Robot 6

Bill Finger’s granddaughter says DC isn’t ‘all good’ with family

Bill Finger

Bill Finger

Responding to a recent assertion by a DC Comics representative that “We’re all good” with the late Bill Finger and his family, the granddaughter of Batman’s uncredited co-creator has made it clear that’s not the case.

“I am currently exploring our rights and considering how best to establish the recognition that my grandfather deserves,” Athena Finger said in a statement.

Characterized by biographer Marc Tyler Nobleman as “the dominant creative force” behind Batman, Bill Finger is widely acknowledged with such contributions as the Batmobile, the Batcave, the name Gotham City, Alfred Pennyworth, Commissioner Gordon, the basic look of the Dark Knight’s costume, and numerous villains and supporting players. However, because of the contract Bob Kane negotiated with what would become DC Comics, only he receives official credit for the creation of Batman and most of those foundational elements.

Long a sore spot with fans and creators alike, the matter surfaced again last month at WonderCon Anaheim, when participants on a Batman panel were asked their thoughts about Finger not receiving “created by” credit. Larry Ganem, DC’s talent relations director, replied, “We cherish what Bill Finger did, and his contribution to creating Batman. We’re all good with Finger and his family.”

But in her statement, Athena Finger indicates simply cherishing her grandfather’s contributions to the Batman mythos isn’t enough.

“My grandfather has never been properly credited as the co-creator of Batman although was an open secret in the comic book industry and is widely known now,” said Finger, who, along with her son, is all that remains of the writer’s family. “It is now my time to come out of the shadows and speak up and end 75 years of exploitation of my grandfather, whose biggest flaw was his inability to defend his extraordinary talent. Due to what I feel is continued mistreatment of a true artist, I am currently exploring our rights and considering how best to establish the recognition that my grandfather deserves.”

She also questions whether Finger will be acknowledged on Gotham, the upcoming Fox drama that features versions of his co-creations James Gordon, the Penguin, the Riddler and Catwoman: “Will the series that carries the name he gave to Batman’s city credit him in any way?”

Finger, who passed away in 1974, was inducted posthumously into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1999. His one-time Batman collaborator Jerry Robinson later established the Bill Finger Award For Excellence in Comic Book Writing in his honor. Kane acknowledged Finger’s contributions to Batman years after the writer’s death, referring to him as “an unsung hero.”

Read Athena Finger’s full statement below:

75 years of Batman! No one could have predicted the longevity and the continued relevance of this comic book hero that has become a cultural icon when my grandfather, Bill Finger, collaborated with Bob Kane back in 1939.  My grandfather has never been properly credited as the co-creator of Batman although was an open secret in the comic book industry and is widely known now.  It is now my time to come out of the shadows and speak up and end 75 years of exploitation of my grandfather, whose biggest flaw was his inability to defend his extraordinary talent.  Due to what I feel is continued mistreatment of a true artist, I am currently exploring our rights and considering how best to establish the recognition that my grandfather deserves.”

In his autobiography, Bob Kane acknowledged, “Now that my long-time friend and collaborator is gone, I must admit that Bill never received the fame and recognition he deserved. He was an unsung hero.” Regarding the issue of giving Finger official credit, Kane specifically said, “I often tell my wife, if I could go back fifteen years, before he died, I’d like to say, ‘I’ll put your name on it now. You deserve it.’”

This fall, the Warner Bros. television series GOTHAM will feature many Bill Finger creations, including the city itself. Will the series that carries the name he gave to Batman’s city credit him in any way?

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Comments

45 Comments

Of course Warner Bros. and DC won’t give him credit.
I love to read Batman every month, but it always bothers
me to see the created by Bob Kane credit and no mention
of the true visionary of The Batman mythos.

Another click-baiting headline from Robot 6, with the only purpose of attacking DC. And people still believe that CBR does “fair and balanced” comics journalism.

Yes, how dare you publish those things someone said in public!

What BS! Bob Kane was pretty much a shyster and he’s still being rewarded for it, long after his passing.

