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Bill Finger: Batman's Secret Identity

Getty Images / Albert L. Ortega / Contributor

Bill Finger: Batman's Secret Identity

Fans of comic books and superheroes all over the world know Bob Kane as the man behind Batman. But every superhero origin story must have its share of secret identities and plot twists, and this is no different. A book by Marc Tyler Nobleman, with illustrations by fan-favorite Batman artist Ty Templeton, examines the contributions of writer Bill Finger to the character who would become one of the most beloved in American history. Finger, who would have turned 100 today, has long been relegated to the shadows of Gotham City, thanks in large part to his own reluctance to demand his fair share of the credit for Batman's creation. But now the history of this elusive writer is finally coming to light. We spoke with author Marc Tyler Nobleman about the difficulty in separating legend from truth, and investigating a man as enigmatic as Bill Finger.

Q: Many fans know Bob Kane as the sole creator of Batman. What first put you onto Bill Finger's story?

I wish I remembered! All I can say with certainty is that it was sometime after I graduated college in 1994 when I learned that the "Batman created by Bob Kane" credit was not true. Once I heard what happened to Bill, I knew it had to be a book. Batman is the ultimate champion of justice, and the main mind behind him did not receive justice (let alone public appreciation) in his lifetime.

Q: What was it like investigating a subject as enigmatic as Bill Finger? How did you separate the myth from the history?

It was a challenge and an honor. To find out "new" info on Bill, I had to find people who had never been interviewed about him before, which meant family and friends – and they were buried deep. To a great extent, I relied on primary source documents (including Bob's autobiography, in which he calls Bill the "unsung hero of Batman" and says Bill's name deserves to be added to the credit line) and firsthand witnesses.

Q: What has been the reader reaction to this story?

The reader reaction, I'm happy to say, has been wildly enthusiastic. Fans are grateful that Bill finally has a book of his own, and is finally at the center of the Batman creation story, as he deserves. I did two talks/panels at Comic-Con and both rooms were packed; feedback online via tweets, blog posts, etc., has also been humbling. I am less revising history as I am doing my part to tell mainstream audiences what is already widely known to comics fans.

Read an excerpt from Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman.

Written by Seth Joseph. Find him on Google+.