Bob Kane Archives - Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources
Fans with a little extra cash in their pockets — OK, a lot of cash — have a chance to acquire pieces of Dark Knight history, as ComicConnect and Metropolis Collectibles are auctioning Batman co-creator Bob Kane’s own file copies of the character’s earliest appearances.
Those searching for pristine editions of Detective Comics #27 or Batman #1 will have to look elsewhere. These are copies of Detective Comics #27-45 and Batman #1-3 that were bound by DC Comics for editorial reference — as you can see, there’s a row of holes down the left — and later given to Kane. Still, the colors remain vibrant.
“Treasures like this only surface once in a blue moon,” ComicConnect/Metropolis Collectibles CEO Stephen Fishler said in a statement. “I was lucky enough to know Bob Kane. He told me, along with others, that he was just 17 when he sold the Batman character to an unwitting DC. Once the franchise took off, he leveraged that to renegotiate his contract with DC, and the file copies were part of the deal.”
Batman is celebrating his 75th birthday this year, which may come as a surprise. I mean, look at that smooth, handsome face, or what little of it is visible beneath his cowl. Look at those ripped muscles, or the way he runs across rooftops and beats up criminals — why, Batman doesn’t look a day over 35!
Now just as it did recently for Superman, DC Comics is releasing a pair of hefty, 400-page hardcover collections that serve as a sort of survey for how the character has been portrayed and functioned in the publisher’s comics line during since his first appearance. Batman: A Celebration of 75 Years and The Joker: A Celebration of 75 Years aren’t exactly the comics equivalents of greatest-hits albums, but they are nice starting points for newcomers and/or casual fans, offering quick, compelling overviews of the title characters through the decades.
The Batman volume, featuring Jim Lee’s rendition of the character from the 2003 storyline “Hush” on the dust jacket, must have been particularly challenging to assemble, given the thousands and thousands of pages of Batman comics, featuring dozens of different takes by scores of creators.
“Speaking specifically of that particular cover, we always list the writers’ credits on the cover, and he scripted that issue. No one is denying Bill’s massive contributions to the DC mythology — not just Batman. It’s never been our take that it was only Bob Kane. But the credit by Bob Kane, that’s a very specific thing, and has been around since the creation of Batman, over 75 years ago. It’s hard to talk about this publicly other than, we love what Bill Finger has contributed to the mythology, and we’ve always acknowledged and compensated him and his estate for that work.”
– DC Comics Co-Publisher Jim Lee, addressing Bill Finger’s credit on the cover of the upcoming Detective Comics #27 Special Edition, and renewed discussion of the late writer’s role as the co-creator of Batman
To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Dark Knight, Kotobukiya is releasing the limited-edition First Appearance Batman ARTFX+ Statue.
Sculpted by Atelier Bamboo in 1/10th scale, the statue is based on Bob Kane’s rendition of the “Bat-Man” in 1939′s Detective Comics #27. (It’s worth noting that in its announcement, Kotobukiya refers to Batman as “created by artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger.”)
Like many fans, biographer Marc Tyler Nobleman was pleased to see Bill Finger’s name on the cover of DC Comics’ Detective Comics #27 Special Edition, marking the first time the writer has received cover credit for the first Batman story. However, while he’s hopeful it’s a sign that change is afoot, Nobleman is keeping “realistic expectations.”
“Though this is indeed the first time that Bill’s name has been on the cover of a comic, it is far from the first time DC Comics has credited him as writer for his stories, so it is a logical extension of what they have already done,” Nobleman, the author of Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman, wrote today on his blog. “Modern management is enlightened but also bound by old contracts. This is a way for them to demonstrate the former while honoring the latter.”
Characterized by Nobleman as “the dominant creative force” behind Batman, 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, only he receives official credit for the creation of Batman and most of those foundational elements.
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.”
Separate from Bloomberg Businessweek‘s Marvel Studios cover story, Bloomberg Television chats with Stan Lee about the current popularity of superhero movies, concerns about “superhero fatigue,” and the differences between the box-office performances of the Marvel and DC Comics properties.
“I wish my friend Bob Kane were still with us — he’s the fellow who created Batman,” Lee says. “Bob always used to tease me about the fact that Batman was a big deal on television and in movies, and we at Marvel had done nothing. I wish he was here now so I could return that teasing. A character should be somebody that the reader, or viewer, really cares about, and maybe at Marvel we put a little more effort into refining the characteristics and the nature of our heroes, maybe a little more effort than they have on the other side of the aisle.”
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:
Cartoonist Ty Templeton, who illustrated Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman, has thrown his support behind author Marc Tyler Nobleman’s renewed effort to convince Google to mark the 100th anniversary of Bill Finger’s birth on Feb. 8 with a Google Doodle.
To help increase public awareness of Finger as the uncredited co-creator of Batman, Templeton not only rattles off some of the writer’s contributions to the mythos — the Batmobile, the Batcave, Wayne Manor, the basic look of Batman’s costume, and key villains and supporting players, among them — but also a comic strip that imagines a Batman created solely by Bob Kane.
You can see the full strip on Templeton’s blog. He also posted some pages from Bill the Boy Wonder, including the spread below that illustrates just some of the elements Finger introduced to Batman comics.
An effort by Bill Finger biographer Marc Tyler Nobleman to honor the uncredited co-creator of Batman with a Google Doodle appears to be gaining steam, with the likes of Kevin Smith and Brad Meltzer endorsing the campaign to their Twitter followers.
