Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Batman’s Pal, Bill Finger

Ask most Batfans who created the Caped Crusader in 1939 and you will get the answer….Bob Kane. And that is correct…to a point. Bob Kane was indeed ONE of the two creators of Batman.

The other, equally important father of the Dark Knight was a man named Bill Finger.

Charged by DC Comics to come up with a new character to ride the wave (make that Tsunami) created by Superman the year before, Kane did indeed come up with the basic concept for the Batman. His earliest drawings featured no cowl, and no cape.

Instead Bat-Man sported a domino mask and wings. His costume was reddish with no gloves. It was Finger who suggested the cowl and cape, gloves and the removal of the red highlights. The visual depiction that we see of Batman today owes as much to Finger as it does to Kane.

But Finger’s input into Batman’s look was not the most important contribution he made to the character’s genesis. Bill actually wrote the very first Batman story for Detective Comics #27 (May 1939) as well as his second appearance.

Bill’s contributions go even further as he played a major role in the creation of Robin The Boy Wonder and of Batman’s most important foe, The Joker. Finger also created The Riddler.

It is only in recent years that Finger has gotten the credit he so richly deserves. This is largely because Kane negotiated a contract with DC that signed away ownership of the character in exchange for, among other compensations, a mandatory solo credit on all Batman comics films, TV Shows etc. Kane was very happy being known as the Father of Batman and did nothing to change that perception although in 1989 being a “contributing force” in Batman’s creation. In 1994 he credited Finger with collaborating with himself and Jerry Robinson in the creation of the Joker.

Cold comfort to a man who died in 1974.

Bill’s influence on comics extends well beyond Batman though. He was the Co-creator of the original (Alan Scott) Green Lantern along with Martin Nodell. Their collaboration on the character lasted for seven years.

Bill was one of the driving forces in the Golden Age of Comics. After his death he was inducted into the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame (1994), The Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame (1999), and in 2005 an Award was named for him, The Bill Finger Award For Excellence In Comic Book writing.

Oh and finally, during Batman’s 75th Anniversary Bill FINALLY got his cover credit for Detective #27!

That's 30!


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