Monday, August 16, 2010

The original gimmick book

Those who know anything about Bill Finger, uncredited co-creator and original writer (and designer) of Batman, probably know he was known for using what he called "gimmick books."

They were those simple composition books with the speckled black and white covers:

Bill would jot down any bit of information that intrigued him. When he needed inspiration for a story he was to write, he'd search through his growing collection of gimmick books.

I recently learned of another American great who beat Bill to the gimmick book by roughly half a century: Mark Twain.

According to the article on Twain in the 8/9/10 Newsweek: "In little leather-bound notebooks that he carried with him all his life, he set down dialogue he overheard, story ideas, weather conditions, anything that caught his fancy."

The story I heard says that after Bill died in 1974, his son Fred offered the gimmick books to DC Comics, publisher of Batman...but DC declined.

Alas, that means, most likely, that Fred then threw them out.

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