Back in February I posted a comic story that showed how Bob Kane ‘created’ Batman. My contention was that this story from the 1940s was reprinted in a 2006 trade paper back, even though it is common knowledge that Bill Finger helped Kane create Batman but Kane took all the credit. Well it seems that Bill Finger did a lot more than anyone (Certainly Kane) ever credited him with. Dial B For Blog, Robbie Reed’s excellent site, shares with us the many the ways that Finger, as well as other comics artists, contributed to the creation of Batman. (Click here for part 1, part 2, part3.) Here Bob Kane lays to rest exactly who created Batman (or does he?).
There is also a super thread running at The Comics Journal on Kane specifically dedicated to the ways he took credit for what others had done.
There’s some interesting quotes from that thread from a couple of comics veterans that I would like to share to show just what a nice guy Kane was.
“In 1979, Steve Bissette and I got hooked up with Bob (Kane) about a possible project he had in the works to do a NASCAR promotional comic. We met him in the lobby of his Manhattan high rise. As he shook our hands he said “I’ve just come from the doctor. I’ve got a sore on my penis!”
He took us up to his apartment which was decorated all in red; the walls, furniture, rugs, everything bright red. There were dozens of crude paintings of “Biff!”, “Pow!” and other comic book sound effects. He said they were by him but they looked like grade school level of art.
He showed us some Batman originals by Neal Adams and claimed they were by him.”
“Ashley Holt wrote:
Mark, you’ve told this story before, saying that Kane claimed the art in that Novick comic was his. Was that the case?
ME: Sort of. Kane was telling us (my friends and me) that he still drew the Batman comics. One of my friends took the latest issue, which I’d brought along, and held it up and said, “Did you draw this one?” Kane said yes. I said, “But that’s Irv Novick’s art. Irv Novick drew that.”
Kane realized we knew more about comics than he thought so he changed his rhetoric a bit. He started explaining to us about ghosts…how all the great cartoonists had assistants and ghost artists and inkers and helpers. He said (approximately), “I didn’t mean I drew every line in the comic. Al Capp draws Li’l Abner but he doesn’t draw every line of Li’l Abner. He has a staff.” I don’t recall if he said Novick was a ghost or an assistant but that was the essence of his explanation. Then I showed him that Novick had a credit inside as artist…
A little later, he flipped through an old comic that one of us had brought and identified one story as being by Dick Sprang, and he said, “He’s the best ghost I ever had.” I remember that specifically because Sprang’s was a name I had never heard before.”
I just wished that now that Kane has passed away and cannot enforce DC to recognise him as the sole creator of Batman anymore, that they would at least start to put Finger’s name on the credits. It is good now that when old stories are published DC do credit the art to the actual artists who drew the stories, such as Sheldon Moldoff, Jerry Robinson and Dick Sprang. I just would like to see them say “Batman – created by Bob Kane & Bill Finger”.
To show just how classy Bob was, here is his tombstone, where he gives God credit for co-creating Batman, but not poor Bill Finger.