From Marc Tyler Nobleman
Aug. 27, 2012
After six years of work, 34 rejections, multiple rumors debunked, and several new mysteries uncovered, my nonfiction picture book for older readers, Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman, is out.
Unprecedented in both subject and format, it tells the startling story of Bill Finger.
...designed Batman’s now-iconic costume.
...wrote the first Batman story.
...wrote many of the best Batman stories of his first 25 years, including his groundbreaking (and heartbreaking) origin.
...was the original writer of Robin, the Joker, and Catwoman.
...named Gotham City, the Batmobile, and Batman’s secret identity, Bruce Wayne.
...nicknamed Batman “the Dark Knight.”
But Bill who...
...was barely credited as a Batman writer—and never as co-creator—in his lifetime. He is not even in the credits of either film (The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises) named for the nickname he coined.
Because cartoonist Bob Kane, Bill’s onetime partner, took all the credit. In 1974, Bill died alone and poor. No obit. No funeral. No gravestone.
You do not have to be a Batman fan or even a superhero fan to find something worthwhile in this book. It contains the first "new" photos of Bill in decades and significant never-published info...including a bombshell with the potential to make pop culture history. Announcing it at Comic-Con International caused the crowd to erupt into applause.
My TED talk about Bill Finger and the tragedy of creators' rights
My interview on NPR's All Things Considered
“Purposefully and meaningfully (and beautifully) written.”
Thanks for reading to the end!
Please forward this to anyone who might be interested; of course spreading the word via Facebook, tweet, blog, Amazon/Good Reads review, interpretive sidewalk dance, or any other method, digital or otherwise, is deeply appreciated.
Justice has no expiration date.
Finger did tons of work for DC, but died relatively young and poor. (Dunno if he worked for other companies.) I'm glad someone's finally going to set the record straight on how much he contributed to Batman (that the talentless Bob Kane took the credit -- and the money -- for).
Julius Schwartz includes an anecdote in his autobiography (Man of Two Worlds) about a time when he was the new editor on the Bat-books and was sending a Batman page back to the bullpen for a minor fix. But just as he was, Bob Kane walked in to pick up his check. He thought, "Why, this is great! I can have Batman's creator make the fix!" So he gave it to Kane, who struggled and struggled and finally took it back to the bullpen himself. When he returned, Schwartz asked him what the problem was. Kane's response was, according to Schwartz, "Three little words. Not. Enough. Talent."
...Emmmm , even with that anecdote from Schwartz's book (which I read years ago and had mostly forgotten now , I guess) , are we sure that Bob - At least through the mid-late 40s - was " talentless " as a cartoonist , no matter what your opinion of his conduct may be ( And we'll save that - and his later years - for later . ) ???
My Captain , I submit that , throughout the 30s , Bob Kane was as reasonably talented as any other cartoonist in the early years of comic books .
As for how much art work he did on BATMAN , I have read that , at least o the life of the 1940s newspaper strip of Batty , he did a fair amount of cartooning work , concentrating more on the strip after it was launched ( Rather , perhaps , in keeping with many cartoonists of that period's attitude of " A syndicated strip's the Upper East Side/Elysium/Shangri-La/Hollywood/Broadway/hardcover , comic books are Hoboken/burlesque/Peoria/the Brooklyn circuit/vaudeville/the pulps " ? )
I recall E. Nelson Bridwell being quoted as saying that , inn his early years at DC , he would often see Kane - maybe it was not " over a drawing board " , but artistically involved , anyway .
Mightn't he at least have involved himself with corrections/touches on that percentage of " Bob Kane " stories that actually were " Bob Kane Studios " products ?????
Bluntly , cartoonists eventually promoting themselves out of cartooning - Especially in forms of cartooning other than comic books , I think !!!!!!! - has/have been a fairly established scenario/plot .
Oh , and when did Bill write the Challs , BTW ?
...George: Yes .
That's a well-established enough pattern to have been a plot angle in stories about comic-strip artists , a memorable CREEPY story for one - Oh , and some Hollywood movies , did both Jack Lemmon and Bob Hope star in movies where that was a plot angle/MacGuffin ?!?!?!?!?
George Poague said:
From what I've read, Kane was following the lead of most big-time newspaper cartoonists, which was to hire ghosts to produce most of the work as soon as they had some money to spend.
I think a distinction needs to be drawn between the use of assistants and the use of ghosts. Early on it was probably more that Kane used assistants. Later the work was simply ghosted. The Who Drew Batman? sub-website has useful information. Two points from its account to note: Kane initially stopped drawing stories for the comics because of the 1943-46 newspaper strip, and drew some more after it ended; Kane sometimes redrew figures in stories ghosted by Lew Schwartz, who worked on the feature in 1948-1953.
I read somewhere -- I think it's in the text material to my Dark Horse Comics collections of the Batman daily and Sunday newspaper comics strips -- that, for some reason, Kane would alter a figure on any given panel by drawing in the character's hand touching his chin.