Edshugeo The GodMoor

May 7, 2014 at 8:46 am

Aside from the usual corporate interests in cases like these, I wonder if Warners would also have to answer to the Kane family. Despite his own printed admission, he didn’t change the agreement over credit, so this is possibly more complicated than usual.

Damn those pesky facts that DC doesn’t want the public to know

Yes, Bill Finger is more the creator of Batman than Bob Kane ever was. Yes, he’s primarily responsible for most of what we are familiar with in Batman’s universe. This is all true and yes, he should be credited.

That said, what were the DC people supposed to say? They cannot legally attribute those things to Finger because of the contract with the Kane estate. If they due, they get sued.

I’m all for getting that bit of legal entanglement sorted so that Bill can get his due but you can’t expect DC to acknowledge it, much less in a very public forum.

What I’m saying is, it’s not some grand conspiracy on DC’s part against Bill Finger and his family. It’s a very specific legal issue with no clear means of resolution. You’d either have to have the Kane estate agree to relinquish sole credit or find a judge that is willing to invalidate Kane’s contract. The likelihood of either of those things happening is slim to none but I still hope they work something out.

Doesn’t DC’s agreement with Bob Kane prevent them from giving credit to Finger. Thought the original contract they had with Kane explicitly forbade them from giving co-creator credit to anyone else.

The man deserves being credited with his friend for creating one of the most enduring and probably best work of American fiction. Intellectuals may ignore such an important part of American story telling, but they can suck it.

They should add the tagline “Special Thanks to Bill Fingers” on the credits page of every comic. That wouldn’t break DC’s contract with the Kanes but at the same time it would acknowledge Finger’s contributions (at least somewhat).

Kane was a dick and a thief but had a great lawyer.
Is the contract still valid since Kane is no more?
Raimi had class & credited Ditko as the co-creator of Spidey.

Maybe someone here can answer this for me, is the Fingers family asking for money as well or are they just asking that Bill Fingers gets credit along with Kane?

I would love to know just what the hell was in the contract signed waaaaay back in 1939 that three quarters of a century later (and with Bob Kane dead & buried for a decade and a half of that time) DC is still not legally permitted to officially acknowledge Bill Finger as the co-creator of Batman.

Every single time I read about this situation, it royally pisses me off. Kane screwed over both Finger and Jerry Robinson, and then spent decades amassing fame & fortune by taking credit for the inventiveness & accomplishments of others. When you come right down to it, Kane was nothing more than a con artist.

I don’t know if anyone here has read Batman #30 by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, but there’s a Bill Finger easter egg in the book. On the roof of a building, there is graffiti that reads “Bill Finger.” I couldn’t find it online, so I thought I’d share it here.

What I’m saying is, there’s probably more creators out there who feel that Finger deserves his fair share of credit. I understand that there probably won’t be much, if any traction on this matter, but it’s important to use our resources, social media, etc. and give him his credit.

I like that in CBR articles lately, Batman credits are listed as Bill Finger and then Bob Kane. Good move. Has any one seen Bob Kane’s headstone? It kind of makes me sick, in light of recent evidence. Check it out.

Also, how is this a click-baiting headline? The character is an undeniable staple of American myth, and to fairly credit the person(s) who created him and his supporting cast of characters is the right thing to do. I love Batman, I love DC, and I love comics, but I don’t love them enough to see someone who created my favorite character be deprived of credit. Yes, it is a bummer that he didn’t step forth and demand proper credit, but he was, allegedly, fearful that he would lose his job, and kept his mouth shut. Also, working for editor Mort Weisenger didn’t help, I heard in a podcast with Marc Tyler Nobleman. Also, Flavio, read the article again. You will note that the writer presented the issue in an unbiased manner, never once editorializing or introducing his own opinion, and merely presented the facts in an accessible manner, which is, actually, good journalism.

If DC won’t give him credit, and I know that they would have to jump through hoops to do so, the nerd community should.

ACollar, you’re missing my point. OF COURSE i think Bill Finger deserves credit for co-creating Batman. But, CBR “unbiased”? Sorry, but….NO!

