Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The debt owed to Charles Sinclair and Lyn Simmons

When researching Bill Finger for what became Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman, the first two people I found who had not been interviewed before on the subject were the two most important: his longtime friend and sometime writing partner Charles Sinclair and his previously-unknown-to-comics-historians second wife Lyn Simmons.

I tracked down both in mid-2006, when Charles was 82 and Lyn was 84.

Ten years later, both are still with us.

And both were invaluable in fleshing out what we know about Bill.

Prior to my interviews with Charles and Lyn, and aside from an interview with Bill's only child, Fred, that was published in Comics Interview #31 (1986) and reprinted in Alter Ego: The Comic Book Artist Collection (2001), all of what we knew about Bill came from people he worked with. Talking to people who knew him outside of work was especially helpful in getting a sense of his personality, his motivation, his demons.

The most notable details we learned courtesy of Charles:

  • how and where Bill died
  • Bill's scarab paperweight (which I now proudly own)
  • details about Bill's legendary gimmick books (including what kind of notebooks they were and examples of entries)
  • how Bill got to write for Batman (1966 TV show)
  • Lyn! (Charles was the one who told me about Bill's "lady friend" who, it turns out, was more precisely his second wife)

The most notable details we learned courtesy of Lyn:

Now you know why the dedication of the book is "To Charles, Lyn, and Athena, the soul, heart, and hope of Bill Finger."

Me with Charles and Lyn in 2008:

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