Bob Kane was not the only father of Batman, but he was the most terrible

“Sometimes it is difficult to separate the myth from the truth” – Bob Kane, in An Open Letter to “Batmanians” EverywhereSeptember 14, 1965.


The opening credits of batman v superman (Zack Snyder, 2016) honored the subtitle of that film, dawn of justice, crediting screenwriter Bill Finger for the first time as co-creator of Batman, one of the most important and lucrative characters in the history of American comics. It was a posthumous victory for Finger, who died in 1974 without ever seeing his contribution, at crucial times, to the mythology of various characters and series regulars published by DC Comics. In the specific case of Batman, this flagrant theft of intellectual property has a name and surname: Bob Kane, writer and cartoonist who negotiated, back in 1946, a contractual achievement so contentious that Finger’s heirs managed to reverse it several decades later. Kane demanded from the publisher that his name be the only one to appear as creator in all the comics and adaptations of the character, something that was not only false (there is documentary evidence of this), but also humiliated all those colleagues who they helped forge the legend of a superhero loved by millions of people around the world. No, Batman never had just one father. But we know, without a doubt, who was the cruelest of all.


Bob Kane went to work at detective comics shortly before his sister head, Action Comicsreaped unprecedented success thanks to the debut of Superman. The Caped Guys had become a publishing phenomenon overnight., then Kane got down to business and presented his version to the publisher: a blond and muscular athlete whom he christened “The Bat-Man”. Inspired by the films of Douglas Fairbanks and Leonardo Da Vinci’s ornithopter, this first sketch still needed quite a bit of work before he transformed into the Dark Knight we know today. That’s where Bill Finger comes in: as he told Jim Steranko in The Steranko History of Comics 1 (1970), “Kane had an idea for a character called Batman and invited me to see his drawings.. I went to his house and I saw that he had drawn a character that looked a lot like Superman, with some kind of… red leggings, I think I remember, with boots… without gloves… with a little mask and hanging from a rope”.

It was, therefore, Finger who suggested some of the characteristics (starting with the mask with pointy ears) that definitively separated the character from Superman and endowed him with his iconic aura, but He also found some narrative or thematic keys: his orphanhood, his status as a millionaire, his tendency to appear once night falls, his similarities with pulp heroes like La Sombra or El Zorro… However, Kane refused to acknowledge Finger’s contribution from the get-go.signing the character presentation cartoon alone (The case of the chemical union, published in May 1939) and all that followed. But what she did a few years later, when it came time to renegotiate her contract with the publisher, was even worse.


Having served in World War II, Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel rejoins civilian life, only to learn that he and Joe Shuster are not in complete control of the hero they envisioned together nearly a decade ago. Siegel then had an idea: Since Bob Kane’s contract was about to expire, the three could appear at the DC Comics offices demanding a more profitable renegotiation for the company’s authors. What Kane did next was go ahead and tell his bosses about Siegel and Shuster’s plan, at which point DC decided to terminate their contracts and completely wrest creative control of Superman from them.. Not only that, but he also claimed to be a minor when she signed for the first time with the publisher (documentary evidence shows that she was over 18 years old), which made that contract a mere piece of paper. Therefore, Kane killed two birds with one stone in 1946: he managed to get rid of the only two people who could overshadow him at that time in the field of superheroes and signed a new document granting him full powers over Batmanincluding everything related to its exploitation rights in other formats.

Meanwhile, the entire industry knew that, although he continued to sign the character’s comics alone, Kane hadn’t drawn a single cartoon for years. His army of subcontracted artists took care of everything while he cashed the checks, without ever getting a modicum of acknowledgment from him. So widespread was this rumor in DC headquarters that his editors used to tease him just before sending a batch of pages to the printer: the joke was to pretend there was a small mistake in one of the cartoons and ask Kane if he could. he could redraw it in a second, with the consequent panic attack on his part. Plain and simple, DC Comics turned a blind eye to Bob Kanebecause Batman was a machine to print money and nobody dared to alter it in the slightest.

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Bob Kane was not the only father of Batman, but he was the most terrible

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