SDCC 2014: Spotlight on Bill Finger Co-Creator of Batman Panel Recap

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by Alexander Jones

It’s a packed room here at the Bill Finger Spotlight panel at San Diego Comic-Con. Lines are doubling, and people are finally starting to exit the crowded room from the last panel. A group of Halo Spartans then came to obstruct the flow of foot traffic even further. Still, I think Finger, Co-Creator of Batman would be overjoyed to see the crowded amount of people lined up in a posthumous celebration of the immense talent. There were even a couple that didn’t make it down to the panel due to the crowded lines. Dr. Travis Langley author of Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight was revealed as the moderator for the panel.

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Finger’s granddaughter Athena and great-grandson Ben were also in attendance down at the show. Mark Evanier and Michael Uslan were announced to be in the panel as well. Marc Tyler Nobleman author of Bill: The Boy Wonder was in good form. The moderator sought to give Finger an Inkpot award for excellence in the comics arts.

A video was ran recognizing Finger’s family’s reactions, which also featured a few clips from some of the most important film and television projects in Batman media. These clips highlighted the various creations by Finger including Wildcat, Alan Scott, Lana Lang, Alfred, Mr. Freeze, and more.

Michael Uslan noted that he met Bill twice. Evanier met Finger for five minutes, and shared a nice exchange about his appreciation of Batman, as well as a quick burst of dialogue on the New York Subway system.

Jens Robinson was also amongst the panel’s company. He noted that his father, Jerry Robinson, had joined the Batman team early on at the age of 17. Bob Kane saw the artist’s sketches and had him join in on the creation of the Dark Knight. Jens noted that Jerry was the first one who attempted to draw the stories that Finger came up with. The artist had been noted to sometimes work directly with Bill. Batman creator Bob Kane was reportedly off on his own for most of the duration of the team’s work on Batman.

Athena noted that Bill was fairly closed off from the rest of the world, and that people didn’t get to see him very often.

The moderator recognized that Bill has been dead for nearly 40 years. There is another panel tomorrow that focuses on the creators of Batman. Some of the panelists from this panel are going to be in attendance as well.

Michael Uslan, producer of many Batman films gave the following account of Finger: Bill Finger was the original Co-Creator and writer of Batman. Bill was visual, and took Kane’s design and changed it. He noted that he created Gotham, named the hero as the Dark Knight, and created the Batcave as well as the Batmobile. Finger was noted as writing the Clock King episode of the original Batman television series from Adam West. He explained Finger wrote stories for Stan Lee, but never actually met him. In the Superman cartoon Finger is credited as William Finger. Finger was eventually booted off of the Batman creative team, after working with Kane for nearly half a century.

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Michael Uslan also told the following story about meeting Batman:

He did not originally know the names of the comics creators, but just enjoyed the work around popular fandom. Finger’s tales mostly involved some giant props located throughout the fictional world of Gotham. DC Comics in New York used to have a tour where they supposedly gave away original art, in which they cut the art pages into three separate sections. Eventually, they offered the kids entire full pages, and let them see the creator. Murphy Anderson was there among some of the other comics’ greats.

Uslan also got to know Finger who was sitting behind a typewriter at the New York DC Offices.

The panel then asked who in the audience had actually met Finger.

Dennis O’Neil came up and joined in on the festivities. He explained that he met Bill when he was in his former career as a journalist. Finger took O’Neil out on the town, and divulged industry secrets, as well as talking about the craft of creating comic. O’Neil stated that he wished he had called out to him during his time as the Batman editor. O’Neil once approached someone in the legal department of the company and they supposedly told him to “get lost.”

We were showed some of Neal Adams thoughts on Batman via a video screened at the panel, who noted that he valued all the work Bill had contributed to Batman.

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Former Batman 66′ actress Lee Merriweather stated that there are several different Catwoman now. She got the chance to work with all of the different Catwoman on the original television series. The actress explained how the fans are very loyal, and still come up to her at conventions.

She joked how the Batman film were shown to many young children, making her one of the most prominent babysitters of the fandom’s last generation. She also stated how proud she was at the work of the panelists bringing this moment together. Arnold Drake was the very first person who told Mark Evanier that there needed to be an award credited towards Finger.

Athena stated that she shied away from talking about it because people tended not to believe her. Marc found her when she was “in hiding.” She also stated that she met Uslan at the premiere of the Dark Knight film. Uslan introduced Siegel and Athena to Christian Bale, Christopher Nolan, Danny Devito, Bob Kane, and more. Each of them offered hugs to some out of the respect for Finger’s descendants.

Marc Tyler Nobleman’s all-ages illustrated book entitled Bill: The Boy Wonder was given the spotlight, as the panelists noted that they were going to let Athena sign some of the copies down at the show floor.

Eventually, it was noted by the panel that Bob felt guilty about not crediting the creator later on in life.

Here’s to you Bill Finger, Co-Creator of Batman!

Comments

  1. It says in the above piece that Mark found Athena Finger when she was in hiding. That should be Marc with a “c” to denote Marc Tyler Nobleman, not me.

    Also, the line which says “Mark Evanier got to know Finger who was sitting behind a typewriter at the New York DC Offices” is wrong. That was Michael Uslan who met him there. I met him in the lobby of the building DC was then in and I didn’t get to know him very well.

  2. Alexander says:

    Thanks for letting us know Mark.
    Sorry about the mistakes, but the convention season is grueling.

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