Bill Finger Biography

(Comic Book Writer & Co-creator of the DC Comic Superhero 'Batman')

Birthday: February 8, 1914 (Aquarius)

Born In: Denver, Colorado, United States

Bill Finger was an American comic strip and comic book writer, best known as the co-creator of the 'DC Comics' character 'Batman.' He had also contributed to the creation of the character's sidekick, 'Robin,' and the nemesis, 'Joker.' Unfortunately, Finger was never credited for all these popular and successful characters until 'DC Comic' lost a long legal feud to finally acknowledge his contributions. He began his career working with Bob Kane, the co-creator of the characters. The duo worked together in the creation of 'Batman,' but Kane chose to make a deal with 'DC Comics' in Finger's absence. Finger, who had contributed the most to the development of the characters, right from suggesting the appearance, mannerisms, and even the scripts, was thus deprived of being credited. It was unfortunate that a man who had contributed significantly to the ''Golden Age of Comics,'' went unsung for decades and had to die broke.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Milton Finger

Died At Age: 59


Spouse/Ex-: Lyn Simmons (m. 1968–1971)

father: Louis Finger

mother: Tessie Finger

Born Country: United States

Cartoonists Artists & Painters

Died on: January 18, 1974

place of death: Manhattan, New York, United States

Ancestry: Austrian American

Grouping of People: Jewish Writer

Cause of Death: Occlusive Coronary Atherosclerosis

U.S. State: Colorado

City: Denver, Colorado

More Facts

awards: Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame
Jack Kirby Hall of Fame

