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In recent years, it’s become fashionable to refer to Bill Finger as the “secret” co-creator of Batman. And while that’s an attention-grabber for the uninformed, it’s more accurate to say the writer, who died in 1974, is the uncredited, unrecognized and unsung creative force in the creation of DC Comics’ Dark Knight Detective.
Saturday marks the 100th anniversary of Finger’s birth. It’s an occasion many in the comics community have been promoting as an opportunity to correct the record in some small way, such as with biographer Marc Tyler Nobleman’s quest to get a Google Doodle in his honor.
But for the average comic fan, there are also plenty of ways to celebrate the legacy of Bill Finger and his unquestionable contribution to one of comics’ most enduring character. Here is just a handful of suggestions:
1. Read the Man’s Work
For all the talk of how Finger was unacknowledged and underpaid in his lifetime for not only his development of Batman with artist Bob Kane but also his co-creation of DC’s Green Lantern and Wildcat, it can be easy to forget he was one of the best writers of the Golden Age. Finger’s contemporaries considered him an extremely talented (if somewhat slow-going) scripter, and his tales are among DC’s strongest early efforts.
Luckily, in recent years more and more of Finger’s work has been reprinted with his name attached. DC’s website has a dedicated author page where you can find a number of collections featuring his Batman comics, ranging from the remastered Archive Editions to the more affordable Batman Chronicles. Most recently, Finger’s work is featured in Batman ’66: The TV Stories, a collection of comics directly adapted into the popular Adam West series.
Finding these books at your local comic shop or library or searching for DC’s classic offerings on comiXology is a great way to remember why Finger remains an iconic figure in the history of the medium.
For those unable to catch up with the man’s work, there are plenty of resources online to familiarize yourself with his story. Here on CBR, our sibling blog Comics Should Be Good has a number of resources, including a general appreciation, looks back at some of his Batman stories and Greg Hatcher’s recent unearthing of Finger’s last Batman work for the Adam West series. Elsewhere, you can see Ty Templeton’s recent strip detailing just some of Finger’s many contributions to the Batman mythos, read the detailed three-part history of Finger and Kane on the classic Dial B For Blog, and see ComicsAlliance’s Chris Sims offer his own Top 10 stories written by Finger.
And of course, there’s one other massive resource for rediscovering Finger …
3. Buy Marc Tyler Nobleman’s Picture Book Biography
No one has done more work over the past several years to reignite appreciation for Bill Finger’s co-creation of Batman than author Marc Tyler Nobleman. With his 2012 picture book biography Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman, Nobleman wrote the definitive (and to be honest, the only) book on Finger’s life. You can read about the author’s journey to create the book in this 2012 Comic-Con International report, but the book is well worth seeking out for anyone who’s ever been a fan of Batman.
And for a deeper look into Nobleman’s work and his current quest to get Finger more mainstream credit, his personal blog holds a wealth of information, photos and archival material.
4. Contribute to The Cape Creator Film Kickstarter
Taking the baton from Nobleman in the quest to spread the word on Bill Finger, the Comic Arts Council announced this week that it’s creating a documentary film on Finger’s life, and funding the project through Kickstarter. With the participation of Finger’s grandaughter and great-grandson as well as Nobleman and Batman creators ranging from Denny O’Neil to Michael Uslan, the project is ambitious in its goals to tell the full story of Batman’s creation.
5. Make a Donation to The Hero Initiative
Sadly, Bill Finger passed away before he was able to enjoy the wide adoration his work has received in the comics community in recent years (such as with the establishment of the Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing, designed “to recognize writers for a body of work that has not received its rightful reward and/or recognition). But there are many living comic creators today who are struggling with a lack of income, medical assistance and other vital services. Please consider donating to The Hero Initiative in Finger’s name in order to help ensure the health and happiness of those who follow in his footsteps.