Partners Of Peril!
Finger and KaneCHAPTER TWO of THREE

Bob Kane
and Bill Finger created Batman... right? Well, Bill Finger contributed most of the character’s defining iconography, but when Kane first presented a sketch of the new “mystery man” to DC comic editor Vin Sullivan (featuring a figure Kane had swiped from Flash Gordon), Sullivan had no idea Finger had been instrumental in the superhero’s creation.

Mainly because Kane hadn’t told him! But why should he have? In Kane’s mind, Bill Finger worked for HIM, not for DC, so any contributions Finger made to Kane’s work actually belonged to Kane. At least in theory.

Vin Sullivan expressed interest in Kane’s new character, and Kane quickly negotiated a contract to deliver a set number of “Bat-Man” stories per year, all crediting Kane as sole creator. What made Bob Kane such a savvy negotiator? Kane’s family was well-connected -- his uncle owned a garment factory, and his father was a printer at the New York Daily News -- so the young novice was guided by expert business advice from seasoned professionals.

According to Comics Buyer's Guide columnist Catherine Yronwode (pictured left), “Kane himself once told me that his very first contract Catwith DC was different than Siegel and Shuster's Superman contract because Kane’s father, who worked in the newspaper business, knew that comic strip creators and newspaper columnists made lots of money, so because Bob was not of legal age, he negotiated on Bob's behalf and got some kind of ancillary rights clause written that promised Bob extra money or points in case Batman was used in other formats (movies, strips, books, toys). Kane told me that the reason he made out so well and Siegel and Shuster did not was that HIS dad looked out for him, and their folks did not -- and that the early contract his dad had negotiated formed the basis for the renegotiated contracts of later years.
Kane 1971

When Kane told Bill Finger the big news that DC had bought the Batman character, and that he was to appear on the cover of Detective Comics #27 (pictured right), Kane somehow neglected to mention that the contract he had signed specified that he, the one and only BOB KANE, was to be credited as SOLE creator of Batman. To state it in the hyperactive, super-melodramatic pulp magazine writing style: Bill Finger had partnered himself with the egotistical and duplicitous Kane... at his own PERI

The first-ever Batman story, “The Case Of The Chemical Syndicate,” is credited solely to Rob’t Kane (credit pictured right), despite the fact that it was written by Bill Finger. Or perhaps I Kaneshould say... it was ADAPTED by Bill Finger. In The Steranko History of Comics, Finger admits, “My first [Batman] script was a take-off on a Shadow story."

Shadow creator Walter Gibson once said Batman was “a clowned-up version of The Shadow.” But no one knew exactly how MUCH of a “take-off” on The Shadow
Shadow 9Batman was, or could identify WHICH Shadow pulp Finger had used as the basis for Batman's debut story, which was titled "THE CASE OF THE CHEMICAL SYNDICATE."

And so, these burning questions remained unanswered for nearly seven decades... until 2007, when Shadow uberfans Anthony Tollin and Will Murray made a history-making discovery: they identified the legendary Shadow story as “PARTNERS OF PERIL.”

It seems this story was "A Smashing Novel," as its cover declares, in more ways than one! The tale was recently reprinted for the first time by Tollin as part of his Shadow/Doc Savage TPB series (cover pictured left), complete with special essays documenting this amazing discovery.

PARTNERS OF PERIL” ran in the November 1, 1936 issue of The Shadow pulp magazine, and Finger wrote the first Batman story three years later, in 1939. Pulps were classed as flashy, trashy, throw-away fiction. One reason Finger may have preserved and treasured this particular pulp for three long years: its drool-inducing cover. Pictured below is a wicked cool scan of Robby's very own copy of the issue, cover-featuring THE definitive Shadow portrait, painted by the matchless George Rozen!
Partners Of Peril

“Partners Of Peril,” is the first Shadow pulp story NOT authored by Walter Gibson! It was written by Gibson’s sometime stand-in, THEODORE TINSLEY. Tollin, GibsonThe breakdown goes like this: Bruce Elliot wrote 15 Shadow pulps, Theodore Tinsley wrote 27, and WALTER GIBSON wrote the remaining 283.

According to ANTHONY TOLLIN, “Tinsley's first Shadow novel mentions ‘bat-like’ and ‘bats’ on seven occasions. This is most unusual for a Shadow novel. One really has to ask, did this novel actually inspire Batman's creation from the very start? I mean, it's a bit of a stretch to assume that Kane and Finger came up with the idea of Batman first, and that it was a complete coincidence that the story Finger chose to imitate was comparatively crawling with bats.”

