Seventeen years after his death, Batman co-creator Bob Kane posthumously received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Wednesday, located in front of the Guinness World Record Museum on Hollywood Boulevard, a few steps away from Adam West’s star. DC Comics Co-Publisher Jim Lee was in attendance, and addressed the crowd on behalf of both DC and the Kane family, including Bob Kane’s widow, Elizabeth Kane.
“I actually had the pleasure of meeting Bob Kane one time, as a young comic book artist it was a very seminal moment in my career — actually in my life,” Lee told CBR News. Lee and Kane both guest-starred on an episode of the short-lived Bob Newhart sitcom “Bob,” both playing themselves at a fictional comic book award show.
“Bob Kane came on set, and he had this real swagger, and his tuxedo just fit him to the nines,” Lee recalled. “He had this very bon vivant kind of attitude — you could really see his personality command the room. in my mind, I was thinking — that’s Bruce Wayne. It very much underscores the belief that we creators, when we create things, we imbue them with elements of our own personality. So when I think of Batman, I think of Bruce Wayne, I think of the spirit of Bob Kane.”
CBR News spoke with Lee after the event about Bob Kane’s controversial legacy as a creator — despite long being credited as the sole creator of Batman, late writer Bill Finger, who Lee recognized in his remarks, has been more widely recognized for his contributions in recent years, including official credit on “Gotham,” DC’s Batman comics, and next year’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” Lee also talked the current state of the Batman books, and the upcoming “Dark Knight III: The Master Race”, the second sequel to Frank Miller‘s seminal “The Dark Knight Returns.”
CBR News: As a comic book veteran, what does this mean to you, to have someone like Bob Kane — a comics guy — recognized in this way?
Jim Lee: It’s a pretty cool achievement. I think there are only two comic book creators that are represented on the Walk of Fame — Bob and Stan Lee. It’s a testament to the amazing creations that they brought into this world. [They] really changed and shaped pop culture as it stands today.
I’m interested to hear your personal thoughts on Bob Kane’s legacy , because with some fans and historians, he doesn’t have a great reputation. How do you view his contributions, and what he’s meant to comics and pop culture?
First off, without Bob Kane, there’s no Batman. The fact that he had collaborators like Bill Finger, Jerry Robinson, Dick Sprang — if you’re going to have a character last 76 years, you’re going to need scores of great creators coming on and adding to the mythology. I think that’s the fun part of what we do. And I wouldn’t end with that list. I would go to Denny O’Neil, Neal Adams and Frank Miller. These people have stood on the shoulders of the giants that preceded them, who stood on the shoulders of the giants that preceded them — who stood on the shoulders of Bob Kane.
I think you just have to keep that perspective on it, and realize that with any character that has lasted over 70-plus years, a number of people have touched the character, helped shape it, evolve it — you’re always going to have that, with any sort of character that’s in a shared universe, where different creators can come on and do their definitive take on the character itself.
Given that, when you look at the current Batman books, how happy are you with where things have evolved up to this point?
Things are going really well. I think there’s a change in the marketplace, a real interesting phenomenon — an emerging audience that wants content featuring these characters, but they want it told in different ways with maybe different art styles. Maybe they are less concerned with things being in continuity, the shared universe that has always been kind of a trademark of the DC Universe. I think there are some interesting opportunities for us as publishers to create content for that new audience, but at the same time really looking at our core line, saying, “How do we make this more engaging, and continue to make it the exciting home that it is for all these amazing, iconic superheroes?”
“Dark Knight III” is just a little more than a month away. Within DC, how high are expectations right now, both creatively and from a business standpoint?
We are eagerly awaiting the release. We can’t wait to share how awesome the book is with the readers and the fans. The content’s super-strong. The combination of Brian Azzarello with Frank Miller on the story, them hand-selecting Andy Kubert to come in and tell that story. You can see Frank’s influence, artistically, in the work that Andy’s doing. He’s dialed back the cross-hatching, and really focused on the narrative and the storytelling; creating the rhythm you can create by interspersing smaller panels with larger sequences.
It’s an astonishing accomplishment, and it’s an amazing story. We’re eager to see it come out — we want to share it with everyone! We’ve seen and read many issues. We’ve seen and read the entire outline. Frank did the mini-comic for the first issue, he’s doing variant covers. It’s a real celebration of everything he’s achieved with the character, and contributed to the business of comics. I think it’s going to be a great celebration.
“The Dark Knight III: The Master Race” #1 is scheduled for release on Nov. 25.
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