Thursday, February 11, 2016

Third presentation at the 92nd Street Y

On 2/9/16, the day after Bill Finger’s 102nd birthday, I had the privilege of speaking for the third time at the 92nd Street Y in New York City.

Midtown Comics kindly agreed to help me spread word (look for the little flyer they put out).

But otherwise, in the days just prior, it seemed like forces were conspiring against me.

The previous week, I was speaking at schools and a conference in Denver. My flight back east was a Saturday night red-eye with a three-hour layover in Phoenix. I landed in Philadelphia Sunday morning at 6 a.m….but the suitcase I gate-checked did not. Apparently three hours was not enough time to transfer it from one plane to another, and it was still in Arizona.

Complicating this, I was not staying in Philadelphia—I was traveling on to Connecticut for two days of helping my mother downsize. That meant they would have to drive the bag farther than typical—or put it on another flight, then drive it.

Further complicating this, I’d packed my winter coat and gloves in my suitcase.

In two thin layers and a T-shirt, I took Amtrak to Connecticut. While you were watching the Super Bowl, I was cleaning out my mom’s storage unit, making multiple trips to the dumpster. On one of those trips, I tripped—rather slipped. Ice ice baby.

I expected my bag would have been delivered by evening, but no such luck. I called American Airlines. A rep said it appeared that my bag was in Philadelphia but could not tell me with certainty. So much for tracking numbers and computers.

The next day was also dedicated to helping my mom—during a snowstorm. In between, I called American multiple times, reminding them that I would be leaving Connecticut early Tuesday morning so the bag had to be delivered by Monday night. Each rep told me something different, giving me the impression that no one knew anything.

The one outfit I had with me was more suitable for manual labor than for presenting at the 92Y. So on Monday night, with still no sign of my bag, I Ubered to Marshalls in the snow to buy a new shirt, pants, and belt.

Then I called American yet again, this time giving them the delivery address where I was headed next. Two reps told me that my bag was still in Philly and I was updating my info in time. Still, I had a feeling that the bag would be delivered at the Connecticut address an hour after I left.

Tuesday morning, I left a note, then left.

An hour later, a courier called me. He was standing in front of my sign, asking for the new address (and no doubt assuming it was elsewhere in the same town).

My bag was rerouted again, arriving at the new address the following morning.

After I thanked the courier, he texted me “I’m glad it all worked out for you. Have a nice life.”

I started my 92Y presentation with this story, then showed Batman’s emblem and said “Now a story of real drama.”

The crowd (before a few more came in):

During Q&A, an elderly woman said she was a friend of Bob Kane’s and felt I villainized him. I tried to assure that I am not passing judgment on the man as a relative or friend; I did not know him personally. But I stood by my assessment of him as a professional—someone who took advantage and lied. After the talk, I signed books and she came up to me to ask if I partner with her and write a book based on a concept she had.

Courtesy of Jeff Trexler.

The 92Y talk was also the occasion on which we resumed filming a documentary begun in 2008 with Time (the now-defunct film division of the magazine), then put on hold, then resumed in 2011 with A&E Indie Films, then put on hold again. Soon I will reveal the details on this, including why it went on hiatus and what content provider we have newly partnered with.

Afterward, friends from different chapters in my life (youth group, first job, comics colleagues) decamped for a bite at a nearby restaurant I chose because of its name: The Milton.

Then I went back to my pod hotel (first time), happy at having had another chance to tell Bill’s story.

Thank you to the 92Y’s Christine Chen for hosting me, and thanks to all who attended. Watch your step, watch your bag, and before year’s end, when the doc comes out, you’ll be able to watch a portion of this talk.

2/11/16 addendum: Thanks also to Heidi MacDonald and Alexander Lu at The Beat for this humbling coverage.

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