Thank you for the clarification, Flavio, but, again the writer of the article merely presents an issue, but does not offer his own opinion. As for the entirety of CBR, I can’t comment because I don’t read enough articles to make an educated observation.

I think the tricky thing with CBR is that they are a nerd news aggregator, but also a source of reviews and opinion pieces, which infuses journalism with editorialization. I think that, if you were to go back and look at the biased CBR work, much, if not most, or even, dare I say, all, of it is written under the header of Review, Gimmick or Good, or other categories where it is explicitly stated or inferred that the author is presenting his or her own viewpoint.

You have most likely been a CBR reader longer than I, so I can’t comment on 3+ years prior, but right now, they’ve been pretty fair in presenting arguments with journalistic integrity. Perhaps we’re both right.

By Nobleman’s own assertions in Fatman on Batman, she didn’t know her grandfather, as the family was estranged from him. It was Nobleman who found her and suggested she look into her rights. If Finger wasn’t willing to fight for himself, I don’t understand why she is now unless it is just a money-grab.

BeyondersIdignantSpeech

May 7, 2014 at 12:38 pm

Flavio, please point to me one news site covering any medium that is truly without bias.

Maybe DC wouldn’t get “attacked” so often if they didn’t constantly engage in activities that made it easy for them to be attacked, like rebooting their entire line of comics with little planning, treating their actual talent like garbage while defending bigots and then just copying everything Marvel does when they’re not too busy slapping holograms on covers and trying to relive the 90s.

DC gets so much bad press because it is a poorly run company that is more focused on selling you gimmick comics than telling an interesting story.

At least when Marvel does gimmicks, like every comic having a #1 on the cover, they make up for the gimmick by providing you with a comic that has a good story and art that isn’t in some homogenous “house style.”

“By Nobleman’s own assertions in Fatman on Batman, she didn’t know her grandfather, as the family was estranged from him. It was Nobleman who found her and suggested she look into her rights. If Finger wasn’t willing to fight for himself, I don’t understand why she is now unless it is just a money-grab.”

I believe Bill Finger passed away before Athena Finger was born.

That said: Look, I’m as cynical as the next person, but why is it that most any time the families of the people who created (or co-created) the characters we love speak out or attempt to exert what they believe are their legal rights, fans are so damned quick to cry “money grab,” or to label them as greedy or … whatever?

Athena Finger’s statement says nothing about financial compensation. Is it possible she would simply like the grandfather she never knew to receive the recognition she believes he deserves?

Matthew McCallum

May 7, 2014 at 1:13 pm

@Ben Herman: There are actually a number of contracts between Bob Kane and DC, as the first agreement was amended and renegotiated over the years. The most significant renegotiation was in 1968 which got Kane out of the business of “creating” pages for the Bat-books and extended the copyright over to DC. As an historian and a comics fan, I would love to see copies of those contracts as they would explain a tremendous amount of the hidden history of Batman.

Bill Williamson

May 7, 2014 at 1:17 pm

I actually cringe when I see ‘Batman created by Bob Kane’ in the title page of a comic or at the end credits of a TV show or movie.

If anyone deserves credit and recognition for their work it’s Bill Finger. He created Batman. As far as I’m concerned, Bob Kane was a hack who rightly doesn’t deserve the credit and money he and his estate have been getting for the past seventy or so years.

Finger’s granddaughter is right. Bill’s biggest flaw was his inability to stand up for himself. If he didn’t let people use him like a doormat, maybe he wouldn’t have died in poverty.

James McKenna

May 7, 2014 at 1:18 pm

In his autobiography, Bob Kane acknowledged, “Now that my long-time friend and collaborator is gone, I must admit that Bill never received the fame and recognition he deserved. He was an unsung hero.” Regarding the issue of giving Finger official credit, Kane specifically said, “I often tell my wife, if I could go back fifteen years, before he died, I’d like to say, ‘I’ll put your name on it now. You deserve it.’”

It took this con artist over 30 years to even consider this?

