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Bill Finger

Bill Finger

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William "Bill" Finger was an American comic strip
Comic strip
A comic strip is a sequence of drawings arranged in interrelated panels to display brief humor or form a narrative, often serialized, with text in balloons and captions....

 and comic book
Comic book
A comic book or comicbook is a magazine made up of comics, narrative artwork in the form of separate panels that represent individual scenes, often accompanied by dialog as well as including...

 writer best known as the uncredited co-creator, with Bob Kane
Bob Kane
Bob Kane was an American comic book artist and writer, credited as the creator of the DC Comics superhero Batman...

, of the DC Comics
DC Comics
DC Comics, Inc. is one of the largest and most successful companies operating in the market for American comic books and related media. It is the publishing unit of DC Entertainment a company of Warner Bros. Entertainment, which itself is owned by Time Warner...

 character Batman
Batman
Batman is a fictional character created by the artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger. A comic book superhero, Batman first appeared in Detective Comics #27 , and since then has appeared primarily in publications by DC Comics...

, as well as the co-architect of the series' development. In later years, Kane acknowledged Finger as "a contributing force" in the character's creation, and comics historian Ron Goulart
Ron Goulart
Ron Goulart is an American popular culture historian and mystery, fantasy and science fiction author.The prolific Goulart wrote many novelizations and other routine work under various pseudonyms: Kenneth Robeson , Con Steffanson , Chad Calhoun, R.T...

 has referred to Batman as the "creation of artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger". A DC Comics press release in 2007 stated that, "Kane, along with writer Bill Finger, had just created Batman for DC predecessor National Comics
National Comics
National Comics may refer to:* National Comics: An early name for the comic book publisher known later as DC Comics.* National Comics : a 1940's comic book series published by Quality Comics....

."

Finger additionally helped create Batman nemeses The Joker
Joker (comics)
The Joker is a fictional character, a comic book supervillain published by DC Comics. He is the archenemy of Batman, having been directly responsible for numerous tragedies in Batman's life, including the paralysis of Barbara Gordon and the death of Jason Todd, the second Robin...

, The Penguin, Catwoman
Catwoman
Catwoman is a fictional character associated with DC Comics' Batman franchise. Historically a supervillain, the character was created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane, partially inspired by Kane's cousin, Ruth Steel...

, Two-Face
Two-Face
Two-Face is a fictional comic book supervillain who appears in comic books published by DC Comics. and is an enemy of Batman. The character first appeared in Detective Comics #66 , and was created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger....

, The Riddler, and others. He also wrote many of the original 1940s Green Lantern
Alan Scott
Alan Scott is a fictional character, a superhero in the and the first superhero to bear the name Green Lantern.-Publication history:The original Green Lantern was created by young struggling artist Martin Nodell, who was inspired by the sight of a New York Subway employee waving a red lantern to...

 stories and would go on to contribute to the development of numerous comic book series.

He was posthumously inducted into the comic book
Comic book
A comic book or comicbook is a magazine made up of comics, narrative artwork in the form of separate panels that represent individual scenes, often accompanied by dialog as well as including...

 industry's Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1999. His name provided the basis for the Bill Finger Award
Bill Finger Award
The Bill Finger Award For Excellence In Comic Book Writing is an American award for comic book writers who were not sufficiently honored for their work in the medium. The awards committee, currently chaired by Mark Evanier, is charged each year with selecting two recipients, one living and one...

, founded by Jerry Robinson
Jerry Robinson
Jerry Robinson is an American comic book artist best known for his work on DC Comics' Batman line of comics during the 1940s.He was inducted into the Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2004.-Career:...

 and presented annually at Comic-Con International
Comic-Con International
San Diego Comic-Con International, also known as Comic-Con International: San Diego , and commonly known as Comic-Con or the San Diego Comic-Con, was founded as the Golden State Comic Book Convention and later the San Diego Comic Book Convention in 1970 by Shel Dorf and a group of San Diegans...

 to honor lifetime achievements by comic book writers insufficiently honored for their work in the medium.

Early life and career


Finger was born in 1914 to a Jewish
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

 family. He joined Bob Kane
Bob Kane
Bob Kane was an American comic book artist and writer, credited as the creator of the DC Comics superhero Batman...

