale, and Ben Affleck.

Benjamin Melniker

Benjamin Melniker (May 25, 1913 – February 26, 2018) was an American film producer. He was an executive producer with Michael E. Uslan on the Batman film series and other DC Comics films. Melniker was also at one time a studio executive at MGM.

Dinosaucers

Dinosaucers is an animated television series co-produced in the United States and Canada. It was produced by DIC Animation City and originally aired in syndication in the United States in 1987 by Coca-Cola Telecommunications. A total of 65 episodes were made for the show's first-run syndication, but it only lasted one season.

There were originally plans by Galoob to release a Dinosaucers toyline, and prototype figures were produced; however, the line was scrapped after the show was canceled. The toys included Stego, Bronto-Thunder, Allo, Bonehead, Plesio, Quackpot, Ankylo, and Genghis Rex.

In 2018, creator Michael E. Uslan joined with publisher Lion Forge Comics to revive Dinosaucers as a comic book.

Lilly Library

The Lilly Library, located on the campus of Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, is an important rare book and manuscript library in the United States. At its dedication on October 3, 1960, the library contained a collection of 20,000 books, 17,000 manuscripts, more than fifty oil paintings, and 300 prints. Currently, the Lilly Library has 8.5 million manuscripts, 450,000 books, 60,000 comic books, 16,000 mini books, 35,000 puzzles, and 150,000 sheets of music.

World's Finest Comics

World's Finest Comics was an American comic book series published by DC Comics from 1941 to 1986. The series was initially titled World's Best Comics for its first issue; issue #2 (Summer 1941) switched to the more familiar name. Michael E. Uslan has speculated that this was because DC received a cease and desist letter from Better Publications, Inc., who had been publishing a comic book entitled Best Comics since November 1939. Virtually every issue featured DC's two leading superheroes, Superman and Batman, with the earliest issues also featuring Batman's sidekick, Robin.

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