GHOSTMAN BAT

Real Name: Bat 

Identity/Class: Vampire;
     presumably British citizen 

Occupation: Ghostman (delivery man who delivers ghosts), letter answerer for It's Wicked! 

Group Membership: Ghost Office

Affiliations: Ghostmaster, Ghost Office Inspector, Gordon Gremlin, Great Great Uncle Batty, Indiana Smith, Rat, Slimer;
    revealed knowledge of personal details for in his Bat Chat page: Dunstable D. Dragon, Ghosthunters (Joe Mole, Moe Mole), Ghoul School Headmaster, the Inventor, Miss Rancid, Mummy's Boy, Toad in the Hole, Winnie the Witch Doctor

Enemies: Awkward ghosts, difficult householders, Skinflint

Known RelativesMaud (aunt), Batty (great great uncle), unidentified parents

Aliases: Batty

Base of Operations: Ghost Office

First Appearance: It's Wicked!#1/3 (20th May 1989)

Powers/Abilities: Ghostman Bat can fly and turn intangible, allowing him to pass through doors.

Height: Unrevealed
Weight: Unrevealed
Eyes: Unrevealed
Hair: Black

History:
(It's Wicked!#8 "Bat Chat" letters column) - As a young vampire, Bat was naughty and didn't drink his daily pint of milk, resulting in a calcium deficiency that meant his teeth grew crooked and weak. Eventually they all fell out, except for a single one in the middle (see comments).

(It's Wicked!#16 "Bat Chat" letters column) - He inherited his pointy ears from his parents, both of whom were also vampires.

(It's Wicked!#1 "Bat Chat" letters column) - Reaching middle age Bat retired from bloodsucking, finding that stalking victims really took it out of him. Like many other middle aged vampires, he looked for gainful employment rather than returning to a lonely grave, and in Bat's case, he became a Ghostman, delivering not only letters but also haunting apparitions to people's homes.

(It's Wicked!#11 "Bat Chat" letters column) - People who discovered their homes were haunted but didn't relish having spooks wandering around their rooms could send for Bat to remove the ghosts and take them back to the Ghost Office. There the specters would stay until Bat (or his superiors, presumably) heard of someone who needed teaching a lesson.

(It's Wicked!#8 "Bat Chat" letters column) - Finding a rat scurrying around in the gutter of her street, an old woman sent the rodent to Ghostman Bat, thinking he would make a good and trustworthy assistant (she was wrong). Bat never named it, unless "you dirty rat" or "Oi, you!" counts. (see comments) 

(It's Wicked!#9 "Bat Chat" letters column) - At some point Bat met the ghost Slimer, who he got on with so long as Slimer wasn't trying to slime him.

(It's Wicked!#16 "Bat Chat" letters column) - Slimer was the only ghost that ever tried to possess Bat, doing so while trying to slime him. Bat only managed to get rid of him by threatening him with expulsion from It's Wicked!

(It's Wicked!#15 "Bat Chat" letters column) - He was also good buddies with Gordon Gremlin. Bat's boss had no problem with his undead nature, since he was a ghost himself.

(It's Wicked!#1/3) - Ghostman Bat set out with a heavy mailbag in the company of his black and white rat to deliver to a miserly old man living at number 13. Hearing the postman, the elderly gentleman hurried downstairs, anticipating that his recently deceased rich Uncle Mort might have left him antiques or vintage cars, but outside Bat was arguing with his bag's unseen contents, telling it there was no use struggling. As his delivery slithered through the mail slot, Bat explained to his unseen audience that as a ghostman it was his job to deliver ghosts. Inside, the old man was nearly at the front door when he was terrified by a looming specter, his Uncle Mort's ancestral ghost. Back outside, Bat continued on his rounds, singing his own theme tune. 

(It's Wicked!#2/3) - Bat struggled with a Dataghost package that had to be delivered that night, as the ghost inside refused to enter its new home. When Bat finally forced it through the mail slot, the ghost immediately slipped back out through the keyhole. Rat taped over the keyhole to prevent a repeat while Bat again tried to push the ghost into the house. Struggling to fit the ghost through the slot again because it was so fat, Bat flattened it using a garden roller and slipped it under the door, but when Bat peeked inside through the mail slot, he saw that the ghost was now hiding under the welcome mat. Getting angry, Bat yanked the ghost out and shoved his rat through the slot instead; the ghost thought for a moment that he was saved, until the home owner came barreling out the front door because he was terrified of rats, knocking the ghost over. While the ghost was stunned and the front door open, Bat hastily threw it inside and strolled off singing, happy the job was finally done. 

