Interview: Marc Tyler Nobleman on Bill Finger and the Secret Origins of Batman

marc SDCC Interview: Marc Tyler Nobleman on Bill Finger and the Secret Origins of Batman

For years, comics’ professionals have been hiding a well-kept Batman secret. Batman has been listed as being created by Bob Kane for decades, but the secret creator of the other half of Batman has been in hiding, signing bad deals and contracts, and being lost to the general public. Despite the immense popularity of Batman, only a fraction of people that enjoy the character have any clue as to who created the hero. Bob Kane has been listed as the sole creator of Batman in almost every piece of media that fans have devoured since his initial appearance in May 1939. Marc Tyler Nobleman has led a crusade to make it known that Batman was created by both Bob Kane and Bill Finger. He did so via a meticulously researched all-ages illustrated book entitled Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman. We caught up with Nobleman for an interview on the secret origins of the creation of Batman.

How do you think Bill Finger would react to the resurgence of different media finally coming together and seeing his contributions to Batman?

Humbly and gratefully.

What do you find interesting about the men and women who have created various superheroes?

With respect to the three I have written about (Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, Bill Finger), I find it especially interesting is how these young men were building modern myths from unassuming apartments and (at least in Finger’s case) seemingly without a sense of their cultural significance. Finger’s creative influence could not be more disproportionate to the recognition he got for it in his lifetime. In other words, staggering influence, almost no credit for it.Bill the Boy Wonder cover sketches 1 six total 1000x766 Interview: Marc Tyler Nobleman on Bill Finger and the Secret Origins of Batman

Is there any information on Finger’s exact contribution to some of the other DC heroes and villains such as Green Lantern (Alan Scott) and Wildcat?

He wrote the first stories to feature both.

Have you studied the reactions of younger fans when they read the book? What are their reactions like?

Because I have the privilege of speaking in schools around the world (including Tanzania, Chile, and the United Arab Emirates), I regularly experience the reactions of fans both young and young-at-heart. It has been immensely gratifying to see how impassioned kids can be over what they perceive as an injustice to Bill Finger. Here’s one of my favorite projects in response to the book – kids pretending to be Bill’s only child Fred and writing a letter as Fred to Bob Kane: http://noblemania.blogspot.com/2013/11/letters-from-bill-fingers-son-to-bob.html. There are some profound thoughts in there.

Did you find any conflicting reports on the research of Finger based on a ‘he-said, she-said’ basis?

Other than the absurd amount of Batman aspects Kane originally took credit for but later attributed to Finger, no.

How did the collaboration with industry veteran Ty Templeton come about?

Having been a longtime fan, I emailed him to ask if he’d be interested. He said yes with more than a passing knowledge of Finger’s tragic career, and I loved that he was already passionate about the subject. My publisher (obviously) also liked Ty, so we were on.

Bill the Boy Wonder title treatment black on yellow 300x151 Interview: Marc Tyler Nobleman on Bill Finger and the Secret Origins of Batman  Have there been any talks about adapting this story into a different medium?

Yes, daily – in my head. And quite often after I speak, someone in the audience will say “This HAS to be a movie.” I have had a few talks with film people. So far nothing has gotten past the exploratory phase but I am confident one day it will. I just hope I am involved!

Aside from the obvious accreditation being taken away from Finger, are you satisfied with the nature of comic books nowadays being more creator-driven among fans of the industry?

On one level yes, but I continue to hear stories of contemporary creators who have felt exploited by comics’ publishers. Certainly the Internet and the explosion of proactive fandom have done much good in the way of acknowledging the talent no matter what the publishers do or don’t do.

For more information, take a look at Marc’s blogBill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman is on sale now. Kendall Whitehouse shot the featured photograph seen at the top of the page.

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