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Bill Finger’s granddaughter says DC isn’t ‘all good’ with family

by  in Comic News Comment

Responding to a recent assertion by a DC Comics representative that “We’re all good” with the late Bill Finger and his family, the granddaughter of Batman’s uncredited co-creator has made it clear that’s not the case.

“I am currently exploring our rights and considering how best to establish the recognition that my grandfather deserves,” Athena Finger said in a statement.

Characterized by biographer Marc Tyler Nobleman as “the dominant creative force” behind Batman, Bill Finger is widely acknowledged with such contributions as the Batmobile, the Batcave, the name Gotham City, Alfred Pennyworth, Commissioner Gordon, the basic look of the Dark Knight’s costume, and numerous villains and supporting players. However, because of the contract Bob Kane negotiated with what would become DC Comics, only he receives official credit for the creation of Batman and most of those foundational elements.

Long a sore spot with fans and creators alike, the matter surfaced again last month at WonderCon Anaheim, when participants on a Batman panel were asked their thoughts about Finger not receiving “created by” credit. Larry Ganem, DC’s talent relations director, replied, “We cherish what Bill Finger did, and his contribution to creating Batman. We’re all good with Finger and his family.”

But in her statement, Athena Finger indicates simply cherishing her grandfather’s contributions to the Batman mythos isn’t enough.

“My grandfather has never been properly credited as the co-creator of Batman although was an open secret in the comic book industry and is widely known now,” said Finger, who, along with her son, is all that remains of the writer’s family. “It is now my time to come out of the shadows and speak up and end 75 years of exploitation of my grandfather, whose biggest flaw was his inability to defend his extraordinary talent. Due to what I feel is continued mistreatment of a true artist, I am currently exploring our rights and considering how best to establish the recognition that my grandfather deserves.”

She also questions whether Finger will be acknowledged on Gotham, the upcoming Fox drama that features versions of his co-creations James Gordon, the Penguin, the Riddler and Catwoman: “Will the series that carries the name he gave to Batman’s city credit him in any way?”

Finger, who passed away in 1974, was inducted posthumously into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1999. His one-time Batman collaborator Jerry Robinson later established the Bill Finger Award For Excellence in Comic Book Writing in his honor. Kane acknowledged Finger’s contributions to Batman years after the writer’s death, referring to him as “an unsung hero.”

Read Athena Finger’s full statement below:

75 years of Batman! No one could have predicted the longevity and the continued relevance of this comic book hero that has become a cultural icon when my grandfather, Bill Finger, collaborated with Bob Kane back in 1939.  My grandfather has never been properly credited as the co-creator of Batman although was an open secret in the comic book industry and is widely known now.  It is now my time to come out of the shadows and speak up and end 75 years of exploitation of my grandfather, whose biggest flaw was his inability to defend his extraordinary talent.  Due to what I feel is continued mistreatment of a true artist, I am currently exploring our rights and considering how best to establish the recognition that my grandfather deserves.”

In his autobiography, Bob Kane acknowledged, “Now that my long-time friend and collaborator is gone, I must admit that Bill never received the fame and recognition he deserved. He was an unsung hero.” Regarding the issue of giving Finger official credit, Kane specifically said, “I often tell my wife, if I could go back fifteen years, before he died, I’d like to say, ‘I’ll put your name on it now. You deserve it.’”

This fall, the Warner Bros. television series GOTHAM will feature many Bill Finger creations, including the city itself. Will the series that carries the name he gave to Batman’s city credit him in any way?