Bill Finger co-created Batman.

You’re not going to see him so credited in the Batman comics, nor in the Dark Knight’s appearances in other media. That honour goes to Bob Kane, the youngster tasked in 1939 with coming up with a super-character to capitalise on the success of Superman. And Kane did indeed conceive of such a character, but he realised that it wasn’t quite up to snuff, so he took his sketch to his pal Bill. And it was Finger who suggested the refinements — the pointy-eared cowl, the pointy gloves, the billowing cape, the detective angle — that we today most associate with Batman.

Kane, in accordance with his contract, got the full credit and died a wealthy playboy figure. Finger died penniless.

On his death in 1974, DC published this full-page tribute (in Amazing World of DC Comics #1) acknowledging his importance to comics, and Batman in particular, but stopping short of a full credit for co-creating the character.

While this seems quite nice and fitting, DC didn’t spend much money on it. Look at this:

Colourist Carl Gafford doctored Neal Adams’s Superman cover (from Superman #215), converting the Man of Steel into the Darknight Detective. Well, I suppose it was cheaper that commissioning a new piece of art, eh?

Finger was a great talent. A far, far greater talent than Bob Kane ever was. It seems a shame that he’s not at least as well known.

(Click on the tribute image for a better look)

©2010 DC Comics