Official Press Release
Alvin Schwartz and Harvey Kurtzman have been selected to receive the 2006 Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing. The choice was made unanimously by a blue-ribbon committee chaired by writer and historian Mark Evanier.
The Bill Finger Award was instituted last year under the supervision of comic book legend Jerry Robinson. The first Finger Awards were presented to veteran writer Arnold Drake, who accepted in person at the 2005 Comic-Con International in San Diego, and to Jerry Siegel, co-creator of Superman; Siegel’s widow Joanne accepted for her late husband.
“There are many fine writers deserving of wider recognition,” Evanier notes. “But this year’s judges zeroed in on two men whose bodies of work deserve a special salute, just as Bill Finger and his contribution deserve wider recognition.”
Alvin Schwartz authored his first comic book script (for Fairy Tale Parade) in 1939 and just three years later began writing Batman, an assignment on which he continued until 1958. In 1944 he also began a long association with Superman as the writer of both the Man of Steel’s newspaper strip and many of his comic book appearances. Among Schwartz’s many enduring contributions to the Superman mythology, he wrote the first tale of Bizarro, a character who became a part of popular culture, quite apart from comics. Schwartz also worked on Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern and many more DC properties before departing the field of comics in 1958. He was since written novels, an autobiography. and motion pictures.
Harvey Kurtzman also began in comics in 1939 and soon became known for his surreal and brilliant work as both writer and artist of humorous fillers and short stories. It was after he joined EC Comics in 1949 that he especially distinguished himself with both humor work, as the editor-creator of Mad and author of its classic early issues, and with war comics as the editor/writer of Two-Fisted Tales and Frontline Combat. Mad soon became not only the best-selling American humor periodical of all time but the keystone of an entire style of humor for several generations, while the war titles have been hailed by many as among the best depictions of war and historical material in comics. Kurtzman later worked on other humor magazines, did a long stint on “Little Annie Fanny” for Playboy, and authored several books before his death in 1993.
The Bill Finger Award remembers William Finger (1914-1974), who was the first and, some say, most important writer of Batman. Many have called him the “unsung hero” of the character and have hailed his work not only on that character but on dozens of others, primarily for DC Comics.
In addition to Evanier, this year’s blue-ribbon selection committee included award-winning cartoonist Jerry Robinson, writer/historian (and author of Men of Tomorrow) Gerard Jones, acclaimed writer Marv Wolfman, and Charles Kochman, a senior editor with Abrams Books.
The 2006 awards are being underwritten by DC Comics (the major sponsor), this year joined by Comics Buyer’s Guide (CBG), Heritage Auctions, and TwoMorrows Publishing (supporting sponsors).
“Though the focus in comics collecting is usually artwork, it is the stories told with that artwork that have captivated generations of fans,” says CBG’s Maggie Thompson. “Despite that, the writers in the field’s earliest decades often worked in anonymity and even today are frequently overlooked. Comics Buyer’s Guide is honored to help pay tribute to giants of the past and present-giants who have provided the words for unforgettable tales of imagination.”
And Jim Halperin of Heritage Auction Galleries notes that his company “is proud to support this award, named for one of the foremost pioneers in comics literature. Without the efforts of Bill Finger and his contemporaries, our world would be duller and much less colorful than it is.”
Similar sentiments are expressed by John Morrow: “TwoMorrows Publishing is honored to be associated with the Bill Finger Award. A main purpose of all our publications is to document the achievements of great creators throughout comics history. Sadly, Bill Finger’s contributions to the medium remained largely uncredited during his lifetime. So an award that recognizes deserving writers-particularly those who are still with us, so we can all express our appreciation to them-is a long time coming, and a natural choice for us to sponsor.”
The Finger Award falls under the auspices of Comic-Con International: San Diego and is administered by Jackie Estrada. The awards will be presented during the Eisner Awards ceremony at this summer’s Comic-Con on Friday, July 21.