Childhood & Early Life
Finger was born Milton Finger on February 8, 1914, in Denver, Colorado, to a Jewish couple, Louis Finger, and Tessie. He was raised along with his sisters, Emily and Gilda.
Finger's family was settled in The Bronx, New York City, where his father owned a tailoring shop, which shut down during the 'Great Depression.'
He attended 'DeWitt Clinton High School' in The Bronx and graduated in 1933. He aspired to be a writer.
Continue Reading Below
Finger had a part-time job as a shoe salesman. He then met comic book writer, artist, and future collaborator, Bob Kane, at a party. Kane was a 'DeWitt Clinton' alumnus, too.
He joined Kane's newly established studio in 1938 and later, on Kane's recommendation, got a ghost writing job for the 'Rusty and Clip Carson' comic strips.
When editors wanted to create a character to match National Comics' success with superhero 'Superman,' Kane came up with the idea of 'Batman.' When Kane conceived the idea for 'Batman,' he showed the drawings to Finger. Finger then suggested giving the character a cowl instead of the domino mask, a cape instead of wings, and gloves.
Finger later revealed that these suggestions were inspired from 'Phantom,' a syndicated newspaper comic strip character. Bill was the one to suggest the name of Batman's secret identity, ‘Bruce Wayne,’ where the first name was taken from the Scottish patriot Robert Bruce. Finger wanted to give a colonial name to the character's secret identity.
He was the writer of the initial storylines for Batman's debut (May 1939) and second strips of 'Detective Comics.'
When 'Batman' became an overnight success, Finger was asked to write more stories for the character. He had also made major contributions to Batman's nemesis, 'Joker.'
Finger co-created Batman's sidekick, 'Robin.' When Kane wanted the character’s origin to match that of 'Batman,' Finger suggested the death of the character's parents while performing their trapeze act in a circus.
'DC Comics' writer Gardner Fox had replaced Finger for a while. He returned, and created (or co-created) the 'Batmobile,' 'Batcave,' and the name 'Gotham City.'
Finger was one of the writers of the 'Batman' comic strip from 1943 to 1946. Usage of giant-sized props was common in his stories.
Continue Reading Below
Finger eventually left Kane's studio and joined 'DC Comics' as an independent artist.
He wrote the stories where fictional material ''kryptonite'' and Al Plastino were featured in 'Superman' (November 1949). He was also the writer of the 'DC Comics' series 'Superboy' and had created the character's love interest, 'Lana Lang.'
Finger continued to write 'Batman' stories and collaborated with artist Sheldon Moldoff to introduce 'Ace the Bat-Hound' in June 1955, 'Bat-Mite' in May 1959, 'Clayface' in December 1961, and 'Betty Kane,' the original 'BatGirl' in April 1961.
In addition to 'DC Comics,' Finger had produced content for 'Fawcett Comics,' 'Quality Comics,' and 'Timely Comics' for which he created the 'All-Winners Squad.'
He wrote the script to introduce Kane's character 'Scarecrow.' The two introduced 'Two-Face' in August 1942. He co-wrote the byline of the debut 'Wildcat' story (January 1942) for 'Sensation Comics.'
Some of his other co-creations were the 'Riddler' (October 1948) with Dick Sprang, and the original 'Green Lantern,' 'Alan Scott,' (July 1940) with creator Martin Nodell.
Finger solely created the 'Calendar Man' without any input from Kane.
As a screenwriter, Finger wrote films 'The Green Slime,' 'Death Comes to Planet Aytin,' and 'Track of the Moon Beast,' and contributed to the scripts to the TV series 'Hawaiian Eye' and '77 Sunset Strip.'
In 1985, 'DC Comics' honored Finger in its 50th-anniversary publication 'Fifty Who Made DC Great.'
Continue Reading Below
Disputes Over Credit
Although Kane never let 'DC Comics' credit Finger as the co-creator of 'Batman' and other characters for the comics, he had acknowledged Finger’s contribution to the creation of the character in his autobiography, 'Batman and Me' (1989).
He also wrote about how Finger transformed 'Batman' from a superhero-vigilante to a scientific detective. He described him as an "unsung hero."
Finger's biographer, Marc Tyler Nobleman, has mentioned about the incident where Kane had a deal with editor Vin Sullivan in Finger's absence. He even showed the drawings to Vin in Finger’s absence.
'National Comics' (later 'DC Comics') agreed to Kane's offer. 'DC,' however, began giving limited acknowledgment to Finger's writing work. He was also credited as the sole creator of the 'Riddler.'
As background artist and letterer George Roussos had recalled, Finger would do thorough research before writing a plot for 'DC Comics.' He would even go for pictorial references (usually from 'National Geographic') to design the setup of the stories. Roussos had also mentioned his orderly and systematic way of working.
The only fault Roussos had mentioned in Finger's style of working was his irregularity in producing content. Because of his inconsistency and slow pace, 'Batman' editor Whitney Ellsworth once suggested that Kane should replace him.
Author and 'Batman' comic collector Joe Desris, too, has described Finger as "notoriously tardy."
In 1994, Kane credited Finger for creating the 'Joker.' However, artist Jerry Robinson had also claimed the same. On the claim of Robinson, Kane had clarified that it was his and Finger's creation and Robinson made no contribution to the character. He backed the statements by citing Finger's contribution as the writer and that his idea of taking influences from actor Conrad Veidt in 'The Man Who Laughs' to create the character.
Another character named 'Penguin' that debuted in December 1941 also had disputes over creative credit. Finger claimed that he created the character.
Continue Reading Below
However, 'National Comic's sister company, 'All-American Publications' had credited Finger while he was alive.
After a long legal battle, a deal was reached between Finger's family and 'DC Comics,' and the latter finally acknowledged Finger's creations in September 2015. The following month, he was formally credited for 'Batman' in 'Batman and Robin Eternal' #3 and 'Batman: Arkham Knight Genesis' #3.
He was also credited for the 2016 superhero film 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice' and the second season of 'Fox' series 'Gotham.'
Recommended Lists:
Personal Life & Death
Finger had a son, Frederick, from first wife, Portia. After their divorce, he married Edith "Lyn" Simmons in the late 1960s and remained married until his death.
He was found dead at his home in Manhattan, on January 18, 1974. The cause of death was later revealed as occlusive coronary atherosclerosis. He had previously suffered heart attacks in 1963, 1970, and 1973.
As per his last wish, Frederick cremated his father and scattered his ashes in the shape of a bat in Oregon.
Finger's granddaughter Athena, born two years after his death, had challenged 'Warner Bros.' to credit him as co-creator of 'Batman.'
Unlike Bob Kane, who was an arrogant and boastful person, Finger was a total nerd.
He also never craved publicity and had made only one public appearance at a 1965 convention. He never gave an interview to the media.
Writer John Broome and penciler Gil Kane paid tribute to Finger through the comic-book villain 'William Hand' (Black Hand'), which was based entirely on Finger's personality.
He was inducted into the 'Jack Kirby Hall of Fame' (1994) and the 'Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame' (1999). He was also conferred the 'Inkpot Award' in 2014.
'Comic-Con International' honored him by establishing the 'Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing' in 2005.
On December 8, 2017, a street in the Bronx where Finger and Kane would meet to discuss 'Batman,' was named Bill Finger Way.
The injustice to Finger over creative credit has been featured in the 2017 'Hulu' original documentary, 'Batman & Bill.'
Recommended Lists:

See the events in life of Bill Finger in Chronological Order

How To Cite

Article Title
- Bill Finger Biography
- Editors,

People Also Viewed

Marilyn Manson Biography
Marilyn Manson
Grace Slick Biography
Grace Slick
Don Gummer Biography
Don Gummer
Tasya van Ree Biography
Tasya van Ree
Mike Judge Biography
Mike Judge
Matthew Gray Gubler Biography
Matthew Gray Gubler
Matt Groening Biography
Matt Groening
Kim Novak Biography
Kim Novak