Saturday, 7 September 2013

Bill The Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman by Marc Tyler Nobleman and Ty Templeton Review

“Batman - Created by Bob Kane” is a tag any Batman reader will be familiar with as it appears in the credits box of every Batman comic ever published. But Bob Kane didn’t create Batman - Bill Finger did. Who? And that’s what’s so criminal about it. How unfamiliar so many Batman readers are with the name Bill Finger. 

This is Marc Tyler Nobleman’s second book on comics creators who were unfairly treated and bilked by DC Comics after they created their signature characters, the first being Boys of Steel about Superman’s creators Siegel and Shuster. Assisted by the brilliant artist Ty Templeton, Nobleman writes a brief but well-researched book about Batman’s secret co-creator, Bill Finger who was responsible for nearly everything about the character that has made him popular. 

Kane created “Bat-man”, a character whose initial sketch is included here and is completely unrecognisable from the Dark Knight of today. Finger didn’t so much revise the drawing and reject it entirely and designed Batman from scratch by first getting rid of the hyphen to make him Batman, and then gave him the iconic cowl/helmet, getting rid of Kane’s bright red outfit, blonde hair, and actual bat wings to provide him with the outfit we all know and love today. 

Finger even went further, creating Bruce Wayne’s origins - the Monarch Theatre, the Mark of Zorro, Joe Chill in the alley, Martha’s pearls, young Bruce lying between his dead parents. Finger did it all. And Kane, because he had the contacts and Finger didn’t, took Batman to publishers and the character became a hit. As was the practice at the time, Kane hired writers and artists to anonymously write and draw Batman, all the while taking credit for it, which is partly why Finger didn’t object initially to Kane taking credit for his work. 

Incredibly it wasn’t until the 1960s towards the end of his short life that Finger decided to stand up for himself and began to tell people the extent of his involvement in the character. Kane denied it all, claiming he created everything about Batman, but in later years ceded that Finger should have more credit to his name - but neglected to change the contract with DC that stated his name appear alongside Batman’s as creator. Artist Jerry Robinson also said Finger assisted him in creating such iconic villains as the Joker, the Riddler and Catwoman. It seems Kane had nothing to do with anything, but still told people it was all him. 

Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman is a brief book that reveals the sham that led to Batman’s true creator to be left in the shadows while a cheap huckster maneuvered his way into the position he holds today for many unassuming comics readers as the fake father of Batman. It’s a short but interesting look at Bill Finger and his career that underlines an important fact that should be more well known - Batman was created by Bill Finger.

Bill the Boy Wonder

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