Robert Kanigher, Bill Mantlo and Jack Mendelsohn have been named the recipients of the 2014 Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Writing, named in honor of the uncredited co-creator of Batman.
Although the committee typically selects one posthumous and one living honoree, this year it voted to recognize two living creators, Mantlo and Mendelsohn.
“This year, the judges couldn’t decide between two living recipients so one said, ‘Why don’t we just give it to both of them?’ And we decided to give it to both of them,” committee chair Mark Evanier explained in a statement. “They’re two men who deserve the honor and we figured, why make one of them wait until next year, especially in light of the fact that Bill Finger would have turned 100 this year? And as for our posthumous recipient, Robert Kanigher, that one’s long overdue.”
A prolific writer and editor who began his career in 1942, Kanigher is the co-creator of such memorable characters as Black Canary, Sgt. Rock, Metal Men, Suicide Squad, Haunted Tank and Poison Ivy. Following early work on titles like Blue Beetle, Captain Marvel Adventures and All Star Comics, Kanigher in 1946 began what would become a 35-year association as Wonder Woman, initially as editor, and then, with the death of creator William Moulton Marston, as writer. He also served as the primary editor of DC’s war comics line, and helped to usher in the Silver Age with the revival of The Flash. He passed away in 2002 at age 86.
Mantlo began working for Marvel in 1974 as a production assistant and colorist, but soon move into writing with a fill-in script for Deadly Hands of Kung Fu, which led to his permanent gig on the title. By the end of the decade, Mantlo had earned the title of “fill-in king,” as he’d penned issues for virtually every Marvel series. However, he was best known for his work on the publisher’s licensed properties like Micronauts and Rom: Spaceknight, and for his hand in the creation of characters like Rocket Raccoon and Cloak and Dagger. Mantlo, who left comics in the late ’80s and began a career as a public defender, was struck by a car in 1992 and suffered irreversible brain damage. Now 62, he lives in a nursing facility.
A writer and artist whose earliest credits include DC’s More Fun Comics and Animal Antics in the mid-1940s, Mendelsohn worked for Dell and EC Comics on such titles Beetle Bailey, Felix the Cat, MAD and Panic. However, he’s perhaps better known for his innovative Sunday-only comic strip Jackys Diary, which ran from 1959 to 1961; it was reprinted by Dell. Mendelsohn is also an Emmy-nominated television writer and story editor whose resume ranges from Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In and The Carol Burnett Show to The New Scooby-Doo Movies and Three’s Company.
The awards will be presented July 25 at Comic-Con International during the Eisner ceremony.