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 the beach in Manzanita, an Oregon coastal town within driving distance of Portland, and spread Bill’s ashes at the shoreline 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. 

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hey Marc - I'm Shaun Boyd the Curator of Archives at History Colorado - I found 2 little pieces of ancestry.com research connecting Bill Finger to Denver. But I've lost YOUR contact info. If you could email me at shaun.boyd@state.co.us, I'll be happy to share!