The Dark Knight.
These words make us think immediately of Batman. Fans of the DC Comics series or the 1960s television show might even name Bob Kane as the character's creator.
But Batman had two fathers - and now his co-creator's story is finally being fully told through Marc Tyler Nobleman's careful research. Using the "Golden Age of Comics" style, illustrator Ty Templeton presents the pivotal events in the superhero's journey into print.
Whether you're a fan of comics in general or Batman in particular, you owe it to yourself to get this book to learn the true story behind the legend. Available now at your local library or independent bookstore.
Book info: Bill the Boy Wonder: the Secret Co-Creator of Batman / Marc Tyler Nobleman; illustrated by Ty Templeton. Charlesbridge, 2012. [author's blog] [illustrator's blog] [book website] [publisher site] [book trailer]
Bill Finger was so good at crafting secret identities that he co-created Batman, one of the greatest super-heroes in comics, while remaining in the shadows himself.
He changed his name from Milton to the less-Jewish-sounding Bill to avoid the widespread anti-Semitism in 1930s New York City. Although he wanted to be a writer, he took any job available during the Depression. Then he met cartoonist Bob Kane who asked Bill to write adventure stories that he could illustrate, just after the epic debut of Superman.
Challenged by their editor to create a new superhero, Bob sketched all weekend, but needed Bill’s inventive mind to make the character come to life. Taking Bob’s drawing of a red-clad Bat-man with large wings, Bill told him to change the small mask into a face-covering cowl with slitted eyeholes and pointed bat-ears, make the rigid batwings into a swirling cape, and clad their hero in all-black. This new superhero made DC Comics into a very successful company.
Bob took all the credit for Batman – in those times, it was common for a comic to use several illustrators and inkers to complete the drawings with just the main cartoonist being named. But even as the success of Batman grew, Bob refused to give Bill credit for being the series’ writer.
Bill’s strong storytelling skills gave Batman all the details that we recognize today – a human without superpowers, orphaned during a terrible crime, a vigilante detective protecting his city from master villains like the Joker and Catwoman. Bob called Bill a “boy wonder” because he kept coming up with ideas for the series; when Bill decided that the Dark Knight needed someone to talk to, another boy wonder came into being, Batman’s sidekick Robin.
It was widely known in the comics community that Bill wrote all the Batman comics stories, but it took decades before he was publicly recognized for his work in creating Batman’s character. Today, the Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing honors the best story creators in the business.