Elliot S! Maggin and the late Richard E. Hughes have been selected to receive the 2016 Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing. The award is given under the auspices of San Diego Comic-Con International. Each year the selection committee, chaired by Mark Evanier, chooses two recipients, one living and one deceased, whose body of work “has not received its rightful reward and/or recognition.”
Elliot S! Maggin began his career the hard way, submitting a script completely on “spec” to DC Comics in 1971. Editor Julius Schwartz thought it was the best submission he’d seen in several decades and bought it. Before long, Maggin was writing for most of DC’s star characters with a special emphasis on Superman. He has published several novels, including the upcoming Not My Closet and the soon to be re-released Superman: Miracle Monday. Among his other comic book credits are Green Arrow, Archie’s Super-Teens, Batman, Justice League, Elseworlds, Hulk, Peter Parker, Strange Sports Stories, Wonder Woman, Shazam, Ellison’s Dark Corridors, Star Raiders, Joker, and a bunch of others, including a Marvel Classics version of Homer’s 24-book Iliad “crowbarred” (his term for what he did) into 48 pages. He has also taught at every grade level including adults, run twice for Congress, designed games and software, and raised horses, dogs, bees, and kids.
Richard E. Hughes (1909–1974) was one of the most prolific writers and editors to ever work in comics, so much so that his work was published under dozens of pen names ranging from “Ace Aquila” to “Zev Zimmer.” Even “Richard E. Hughes” was a pen name for the man born Leo Rosenbaum. “Hughes” began writing for advertising and pulps in the 1930s, and his first known comic book credits were for Pine Comics where he co-created and wrote Doc Strange (no relation to the later Marvel hero) for Thrilling Comics #1 in 1940. His best-known character of that era was probably The Black Terror for Standard Comics. He eventually assumed the editor position for publisher Ben Sangor and helmed Sangor’s American Comics Group, which published both funny comics and the first horror titles, such as Adventures Into the Unknown. Hughes wrote many of the scripts for years and almost all of them the last decade of ACG’s existence. His best-known work came in a 1958 issue of Forbidden Worlds, where he wrote and co-created the Fat Fury, Herbie Popnecker, who later spun off into his own, well-remembered comic book series of the sixties, Herbie.
In addition to Evanier, the selection committee consists of Charles Kochman (executive editor at Harry N. Abrams, book publisher), comic book writer Kurt Busiek, artist/historian Jim Amash, cartoonist Scott Shaw!, and writer/editor Marv Wolfman.
The Bill Finger Award honors the memory of William Finger (1914–1974), the first writer of Batman. Many have called him the “unsung hero” of the character. The award was created in 2005 at the instigation of Jerry Robinson.