Spencer Jones

May 7, 2014 at 1:20 pm

I have followed this closely, and Bill Finger MUST receive some kind of credit on Batman products. Batman is a legend, world-wide famous, all know of him, and still going strong after 75 years. This is historical. To have the person commonly known to have been a relatively minor contributor continue to be the one and only one called the creator, is recording history inaccurately. It is beyond what can be accepted given the effect of this art on the world.

Further, after receiving credit I believe the family should at the least receive monies so they are able to protect and preserve the legacy of this brilliant artist, who deserves this so much after how he has remained kicked to the curb for all of this time as so many continue to make billions off of his creation.

Has anyone else hear somebody ranting like a maniac? Nah, nevermind….

DC should just change the credit to read as follows “created by” Bob Kane.

@BeyondersIdignantSpeech:

>Current Marvel
>make up for the gimmick by providing you with a comic that has a good story and art

Pick one.

Matthew McCallum

May 7, 2014 at 1:41 pm

Further to my last post, I should also note the Kane contract renegotiation of 1946 — the one where Kane claimed to have been a minor in 1939 so that the first contract was invalid — which not only gained Kane a piece of onwership in Batman but also (according to Sheldon Moldoff) guaranteed Kane 365 pages of Batman work a year at “a staggering page rate.”

Moreover, it is further alleged at that time that Bob Kane ratted out a planned renegotiation effort by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster — who had hoped to band with Kane in a united front against DC — which resulted in their termination from DC and years of legal fighting to get compensation and recognition for their creation of Superman.

There were few saints in the early days of comic books, but Bob Kane sure makes most of the sinners look half-respectable.

Spencer, that’s all well and good, but the legalities are what they are. It is up to us, the fans, and other creators outside of the legal bubble of DC to recognize and celebrate Bill Finger’s creation of Batman and his mythos since DC obviously cannot.

What I don’t like about this article, and those on the same issue on similar sites is that everyone is focusing on DC not crediting Finger, rather than on Kane demanding sole credit.

No one working for DC can even acknowledge the existence of any controversy, because that implies Kane wasn’t the sole creator, which they are contractually obligated to do. Everything has to go through the Kane Estate, and even if DC were working on getting that provision changed they couldn’t actually mention it.

If you want something done, shame the Kane Estate.

Spencer Jones

May 7, 2014 at 1:52 pm

deadguyinc – I cannot believe there is not a way to provide Bill Finger with some kind of a credit, and provide his family with a royalty rate (I mean look at all of the NEW projects!!) where they can lawyer up when needed, travel to comic conventions, awards/scholarships in his name, etc., to protect and preserve his legacy into the future, and a truly major creative legacy it is. I do not believe either of those things are 100% not possible. Thus I believe it is possible until proven otherwise but cannot fathom how there is no way to give SOME kind of sensible credit and nothing keeping them from providing some royalty given the known massive creative contribution.

Spencer Jones

May 7, 2014 at 2:12 pm

And btw, Dave Robinson, I agree on the Kanes. They by all that is right need to cooperate. Bob Kane said himself in his autobiography he wanted Bill to have credit. If they cooperate, DC I am sure would be more easily able to get it done. They have absolutely no right to stand in the way of Finger getting a credit, it would be a kind of evil really. And in this era of social media, the truth will get known. Good luck to the Kanes if they try to stand in the way to get Finger credited, their reputations will be putrid.

Didn’t Bill Finger work for Bob Kane’s studio after helping him with the initial Batman pitch? I didn’t think Finger actually worked for DC in those early years. I was under the impression that DC was contractually obligated to buy the Batman comics (stories and art) from Kane’s studio.

Stan Lee and Bob Kane were smart, negotiated good deals and pretty much everyone else got screwed.

But these comic character IP’s are worth so much money now even Stan Lee feels like he got ripped off.

get over it. it is the way it is, both guys are dead, who cares what it says on the comic, if you think you know the truth or some insight, let that keep you warm at night. its over move on. BATMAN CREATED BY BOB KANE

Spencer Jones

May 7, 2014 at 4:31 pm

Yes Truth (ironic), and the Mona Lisa, created by Scooby F. Doo. Who cares, right? The first Airplane, created by Joe Schmoe. Gone With the Wind – written by Ima Lya. …….

yep, the issue is with the Kane estate, not DC. Finger’s family should be talking to Kane’s people, which is near impossible now.

