The granddaughter of Bill Finger, the uncredited co-creator of Batman and creator of a number of the defining elements of the Caped Crusader’s world, have issued a statement constesting DC Entertainment’s assertion that the company is “all good” with Finger’s family in spite of a 75th anniversary publicity blitz in which Finger is not expected to be recognized.
Athena Finger, Bill’s granddaughter, also said that the family are exploring their rights with regard to finding a remedy for what she calls “75 years of exploitation” of her grandfather’s work.
The comments are in response to remarks made during a recent WonderCon Anaheim panel, when an audience member asked panelists for opinions about the fact that writer Bill Finger does not get a creator credit alongside Bob Kane, who is credited as the legendary character’s sole creator (this has been a source of consternation for years, but DC and Kane signed a contract before his death that demands it remain as such).
After a moment of silence following the audience member’s question, panelist Brian Buccellato joked, “Crickets.” The panel’s moderator, DC Comics’s Larry Ganem, then said, “We cherish what Bill Finger did and his contribution to creating Batman, and we’re all good with Finger and his family.”
The aforementioned Finger family, which consists only of Bill Finger’s granddaughter and her son, later learned about this exchange and did not agree with Mr. Ganem’s “all good” assessment.
“75 years of Batman! No one could have predicted the longevity and the continued relevance of this comic book hero that has become a cultural icon when my grandfather, Bill Finger, collaborated with Bob Kane back in 1939,” Athena Finger said in a statement. “My grandfather has never been properly credited as the co-creator of Batman although was an open secret in the comic book industry and is widely known now. It is now my time to come out of the shadows and speak up and end 75 years of exploitation of my grandfather, whose biggest flaw was his inability to defend his extraordinary talent. Due to what I feel is continued mistreatment of a true artist, I am currently exploring our rights and considering how best to establish the recognition that my grandfather deserves.”
The statement notes that Finger wrote the first Batman story, named both Bruce Wayne and Gotham City, created Commissioner Gordon, developed many other supporting characters, created or co-created one fantastic villain after another, and yet he died broke and relatively unknown more than 40 years ago.
In his autobiography, Bob Kane acknowledged, “Now that my long-time friend and collaborator is gone, I must admit that Bill never received the fame and recognition he deserved. He was an unsung hero.”
Regarding the issue of giving Finger official credit, Kane specifically said, “I often tell my wife, if I could go back fifteen years, before he died, I’d like to say, ‘I’ll put your name on it now. You deserve it.’”
That said, DC has frequently noted that they feel legally hamstrung by their existing agreement with the Kane Estate on the matter. Representatives for DC weren’t available to comment at this late hour, though this story will be updated to include their remarks if they respond to e-mails.
The statement from the Fingers, released via the Comic Arts Council, notes that this fall, FOX will carry the Warner Bros. television series Gotham, which will feature many Bill Finger creations, including the title city itself. It seems they hope to get him some form of credit on the show.