Ever since Batman made his first appearance in Detective Comics #27, there has always been one man credited. Everyone knows who Bob Kane is, you watch any of the movies and you’ll see the credit “Batman characters created by Bob Kane.” But there was another, someone who just now is starting to get credit. Only the problem, to me, is that he never got credit in his lifetime. I am happy though that his family can know that their Bill finally will get credit he deserves.
The 1930’s were a hard time for everyone between the war and the Great Depression. Jews were being not only exterminated but when they would flee to America, there were be signs “JEWS NEED NOT APPLY.” This is where Milton Finger comes in. The name Milton is a Jewish name so he had figured he’d better change it in order to secure a job. Bill Finger was born.
Bill’s father had to shut down his tailor shop in the Bronx and the family struggled. Bill needed to find work, anything to help himself and his family. He took any work he could, often he hated what he had to do but he had to support his family. His parents had wanted him to be a doctor, but his eyes were on something else. Something that would make such an impact on the world that no one could expect it. He had an eye for artistry and a mind for writing.
He met a young Bob Kane at a party and they hit it off. They wanted to collaborate, and that they did. Their first works weren’t a hit so they kept working hard to find their niche. With the release of Superman, they needed a super hero that could rival the success of the Man of Steel. Bob Kane drew an idea he had. A blonde man with mask over his eyes. A bright red suit with yellow belt and wings. He called it The Bat-Man. Bill didn’t like the design and took it upon himself to alter it and make him different from Superman.
He would be a hero but look like a villain. He would be dark but on the side of good. He would be a vigilante but also a detective. And there it was. Bat ears on a cowl, white slits for eyes, scalloped edges on a cape, and a dark colored suit. The Bat-Man.
Bob liked what Bill had done and took it to what would be DC Comics. Bob showed what he had and did this all without Bill who would remain in outside of the spotlight. Bob explained to Bill that Bat-Man was to be published and wanted Bill to write it but without credit. It was the 1930’s so anything that he could get, he would take. Bill took it, being a nice guy and knew writing gigs were hard to get.
Previously employed as a shoe salesman, Bill at the age 25 quit and became the writer for Bat-Man. It was a hit, as big a Superman had been. Bob had hired more artists to do work and insisted that they work anonymously as well. One of the first artists was a 17 year old Jerry Robinson. Even as Bill and Bob would see films together and try to find more ideas for Bat-Man, the friendship was beginning to strain. Bill was upset now how Bob was getting all the credit for Bat-Man. But he stuck with it, writing an origin story which was new at the time. Super heroes at the time were really born with powers and such. This is what would give Batman the edge it needed. A young boy stands in an alley, parents shot dead by a mugger. He uses his anger and pain as a tool to become better. He trains his body and mind and learns how to fight. He would take on crime and make sure what happened to him would never happen to anyone else. He would wage a war on crime.
Bill created the identity for Batman, an heir to the Wayne fortune. Bruce Wayne. He named the city Gotham after seeing it in a phone book. He created the Batmobile, the Batcave and then Robin. They had seen that Bruce was alone, had no one to talk to so Robin was born. Bill created villains as strange as the hero. A maniac clown, a cat burgler, a riddler, penguin. This list of memorable villains that every one knows.
After some time, Bill admitted that he created the Batman and other comic creators wanted his help and ideas and he did help them but he kept on with Batman. Bill didn’t work for Bob anymore, he would work along side him. He would daydream and write down all of his ideas.
He would be late with deadlines and this got him into trouble. After 25 years of working on Batman, his name only appeared once, and at that sort of. A story written in 1943 had a poster of musicians Regnif and Enak-Finger and Kane. His identity was still a secret to many. Even admitting that he wrote Batman, he was overshadowed by Bill. A comic editor Julius Schwartz began to tell all about Bill Finger’s contributions. And the following year New York City hosted the first comic convention in large scale. Bill and others could speak freely and be asked all about their creations. Bill began getting interviews and told all he could and that was a start to more troubles.
Bob publicly accused Bill of exaggerated the details. True fans would go on to believe Bill but there was such a fight over all of it that Bill didn’t want to fight. He wanted his credit but didn’t want to push for it. Bill would write his final Batman comic in late 1965, and worked on stories for other mystery comics. On a friday afternoon, a month away from his 60th birthday he passed away in his sleep. His son, Fred took his father’s ashes to a beach and put them in the sand in a Bat shape. The tide would take them away and he would be gone.
In a paper, DC comics did a full page drawing of Batman bowing to the gravestone for Bill Finger and wrote “Few men have contributed as much to comics as Bill Finger.” Jerry Robinson wanted to pay tribute to his old friend so built the establishment of an award to honor past and present writers who’s great work had impacted the world. The award didn’t end up going to Bill. But in 2005 the first annual Bill Finger Awards for Excellence in Comic Book Writing were given out. One on the winners was Jerry Siegel.
Just recently the credit for the creation of Batman was again in question and now for the first time on film Bill Fingers name will be added. First to the show Gotham, and next to the upcoming Batman V Superman. However, the credit shows as “Batman characters created by Bob Kane with Bill Finger.”
This had outraged many fans like me, who believe it shouldn’t be “with Bill Finger” but “and Bill Finger.” He and his family deserve the credit, its been 75 years of Batman so it’s about time. Maybe one day he’ll get full credit but I, for one, won’t hold my breath. I know the truth and so you any of you that read this and know a lot about the story of Batman. Thank you for reading and I hope you share this to everyone you know. The truth should be out, and Bill Finger deserves it. From a humble young shoe salesman to the co-creator of Batman. Thank you.