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I caught a crook . . .
January 24, 2014 7:56 AM   Subscribe


 
It's linked in the via, but just in case here's the Ask Chris about Bob Kane taking credit for Bill Finger's work.
posted by griphus at 8:15 AM on January 24 [5 favorites]


Good, but it needs some paintings of clowns.
posted by COBRA! at 8:16 AM on January 24 [4 favorites]


And via a link in that "Ask Chris," Jim Steranko tweets about the time he slapped Bob Kane.
posted by koeselitz at 8:27 AM on January 24 [11 favorites]


There's a movement to have Google celebrate Bob Finger's birthday by doing a doodle for him. I strongly support this.
posted by happyroach at 8:35 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]


It's linked in the via, but just in case here's the Ask Chris about Bob Kane taking credit for Bill Finger's work.

Worth it for the image of Bob Kane's tombstone, which tells you everything you need to know about the man.
posted by Artw at 8:48 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]


Woah. I never knew about Bill Finger's contributions. Would love to read more about his work; is there a definitive source?
posted by West of House at 8:48 AM on January 24


is there a definitive source?

Yes, See: Man, Bat.

sorry
posted by Think_Long at 8:52 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]


Bob Kane
posted by furtive at 8:53 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


Excerpts from Bob Kane's Wikipedia entry:
  • credited along with Bill Finger as the creator of the DC Comics superhero Batman.
  • Bill Finger joined Bob Kane's nascent studio in 1938. . . . and Kane later offered him a job ghost writing the strips Rusty and Clip Carson.
  • [Finger]recalled that Kane "had an idea for a character called 'Batman', and he'd like me to see the drawings. I went over to Kane's, and he had drawn a character who looked very much like Superman . . . "
  • Finger said he offered such suggestions as giving the character a cowl and scalloped cape instead of wings; adding gloves; leaving the mask's eyeholes blank to connote mystery; and removing the bright red sections of the original costume, suggesting instead a gray-and-black color scheme.
  • Finger additionally said his suggestions were influenced by Lee Falk's The Phantom, a syndicated newspaper comic strip character with which Kane was familiar as well.
  • Finger, who said he also devised the character's civilian name, Bruce Wayne, wrote the first Batman story, while Kane provided art.
  • Kane, who had already submitted the proposal for Batman at DC and held a contract, is the only person given official company credit for Batman's creation. Comics historian Ron Goulart, in Comic Book Encyclopedia, refers to Batman as the "creation of artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger".
  • Kane: "Bill Finger was a contributing force on Batman right from the beginning. He wrote most of the great stories and was influential in setting the style and genre other writers would emulate ... I made Batman a superhero-vigilante when I first created him. Bill turned him into a scientific detective.
  • Bill Finger recalled that, "Robin was an outgrowth of a conversation I had with Bob. . . . Holmes had his Watson. . . . I found that as I went along Batman needed a Watson to talk to. . . .Bob called me over and said he was going to put a boy in the strip to identify with Batman. I thought it was a great idea.
  • Credit for [the Joker's] creation is disputed. Kane: "Bill Finger and I created the Joker. Bill was the writer. Bill Finger had a book with a photograph of Conrad Veidt and showed it to me and said, 'Here's the Joker'."
  • Robinson: When Bill saw the first drawing of the Joker, he said, 'That reminds me of Conrad Veidt in The Man Who Laughs.' He said he would bring in some shots of that movie to show me. That's how that came about. I think in Bill's mind, he fleshed out the concept of the character.
  • Robinson: Finger "can be credited and Bob himself, we all played a role in it. He [Finger] wrote the script of that, so he really was co-creator, and Bob and I did the visuals, so Bob was also.
  • Kane created the Scarecrow and drew his first appearance, which was scripted by Finger.
  • According to Kane, he drew the Penguin after being inspired by the then advertising mascot of Kool cigarettes — a penguin with a top hat and cane. Finger, however, claimed that he created the villain as a caricature of the aristocratic type. . . .



Give it a rest.
posted by Herodios at 8:56 AM on January 24


If you want to read a lot more about the saga of Bill Finger And Bob Kane The Giant Jerk, Bill The Boy Wonder, illustrated by Ty Templeton, who wrote and drew the linked comic, is a thing that exists and is sold for the cost of a decent pizza.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:03 AM on January 24 [4 favorites]


There's a big difference between a Wikipedia entry and Batman products being as Chris Sims put it, "legally obliged to be stamped with Kane’s name and legally prohibited from carrying Bill Finger’s." I think that's why people who care about it don't give it a rest.

(Note: I don't actually have a Bat-hound in this fight, but I totally understand the frustration based on what little I do know.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:14 AM on January 24 [9 favorites]


There's a big difference between a Wikipedia entry and Batman products being as Chris Sims put it, "legally obliged to be stamped with Kane’s name and legally prohibited from carrying Bill Finger’s." I think that's why people who care about it don't give it a rest.