's nascent studio in 1938. An aspiring writer and a part-time shoe salesman, he had met Kane at a party; Kane later offered him a job ghost writing the strips Rusty and Clip Carson.

Early the following year, National Comics
National Comics
National Comics may refer to:* National Comics: An early name for the comic book publisher known later as DC Comics.* National Comics : a 1940's comic book series published by Quality Comics....

' success with the seminal superhero Superman
Superman
Superman is a fictional comic book superhero appearing in publications by DC Comics, widely considered to be an American cultural icon. Created by American writer Jerry Siegel and Canadian-born American artist Joe Shuster in 1932 while both were living in Cleveland, Ohio, and sold to Detective...

 in Action Comics
Action Comics
Action Comics is an American comic book series that introduced Superman, the first major superhero character as the term is popularly defined...

prompted editors to scramble for similar heroes. In response, Kane conceived "the Bat-Man". Finger recalled that Kane
Finger offered such suggestions as giving the character a cowl instead of the domino mask, a cape instead of wings, adding gloves, and removing the red sections from the original costume. He later said his suggestions were influenced by Lee Falk
Lee Falk
Lee Falk, born Leon Harrison Gross , was an American writer, theater director, and producer, best known as the creator of the popular comic strip superheroes The Phantom and Mandrake the Magician, who at the height of their popularity attracted over a hundred million readers every day...

's popular The Phantom
The Phantom
The Phantom is an American adventure comic strip created by Lee Falk, also creator of Mandrake the Magician. A popular feature adapted into many media, including television, film and video games, it stars a costumed crimefighter operating from the fictional African country Bengalla.The Phantom is...

, a syndicated
Print syndication
Print syndication distributes news articles, columns, comic strips and other features to newspapers, magazines and websites. They offer reprint rights and grant permissions to other parties for republishing content of which they own/represent copyrights....

 newspaper
Newspaper
A newspaper is a scheduled publication containing news of current events, informative articles, diverse features and advertising. It usually is printed on relatively inexpensive, low-grade paper such as newsprint. By 2007, there were 6580 daily newspapers in the world selling 395 million copies a...

 comic strip
Comic strip
A comic strip is a sequence of drawings arranged in interrelated panels to display brief humor or form a narrative, often serialized, with text in balloons and captions....

 character with which Kane was familiar as well, and that he devised the name Bruce Wayne for the character's secret identity: "Bruce Wayne's first name came from Robert Bruce
Robert I of Scotland
Robert I , popularly known as Robert the Bruce , was King of Scots from March 25, 1306, until his death in 1329.His paternal ancestors were of Scoto-Norman heritage , and...

, the Scottish
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 patriot. Wayne, being a playboy, was a man of gentry. I searched for a name that would suggest colonialism. I tried Adams, Hancock ... then I thought of Mad Anthony Wayne
Anthony Wayne
Anthony Wayne was a United States Army general and statesman. Wayne adopted a military career at the outset of the American Revolutionary War, where his military exploits and fiery personality quickly earned him a promotion to the rank of brigadier general and the sobriquet of Mad Anthony.-Early...

." As Kane summed up decades later in his autobiography, "Bill Finger was a contributing force on Batman right from the beginning... I made Batman a superhero-vigilante when I first created him. Bill turned him into a scientific detective."

Finger wrote both the initial script for Batman's debut in Detective Comics #27 (May 1939) and the character's second appearance, while Kane provided art. Batman proved a breakout hit, and Finger went on to write many of the early Batman stories, including making major contributions to the character of the Joker
Joker (comics)
The Joker is a fictional character, a comic book supervillain published by DC Comics. He is the archenemy of Batman, having been directly responsible for numerous tragedies in Batman's life, including the paralysis of Barbara Gordon and the death of Jason Todd, the second Robin...

 as well as other major Batman villains. When Kane wanted Robin's origin to parallel Batman's, Finger made Robin's parents circus performers murdered while performing their trapeze act.

