Saturday, September 19, 2015

Bill Finger will get official credit on Batman!

“Will his name ever be added to every Batman story? Batmanians are keeping their Fingers crossed.”

Those are the final words of my book Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman.

On 9/18/15, fans got the beginning of an answer…and it looks like a happy one. That means a journey—part detective story, part film noir, part soap opera, part Greek tragedy—that lasted nine years for me and 76 for others has come to an end.

A condensed timeline:

  • 2005: I decided to write about Bill Finger.
  • 2006: I started researching Bill the Boy Wonder (on spec).
  • 2007: I discovered Athena Finger, Bill’s lone known grandchild.
  • 2008: I began blogging about Bill (my 7th post).
  • 2010: I sold the manuscript to Charlesbridge.
  • 2011-present: I have been working on a permanent memorial to Bill in New York City.
  • 2012: I gave a TED talk on Bill (and many talks since, often to standing-room-only audiences).
  • 2012: The book came out.
  • 2014: I campaigned for a Bill Finger Google doodle, organized the Paley Center “Batman at 75” panel, and sat on several Batman/Bill panels at San Diego Comic-Con, thanks to Travis Langley. I also wrote the piece on Bill for the souvenir book, an immense honor.

And now this.

Above all, finally, this: credit.

DC Entertainment announced “Bill Finger will be receiving credit in the Warner Bros. television series Gotham beginning later this season, and in the forthcoming motion picture Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” No mention of print credit, but according to sources including Brad Meltzer, that’s part of the deal, too. It’s times like these when I wish I allowed myself to use multiple exclamation points.

Dawn of justice indeed. My Google Alert for
Bill Finger got a heckuva workout that day.

The news broke online at 12:41 p.m. EST. The first tweet (below) posted at 1:14 p.m. The first note to me came in at 1:23 p.m. Then it was a deluge into the wee hours and still going strong as of a day later.

After several minutes of happy shock, I called Athena at 1:31 p.m. I can’t speak for her other than to say she sounded happy, aligned with her family legacy. At long last.

This crusade, of course, was not a solo effort. I did start it alone, in a tiny room with nothing but hope (plus a scant few books and articles); over time a league of supporters joined me. The climax—the turning point that led to changing pop culture history—was all Finger family.

A few days before the announcement, my sixth grader’s English class was assigned to write a letter in which they described themselves and what they want. My daughter has grown up in the CoB (Cult of Bill) so one of her wishes was to see “Bill Finger get credit for Batman.” When she heard the credit news, she said maybe her letter was good luck. I said it definitely was. She then said “Did you show it to someone?”

The announcement came a mere three days before the second season premiere of Gotham. Here is what I tweeted a year earlier, on 9/22/14:

Tonight the show GOTHAM debuts. I’ve seen the first episode. The only aspects of it created by Bill Finger (whose name will NOT be in the credits) are Bruce Wayne, Jim Gordon, Joker, Catwoman, Penguin, Riddler, and the name of the city/show itself.

A second tweet (look closely):

We don’t yet know how the Bill credit will be worded, and as the release indicates, it won’t appear in the first season 2 episode of Gotham. But I do know it won’t be “Batman created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger.”

I suspect it will mirror the clunky-sounding footnote that was tacked onto the extant Superman credit in 2013: “By special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family.” Or it could be something like what DC printed in Batman: The Dark Knight Archives, Volume 2 (1995): “Created by Bob Kane in collaboration with writer Bill Finger.” There is also a strong possibility that the
“created by Bob Kane” line will remain on its own with Bill’s name appearing next; I can imagine language along the lines of “certain concepts developed by Bill Finger.”
Part of me refuses to settle for anything less than equal credit. (Part of me refuses to settle for anything less than sole credit!) But a more rational side of me is more than content knowing Bill’s name will now officially—and forever—be linked to Batman’s.

The day of the announcement, “Bill Finger” trended on social media. But really, Bill Finger has been trending since 1939—only many didn’t know it till now.

To be clear: if you’re a Batman fan, you’re a Bill Finger fan.