Or as he describes it in "Bob Kane Is Just The Worst" that griphus mentions (emphasis in original):
[T]he short version is that the guy credited with creating Batman was probably the person who did the least amount of work in that creation, while the people who did the heavy lifting never even got to put their names on the stories they created. It’s not just Bill Finger, of course — Dick Sprang, Jerry Robinson, Sheldon Moldoff, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, all those guys got screwed by Kane one way or the other — but while most of those guys thankfully lived long enough to be recognized for their work, Finger, the co-creator of Batman, died in obscurity without ever getting to claim his creation. Even today, you could read Batman comics for years and never see his name.

To be fair to everyone involved, I want to stress that this is in no way the fault of DC Comics. I’m pretty sure that everyone working over there would be more than happy to give Finger the credit he deserves, but thanks to Kane’s contract that specified that he would be credited as the sole creator of Batman until the end of time, they can’t. And the main reason for that, judging by reports from most of the people concerned, is that Finger was a great writer but an awful businessman, and Kane was a moderately talented artist who happened to be an evil genius.
I'll trust noted Batmanologist and Batman's best friend over a random wiki editor any day.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:21 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


There's a big difference between a Wikipedia entry and . . .

Stipulated.

Don't be obtuse. The point is that as with any other topic, one could start from there and find plenty of information about this.

I present Wikipedia content because it indicates that a) Finger's collaboration is hardly a secret b) Finger's collaboration was acknowledged by Kane and others c) Finger's voice is far from silenced.
 
posted by Herodios at 9:31 AM on January 24


Man, comics are like sports to me...I really couldn't care less about the thing itself, but the soap opera level stories behind the actual thing are epic and endlessly interesting.

Great post and then rendered really interesting because of the comments, so thanks!
posted by nevercalm at 9:34 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]


At the same time, as long as all official Batman products and publications are credited solely to Bob Kane there's a huge hurdle to get over just making people aware that there is any other information to be found.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:38 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]


The principals are deceased.

There is no conspiracy of silence and no revisionist history to counter, since anyone who cares knows what you want them to know.

So all this angst is that you want the masthead changed.

Oh, the humanity.
 
posted by Herodios at 9:39 AM on January 24


What are you, Kane's estate manager? The reasons why this sucked and continue to sucks has been laid out for you, so just going "NUH-UH!" isn't really productive.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:44 AM on January 24 [10 favorites]


And if every reprinting of the Mona Lisa carried Michaelangelo's signature, people might want that changed too, even if it was common knowledge among art enthusiasts that Da Vinci was really responsible for it. Creative credit matters to many many people, even if you don't personally mind.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:45 AM on January 24 [4 favorites]


This seems like a legitimate injustice, and one that Bob Kane did a lot to perpetuate.

I'm not sure why the above sentence seems to bother you so much, Herodios.
posted by Myca at 9:45 AM on January 24 [4 favorites]


Herodios: “Finger's collaboration is hardly a secret”

Huh. Well, it's pretty obscure, at least, isn't it? I've been reading Batman comics for years, from the old stuff to Frank Miller to Grant Morrison and "Killing Joke" and everything else, and I've never even heard of Bill Finger.
posted by koeselitz at 9:52 AM on January 24 [8 favorites]


Oh man, that Steranko story...

HIS BAT MAJESTY.
posted by ursus_comiter at 10:13 AM on January 24


Herodios, I'm not sure why the principle of credit for creative work is so alien to you, but it's quite important to artists; lawsuits have been filed over screenwriting credits, many times. (And if the comparison seems ludicrous, remember that The Dark Knight--in which Kane, not Finger, is credited--is the ninth-highest-grossing film of all time.)

Also worth mentioning separately (it's linked in Sims' piece, but deserves a shout-out of its own), Bob Kane's clown paintings:
The only thing I think Bob ever drew was when we'd be out somewhere, in a restaurant or someplace, and a pretty girl would come over to him and say, 'Are you really the man who draws Batman?' Then he could whip out a little sketch for her, a big sketch if she was wearing something low-cut and would bend over to watch him draw.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:40 AM on January 24 [4 favorites]


Want to fight Wizards, do you, Barbarian!?*

*I have never played this. I just figured there'd be some Thundarr RPG content out there somewhere.
posted by ursus_comiter at 10:44 AM on January 24


Also, I dug this bit from Steranko's tweets: "There he was, in a small group of people, wearing patent-leather shoes--and an ASCOT, like he was Vitamin f******ing Flintheart in a Dick Tracy cartoon." Not sure what the superfluous asterisks stood for, but still awesome.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:49 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]


Man, comics are like sports to me...I really couldn't care less about the thing itself, but the soap opera level stories behind the actual thing are epic and endlessly interesting.