Bill Finger recalled that,
Comics historian Jim Steranko
Jim Steranko
James F. Steranko is an American graphic artist, comic book writer-artist-historian, magician, publisher and film production illustrator....

 wrote in 1970 that Finger's slowness as a writer led Batman editor Whitney Ellsworth
Whitney Ellsworth
Fredric Whitney Ellsworth was an American comic book editor, and sometime writer and artist for DC Comics during the period known to historians and fans as the Golden Age of Comic Books...

 to suggest Kane replace him, a claim reflected in Joe Desris' description of Finger as "notoriously tardy." During Finger's absence, Gardner Fox
Gardner Fox
Gardner Francis Cooper Fox was an American writer best known for creating numerous comic book characters for DC Comics. Comic-book historians estimate that he wrote over 4,000 comics stories....

 contributed scripts that introduced Batman's early "Bat-" arsenal (the utility belt, the Bat-Gyro/plane and the Batarang
Batarang
A batarang is a roughly bat-shaped throwing weapon used by the DC Comics superhero Batman. The name is a portmanteau of bat and boomerang, and was originally spelled baterang. Although they are named after boomerangs, batarangs have become more like shuriken in recent interpretations...

). Upon his return, Finger created or co-created items such as the Batmobile
Batmobile
The Batmobile is the automobile of DC Comics superhero Batman. The car has evolved along with the character from comic books to television and films. Kept in the Batcave, which it accesses through a hidden entrance, the Batmobile is a gadget-laden vehicle used by Batman in his crime-fighting...

 and Batcave
Batcave
The Batcave is the secret headquarters of fictional DC Comics superhero Batman, the alternate identity of playboy Bruce Wayne, consisting of a series of subterranean caves beneath his residence, Wayne Manor.-Publication history:...

, and is credited with providing the name "Gotham City
Gotham City
Gotham City is a fictional U.S. city appearing in DC Comics, best known as the home of Batman. Batman's place of residence was first identified as Gotham City in Batman #4 . Gotham City is strongly inspired by Trenton, Ontario's history, location, atmosphere, and various architectural styles...

". Among the things that made his stories distinctive were a use of giant-sized props: enlarged pennies, sewing machines, or typewriters.

Eventually, Finger left Kane's studio to work directly for DC Comics, where he supplied scripts for characters including Batman and Superman
Superman
Superman is a fictional comic book superhero appearing in publications by DC Comics, widely considered to be an American cultural icon. Created by American writer Jerry Siegel and Canadian-born American artist Joe Shuster in 1932 while both were living in Cleveland, Ohio, and sold to Detective...

 (introducing to the latter's mythos the character Lana Lang
Lana Lang
Lana Lang is a fictional supporting character in DC Comics' Superman series. Created by writer Bill Finger and artist John Sikela, the character first appears in Superboy #10...

). He would eventually write for other companies as well, including Fawcett Comics
Fawcett Comics
Fawcett Comics, a division of Fawcett Publications, was one of several successful comic book publishers during the Golden Age of Comic Books in the 1940s...

, Quality Comics
Quality Comics
Quality Comics was an American comic book publishing company that operated from 1939 to 1956 and was an influential creative force in what historians and fans call the Golden Age of comic books....

, and Marvel Comics
Marvel Comics
Marvel Worldwide, Inc., commonly referred to as Marvel Comics and formerly Marvel Publishing, Inc. and Marvel Comics Group, is an American company that publishes comic books and related media...

' 1940s predecessor, Timely Comics
Timely Comics
Timely Comics, an imprint of Timely Publications, was the earliest comic book arm of American publisher Martin Goodman, and the entity that would evolve by the 1960s to become Marvel Comics....

.

The Joker


In 1994, Bob Kane
Bob Kane
Bob Kane was an American comic book artist and writer, credited as the creator of the DC Comics superhero Batman...

 gave Finger co-credit for creating Batman's archnemesis the Joker
Joker (comics)
The Joker is a fictional character, a comic book supervillain published by DC Comics. He is the archenemy of Batman, having been directly responsible for numerous tragedies in Batman's life, including the paralysis of Barbara Gordon and the death of Jason Todd, the second Robin...

, despite claims on the character by writer Jerry Robinson
Jerry Robinson
Jerry Robinson is an American comic book artist best known for his work on DC Comics' Batman line of comics during the 1940s.He was inducted into the Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2004.-Career:...