DC might be able to help by leaning on the Kane family, but the fact of the matter is that the Kane contracts, whatever they are, are ironclad and obviously very generous-you never hear a peep out of the Kane family about anything. And it’s not like DC cares, either. The only reason they would make any effort to help the Finger family is because it would be good PR. Anyone that DC has been able to exploit over the years, they have. It’s just that the Kane family and WMM’s family happened to be harder to exploit and had good attorneys.

Oh DC, you may fool many people but not all of us all the time.

Brad Rapstars

May 7, 2014 at 9:25 pm

If you really care about this, the pressure needs to be put on the Kane estate. They are the ones withholding credit for Bill Finger. They are the ones being greedy, as the only reason they would block giving Finger his proper credit is that they are fearful it would open a door for Finger’s family to try and lay claim to some of the earnings from the Batman IP, earnings which have fattened their wallets for decades now.

“The love of money is the root of all evil.”
Who knew these niche adolescent fantasy stories would spawn so much $$$$.
There’s very little comparable in popular culture to the growth of superheroes and a lot of companies have made huge amounts of money off them and will continue to do so. Is it any wonder that the original creators (or their off-springs) want a slice of the pie.
How soon after Bill Finger get’s the credit before a claim for back payments lands on DC’s desk?
We need to separate 2 things here – what the comic fan knows & what the public knows.
These comments demonstrate we all know the truth and it galls us that others don’t know it too.
Any one who claims to be a Batman fan should know the truth but I suspect many don’t know and more importantly don’t care.
We’re just old men whistling in the wind: ♪ ♫ ♬
It’s one thing to be unknown but to have a thief claim your work is even more despicable.

@John

Actually, the chances are very good that DC can’t lean on the Kane Estate without breaching the contract, and since Batman is the company’s single biggest IP, that’s not something they would do lightly. Yes, helping the Finger family could potentially be a source of good PR (though I suspect the general thrust of public commentary would be more about what took them so long?) but they have to balance that PR against the possible consequences of breaching the contract. They could be risking billions of dollars of their stockholders’ money by bringing it up, and that’s not something anyone is going to want to do.

Paul Garcia, what are you talking about?

Sandor_Clegane

May 8, 2014 at 9:33 am

In a perfect world Finger would deserve credit and royalties just like Kane. But he did not have the backing / initiative in his lifetime to attain that. Which is sad. But it is what it is.

Now, today: Why would Kane’s estate wish to share credit? They won’t. What motivation does DC have to force the Kane estate to re-open the existing contract and thereby risk losing existing benefits / profits in the process? They won’t. Most importantly, providing “created by” credit just opens to the door to having to pay additional royalties to another estate down the line. This also won’t happen.

There’s nothing to be done – unless the Kane estate becomes charitable, all-of-a-sudden like.

That’s life in the real world.

Spencer Jones

May 8, 2014 at 12:30 pm

Well, if legal means don’t work, the question becomes – will the Kane family and DC Comics/Warner Bros stay the course of continuing to deny official credit to an artist who created something of major historical significance, for money, if that means besides some of them having trouble sleeping at night they will be thoroughly outed for it. I mean, Kevin Smith had expressed interest in making a movie about Bill Finger and the creators of Batman, it would make for a great dramatic feature. And all of the dirty laundy would get aired in intimate detail. And if not a movie, a myriad of other ways are available to get the story to the general public. They would be absolutely vilified for trying to keep the history books false and keep a major artist uncredited, and of course rightfully so. DC could become the new “Sea World”. I mean, this is Batman. So the Kane Family and DC/Warner Bros right now can choose the ending of the story before it gets out. I imagine they are considering it carefully, as they should.

Read this, DC, read it and carry it out:

CO-OWN or GO HOME.

THIS I COMMAND!

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