If you've not read it Marvel Comics The Untold Story is great for the dirt on the other one of the big two.
posted by Artw at 10:53 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]


fuckinging
posted by koeselitz at 11:02 AM on January 24 [6 favorites]


oh, probably FESTOONING
posted by koeselitz at 11:02 AM on January 24


There's some great schismatic battle waiting to be fought between the Each Asterisk Represents One Letter clan and the Strings Of Asterisks Gesturally Represent Obscured Content clan. It'll be bloody as hell once the fight actually starts.
posted by cortex at 11:03 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]


You mean it'll be bloody as h*************.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:04 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


Frankmilling.
posted by Artw at 11:07 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]


It'll be bloody as hell once the fight actually starts.

F$&@*%&%ck the both of 'em.
posted by griphus at 11:10 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


like he was Vitamin f******ing Flintheart in a Dick Tracy cartoon." Not sure what the superfluous asterisks stood for, but still awesome.

Given the context, I would say the asterisks stand for Fingerfucking.
posted by Think_Long at 11:26 AM on January 24 [7 favorites]


Should be one of the Top Rules of Internet Commenting (especially here at MeFi), going to the trouble of researching just so you can make a comment that essentially says "it's really unimportant" is the height of (a) foolishness (b) assholishness (c) futility (pick any two).

The people who care know all about Bill Finger. This is about spreading the word to those who care less, and adding the reminder that 'famous creators' in the comic book biz like Bob Kane are not all heroes is a worthwhile endeavor (wanna hear some stories about Stan Lee?)
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:27 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]


I've always thought the contrast between Kane's grave marker and Finger being initially buried without marker sums up their story quite well.
posted by audi alteram partem at 11:29 AM on January 24


Also, to point out one of the few nice things latter-day DC has done for Finger, it's halfway down the page here.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:42 AM on January 24


wanna hear some stories about Stan Lee?

I feel like the pendulum has almost swung too far on that one. Chris Sims again: Stan Lee, The Man And The Myth
posted by Artw at 11:59 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]


The problem with Lee is that the stuff he gets credit for and the stuff he actually did are so far apart that the Venn diagram is two circles on opposite sides of a room. By comparison, Bob Kane doing some work on Batman and then taking credit for all work on Batman is pretty straightforward.

I mean, Lee understandably doesn't want to be known as a huckster, but he makes it easy to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:09 PM on January 24


Marc Tyler Nobleman, who wrote "Bill the Boy Wonder," was the guest on the most recent episode of Kevin Smith's "Fatman on Batman" podcast. Lots of interesting details about Bill Finger and the quest to get him some credit for his work on Batman.
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 12:12 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


Worth it for the image of Bob Kane's tombstone, which tells you everything you need to know about the man.

Wow . . . just . . . wow.
posted by straight at 12:47 PM on January 24


For extra measure the cemetry itself is some kind of fancy-ass "I'm a celebrity" affair...
posted by Artw at 1:58 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


Think_Long: "like he was Vitamin f******ing Flintheart in a Dick Tracy cartoon." Not sure what the superfluous asterisks stood for, but still awesome.

Given the context, I would say the asterisks stand for Fingerfucking.
"

You brilliant bastard.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:43 PM on January 24


Fingerfucking also totally sounds like something Steranko would say.
posted by Mezentian at 6:57 PM on January 24


/awaits elaborate twitter fingerfucking story from Steranko, probably involving a car chase and punching someone.
posted by Artw at 6:59 PM on January 24 [3 favorites]


I guess this is what happened when Ty Templeton... pulled his Finger out.
posted by BiggerJ at 4:30 AM on January 25 [1 favorite]


Kane/Finger/Adams is my OT3.
posted by Mezentian at 5:18 AM on January 25


Chris Sims celebrates what would be Finger's 100th birthday with The 10 Greatest Batman Stories By Bill Finger.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:49 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Please enjoy the Bob Kane signatures on two of the covers.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:06 AM on February 6


There's a movement to have Google celebrate Bob Finger's birthday by doing a doodle for him. I strongly support this.

For the record, there was no Google Doodle at all on February 8.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:17 AM on February 9


So it goes.
posted by Mezentian at 4:54 AM on February 9


Cape Creator Documentary Honors Batman's Uncredited Creator
With 14 days left as of this writing, The Cape Creator campaign has raised just over half of its $12,000 goal, with rewards including copies of the film itself (naturally) as well as copies of books from the creators interviewed for the project.

In addition to the Finger family, the project also aims to include interviews with notable Batman contributors like Denny O’Neil, movie producer Michael Uslan, comics journalist Alan Kistler, and Marc Tyler Nobelman, author of Bill the Boy Wonder. No word yet on whether they’re planning on reaching out to the World’s Foremost Batmanologist (you know, me), but I’m willing to participate in a Stretch Goal that would involve me just angrily swearing about Bob Kane’s tombstone and that disgusting pack of lies he called an autobiography for at least ten minutes. Hit me up, y’all.
Editorial from Sims, of course.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:14 PM on February 19 [1 favorite]


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