American comic book writer
(1914-1974). Massively influential
in the comic book biz, but almost forgotten
because his partner was a better self-promoter.
Finger was born in New York City
and attended DeWitt Clinton High School
with a kid named Bob Kane
. Finger and Kane never met in high school
because they were in different grades--they finally met a few years later when Finger was working as a shoe salesman
. They discovered that they both loved comic strip
s and the pulp
s, and together, they created a kids strip called "Rusty and His Pals
" and an adventure
strip called "Clip Carson
In 1938, National Publications
published a comic book called "Action Comics #1
," which featured a wildly popular
character called Superman
. National went looking for someone who could create another popular hero
, and Kane came up with the idea of a guy called the Batman
. He showed his sketch
es to Finger, who was disappointed in Kane's design
. Kane's original Batman wore a red
costume with stiff black bat wings
and a black domino mask
. Finger believed that the character looked too much like Superman and later recalled some of his suggestion
s to Kane:
"I got Webster's Dictionary off the shelf and was hoping they had a drawing of a bat, and sure enough it did. I said, 'notice the ears, why don't we duplicate the ears?' I suggested he draw what looked like a cowl... I had suggested he bring the nosepiece down and make him mysterious and not show any eyes at all... I didn't like the wings, so I suggested he make a cape and scallop the edges so it would flow out behind him when he ran and would look like bat wings. He didn't have any gloves on. We gave him gloves because naturally he'd leave fingerprints."
Finger wrote some of the early Batman stories and helped mold the Dark Knight's personality. He once said, "My idea was to have Batman be a combination of Douglas Fairbanks, Sherlock Holmes, The Shadow, and Doc Savage as well." Finger is also credited with naming Bruce Wayne, Robin, and Gotham City, creating villains like Catwoman, the Penguin, the Riddler, Two-Face, and Clayface, and writing the first Joker story (though Kane created the Clown Prince of Crime).
Finger's other comic book work included creating Wildcat and the original Green Lantern and writing many of the best-known characters of the Golden Age, including Superman, Superboy, Wonder Woman, the Flash, the Atom, and Captain America.
When Kane eventually gave up rights to Batman, he negotiated a deal with National Comics that required that he be credited as the sole creator of Batman. Decades past with that agreement very firmly in place, with only the occasional article cropping up to remind comics fans that Kane wasn't the Dark Knight's sole creator. In recent years, more fans began advocating for Finger to be given a credit along with Kane. Finally, in 2015, the credit in the comics, movies, and TV shows was officially changed to "Batman created by Bob Kane with Bill Finger."
Outside of the comics, Finger co-wrote a movie called "The Green Slime" in 1969 and contributed scripts for a number of TV shows, including "77 Sunset Strip," "Hawaiian Eye," and "The Roaring Twenties."
Throughout his career, Finger was known for his chronic inability to make deadlines. He once turned in a first page of one of his scripts stapled to a bunch of blank pages because he was hoping to get paid early. He and a number of other comic creators were fired from DC Comics in the 1960s because they had the gall to ask for health benefits, but Finger later returned to DC in the early '70s to write a few mystery stories before his death in 1974. His body was cremated, and his son spread his ashes on an Oregon beach in the shape of a bat.