It was business as usual for Michael Uslan last week, chatting up New Jersey from the West Coast. Uslan is the producer of every Batman motion picture, and was at ComicCon San Diego to promote The Dark Knight Rises, out July 20.
A Bayonne native, Uslan is an Essex county resident, running his busy production company from home and “my phone and laptop. I do pay a penance for living in New Jersey; typically I am in Los Angeles 10 days a month. My wife says she should send my mail to the President’s Club at Newark Airport.”
As an attorney for United Artists in the 1970s, Uslan was still nurturing an outsized childhood love of comics, when he had the brainstorm to purchase the Batman film rights from DC Comics. He quit his job, headed for Hollywood, sure of success.
He was wrong.
“I was turned down by every studio: ‘We can’t do dark heroes.’ ‘ We can’t do films based on old TV series.’ It was a ten year human endurance contest,” Uslan explains, before his first Batman film debuted, to raves.
In the two-plus decades since, Uslan has produced or worked on some two dozen films and TV productions (an Emmy for Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?), in animation, theater, comic books, novels, graphic novels, children’s books – and even designed a local art exhibit.
“But basically I’m a writer, and one of the world’s biggest comic book geeks,” he notes. He recently completed a new Batman comic book, a graphic novel about The Shadow, and the coffee table book, Archie Marries, updating the vintage comic.
Uslan’s company has about a dozen projects in development; next up is a “two-part, direct-to-DVD Batman animation (the most adult ever made)” He’s also lectured to some 65 universities and organizations in the last year or so, and is still promoting his memoir released last fall, The Boy Who Loved Batman.
Yet amidst his busy schedule, Uslan is making time for a private lunch with the high bidder in a silent auction sponsored by Bangz Salon and Wellness Spa, to benefit The Books and Beyond Project. His wife, Nancy Uslan, spearheads the organization, which brings together students in Newark, at Indiana University (his alma mater), and in Rwanda, for cross-cultural reading and creative writing projects.
“This effort is changing the lives of all the students; it’s an amazing program having a wonderful impact globally,” he says.
Bids can be made at Bangz until July 31 (winner also gets a $75 Bangz gift certificate and autographed copy of Uslan’s autobiography). All bids will be donated to Books and Beyond, a registered nonprofit.
What will he and the winner discuss? “We can talk Batman, making movies, Nancy’s project, Hollywood, comic books — or the Yankees! Whatever, it will be a fun sit down.” Globe-trotting Uslan assures it won’t take place at an airport lounge!