This is the famous Batman poster
by Wes Wilson, his very first for Bill Graham. This poster may
be the rarest of the lot. You can see that Wes was immediately
exploring the possibility of wrapping lettering around shapes,
and in his next poster made the leap of creating shape with his
lettering, which became his hallmark. This poster was displayed
behind glass at the Funky Features house from 1966 until 1969,
then displayed in my home in London from 1970 until 1975, when
it was stored in my plan drawers in Los Angeles. Perfect condition.
20" (36cm X 51cm)
Batman was a big thing in late
'65 and early '66. I had painted 6 Batman comic pop art acrylic
paintings by March of 1966 and sold them all to big collectors
in San Francisco (one of them being the station manager of KFOG
in Ghiradelli Square, where it was displayed in their foyer).
So I can understand why Wes Wilson seized on the Batman image
for this poster. I was certainly into Art Kane's art (the creator
of Batman) in a big way at the time, and I'm sure Wes was as well.
When I formed Funky Features
with Funky Jack and Funky Sam (I was, of course, Funky Paul) our
"official" car became my beat-up Allard Palm Beach (aluminum
body on a tube frame, built in England...this company put out
a "J" series of racers in the early 50's, pre-dating
Cobras by a dozen years, that were lightweight British sports
cars with big Cadillac and Chrysler V-8's that positively flew!)
alas, my little Palm Beach was only fitted with an English Ford
Zephyr straight six and a short-course racing 3-speed gearbox
and rear-end (it was screaming at 60mph in third...but it got
there quick). The Allard used to race in club races held in Golden
Gate Park and had been rolled. It was given to me by a childhood
friend who had ambitious restoration plans, but never got round
One mad night, my artistic cousin
and I painted the Allard up like a shiny comic-book illustration....all
in blue and "outlined" in black with black "reflections."
It looked fantastic....right out of a comic book. We then made
a huge bat-tail and bat-face for it which we mounted on the car.
I then drove around town in the Funky Features Batmobile, thrilling
the public, and driving the cops bananas. It was the first psychedelic
car in San Francisco, sprouting scores of other like-minded crazies
to do up their cars as animals, spaceships, and what-have-yous.
Those were the days!
The SFPD had the last laugh,
though...they hijacked the wonderful Batmobile late one night
in early '68 and crushed it in the junkyard near Candlestick,
then held up their hands and said, "Gee, sorry....we made
a mistake!" Yeah. Such an ignominious end to such a nuts
piece of rolling sculpture. To be fair, I think the thing that
really got their goat was the sign on the rear that said, "This
car is on official business, so don't fuck with it." Red
flag to a bull, maybe?
I wish you coulda been there.