Credit Sought for Batman Co-Creator

List me among the last to learn that Bob Kane, credited as sole creator of Batman, was not the originator of many key elements of the comic. A fellow named Bill Finger named major characters, came up with notable villains, and wrote lots of the stories. Fans are clamoring more loudly than ever for DC to give him proper credit. Batman News reports —

During a recent WonderCon Anaheim panel for Batman’s 75th anniversary, an audience member asked panelists for opinions about the fact that writer Bill Finger does not get a creator credit alongside Bob Kane, who is credited as the legendary character’s sole creator even though Finger came up with defining qualities for this character before Kane ever signed his first contract to produce the Dark Knight’s adventures. Finger wrote the first Batman story, his tragic origin, and hundreds upon hundreds of comic book stories for more than a quarter of a century. He named both Bruce Wayne and Gotham City, he created Commissioner Gordon, he developed many other supporting characters, he created or co-created one fantastic villain after another, and yet he died broke and relatively unknown more than 40 years ago….

This fall, the Warner Bros. television series GOTHAM will feature many Bill Finger creations, including the city itself. Will the series that carries the name he gave to Batman’s city credit him in any way?

A commenter filled in newcomers on the comic’s ancient history.

Not a huge evil conspiracy, just a little personal evil one. Bob Kane took credit for Finger’s work. When DC found out about Finger, they hired him directly rather than letting Kane continue to skim off a large chunk of Finger’s earnings.

Kane was 21 when he “created” Batman. He signed a contract with National that was very similar to the one Siegel & Shuster signed for Superman. When the character because a success, Kane went back to the publishers and told them he was only 17 when he signed the contract, making it legally invalid and forcing them to sign a new agreement that was far more lucrative for him, including the provision that he would always be credited as the sole creator of a character to which he contributed almost nothing (virtually every panel of the first Batman story was traced from elsewhere). His claim to having been a minor was false, but he knew they couldn’t prove it, since his birth certificate had “disappeared” from the city’s hall of records sometime prior; one of his relatives did that to make sure he wouldn’t get drafted (it happened a lot after WWI).

One of Bob Kane’s angriest critics also charges him with widespread plagiarism and displays copious examples on this webpage.

4 thoughts on “Credit Sought for Batman Co-Creator

  1. This is LONG overdue; Bill Finger is one of the most overlooked figures in cultural history and here’s hoping that this is the beginning of that process…

  2. Sadly, this has been well-known for many years, although I certainly wasn’t initially aware of just how unscrupulous Kane had been. Maybe the credit can be revised in time for the MAN OF STEEL sequel?

  3. Actually, compare this to the way the Marvel tv series AGENTS OF SHIELD credits a whole bunch of writers.artists for their creative input. Way more honourable.

  4. Unfortunately, it can’t be done. As was mentioned, the contract says that only Bob Kane can be credited as the creator. Adding the Bill Finger credit would void the contract and revert the rights to the Kane estate. It should also be noted that Jerry Robinson also created a number of elements to Batman, especially in the design and Kane never credited him either.

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