Sunday, February 8, 2015

Kickstarter to commemorate Bill Finger in New York City

The summer of 2013, I prepared a Kickstarter proposal to raise money to honor Bill Finger by installing a bench in Poe Park in the Bronx.

Because running a Kickstarter campaign seems to become a full-time job for the duration, I have not yet followed through.

But below is the (slightly modified) proposal. If it generates enough enthusiasm here, it might embolden me to launch it immediately!

A Commemorative Bench in New York City for Batman Co-Creator Bill Finger




Install a bench and plaque dedicated to Bill Finger, uncredited co-creator of Batman, in Poe Park in the Bronx, New York. This would be done through the NYC Parks Adopt-a-Bench program.

An installation about Bill would serve a triple purpose:

  • help right a wrong
  • contribute to Bronx/NYC tourism
  • make pop culture history

It would be the first memorial honoring a superhero creator in NYC, the Superhero Capital of the World.

(Unofficial fourth purpose: provide another place to sit.)

Who I am?

I’m an author and pop culture archaeologist. I tweet at @MarcTNobleman.

I wrote Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman, the first-ever book on Bill Finger. It has been covered by NPR’s All Things Considered, The Today Show/NBC News online, New York Times, Forbes, WIRED, and more. It made best-of-the-year lists at USA Today, Washington Post, MTV, and more. It has raised the public’s awareness of the tragic story behind one of the world’s most popular characters, as did my campaign to honor Bill with the Google Doodle for his 100th birthday (2014)...but I want to do more.


Batman’s biggest secret is not Bruce Wayne.

It’s Bill Finger.

Bill Who?

Bill who...
...wrote the first Batman story (1939).
...wrote many of the best Batman stories of his first 25 years, including his heartbreaking (and groundbreaking) origin.
...was the original writer of Robin, the Joker, and Catwoman.
...named Gotham City, the Batmobile, and Batman’s secret identity, Bruce Wayne.
...nicknamed Batman “the Dark Knight.”

...even designed Batman’s now-iconic costume.
But Bill who...

...was barely credited as a Batman writer—and never as co-creator—in his lifetime. He is not in the credits of either film (The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises) named for the nickname he coined.


Because cartoonist Bob Kane, Bill’s onetime partner, took all the credit. In a quarter century, Bob drew relatively few Batman stories and wrote none, yet his was the only name that appeared on Batman; over the same period, Bill wrote approximately 1,500 Batman stories, yet his name appeared on almost none. In 1974, Bill died alone and poor.

No obit. No funeral. No gravestone.

No kidding.

Bill was the main mind behind one of our greatest fictional champions of justice. It is time for justice—in the form of public recognition—for Bill himself.

Why Poe Park?

Bill and Bob used to brainstorm Batman stories there...sitting on a bench (ask me if you’d like documentation). In the early 1940s, Bill lived on the Grand Concourse just north of Poe Park. Also, appropriately, Poe was the father of the modern detective story and Batman is known as the World’s Greatest Detective. The Batman-Poe Park connection was covered in the New York Times (though the article mistakenly states that Batman was created in Poe Park).

from Bill the Boy Wonder

Why now?

True, this is not the best time. The best time would have been while Bill was alive. But since we can’t go back, this is the next-best time. There are untold thousands of Batman fans worldwide clamoring for DC Comics to add his name to the Batman credit line. DC may not be able to do that at this time, but we can pay tribute to Bill’s legacy in another meaningful way.

I propose the installation happen in 2014, for three reasons:

  • 100th anniversary of Bill’s birth (2/8/1914)
  • 75th anniversary of Batman’s debut
  • 40th anniversary of Bill’s death

[Missed this, obviously.]

Why not something more noticeable like a statue or even a symbolic gravestone?

I tried.

What will the plaque be like?

The plaque will be 5.5” wide and 1.875” tall, stainless steel with a light border engraved ¼” from the edge. It will remain on the bench for the life of the bench, which is usually 10 years or more. If, before that time, the bench or plaque is damaged or vandalized, Parks will replace the bench and/or plaque at no cost to the donor.

How will the money be used?

The cost of the bench and plaque ($2,500). The cost of producing the pledge rewards. The cost of my time to propose/oversee the bench, which will include travel to/from New York, and my time to promote the bench to the media and to Bronx tourism outlets. And the cost of my time to simultaneously develop two more commemorations to Bill—one of a different kind for the Bronx (riddle me this: what rhymes with achoo?) and one for Denver, the city of his birth. In short, all money raised will in some way go toward boosting Bill’s legacy.

So if this Kickstarter succeeds, you may see The Dark Knight Kickstarter Returns.

What’s up with the incentives? I don’t get a mini-bench or a Bill Finger action figure?

I wish.

This project is not to fund my own creativity but rather to honor someone else’s, though the incentives do relate to my creative project about that someone else.

