Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Bill Finger's ashes

On 3/7/07, I got good news about a bad situation.

Bonnie Burrell, ex-wife of Bill Finger’s son Fred Finger, told me what really happened to Bill after he died. Prior to that, the only info I could find about Bill’s final resting place was this: he was buried in a potter’s field (AKA a pauper’s grave). 

Seemed plausible. But turned out to be merely a rumor, one whose source I didn’t trace (if that’s even possible). 

Bonnie said that Fred went to an Oregon beach near his home and spread Bill’s ashes on the sand in the shape of a bat.

Poignant, visually striking—and relieving. The thought of Bill Finger ending up in a potter’s field after his hard life was heartbreaking.  

Since then, at least two others have independently verified the ashes story—or at least their memory of it. But since it’s so specific, I believe it has only two possible explanations: either Fred (or someone else) made it up after Bill’s death and the false story spread, or it is true. I see no incentive to make up something like that, especially because Bill was hardly known to the public, so I have considered the story to be true from the moment I heard it.

It took me years to be able to describe the scene to audiences without choking up a bit.

It was first depicted five years later, in Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman, courtesy of Ty Templeton:


It next appeared, animated, in the documentary Batman & Bill:




Then it was interpreted for a Brazilian graphic biography, Bill Finger—A verdadeira história do Cavaleiro das Trevas:


It was most recently seen in Bill Finger, dans l'ombre du mythe, a French-language graphic memoir illustrated by Erez Zadok:



This was such a fabled image in my mind from the moment I learned of it, and it’s been a moving experience to see each new interpretation. It’s also been surreal because for years, the scene existed only in memory and imagination. 

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