(It's Wicked!#3/3) - Despite his protests that he didn't want to do it, Bat's Inspector assigned him to deliver Ghostograms, which were not considered successful deliveries unless they scared the recipient. He posted a spectral skeleton through the mail slot, but the house's residents were having a party, and instead of being frightened decided the skeleton looked undernourished and offered him food. Next he tried a more traditional sheet ghost, but the revelers announced that "her dress" looked lovely and started dancing with the surprised spook. Thinking fast, Bat delivered the only thing he had left in his mail bag, a letter. Luckily, it proved to be a gas central heating bill, which was so scary it caused all the party goers to run away screaming.

(It's Wicked!#4/3) - Bat delivered to a man who had just won the football pools, correctly predicting the results of eight consecutive matches. The man raced out in excitement expecting to claim his winnings, but Bat had taken the man's identification as a pool winner literally and delivered an inflatable swimming pool, which the man fell into. As the man resurfaced to be confronted by a large, angry looking octopus, Bat gleefully told him there was an added bonus, eight legs for eight draws. The octopus engulfed the man in its tentacles, prompting a chortling Bat to note that it clearly liked him. Walking away as the octopus began juggling its victim in the air, now compacted into a ball, Bat laughingly told his rat that the man had thought winning the pools wouldn't change him. 

(It's Wicked!#5/3) - When his delivery van conked out, Bat checked under the hood and found that the battery was flat. He tried to use his cell phone to call for assistance, but found its battery was flat too, prompting him to accuse Rat of using it to call his friends. Trying to help, Rat fetched a large envelope out of Bat's bag and rolled it up to create a megaphone, but even shouting through this didn't make enough noise to get the attention of a snoozing mechanic at a nearby garage. Bat told Rat that they needed something louder, so Rat produced a spring-loaded rat trap and held it out to Bat. Curious, he leaned forward...and the trap sprang shut on his long nose. The resulting scream of anguish alerted the mechanic, who worked to get the delivery van going again while an enraged Bat chased Rat around threatening to turn it into ratatouille. 

(It's Wicked!#6/3) - Bat tried to deliver a TV licence reminder bill, but the householder did his best to ensure it couldn't be delivered, shooting Bat out of the air with a seltzer bottle (or small fire extinguisher) and blowing Rat out of the overflow pipe when he tried to get in that way. Deciding to teach the man manners, Bat sent in his Great Great Uncle Batty, the "hanging judge," who scared the householder into swiftly paying his bill. 

(It's Wicked!#7/3) - Bat delivered a large number of letters to a young man living at number nine, but when he asked the sulky youth who all the letters were from the boy slammed the door in his face, trapping his nose in the mail slot. Despite storming off angrily, vowing to get revenge, the next day Bat again delivered a pile of letters with a smile. However, when he tried once more to be friendly and asked who was sending the lad so many letters, the boy squirted him in the face with ink while rudely proclaiming that they were from pen pals, adding he had pen friends in every country. Bat strode away muttering in rage "not every country." Later he returned with a thin parcel and slipped it through the letterbox, telling Rat this was a pen friend the boy wouldn't already have. Inside the kid eagerly ripped open the package, keen to learn what surprise he had been sent, and was terrified when a ghoulish specter armed with a quill pen emerged and began scrawling on the wall while he cowered in fright in the corner of the room. Glancing in the window, Bat laughed to Rat that it appeared the boy wasn't too sure about his new Transylvanian pen pal. 

(It's Wicked!#8/3) - When a ghost decided to haunt the post box it had been put into by a sender, Bat was sent by the Ghostmaster to extract it. He started by trying to frighten it by popping a picture of a tough looking boxer in through the postal slot, but the ghost was so scary that the photo came out looking frightened. Switching tactics, Bat used a fishing line baited with a stamp which stuck to the ghost's nose, allowing Bat to pull it out. Checking the envelope the ghost had escaped from to see where it was to go, Bat realized in horror it had been sent to him by his Auntie Maud. Chased round his house by the "present," Bat swore to write a thank you letter to her, with the ghost enclosed.  

