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Interview: Adam West (Kind Of) Remembers Reno, Reveals Fav Batman Onomatopoeia Fight Word

Courtesy Wizard World Comic Con

  Fans of super heroes and science fiction will descend on Reno this weekend for the Wizard World Comic Con. Several celebrities will also make appearances, including Adam West, better known as Batman. Reno Public Radio's Julia Ritchey called up the actor to talk about his long career.

Hollywood legend Adam West has been in the business for 60 years, with more than 180 acting credits to his name. Of course, he's probably best known for his role as Batman in the 1960s series alongside Burt Ward as Robin and Julie Newmar as Catwoman.

The 87-year-old actor says he accepts his role as a pop culture icon and enjoys meeting fans at comic cons like the one being held this Saturday at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center.

"I've been to Reno many times over the last 50 years," he says. "Look, my job is to make people happy, and Batman has made them [fans] happy, and that's why I like to go to the comic cons to meet people."

West wouldn't indicate whether he had a favorite Batman — other than himself — from the many reboots and updates to the franchise over the years, but did lament the trend toward darker super heroes. 

"[Anti-heroes are] interesting in literature to a certain extent, but I'm really beginning to feel adverse — well even more than adverse — almost emotionally angry about the violence and the bloodshed and the explosions and the killings," he says. "It's not good for the kids." 

Credit Courtesy Wizard World Comic Con

  In 1968, during the height of Batmania, West starred alongside William Shatner in a failed TV pilot about Alexander the Great, a project West described as "horrible." He said even then, it hadn't dawned on either of them how deeply ingrained in popular culture they would become.

"Neither one of us realized that we were pop culture icons at all — that took about 30 years," he says. "We're stuck with the characters we created to a large degree because they made people happy. And I decided that while we were shooting that horrible pilot that because Batman made people happy, I should be happy."

Burt Ward, who played Robin in the Batman series, will also be attending the Wizard World Comic Con alongside West, who describes their off-screen relationship as distant.

"We don't have the same lifestyles and we don't live in the same areas," he says.

But he says they manage to put those differences aside when they're at comic book conventions.

"That chemistry that occurred between us with those characters comes right back, as soon as we're on the same stage again.  It gets nutty again, it gets Laurel and Hardy or Abbott and Costello."

Perhaps one of the cheesiest parts of the original Batman series were the onomatopoeia fight words like "POW" or "BAM" that would appear on screen during an altercation with a super villain. 

Asked for his favorite onomatopoeia word from the show, he says: "I guess it might be BAROOOM!"

"You know what it spells?" he joked. "BAROOM."

West will appear at the Wizard World Comic Con for a Q&A session at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center at 5 p.m. on Saturday. 

Julia Ritchey is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.