Posts Tagged ‘Bob Kane’


This article is from the Amazing World of DC Comics #4, January/February 1975. Robinson talks about how he came up with the idea of the Joker and Robin, about Bob Kane and Bill Finger, and about his work in the Golden Age of Comics.


 



* Just a brief note, Jerry Robinson’s recollections about the creation of  two key Bat-characters (Joker and Robin) are very different to those expressed by Bob Kane less than a decade before this article was written. This article came out not long after the untimely death of Bill Finger, by which time I think that Kane had somewhat changed his view. I previously posted information on Bob Kane’s recollections of the creation of Batman and the major Bat-characters here and here.


I previously posted a few Joker stories on this blog. I posted The Joker Walks The Last Mile here, The Happy Victims here and The Joker’s Movie Crimes here. In the next couple of weeks I will be posting two of my favourite Joker stories from the 1970s, The Joker’s Five Way Revenge and This One’ll Kill You Batman.

 

Rackety-Rax Racket is a Joker story from the late 1940s (I think), a time when the Joker was in a transitional phase, from a cold blooded murderer to a pest who would pull elaborate pranks to make Batman look foolish.

 













Most people would know the remake of this story from The Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told collection of Joker stories. The 1966 version of the story in that tome written by E Nelson Bridwell and with art by Carmine Infantino basically was an abridged version of the original with some panels lifted directly from that story and was featured in a giveaway book from Kelloggs.

This original version of the story is from 1949. The art looks like it’s by Dick Sprang and the abundance of oversized props indicates that it was probably written by Bill Finger.













This is another ‘old school’ Joker story and one that is quite infamous due to the ‘goat scene’ which has appeared out of context on the Superdickery website.










The Joker would have to be my favourite comic book character of all time. I especially love the ‘old school’ Joker from the 1940s, who was equally homicidal and insane. In this story the Joker comes up with a brilliant idea on how to get away with his crimes, to confess and get executed. I know it sounds crazy, which is perhaps why I love it so much.




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.

Rick Veitch

“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.”

Mark Evanier

“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.

“I, Bob Kane, am the sole creator of “Batman.” I created “Batman” in 1939, and it appeared, if memory serves me correctly, in Detective Comics as a six or eight page story, and I signed the first strip, ‘Robert Kane.'” 


 I just thought that I would share these comic scans that first appeared in Real Fact Comics #5, January 1947. They were reprinted in the TPB of Batman in the Forties.




 
The problem with these pages is that they helped perpetuate the myth that Bob Kane was the sole creator of Batman, Robin and The Joker and did not give any credit to any of the other contributors to the creation of the Batman comic book such as Bill Finger, Jerry Robinson or Gardener Fox.

“I do know one thing though, that in the “Golden Age” of Batman, I penciled, inked, and lettered my strip by myself.”

It’s hard to tell just how many Batman stories that Kane drew due to the fact that many of the ones that he is credited with drawing were actually drawn by others. Kane often would hire other artists (ghosts) such as Sheldon Moldoff, to complete stories for him but he would take all of the credit for himself.

Kane was a shameless self promotor and glory hound, yet I really do not understand why it took him until after Bill Finger’s untimely death in 1971 for him to give Finger any credit on creating Batman at all. In a 1964 article for the Batman Fanzine Batmania, Jerry Bails outlined in an interview with Finger just what contributions that Bill made to the creation of Batman. Famously Kane wrote this letter which seems quite nasty and is just a lot of outright lies.

“I challenge Bill to repeat those statements in front of me. I am sorry that I was absent from the comicdom’s convention so that I could have answered him. The truth is that Bill Finger is taking credit for much more than he deserves, and I refute much of his statements here in print The fact is that I conceived the ”Batman`’ figure and costume entirely by myself’ even before I called Bill in to help me write the “Batman.” I created the title, masthead, the format and concept, as well as the Batman figure and costume. Robin, the boy wonder, was also my idea, . . . not Bill’s.”

I wonder how Kane could have slept at night after making these assertions. Truth be told Kane was not even a very good artist and was very lucky that DC Comics put only his name on that first strip and not Finger’s.

“There is an old saying, ”To the victor belongs the spoils, ” and after it is said and done about who does what on the Batman assembly line, and I do not underestimate all of the help I’ve received, I am assured that in the folklore of legendary comic history of our times, I know that Bob Kane will be remembered as the creator of “Batman” and no one else.”

Thankfully today the contributions of Bill Finger, Shelly Moldoff, Jerry Robinson and all the others who worked on the early Batman comics have now been recognised.