Bill Finger

compiled by Dwight Finger

Bill Finger was born in Denver, Colorado in 1914 as Milton Finger (Some researchers have put his birth in New York, but the 1920 U.S. Census along with other evidence shows he was born in Denver, Colorado). His father was Louis Finger, an immigrant, born in Austria in 1890, who came to America in 1907. His mother, Tessie was born about 1893 in New York. Bill had 2 sisters, Emily and Gilda.

Bill is best remembered as the uncredited creator, along with Bob Kane, of the DC Comics character Batman. We find him on the 1940 census, age 26, single and living at home, listed as salesman, shoe store. However, he had begun his association with Kane in 1938.

Bill wrote both the initial script for Batman's debut in Detective Comics #27 (May 1939) and the character's second appearance, while Kane provided art. Batman proved a breakout hit, and Bill went on to write many of the early Batman stories, including making major contributions to the character of the Joker as well as other major Batman villains. When Kane wanted Robin's origin to parallel Batman's, Finger made Robin's parents circus performers murdered while performing their trapeze act.

Bill recalled that,

"Robin was an outgrowth of a conversation I had with Bob. As I said, Batman was a combination of Douglas Fairbanks and Sherlock Holmes. Holmes had his Watson. The thing that bothered me was that Batman didn't have anyone to talk to, and it got a little tiresome always having him thinking. I found that as I went along Batman needed a Watson to talk to. That's how Robin came to be. Bob called me over and said he was going to put a boy in the strip to identify with Batman. I thought it was a great idea".

As a summation of Bill's life, we present here a newspaper article written by Steve Skeates in the County News in March of 1993:

...less than a year before his death, I met a certain Mr. Bill Finger. This was in the mid-seventies, and Finger then was an amiable drunk, down on his luck, eking out a living writing filler stories for such unimportant D.C. comic books as "House of Mystery" and "Weird War Tales." I spent a couple of my favorite hours in New York City in what we pseudosophisticated comicbook personnel referred to as "working man's bar," listening to Finger reminisce about the good old early days of comics, namely the 1940s.

If the name Bill Finger doesn't exactly ring a bell in the back of your brain-pan, I'm certainly not surprised. Still, once Finger was dead and therefore — as famed Hollywood screenwriter and former comic book scripter Martin Pasko still delights in pointing out to anyone who'll listen — "hardly in any position to sue anyone," one Bob Kane finally begrudgingly admitted in an interview that Finger was at least as responsible for the creation of Batman as was Kane himself. This admission (which occurred in the late seventies) hardly changed anything, however on TV, at the movies, and in the comics, "created by Bob Kane" is still how the credits read. Bill Finger's name is nowhere to be found.

Bill died on January 18, 1974.

Note: Author Marc Tyler Nobleman has a blog, with much more information, and he has written a book concerning the life of Bill.

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