Presented here are all three versions of the “Batman” poster originally created to sell tickets for Bill Graham’s second-ever weekend of dance concerts at San Francisco’s Fillmore Auditorium in March of 1966.
This Bill Graham Batman window display was the very first poster Graham commissioned to use psychedelic artwork, making it a landmark of sorts.
The Batman concert poster was printed on three different occasions – once before the shows, and twice more later to create merchandising items.
In this video, I display and explain all three versions of the Bill Graham Batman window card… and inform you how to tell the difference.
The Bill Graham Batman event poster is known in collector’s circles as BG-2, because it was the second in promoter Graham’s years-long series of concerts at the Fillmore, Fillmore West and Winterland.
Wes Wilson is the pioneering poster artist to be credited for the look of this Bill Graham Batman placard; his name appears in tiny print under Batman’s glove.
This was, by the way, Wilson’s first poster for the famous promoter; after finishing his Bill Graham Batman show poster, Wes would proceed to draw 44 more of the first 50 Bill Graham concert posters in 1966-67.
The first thing that strikes you visually about the Bill Graham Batman telephone pole poster is how cluttered all of the lettering is. Wilson used over 160 words in his artwork, squeezing in everything Graham threw at him.
Another unusual feature noticeable on this Bill Graham Batman announcement is that one headliner did not hold down the whole weekend, which was usually the case. Instead, the musical line-up varied from night to night.
To that point, here is the complete musical line-ups for the three nights:
Friday, March 18 – The Mystery Trend, Big Brother and the Holding Company (sans Janis Joplin), The Family Tree
Saturday, March 19 – Quicksilver Messenger Service, The Family Tree, The Gentlemen’s Band
Sunday, March 20 – The Quicksilver Messenger Service, The Great Society, The Skins
Besides this Bill Graham Batman ticket poster, on only two other occasions in 1966 would Graham split up the headlining position over the course of three nights. Usually he preferred to have one band top-billed for the whole weekend.
The ticket-buying locations stated at the bottom of this BG-2 window card happen to be the same five outlets which were listed on Graham’s first poster, BG-1, six weeks earlier: S.F. State College, The Psychedelic Shop, City Lights Bookstore, ASUC box office and, in Berkeley, Campus Records.
Check out the way Wes Wilson had all three characters on his Bill Graham Batman poster say (or think) something clever. First Batman says, “Look, Robin! There’s a message on its back!” And then Robin replies, “Batman! Could it be a vile trick?” That’s followed by the mynah bird chipping in, “Robin thinks I’m a trick but I’m not, I’m just a free bird!!” I wonder why Wilson had the bird thinking his line, when he’s supposed to be a talking bird?
The contest to win that very bird on this BG-2 concert poster is a head scratcher. The poster states, “All ticket holders are eligible to win – drawing Sunday night – winner MUST be present.” So that meant all Friday & Saturday night concert-goers had to return Sunday evening if they wanted a shot at winning the talking bird. Bizarre. Maybe business was terribly slow on Sunday for Graham’s first weekend at the venue six weeks earlier.
Of all the Fillmore concert posters churned out over the years, this Bill Graham Batman broadside is unique in that it advertised a film festival which offered free giveaways like Batman sweatshirts, comic books and photos.
The poster also proclaims: “Batman Movies Chapters 1 – 2 – 3… Plus Many Other Sights & Sounds.” You might recall that the BG-1 concert poster carried the phrase, “With Sights and Sounds of the Trips Festival!”
Undoubtedly, a key inspiration for Wes Wilson to create his Batman BG-2 poster was the new, campy Batman television series, which had just premiered on national TV a few weeks earlier.
As for dimensions, this Bill Graham Batman show placard measures 14 by 20 inches. All three printings were done on a yellow – or tan, some say – paper.
If your Bill Graham Batman sign has a printer’s union bug down in the lower left-hand corner, that’s the tip that it’s the second printing. I provide more details in the video.
It’s interesting to note that while this Bill Graham Batman concert placard consists mostly of psychedelic lettering, it uses plain old-fashioned type-set letters on Batman’s bicep to inform punters that “black light will be provided,” so you should dress for the occasion.
This Bill Graham Batman billboard is combed over in great detail by poster hound Pete Howard, who can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone through 805.540-0020. I will pay TOP DOLLAR, PERIOD for any of the three printings of this particular Bill Graham poster – one of my favorites in the series.
To see more classic psychedelic concert posters from the turbulent sixties, please visit http://www.postercentral.com/psychedelic.htm