• ‘Batman and Bill:’ Revealing an unsung hero


    Karen Kunawicz

    The whole world knows who Batman is and anyone can identify his iconic logo. In 2014, the superhero marked a major milestone—he turned 75. All those 75 years, however, credit for Batman was given to just one man, Bob Kane.

    Thanks to writer and author Marc Nobleman, the world began hearing the story of Bill Finger. In 2012, he wrote a book called Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-creator of Batman.

    Nobleman was relentless in his research. He found an old audio recording of a panel featuring Bill Finger moderated by Jerry Bails (also known as the father of comic book fandom) at the first-ever comic convention in New York in 1964. Finger spoke about his contribution to Batman, and at the time, it was Bails who took up the cudgels for Finger in terms of getting him recognition.

    Yet it was apparently Finger who developed the look of Batman—the cowl, the mask with pointy ears, the gray and black colored suit and the batwing cape.

    Finger also created characters like The Joker, Catwoman, Commisioner Gordon, Dick Grayson aka Robin, The Riddler, Scarecrow and Penguin. It’s just that back in the day, Bob Kane had a gentleman’s agreement with Finger. They would collaborate on Batman together, but it would be Kane who would face DC comics, and ultimately take sole credit for it and hog the limelight.

    Nobleman eventually found artists and writers in the comic book industry who would corroborate the validity of Bails’ call to give Finger credit—among them writer Charles Sinclair (now 93) who co-wrote an episode of the Batman TV series with Finger.

    Sinclair also recounted how he found his dearest friend and colleague Bill alone and dead in his Manhattan apartment in 1974. Finger was buried in an anonymous plot in a common gravesite. By contrast, Bob Kane’s gravestone heaps praise on the man and lest no one forget he created Batman.

    Nobelman’s intense pursuit of the truth later unearthed an audio recording with Kane admitting Bill Finger’s essential and significant contribution to the creation of Batman—but he only admitted this after the man’s death.

    Not only did Nobelman dig deep into the legacy of Finger, he wanted to make sure, over 75 years later that somehow, the proper recognition and acknowledgement would be made. From writer and researcher, Nobleman now had to be a detective.

    In order to effectively pursue getting credit for Finger as Batman’s co-creator, he had to find at least one of the man’s heirs. But if he did, would they be willing to face a giant like Warner Brothers Entertainment to get it?

    “Batman and Bill” is a simple yet well-told and compelling story directed by Don Argott.

    It is likely to resonate with comic book fans—people who know what it feels like to contribute ideas and work hard on a project only to have someone take the credit. People who have the heart and smarts to fight personal crusades will also enjoying reading it.

    ‘Batman and Bill’ was released just last month on Hulu and has a score of 100-percent on Rotten Tomatoes.


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