Who’s your favorite superhero? Do you prefer Marvel or DC? Maybe you’re into Dark Horse? More indie? A good number of you probably said Superman, Spiderman, Wonder Woman or… Batman.
Ah, yes, Batman. The bat, dark knight, the greatest detective, and one of DC’s flagship characters. There are very few characters that are more recognizable in this world than Bruce Wayne’s alter-ego. But I hear you say, across the very void of space as you look at your hard copy of Batman. "Bob Kane is the creator of Batman, what does that have to do with Bill Finger?"
Well, what if I told you Bob didn’t make the bat by himself, in fact, Batman as we know it wouldn’t be who he is without Bill. For you see, Bill Finger is also the other man behind the bat. The second creator, Bob might have been Batman’s father, but Bill, Bill was his daddy. He was the man who made Batman into who he is. Without him, well, Batman would look more like this.
Yeah, I know. I shudder to think what the movies and comic books would look like with the caped crusader running around like that.
Anyway, before we get any further let’s give some detail on Bill. Because we need to understand who Bill was to understand why he went uncredited for so long.
Milton Finger (Bill's real name), was born February 8th of 1914. He was a comic strip and comic book writer. During his career, he helped co-architect the series development of Batman the comic book series.
Meaning that he was key in developing aspects of the world of Gotham and the people that lived in it. However, as said before, he was not credited for any of his contributions by Kane until years later after his death.
Along with Batman, he wrote many of the of original 1940's Green Lantern stories with the original Green Lantern (Alan Scott), on top of other contributions to dozens of other comic book series.
After he died in 1974, he was inducted in Jack Kirby's Hall of Fame back in 1994. Then later with Will Eisner's Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1999. Then, the Bill Finger Award was founded by Jerry Robinson and first awarded in 2005. The award is presented to those who display excellence in comic book writing.
While some say that Bill wasn't really bothered by it. Bob did make good by offering up Bill work with working with the comic as a steady job. Back then in the comic books industry there were a lot of ghost artists and ghost writers. Bill was one such employee. So, he didn't get his name on anything since writing the initial script for Detective Comics #27 in May of 1939.
However, because of Finger's methodical approach to writing scripts and being so slow, he was later replaced by Gardner Fox in 1970. When he came back, he then created the Batmobile, the Batcave, he introduced the Joker and Catwoman. He's also credited with creating the name Gotham City.
However, the basis on which Bill was credited for creating the Joker is from Bob's account. Another artist named Jerry Robinson claims that he created the character. Or at the very least was a co-creator with Bill. It is hard to say who created what because of the differing accounts from the three men.
There was only one time in Bill’s life that he was publicly credited in anything that had to do with Batman and that was "The Clock King's Crazy Crimes / The Clock King Gets Crowned" a two-part episode in the 1966 Batman television series. In which he co-wrote it with a friend and requested that he get top billing just this once in the credits. To which, his friend and coworker Charles Sinclair easily agreed to.
It was years before Bill was credited once again in Batman-related media. In 2015 DC Entertainment struck a deal with Bill’s family to have him finally to receive credit for his contributions to the Batman universe.
Bill received credit in the 2016 film Batman v. Superman, the second season of Gotham, Batman and Robin Eternal #3, and Batman: Arkham Knight Genesis #3. Since that deal has been struck Bill has been continually credited for his work and will forever be credited for his work.
If you want to know more about Bill and his family’s struggle to get him credit check out the Hulu documentary Batman & Bill which goes more in depth about his situation.