Mike Uslan grew up in Deal Park, New Jersey. His older brother, Paul, first introduced him to comic books and he quickly became a fanatic, attaining a collection of over 30,000 comics by the time he graduated high school.
Although he grew up in a time when Frederick Wertham lead the nation in a fear-based crusade against comic books, his parents didn't buy into the hype and allowed him to keep his collection. He developed a love for Batman, and when it was announced that there would be a Batman television series on ABC, he was understandably excited. However, when the show premiered on January 12, 1966, he was mortified. His favorite character had become a joke, a victim of the campy culture of the 60's. From that day forward, Uslan promised to bring a dark, serious Batman to the silver screen, returning the character to his roots.
College, DC Comics and the Journey to Hollywood
Uslan attended Indiana University. The school was accepting course ideas from students at the time. If any student could get a member of the staff to back their concept, they could pitch to a board consisting of the dean and several professors to get the course accredited. He had the idea to pitch a course on comic book history.
With his long hair, love beads and Spider-Man t-shirt, Uslan marched in, met with the dean, who looked at him with utter disdain and said, "So you're the one who wants to have a course on funny books?"
Michael continued with his pitch, unshaken by the deans comment. He spoke passionately, telling the dean that comic books were a full-blown mythology. The Greeks called him Hermes, the Romans called him Mercury, we call him the Flash. The Greeks called him Poseidon, the Romans called him Neptune, we call him Aquaman. By the time he finished, he had won over the dean, who confessed that he was a fan of Superman as a boy. He quickly made history, starting the first fully accredited college course on comics.
While he was in college, he began working at DC Comics under Sol Harrsion, then-president of DC.
After he graduated college, Uslan got right on the trail to achieving his dream of getting work in Hollywood and eventually making a serious Batman film, but he found it harder then he thought. He realized that his only option was to go to law school and work for an entertainment law firm to understand the business end of film making.
Although he hated every minute he was in law school, Michael continued through it, knowing it was either this or giving up on his dream. He continued to work at DC, and even got the opportunity to step in for Denny O'Neil and write an issue of The Shadow, which he came up with on the spot.
Shortly after his first comic book script was published, he was approached by Julie Schwarts who gave Uslan a great honor by telling him that his script did not, in fact, stink. Schwarts offered Uslan and opportunity to write Batman and he graciously accepted.
Uslan graduated from law school, worked at an entertainment firm for four years, then began making regular trips to Hollywood from his home in New Jersey in order to pitch his Batman film to every producer in the business. Unfortunately, they all slammed their doors in his face. The campy 60's image had become more ingrained in people's minds than he thought. No one wanted a dark, serious comic book movie, ESPECIALLY not one involving Batman. After 10 long years, fighting Hollywood every step of the way, Michael Uslan finally got to sit down in a theater and watch his dream come to life. Tim Burton's 1989 film, Batman, shattered box office records and became a world wide phenomenon. Uslan had finally won over the world, and Batman got his chance to shine.
Michael Uslan published his memoir, The Boy Who Loved Batman, in 2010. It has recieved critical acclaim from both comic book fans and people who have never read a comic in their lives. He continues to speak at conventions and other events, sharing his experience and his philosophy with people, advising them to follow their dreams, and not be a "coulda been".
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