(It's Wicked!#9/3) - While approaching a house to deliver to, Bat told Rat that the resident was a real romantic with many admirers. The door was opened by a beautiful woman who asked an instantly eager Bat if he was playing "Ghostman's knock." The woman puckered up, asking how many kisses were needed, but then noticed that the letter was not for her, and asked if it was for the other person living in the house. Still eager, Bat happily concurred, until he realized that was a wrinkly 101 year old woman. Hastily Bat corrected himself, telling the two women that it wasn't for her, or Ghostman's knock at all. The young woman then asked with a smile if it was a Valentine's card, which Bat gladly confirmed with a quick glance at the mail. However, the woman's mood instantly turned violent, and she grabbed the unfortunate Ghostman demanding to know why it was six months late. After pounding him severely, she slammed the door shut, leaving a bruised Bat lying on the path. 

(It's Wicked!#10/4) - Bat attempted to deliver bills to Skinflint's house, but his first try was stopped when Skinflint triggered a trapdoor in the path leading to the front door. On a subsequent attempted Bat managed to hand over some junk mail, but Skinflint folded his bank statement into a paper airplane and threw it away, rammed a Excess card application into Bat's mouth, and impaled the forms to apply for a Batleycard onto the Ghostman's pointy ears. When Skinflint tauntingly asked Bat if there was anything else, Bat dived into his sack saying he had Skinflint's new American Star Express. This proved to be a spectral steam train that deluged the old miser with sacks of bills he had been avoiding.

(It's Wicked!#11 (fb) - BTS) - Bat got his teeth fixed so he had a full set again. 

(It's Wicked!#11/4) - When the human postmen complained to Bat about being constantly bitten by the dog living at number ten, he volunteered to take over the deliveries to that address. It proved to be Baskerville Towers, complete with a huge, fierce dog, but Bat simply flew into the air, then swung down behind the confused mutt and bit it on the rear. After delivering the post, Bat departed, pausing only to once more terrorize the hound. The next day Bat had a special urgent delivery for number ten, but this time the dog didn't give him any trouble. Noticing the resident's evident surprise when he opened the package, Bat enquired what it was, then left laughing upon learning that the dog had ordered a sign: "Beware of the Ghostman."

(It's Wicked!#12/4) - Wondering aloud about a parcel he had to handle, Bat's curiosity was only further aroused when it told him to hurry up with the delivery, so he got Rat to bite through the string keeping it closed, to find inside a ghostly head. Pointing out to Rat that the head couldn't harm them, Bat warned it to stop giving them a hard time and began tickling it mercilessly until it acquiesced. Getting to the house where the parcel was addressed to, Bat had barely reached the door when someone snatched it from his hands by a ghostly body. Now intact once more and no longer defenseless, the ghost gave Bat a kicking for his earlier rudeness. 

(It's Wicked!#13/4) - Noting that he had a particularly heavy mail bag today, Bat checked the sack to see why. He noticed he had a lot of holiday "Ghost-cards" including some showing ghosts moonbathing at midnight, another from the Ghosta-del-Sol, one with a stamp depicting a headless woman that he identified as Henry the VIII's wife, and two from Scotland, one of which gave off Scotch mist, and the other of Loch Ness - which moments later disgorged a monster! Coming to one of his delivery addresses, he noticed that the card for there had no stamps, meaning he would have to charge the recipient for excess postage. However, a gigantic ghost came out of the house when he knocked and chased him to where he had left his sack. Quickly diving into the bag, Bat pulled out another card for him - a red card, which sent him sloping off shamefaced.   

(It's Wicked!#14/4) - Rat was surprised by Bat's distress upon learning he had a letter to deliver to I. Smith, but the reason swiftly became apparent as soon as Bat opened the gate into Smith's garden, triggering a hatch in the path that unleashed venomous snakes. However, the snakes recoiled when Bat revealed his own fangs. As they progressed down the path a massive boulder came hurtling towards them, but Bat simply pulled Baron Frankenstein's giant electricity bill from his sack, ducked under it, and used it as a ramp so the boulder went flying harmlessly over their heads. As they entered a tunnel, Bat suddenly shouted at Rat "Duck"; sure enough, a duck (and a spear) shot overhead, spotted in the dark thanks to Bat's vampiric vision. With his curiosity piqued, Rat asked Bat who I. Smith was, but his answer was provided instead by the man himself as he came the house to get his mail, dressed in a leather jacket, wearing a wide-brimmed fedora and carrying a bullwhip. Handing it over, Bat stated how glad he was that Indiana Smith only got fan mail occasionally.

