SAN DIEGO (USA TODAY) -- Holy humor, Batman! The Caped Crusader is a funny guy.
At least Adam West is. Asked if he misses the cape and costume from his tongue-in-cheek 1960s TV series, the actor whose name is synonymous with Batman for baby boomers shifts his authoritative baritone, sounding like a self-serious mentor talking to "old chum" Robin.
"Some nights, I wear my cape and I go out on the pier," he says, pausing each few words for effect. "It is foggy … I look for … Riddler."
West, 85, who also played Batman's alter ego, Bruce Wayne, is in San Diego Thursday to promote the Nov. 11 release of Batman: The Complete Television Series. The long-awaited DVD/Blu-Ray edition, held up for years reportedly because of rights issues, includes all 120 episodes of the 1966-68 ABC series, which burned brightly but quickly over its three-season run.
"The new movies have so much talent and expertise and production values, but our little TV show and our earlier movie go on and on," he says during an interview before a Comic-Con panel with Burt Ward, who played Robin, and Julie Newmar, who played Catwoman. "We're not grotesque in any way. We're maybe bizarre and zany. We have the splash, the adventure, the costumes (and) the crazy villains for the kids and the adults enjoy the satire."
Although the series was popular and has spawned a recent comic-book series, Batman '66, West's lighter take on the Dark Knight, in stark contrast to later dramatic portrayals, hasn't always been embraced.
"When I started in that first pilot with Frank Gorshin as Riddler, I got quite a bit of criticism," he says. "They wanted the character more Lone Ranger, but my sensibility told me that if I played it with a kind of twinkle, looser and in a more bizarre, funny way, that it might have some longevity. And maybe I was right. It looks pretty good now."
West has many favorite guest villains from the '60s series. "No. 1 was Frank Gorshin as Riddler, because Frank always played with manic intensity and it was good to play off," he says. "Burgess Meredith (as The Penguin), Cesar Romero (as The Joker). My God, they were good. They were high-energy, prepared and they always brought something fresh."
Asked about Newmar, he says, "I didn't want to talk about Julie, because I get curious stirrings in my utility belt."
West, so associated with Batman, is iconic in his own right, too, voicing the character of Adam West on such animated series as Family Guy and The Fairly OddParents.
"I really don't think much about (iconic status). I just try to do it to make people happy and to make them laugh. It's a wonderful thing for me," he says.
Although West has received many benefits from his association with the DC Comics hero, he suffered the actor's scourge: typecasting.
"When you run around in a funny costume and fight crime 24/7, some old-guard producers think, 'That's just natural and that's what he does always.' But they're forgetting that now," says the actor, who says he has been busy with projects, including Family Guy and a Warner Bros. venture that he can't discuss in detail.
West is proud of the iconic Batman character, which Ben Affleck will play in an upcoming film, but actually wearing the cape and cowl posed challenges.
"The costume was uncomfortable. The cowl was very tight and I couldn't see down and around, but you deal with those things. They paid me well," he says. "You make the costume work for you. Ben Affleck, if you're (reading), make the costume work for you!"