:



Robinson, whose original Joker playing card was on public display in the exhibition "Masters of American Comics" at the Jewish Museum
Jewish Museum (New York)
The Jewish Museum of New York, an art museum and repository of cultural artifacts, is the leading Jewish museum in the United States. With over 26,000 objects, it contains the largest collection of art and Jewish culture outside of museums in Israel. The museum is housed at 1109 Fifth Avenue, in...

 in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, from September 16, 2006 to January 28, 2007, and the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum in Atlanta, Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

 from October 24, 2004 to August 28, 2005, has countered that he created the Joker to be Batman's larger-than-life nemesis when extra stories needed to be written quickly for Batman #1 and that he even received credit for the story in a college course. Regarding the Conrad Veidt similarity, Robinson said:

Green Lantern


In 1940, Finger collaborated with artist Martin Nodell
Martin Nodell
Martin Nodell was an American cartoonist and commercial artist, best known as the creator of the Golden Age superhero Green Lantern. Some of his work appeared under the pen name "Mart Dellon."-Early life and career:...

 to create the superhero
Superhero
A superhero is a type of stock character, possessing "extraordinary or superhuman powers", dedicated to protecting the public. Since the debut of the prototypical superhero Superman in 1938, stories of superheroes — ranging from brief episodic adventures to continuing years-long sagas —...

 Green Lantern
Green Lantern
The Green Lantern is the shared primary alias of several fictional characters, superheroes appearing in comic books published by DC Comics. The first Green Lantern was created by writer Bill Finger and artist Martin Nodell in All-American Comics #16 .Each Green Lantern possesses a power ring and...

 in All-American Comics
All-American Comics
All-American Comics was the flagship title of comic book publisher All-American Publications, one of the forerunners of DC Comics. It ran for 102 issues from April 1939 to October 1948, at which time it was renamed All-American Western. In 1952, the title was changed again to All-American Men of...

#16 (July 1940). Both writer and artist received a byline on the strip, with Nodell in the earliest issues using the pseudonym "Matt Dellon".

According to Nodell, Finger was brought in to write scripts after Nodell had already conceived the character.
Nodell's name appeared first, before Finger's, in the bylines on the stories that he drew, although when ghost artists such as Irwin Hasen
Irwin Hasen
Irwin Hasen is an American cartoonist, best known as the co-creator of the Dondi comic strip.-Early life:...

 were used, Finger's name appeared first so that the credits then read "by Bill Finger and Martin Nodell". It is standard practice in Modern Age comics to list the writer first and the artist second.

Film


As a screenwriter
Screenwriter
Screenwriters or scriptwriters or scenario writers are people who write/create the short or feature-length screenplays from which mass media such as films, television programs, Comics or video games are based.-Profession:...

, Finger wrote or co-wrote the films Death Comes to Planet Aytin, The Green Slime
The Green Slime
is a 1968 science-fiction film produced by MGM in the United States and shot in Japan at the studios of Toei Company by director Kinji Fukasaku. The film was spearheaded by the same creative team who produced similar Italian outings including Wild, Wild Planet, Ivan Reiner and Walter...

, and Track of the Moon Beast
Track of the Moon Beast
Track of the Moon Beast is a 1976 horror film, directed by Richard Ashe and written by Bill Finger and Charles Sinclair.-Plot:Mineralogist Paul Carlson is struck by a lunar meteorite while observing a meteor shower. Lodged in his brain, the meteorite causes him to transform into a strong and...

, and contributed scripts to the TV series' Hawaiian Eye
Hawaiian Eye
Hawaiian Eye is an American television series that ran from October 1959 to September 1963 on the American Broadcasting Company television network.-Premise:...

and 77 Sunset Strip
77 Sunset Strip
77 Sunset Strip is an hour-length American television private detective series created by Roy Huggins and starring Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., Roger Smith, and Edd Byrnes....

. He also wrote a two-part episode "The Clock King
Clock King
Clock King is a title used by two fictional characters, supervillains published by DC Comics. The first Clock King debuted in World's Finest Comics #111 , and was created by France Herron and Lee Elias.-Publication history:...

