"Rowdy" Roddy Piper Reported Dead at 61
Last year Bill Finger biographer Marc Tyler Nobleman campaigned unsuccessfully for a Google Doodle to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the writer’s birth, but now he’s proposing a more attainable goal: a commemorative bench in Poe Park in The Bronx, New York, honoring the uncredited co-creator of Batman.
In a blog post published Sunday — Finger’s birthday — Nobleman dusts off a Kickstarter proposal he’d written in 2013 that lays out the plan, which calls for $6,000 to install the bench and plaque as part of the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation’s Adopt-a-Bench program. “If it generates enough enthusiasm here, it might embolden me to launch it immediately!” he writes.
Nobleman, author of Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman, states that the project would not only “help right a wrong,” but also make pop-culture history as “the first memorial honoring a superhero creator in NYC, the Superhero Capital of the World.”
Comics | Liam Burke, editor of the essay collection Fan Phenomena: Batman, discusses the enduring appeal of the Dark Knight, who of course turns 75 this year: “This isn’t a guy who’s from an alien planet, this isn’t someone who was bitten by a radioactive spider. This is an average guy, albeit incredibly wealthy and incredibly intelligent, at the peak of human fitness, but an average guy nonetheless. That sort of aspirational quality has been identified as the reason Batman sort of stands above Spider-Man, Superman or any number of heroes.” [RN Drive]
Publishing | David Harper looks at the economics of monthly creator-owned comics, as well as how trades fit into the picture; for creators, the monthlies provide a regular stream of income so they can always be working on the next issue. Brandon Montclare, Jim Zubkavich and others provide some first-hand commentary on how things work in the real world. [Multiversity Comics]
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.
Politics | Framing the controversy as part of a larger political battle between South Carolina’s lawmakers and its public universities, The Washington Post wades into the ongoing saga surrounding the House of Representatives’ vote to reduce funding to two schools after they selected gay-themed books for their summer reading programs. The newspaper uses as its entry point the Monday performances in Charleston of Fun Home, the musical adaptation of the Alison Bechdel graphic novel that was chosen last summer by the College of Charleston, drawing the ire of a South Carolina Christian group and conservative lawmakers. The Post reports that several state legislators suggested they viewed the staging of the musical as “a deliberate provocation,” and will seek to cut even more funding in response. The South Carolina Senate has yet to vote on the state budget, which includes the cuts to the schools. [The Washington Post]
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.
Creators | Author Marc Tyler Nobleman tells Michael Cavna about his crusade to gain recognition for Bill Finger as one of the co-creators of Batman — including a push to have Google honor him with a Google Doodle on his birthday: “As it currently stands, even the mighty Christopher Nolan could not legally credit Bill as co-creator. However, prior to The Dark Knight, I asked DC if they could use non-subjective language to acknowledge Bill. I proposed: ‘Batman was first called “the Dark Knight” in Batman #1, in 1940, in a story written by Bill Finger.’ DC publications already regularly credit Bill for that story, and the movie’s title doesn’t even include the word ‘Batman’ — it is wholly a phrase coined by Bill Finger. Alas, they said no.” [Comic Riffs]
Passings | Tulsa, Oklahoma, cartoonist Larry Pendleton, who created the syndicated single-panel cartoon Graphic Nature, has died at the age of 59. [Tulsa World]
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.
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]
If you are a fan of all-ages comics, odds are pretty good you enjoyed a fair share of comics involving Ty Templeton. So it did not surprise me when Marvel launched a new Ultimate Spider-Man comic (based on the new Disney XD series that premiered recently) and tapped Templeton and Dan Slott to co-write and draw a story for the first issue (which came out last week). Templeton will also be teaming with Slott on Avenging Spider-Man 8 (set for release on June 20). That just scratches the surface of what Templeton is working on–or as he put it in this email interview: “There’s always something else going on.” I’m hard-pressed to pick which of his new upcoming projects I am most enthused about, but the prospect of seeing him work as a live talkshow/webcast host nears the top of the list. Also, I am overjoyed to know that Templeton (a great creator with a wealth of knowledge and experience) is passing along that love of storytelling by teaching folks. Over the years, I have always relished interviewing Templeton and cannot believe this marks the first time we have done an interview for Robot 6.
Tim O’Shea: Did you contact Marvel, or did they contact you for this new Ultimate Spider-Man series?
Ty Templeton: They contacted me, but I’ve done a few things for the Spider-Man office here and there, so they were already in touch with me. I did a small chapter for an issue of Amazing about eight months ago, and a couple of one-page Spider-Man stories for Age of Heroes, and things like that.