ANDY FISH is a comic book artist

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Bob Kane, The Story of Batman Part III

From the terrific Dial B for Blog Site
DC Comics was excited to get the next big hero, they've had huge success with Superman but character after character created after all seemed pale imitations-- which could explain why they were willing to negotiate with Bob Kane and his business savvy family when it came time to talk Batman.

It's likely they thought Batman wouldn't last either, so agreeing to give Kane a byline on each issue (unheard of then) and partial ownership of not only the character but of licensing and merchandising rights might have been something they didn't give that much thought to.

They had, after all, virtually stolen Superman from Siegel and Shuster with the contract they signed which agreed to pay them handsomely for providing art and stories to the character but offered no guarantees as to how long that would go on and gave ownership outright to the company.

The Bat-Man hit the stands in May 1939 in the 27th issue of DETECTIVE COMICS and DC had another smash on their hands-- with Rob't Kane's signature on the story-- and no mention of Bill Finger, the man who had convinced Kane to change his character from Bird-Man to Bat-Man, who had helped Kane design the trademark Bat-mask complete with blank white eyes.  The guy who had convinced Kane to make his character more along the lines of the pulp heroes of the time, and the guy who wrote many of the early stories-- no mention at all.

In fact, Finger got paid by Kane-- DC didn't even know he was involved.  The same way it worked with other 'employees' of Kane who worked in his art studio and produced  the majority of the art including Jerry Robinson and Dick Sprang.

Like Siegel and Shuster, Bill Finger struggled to make a living his whole life.  Often plagued with writers block and working on sub-standard projects.  Finger helped create several other DC Comics characters including Wild-Cat and Green Lantern, which he did often get credit for.

When Kane re-negotiated his contract with DC Comics in 1965 which gave him a large chunk of change to stop working on the character but insuring that his name would still be on the strip Finger was still left out of the proceedings.

Kane himself argued that he never worked with ghosts and it wasn't until 1989 with his autobiography that he seemed to show remorse for his treatment of Finger, who had long since passed away by the time it saw print.

Kane's book, by the way, is well worth reading if only for the chuckles it will bring including some nonsense about his swashbuckling days as a street kid and a chance meeting with Marilyn Monroe which led to him 'creating' the character of Vicki Vale.  The sketches he supposedly did on Monroe on the beach are laugh out loud funny as their is no way these are drawn from life.

More can be read about what actually happened with Kane and Finger as well as a host of other amazing comic history at the terrific DIAL B FOR BLOG website.