Nobleman, author of Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret C0-Creator of Batman, initially pitched the idea to Google in 2012, but dusted off the proposal again in December because this year marks not just the 75th anniversary of the Dark Knight’s debut, but also the 100th anniversary of Finger’s birth and the 40th anniversary of his death.
If you look at all the mainstream attention Robert Kirkman is getting due to the success of AMC’s The Walking Dead, you’d think it was crazy. (Really, a comics writer on The View?) But in reality, it’s hardly the first time. In the 1960s, when the Adam West Batman television series kicked off, Bob Kane experienced his own groundswell of attention — and he loved it. Around that time, Kane started branching out from his comics illustrating to do a series of oil paintings of Batman and the primary characters in Gotham City, and took to showing them — and posing in great posed photos like the one above (via Pop Culture Safari).
It was later revealed that to create these paintings Kane had hired artists to “ghost” after him, much like he hired artists like Sheldon Moldoff to assist his comics work in the ’50s and ’60s. It’s hard to say how much of the paintings are his and how much he had assistance on, but either way they’re a unique treasure — just like these photos of the paintings and Kane hamming it up for the camera.
It’s never too early to learn what a cesspool of shady business practices and money-driven infighting the industry responsible for creating and promoting your favorite noble champions of justice really was.
That’s the thought that kept running through my head as I made my way through Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman, author Marc Tyler Nobleman’s follow-up to his 2008 Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman.
Like his previous work, Boy Wonder is a non-fiction picture book aimed at children. At least in presentation; I can’t imagine very young children being as interested in it as grown-ups though, and for grown-ups, there’s an excellent all-prose, six-page article marked “Author’s Note” at the end, fleshing out the more simplified story that fills the bulk of the page count with plenty of detail and discussing Nobleman’s process of research for the book.
The story of the late Bill Finger — who is, of course, the Bill in the title — doesn’t quite fit into a picture book format as easily as that of young Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. There are a lot of similarities between the creators of Superman and the uncredited co-creator of Batman, including their backgrounds, the settings their stories occurred in, the impact of their creation and their unfortunate lack of participation in the rewards of that success, but Finger’s story is a lot more complicated than that of the boys from Cleveland, and lacks the natural melodrama of their hard-luck childhood and the epiphany nature of their hero’s inception (as presented in Boys of Steel, following Siegel’s own accounts, Superman’s transformation from a concept the young writer toyed with over the years into the world’s first superhero came in a sort of fever dream fit of inspiration one night).
Publishing | Kodansha’s Attack on Titan, the action-fantasy manga by Hajime Isayama, has sold more than 9 million copies in Japan, according to the Sports Nippon newspaper. The eighth volume was released last week in Japan; Kodansha USA will publish the second volume next month in North America. [Anime News Network]
Publishing | Alex Zalben pays a visit to the Valiant offices and talks shop with editor Warren Simons: “Asking whether the idea was to set these up so that you can go right to TV, video games, or other properties, Simons strongly denies that was behind the relaunch. ‘I think you have guys who really love comic books,’ said Simons. ‘I’m just interested in publishing comic books. Obviously in this space, in this day and age you want to pay attention to everything – just like everyone does. But I think it all derives from publishing … [The publishers] just wanted to read comics about the characters that they loved growing up!’” [MTV Geek]
Creators | While acknowledging the agreement that names Bob Kane as the sole creator of Batman, The Washington Post’s Michael Cavna and Bill: The Boy Wonder author Marc Tyler Nobleman make the case for giving writer Bill Finger a screen credit on The Dark Knight Rises. [Comic Riffs]
Conventions | Although Comic-Con International is usually thought of as a stage for movie studios, major comics publishers and video-game developers, Mark Eades looks at the event as a showcase for small businesses, from artists to toymakers. [The Orange County Register]
Conventions | Robot 6 contributor Brigid Alverson reports on the kids’ comics scene at Comic-Con International, including news that Papercutz will produce a comic based on the viral web phenomenon “Annoying Orange.” [Publishers Weekly]
“I’ve never been one of these people who worries about [that]. I should have been. I’d be wealthy now, if I had been. I always felt the publisher was the guy investing all his money, and I was working for the publisher, and whatever I did belonged to him. That was the way it was. And I was always treated well, I got a good salary. I was not a businessman. Now, a guy like Bob Kane, who did Batman — the minute he did Batman, he said, ‘I wanna own it,’ and signed a contract with DC. So he became reasonably wealthy. He was the only one who was smart enough to do that. [...] I haven’t had reason to think about it that much. I think, if somebody creates something, and it becomes highly successful, whoever is reaping the rewards should let the person [who] created it share in it, certainly. But so much of it is — it goes beyond creating. A lot of people put something together, and nobody really knows who created it, they’re just working on it, y’know? But little by little, the artists and the writers now are a different breed than they were, and most of them, if they create anything new, they insist that they be part owners of it. Because they know what happened to Siegel and Shuster, and to me, and to people like that. I don’t think it’s a problem anymore. They make much more money than they used to make, when I was there. Proportionately. Everybody thought that I was the only one that was getting paid off, but I never received any royalties from the characters. I made a good living, because I was the editor, the art director, and the head writer. So I got a nice salary. That was all I got. I was a salaried guy. But it was a good salary. And I was happy.”
– Stan Lee, in a wonderful profile at Grantland, responding to a question about character ownership