Your generosity will nonetheless earn you cool and exclusive incentives, all featuring the handsome cover design of my book Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman, drawn by fan-favorite, Eisner-nominated illustrator Ty Templeton…but I suspect for a majority of however many donors I’m fortunate to get, the donating will be its own reward.

Why am I doing this?

Because of this:

In other words, because I grew up loving Batman (and Robin).

And because I grew up to be a writer myself.

And because creators deserve credit for their cultural contributions.

And because justice has no expiration date.

Any questions or suggestions?

At your service anytime:


Pledge $1 or more (Bill was involved with Batman from Day 1)


Your name smothered in gratitude in a heartfelt blog post announcing the bench, which I will promote to the media (particularly the pop culture and New York media)

Pledge $14 or more (Bill was born in 1914)


Postcard signed by myself and Ty + previous award

Pledge $27 or more (Batman debuted in Detective Comics #27)


Postcard-sized (4.21" x 5.47") magnet + previous awards

Pledge $75 or more (Batman turned 75 in 2014)


Bill the Boy Wonder (hardcover) custom-signed to the person of your choice by me + previous awards

Pledge $100 or more (Bill would have turned 100 in 2014)


Car magnet (8.73" x 11.48"; also sticks to non-cars) + previous awards

Pledge $500 or more


iPhone case + previous awards

Pledge $1,000 or more


Author presentation/Q&A at U.S. school of your choice about my adventure in uncovering Bill’s startling story + previous awards (delivered in person!)

$1,800 honorarium value; donor responsible for airfare from Washington DC and hotel expenses

Feedback on my presentations:

“To say that [your] presentation was outstanding is almost an understatement. I’ve been the Head of Lower School for 30 years. All of the adults agreed that [you are] the best presenter we have ever had.”
—Dana Hahn, Head of Lower School, Wheeler School, Providence, RI

“That was one of the best presentations we’ve had EVER! Not only did you inspire kids to love writing, which is great, but you promoted their development as human beings.”
—Laura McKone, 5th grade teacher, Mark Twain Elementary, Centennial, CO

“I’ve seen a lot of presentations over my 6½ years arranging book events. Marc’s ranks among the very top of the heap. His delivered uniquely, with enthusiasm, humility, and rare perfect rapport with his listeners. During his talk, I witnessed my favorite thing: kids' hairs being blown back by the audacity of possibility.”
—Suzanne Perry, Events/Public Relations, Secret Garden Bookshop, Seattle, WA

“I couldn’t care less about superheroes, but this was riveting.” 
—attendee, Jewish Museum of Maryland, Baltimore

If you’re a Batman fan, you’re a Bill Finger fan. We can do this! Bill deserves it. Thank you!


Robert said...

I'm in for $27. Do it.

kelen said...

You can count on me! Gonna spread the word all around Polish BatFans :)

Andreas said...

Thanks for all you do for Bill's memory, This is an amazing and truly great idea, I would contribute and share the link on my Batman page on Instagram and online. By the way, I've named my youngest son Bill and the reason is I've been a Batman fan for almost 40 years now and Bill Finger is my hero.

Marc Tyler Nobleman said...

Thanks Robert, Kelen, and Andreas. You all made my days.

Stephen Jarvis said...

Hi - I have just discovered this page - I was looking for online information about Bill Finger. I am delighted to see that you are campaigning for Finger's recognition. This is similar to something I am doing for the artist Robert Seymour, who was Charles Dickens's first illustrator, and who shot himself when he was working on the pictures for Dickens's first novel, The Pickwick Papers. I have written a novel, Death and Mr Pickwick, which will be published this month by Random House, which shows how Seymour's crucial role in the creation of Pickwick was suppressed. (You can find out more at: I do daily posts on a facebook page about my novel at: and today I decided to mention the parallel between Seymour and Finger. I then found your blog, and so I have mentioned it in the post. I am also going to sign up to be a follower of the blog.

Very Best Wishes

Stephen Jarvis

Unknown said...

Bill Finger's name is now a pop-culture footnote, unlike Kane's. But every little bit helps as Finger's supporters and heirs battle to keep his name fresh -- even if it's just a bench.

Jack W,
Mia Oconnor

Stephen Jarvis said...


Some months ago, I posted a comment about my novel Death and Mr Pickwick, whose main character is the artist Robert Seymour, Charles Dickens's collaborator on The Pickwick Papers. As I said before, I see certain parallels between Seymour and Finger. There is a very active facebook page for the novel at and from time to time I invite people to do a series of four or five guest posts for the page. Would you be interested in doing a series of guest posts about Finger? If so, do get in touch at The posts could be great opportunity for you to promote your book about Finger. To see the sort of thing I have in mind, here is a series of five guest posts done by Luke G. Williams, the author of recent boxing biography, which has relevance to Death and Mr Pickwick:

Indeed, I did briefly mention Noblemania and Finger in a post some time ago:

Best wishes

Stephen Jarvis