(It's Wicked!#15/4) - Finding that today's delivery included a parcel for the museum, Bat peeked inside, prompting the ghost of Napoleon to emerge. Unfortunately, when Napoleon revealed that the reason he always kept one hand inside his jacket was because that was where he had stored the Duke of Wellington's stolen jelly babies, this drew the Duke's ghost out of another parcel. The two began to fight, but Rat drove them back into their respective boxes using a boom box playing "rat rad," and he and Bat swiftly tied up both parcels again. When he handed over the two parcels at the museum, the curator noticed this and queried whether Bat had been reading his mail again; Bat lied, claiming they had just burst open, and he'd had quite a battle getting the contents back in. 

(It's Wicked!#16/4) - Seeing that he had a book club delivery, Bat once more opened the post for a look, discovering he was delivering a horrible cook book. When Rat heard him say there was a recipe for "rat and chips (french fries)," he hurriedly dug up the potatoes in a nearby garden and threw them away, much to Bat's amusement. Gleefully Bat mentioned another recipe was for "rat soup," prompting Rat to turn off the town's water supply on the grounds that you couldn't make soup without water. To Rat's horror, Bat then mentioned "rat-infested custard," so Rat used a fake sign to divert a lorry delivering custard powder into the Ghostly Woods. Reaching the recipient's house, they were greeted by an obese man who joyfully announced that he was looking forward to making "bat curry." No longer amused, Bat launched into the air above the man and dropped the heavy book on his head, knocking him out cold. Walking away from the flattened man, Bat informed Rat that he knew another recipe: "human pancake."  

(It's Wicked!#17/4) - Bat was perturbed when a love letter he delivered to a young lady proved to contain an eyeball, which the recipient thought was cute, stating that her boyfriend from Transylvania wanted to keep an eye on her. The next day he delivered another letter, and was literally floored when she pulled out a pair of lips and grinning teeth, noting that her boyfriend had sent her a kiss. The third day it was a heavy parcel, and when the woman opened it she said her boyfriend had sent her his love. Afraid to ask, Bat nevertheless queried how he had done that, and she pulled out a wind-up heart. Seeing Bat faint, the girl dragged him inside for a reviving cup of tea, and reassured him that he wouldn't have to deliver any more letters from her boyfriend. Bat admitted that would be a relief, but asked why; the girl responded that he had been sending himself to her piece by piece just as the man himself walked into the room, visibly held together by stitches. Freaked out, Bat and Rat fled, with Bat shouting back that he was going on holiday and didn't intend to send her a postcard. 

Comments: Created by John Geering.

   It's Wicked! was a strange departure for Marvel U.K. For those not used to British comics, while Britain did have some comics whose format was much more akin to American titles, the most common format for British comics was weekly titles split into multiple ongoing strips. Adventure series would usually be two or three pages per issue with an ongoing story, or story arcs, while humor strips were frequently one page and usually each issue's installment was self-contained. It was very common for humor strip characters in a given title to randomly pop up in another character's strip, as if they all lived in the same town, and breaking the fourth wall was likewise commonplace. Marvel U.K. was predominately adventure strips, based purely on the fact that they originally started with material reprinted from American Marvel titles. Even when Marvel U.K. began producing its own original material, they generally stuck to the adventure strip format, with humor strips normally only represented in three panel strips (similar in format to newspaper strips), usually on the inside front page.  By the mid-80s there was tiny bit of variation on this, with humor strips like Lew Stringer's Combat Colin getting a whole page to work with. Then, out of the blue, and overlapping the time that Marvel U.K. made tentative ventures into American format titles like Sleeze Brothers and Death's Head, along came the polar opposite, It's Wicked!, a humor title that was clearly trying to mimic the art and layout of Britain's highly successful Beano or Dandy comics, full of single or two page strips with anarchic but child friendly humor. The headline character was Slimer, borrowed from Marvel U.K.'s licensed title The Real Ghostbusters, but the indicia made it clear that everyone else belonged to Marvel (so who knows, we might one day see these characters again, like we have for the Star Comics characters). It wasn't a successful experiment, lasting only four months, but that didn't stop Marvel U.K. trying again later the same year with The Bog Paper, whose literal toilet humor motif seemed to be aiming more at luring in the audience served by Britain's Viz than the Beano.

