July 20, 2008

Holy collections, Batman!

Comics, figures, even a Hall of Justice, Ben Jeddrie’s been amassing his superhero’s stuff since he was a kid.
Article by Bill Spurr / Photo by Jeff Harper [Via The Chronicle Herald]
Halifax, Nova Scotia

THE ONE THING that would make Ben Jeddrie’s collection more impressive is a Bat-maid. Jeddrie’s collection of Batman memorabilia, and assorted other superhero stuff, has taken over his Halifax apartment so completely that even Alfred the butler couldn’t keep it all straight. There’s a Batmobile, a Hall of Justice, a Bat-copter hanging from the ceiling, untold numbers of action figures. And comics. An amazing pile of comics.

"I have a collector’s mentality so when I’d get a new comic, I’d hang on to it and that just sort of amassed over the years. So much of it is Batman, not because I’d go looking for it, but because there is so much Batman stuff and so much cool Batman stuff," Jeddrie said.

"I’ve been reading comic books for so long, it’s always been a part of my awareness of the world. I’ve always known who they were and what they do, just like you know what a fireman is, what a cowboy is, cars and trucks, Batman, Superman, Spider-Man."

Jeddrie doesn’t know how many pieces are in his collection and when he says "I have tons of the comic books," the people in the apartment below should be concerned. He was just a kid when the Batman movie was reborn in 1989, and since friends and family knew of his devotion to comics, it was natural that when they saw Batman merchandise, they bought it for young Ben.

"Right now, I’m really gravitating toward the same Batman that I liked when I was a kid, very tall Batman in the blue and grey, very ’70s-early ’80s style, very athletic, not so mean," he said.

"Oftentimes they draw him very beefy these days. That’s one of the great things about Batman, though. He’s so much more open to interpretation than most. That’s also one of the reasons that there’s Batman stuff that you might not like, that someone took this tack on it. It’s the same thing with all the different movies that they’ve done."

Director Tim Burton made four Batman movies, and The Dark Knight is the second by director Christopher Nolan. Batman first appeared in comics in 1939 and on the big screen in 1943, evolving into the campy version of the mid-’60s.

The character has gone through so many incarnations, Jeddrie said they’re almost impossible to count.

"Every year, 12 new issues of Batman come out, 12 new issues of Detective Comics, and there’s always lots of side ones, special graphic novels, a new toy, and sometimes they’ll do a new toy because someone thought, ‘Hey, let’s do a Batman like this,’ so there are almost limitless variations," he said.

"A lot of the appeal to me is the variation on him. Sometimes he’s a brightly coloured cartoon character who has gone on adventures to other planets, and sometimes he’s a shadowy figure of the night that you don’t even know exactly what he looks like. He never comes out into the light, he doesn’t talk to anybody. There are so many things that can be done with him."

An employee at the Halifax comic book shop Strange Adventures, Jeddrie scored a ticket to an advance screening of The Dark Knight, which opened Friday. He didn’t have high hopes for it.

"I’m still a bigger fan of the Adam West version, just because there’s something really entertaining about those. They’re really silly but they kind of knew it. They played it like they didn’t, but they knew they were making a big comedy based around these silly comics. The second Tim Burton, Batman Returns, is a very good movie but from my perspective it’s not much of a Batman movie. It doesn’t take a lot of cues from any of the comics that were around before. It’s much more just a Tim Burton movie. It’s a similar thing with the ones they’re doing now, where it’s very much about what the guy making the movie wants to do."

Anyone who was a kid when the Batman and Robin television series was on (BIFF! ZOWIE! KA-POW!) remembers the theme song and the gadgets the dynamic duo had at their disposal, like the Bat-cycle and the Bat-poles. Or, how when they returned to the Bat Cave, the floor rotated the Batmobile into position so it didn’t have to be backed out into the driveway with the drawbridge-style hedge.

Jeddrie said it’s tough to pick his favourite piece of Batman equipment.

"The utility belt is great because, theoretically, it has whatever he needs in it, and it’s always been a stylish accessory," he said.

"I like a lot of the stuff he has in the Bat Cave. If you get a good look at the Bat Cave, there’s a big dinosaur there, there’s a giant penny and these are actually from pretty obscure stories from the early days of Batman."
"Batman, out of all the superheroes, appeals the most to people who don’t have any interest in reading comics. You’ll find more people who don’t read comics have Batman shirts and Batman hats or a picture on the wall. I’ve been wondering about that for a long time, and I don’t know if I’ll ever figure it out."

- BEN JEDDRIE: Collector

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

kudos to the makers of Dark Knight for their record breaking opening weekend... it's no wonder there's talk of another one coming out ASAP