's Crazy Crimes / The Clock King Gets Crowned", airing October 12–13, 1966, in season two of the live-action Batman
Batman (TV series)
Batman is an American television series, based on the DC comic book character of the same name. It stars Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin — two crime-fighting heroes who defend Gotham City. It aired on the American Broadcasting Company network for three seasons from January 12, 1966 to...

TV series.

Credit


Artist Bob Kane
Bob Kane
Bob Kane was an American comic book artist and writer, credited as the creator of the DC Comics superhero Batman...

 negotiated a contract with National Comics
National Comics
National Comics may refer to:* National Comics: An early name for the comic book publisher known later as DC Comics.* National Comics : a 1940's comic book series published by Quality Comics....

, the future DC Comics
DC Comics
DC Comics, Inc. is one of the largest and most successful companies operating in the market for American comic books and related media. It is the publishing unit of DC Entertainment a company of Warner Bros. Entertainment, which itself is owned by Time Warner...

, that signed away ownership of the character in exchange for, among other compensations, a mandatory byline
Byline
The byline on a newspaper or magazine article gives the name, and often the position, of the writer of the article. Bylines are traditionally placed between the headline and the text of the article, although some magazines place bylines at the bottom of the page, to leave more room for graphical...

 on all Batman comics (and adaptations thereof). Finger's name, in contrast, does not appear as an official credit on Batman stories or films, even the comics he wrote in the 1940s and 1950s.

Finger received limited acknowledgment for his writing work in the 1960s; the letters page of Batman #169 (Feb. 1965), for example, features editor Julius Schwartz
Julius Schwartz
Julius "Julie" Schwartz was a comic book and pulp magazine editor, and a science fiction agent and prominent fan. He was born in the Bronx, New York...

 naming Finger as creator of The Riddler, one of Batman's recurring villains.

Additionally, Finger did receive credit for his work for National's sister company, All-American Publications
All-American Publications
All-American Publications is one of three American comic book companies that combined to form the modern-day DC Comics, one of the world's two largest comics publishers...

, during that time. For example, the first Wildcat story, in Sensation Comics #1 (July 1942), has the byline "by Irwin Hasen and Bill Finger", and the first Green Lantern story (see above) is credited to "Mart Dellon and Bill Finger". National later absorbed All-American. National's practice in the 1950s made formal bylines rare in comics, with DC regularly granting credit in its comics only to Kane; to William Moulton Marston
William Moulton Marston
Dr. William Moulton Marston , also known by the pen name Charles Moulton, was an American psychologist, feminist theorist, inventor and comic book writer who created the character Wonder Woman...

, creator of Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman is a DC Comics superheroine created by William Moulton Marston. She first appeared in All Star Comics #8 . The Wonder Woman title has been published by DC Comics almost continuously except for a brief hiatus in 1986....

, under his pseudonym of Charles Moulton; and to Sheldon Mayer.

Awards


Finger, who died in 1974, was posthumously inducted into the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame
Eisner Award
The Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, commonly shortened to the Eisner Awards, and sometimes referred to as the Oscar Awards of the Comics Industry, are prizes given for creative achievement in American comic books. The Eisner Awards were first conferred in 1988, created in response to the...

 in 1999. In 1985, DC Comics named Finger as one of the honorees in the company's 50th anniversary publication Fifty Who Made DC Great
Fifty Who Made DC Great
Fifty Who Made DC Great is a one shot published by DC Comics to commemorate the company's 50th anniversary in 1985. It was published in comic book format but contained text articles with photographs and background caricatures...

. In his honor, Comic-Con International
Comic-Con International
San Diego Comic-Con International, also known as Comic-Con International: San Diego , and commonly known as Comic-Con or the San Diego Comic-Con, was founded as the Golden State Comic Book Convention and later the San Diego Comic Book Convention in 1970 by Shel Dorf and a group of San Diegans...

 established in 2005 the Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing
Bill Finger Award
The Bill Finger Award For Excellence In Comic Book Writing is an American award for comic book writers who were not sufficiently honored for their work in the medium. The awards committee, currently chaired by Mark Evanier, is charged each year with selecting two recipients, one living and one...

, which is given annually to "two writers who favored us with important, inspirational work that has somehow not quite received its rightful recognition."

External links