   For those outside of the U.K.: Ghostman Bat and his Black and White Rat is a parody of British children's animated character Postman Pat (and his Black and White Cat), a.k.a Pat Clifton and Jess. A lot of the jokes in the series depend on understanding various aspects of British life and culture, such as the TV Licence, which every household who watches television is required by law to pay, and which goes to funding the BBC (hence why BBC programs do not have breaks for adverts when shown on British television).

   Ghostman Bat answered the Bat Chat reader's letters in every issue bar the last; I've only included notes of the ones that revealed more information about him, because "Ghostman Bat answered readers letters" repeated sixteen times would be extremely tedious to read.

   Bat was initially drawn with just a single tooth, and when a reader's letter asked about it, he replied that all the others had fallen out. However, a few later strips clearly showed him with at least two fangs. In the real world this probably just meant that not normally showing both fangs had been an artistic choice not intended as proof he only had the one, with someone other than the strip's creator just making up an answer to the reader's query, not realizing this would soon be contradicted. In story, it probably means Bat got another fang or two, whether dentures or regrown.  

Profile by Loki.

CLARIFICATIONS:
Ghostman Bat has no known connections to:


His Black and White Rat

    The Rat accompanied Ghostman Bat on all his deliveries. Most of the time he just watched Bat in action, or reacted in terror to frightening ghost, but occasionally he lent a helping hand, such as scaring a home-owner out of their house so Bat could put a particularly difficult ghost through the open door. He also sometimes annoyed Bat, such as when he deliberately tricked Bat into getting his nose painfully caught in a spring-loaded rat trap.

Comments: Early on he's just referred to as Bat's "black and white rat," to the point where an early letters column query is told that he has no name. However, in the final few issues Bat does refer to him as Rat.

   The audience sees Rat's thoughts but the only time he ever speaks to Bat is in It's Wicked!#14; the rest of the time, even when speaking would be helpful, he just expresses himself via gestures and facial expressions.

--It's Wicked!#1/3 (2/3-9/3, 10/4-17/4


(Ghost Office) Inspector

    The Inspector instructed Ghostman Pat to deliver Ghostograms, telling him they were all the rage, just like Kissograms. He later checked on Bat and was pleased to see a crowd of people running away in fright from the house Bat had just delivered to.

--It's Wicked!#3/3


Great Great Uncle Batty

    Ghostman Bat's Great Great Uncle Batty was known as the "hanging judge," though perhaps because he tended to hang on upside down to things rather than for sentencing people to be hung. Bat used him to scare a man who was trying to avoid paying his TV licence; after Great Great Uncle Batty sentenced him to watch the test card for 24 hours a day for two months, the recalcitrant householder rushed off to the Ghost Office to pay his licence.

--It's Wicked!#6/3


Auntie Maud

    Auntie Maud posted a particularly scary specter to Bat, but it refused to leave the post box until Bat literally fished it out. Unhappy with being haunted by her present, Bat intended to send it back in his thank you letter.

 

--It's Wicked!#8/3


Skinflint

    A miserly old man who did his best to avoid paying bills, generally by not accepting them in the post. He boobytrapped his pathway with a hidden pit, as well as throwing away mail he didn't want and manhandling Bat, until Bat used a ghost train to deluge him with more bills than he could deal with. 

 

--It's Wicked!#10/4


Indiana Smith

    An adventurer, Indiana Smith had set up his garden as a dangerous obstacle course. Though his vampiric skills allowed Bat to circumvent these dangers relatively easily, he still dreaded delivering the infrequent fan mail Smith got.

   And yes, of course he's obviously a parody of Indiana Jones.

--It's Wicked!#14/4


images: (without ads)
It's Wicked!#4/3, p2, pan 5 (main)
It's Wicked!#4/3, p1, pan 1 (headshot)
It's Wicked!#11/4, p2, pan 1 (biting the Baskerville hound)
It's Wicked!#4/3, p2, pan 5 (Rat)
It's Wicked!#3/3, p1, pan 1 (Inspector)
It's Wicked!#6/3, p2, pan 5 (Great Great Uncle Batty)
It's Wicked!#8/3, p1, pan 1 (Auntie Maud)
It's Wicked!#10/4, p1, pan 4 (Skinflint)
It's Wicked!#14/4, p2, pan 5 (Indiana Smith)


Appearances:
It's Wicked!#1-17 (20th May 1989-9th September 1989) - John Geering (writer, artist), Helen Stone (editor)


First Posted: 02/05/2019
Last updated: 02/05/2019

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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