Thursday, June 28, 2012

Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman, by Marc Tyler Nobleman (nonfiction)

book cover of Bill the Boy Wonder Secret CoCreator of Batman by Marc Tyler Nobleman published by Charlesbridge
Gotham City,
Bruce Wayne,
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]  

My Recommendation:
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.

Fittingly, the main events of Bill’s life and Batman’s origins are told in graphic novel format in this book, followed several pages of detailed information about Batman’s history and Bill’s family – a fascinating mystery finally brought to light in classic comic book style. (One of 5,000 books recommended on Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.


  1. A lot of guys got cheated back in those days. It took years of lawsuits just for DC Comics to put the byline back on for the guys who created Superman. It is sad if you go see the new Batman movie it'll say "Batman created by Bob Kane" with no mention of Bill Finger, who was instrumental to its success.

    1. Yeah, it's great that Charlesbridge is publishing this book now, just as the next movie is coming out. Hopefully all Batman (& superhero comics) fans will discover how much Bill did to create the Dark Knight that we now know.


  2. Thanks for this kind write-up, Katy! I appreciate your time and thoughtfulness.

    1. Thanks for writing this book, Marc! A great step toward getting Bill recognized for his creative work & enduring imagery in words & art.



Thanks for visiting! Spam, spam, spam lately, so no Anonymous comments for now.