Thank you, anyone reading, for nine years of support during my push to overturn a 76-year cultural travesty. See Bill the Boy Wonder
for a long list of acknowledgements, and special thanks to people who have enlisted in (or done something exceptional for) the caped crusade since the book came out. That is an ample list, too, but I must spotlight Alethia Mariotta, Kevin Smith, Travis Langley, Gary Sassaman, David Hernando, Roberto Williams, Lenny Schwartz, Derek Wolfford, Kyle Swenson, David Bushman, Wojciech Nelec, Michał Chudoliński, Don Argott, Sheena Joyce, Brad Meltzer, Raymond Jacques, Geoffrey Croft, Tamerlane Edward Frank, and everyone who wrote, tweeted, blogged, or talked about Bill.

The revelation:

Reaction to the revelation:


 “Bill Finger” trended on Facebook...

 ...and on Twitter.

Fox 5 New York interviewed me (via Skype) about the story. (You can see copies of Bill the Boy Wonder on the shelf over my right shoulder.)

And taking humbling to the extreme, my partner and friend Ty Templeton:

(Please do not repost without credit and link to Ty.
Better yet, ask him first.)

Justice has no expiration date.

I’ll be talking about this Golden Age milestone till my golden years.

9/27/15 addendum: So might they.


Comicbookrehab said...

I DO believe your efforts are what led to this happy ending, since it had always been something discussed often in the past with no change. It is equivalent to Jerry Robinson & Neal Adams campaigning to get Jerry & Joe credit for creating Superman. Congratulations to you!

Perhaps "Batman created by Artist Bob Kane with Writer Bill Finger"?

I have seen DC Entertainment give credit to creators of other heroes/villains this way:

"Katana created by Mike W. Barr and Jim Aparo"

But the idea of making Bill's contribution distinctive establishes an interesting new precedent if they did so. Hardcore fans of Jack Kirby are inclined to believe that his name should come before Stan Lee in creating the Fantastic Four, even though having ANY credit is better than none.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I had mentioned Bill Finger's non-co creator status in my comic book history webpage, back in 2001. I first learned about it in an Wizard article (I think issue #40). So it was common knowledge among the comic industry and comic fans with an interest in comic history.

I do think Marc's work and particularly the 'discovery' of Athena had a big impact. I believe it's a lot easier for a company to allow an injustice to continue if it's not hurting anybody. Once you realize there is a family who is affected and upset by this.

Add in a whole line of big budget movies involving the character and the company not wanting any negative publicity gives the often needed incentive to reach an agreement with the family.

I'm also glad to hear that Athena is happy with whatever this deal is. She probably can't talk about the details, as per normal with these types of agreements but if she's happy then I'm happy too.

Marjorie said...

Marc! So great!!!! Congrats and THANK YOU for your work in seeing justice done.

"T.V. Barnum" said...

Everyone is missing the point - THIS IS A CONSOLATION PRIZE! He's not getting his full and proper credit for his work on Batman IN PRINTED MEDIA ITSELF! (Beyond stories he wrote)

DC did something similar on the "Batman - Brave and The Bold" Episodes for many of the DC Characters who NEVER got credit in the Books for creating them. (Except they didn't do it for Bill Finger for Batman!)

I submit to everyone the following - if in the 1970's all DC did for Jerry & Joe was to give them credit on the Superman movie and TV shows, would everyone have been happy?

This is nothing more than "some elements based on works written by Bill Finger" type credit - is DC actually doing it to protect itself from fall-out of a potential lawsuit the Finger family might have against Kane's estate?

Let's remember that Bill was working for Bob's studio - NOT DC - they, not DC have liability for Bill's credit and creative work done while under Kane's employ. (Except for elements he created in stories sold direct to DC)

Come to think of it, I hope the Fingers go after the Kanes!

Marc Tyler Nobleman said...

Thank you all.

T.V. Barnum, I've been trumpeting for nine years that Bill's name should appear as co-creator on every Batman story. We don't yet know a) the wording of the credit or b) where exactly it will appear (some sources say it WILL include print). What we do know is that the Finger family is happy with the arrangement, and that counts for so much. Let's be optimistic.

"T.V. Barnum" said...

Fan support for Bill should not rest till he is credited across the board. The official word from DC did not include print.

Pan Miluś said...

A True Hero for Bill! Way to go Mr. Nobelman ^_^