All his life, Bob Kane maintained that he was inspired by several different sources to change the name “Bird-Man.” Is this claim true? Or is it a thoroughly fallacious subterfuge? Did one source -- and one source ALONE -- inspire changing the prefix of the new hero’s name from the pleasant and friendly-sounding “Bird” to the mysterious and nocturnal-sounding “BAT”? Reader, YOU DECIDE! We now present, for the first time ever in visual form, the ultimate Shadow vs. Batman Smackdown!
Shadow vs. Batman











So, thanks to Tollin and Murray's discovery, a new chapter in Batman history has been written! There can no longer be any doubt that Bill Finger’s first-ever Batman story was adapted from The Shadow adventure “Partners Of Peril,” by Theodore Tinsley.

Yet this fascinating historical find should NOT lead to Finger being written off as a plagiarist. After all, this was a six-page story Finger dashed off in a day or two, never suspecting he was co-creating an American icon that would attain world-wide fame, and endure for almost seven decades (and counting).

Batman was NOT the only enduring character Finger ever created. There were dozens of others, including Robin and Alfred, as well as Green Lantern, and he went on to write more than 1,500 stories for comics. He also wrote for television, both live action and animated. The DC house ad below shows two kids praising the inventiveness and originality of a Bill Finger story, titled "Seven Steps to Conquest," which ran in LEADING COMICS #4.

Leading Comics


What kind of writer was Bill Finger? Though perpetually late, Finger always included reference materials such as photos or magazine articles to help artists out, and he took equal care in choosing NAMES for his characters.

As he said in The Steranko History of Comics, "Bruce Wayne's first name came from Robert BRUCE, the Scottish patriot. Wayne, being a playboy, was a man of gentry. I searched for a name that would suggest colonialism. I tried Adams, Hancock, then I thought of Mad Anthony WAYNE."

After DC found out Finger was ghost-writing the Batman series for Kane, they hired him directly. As Batman artist JERRY ROBINSON recalls, “Bill and I began to get offers from other publishers. Everybody wanted to Robinsonhave somebody who was associated with the success of Batman. DC finally learned about our existence and that we were going elsewhere, they immediately called us down and signed us up and we worked, after that, directly for DC and not for Bob.”


So why was the successful, sought-after Bill Finger hired by DC at a modest page rate only? Doom Patrol creator Arnold Drake, who was very close to Bill Finger, once recalled, “Bill had a severe lack of self esteem and the company exploited it. There was definitely a guilt there. They felt guilty toward his situation. But that didn’t stop Fingerthem from feeding his addiction for advanced checks. This left him in their complete power. “

“Bill was a craftsman,” Jerry Robinson adds. “He couldn't let anything go unless it met his sense of perfection. He really worked on his scripts, and he wasn't a fluent writer. Some writers write very easily and produce a lot. Others, some of our greatest writers, sweat out every word. Bill was in the latter category. He really worked on his scripts and it didn't come easily. He tried to do a creative job each time. They didn't appreciate it. So if he didn't keep up with the hectic deadline pace, it was understandable. To them, it was the bottom line. If you met the deadline, that was most important. Too often he didn't ... They would treat him like dirt because he was a day late regardless of how good the material was that he was writing. This only further demoralized him.”


A scant year after Finger’s sudden demise in 1974, an issue of “The Amazing World of DC Comics” was shockingly unkind to Finger’s memory. Finger’s habits of missing deadlines and constantly asking for advances were shamelessly satirized in AWODC #10’s “Through the Wringer,” a ghoulish six-pager written by occasional Batman scripter David V. Reed, and drawn by Metamorpho artist Ramona Fradon.

But according to Jamie Coville, "I did an interview with Ramona once, and in asking her about some business related stuff, she didn't have a clue about it. She never hung out with the other people working at DC and was blissfully unaware of all the office politics and dramas."

So apparently the impetus lies with David Reed. The late Bill Finger, here referred to by Reed as “Phil Binger,” is portrayed as a useless hack who is perpetually late, and interested ONLY in advances on his pay. Here’s a shameful page from this totally tasteless story:



Despite his difficulties, Bill Finger persevered, leaving his “prints” all OVER the comic book industry. He earned several official bylines, including one as co-creator, with Martin Nodell (using "Dellon," a scrambled version of his actual last name, as a pen name), of the original GREEN LANTERN! In an interview with Roy Thomas, Nodell interview, "Bill Finger... did most of the writing. I suggested some ideas to him, and he found them quite acceptable in working on what he did. And his ideas were appropriate with me; I found I was able to work with him easily ... He liked to do the writing with me. There was no problem at all. He enjoyed it, and, as far as I was concerned, we worked easily together."


Bill Finger -- together with his fellow DeWitt-Clinton High School alumnus Irwin Hasen, creator of the button-eyed young newspaper strip hero "DONDI" -- also earned another byline for co-creating a prize-fighter character who was inspired by a Green Lantern comic book to became the non-powered superhero named... WILDCAT!
Sensation #2

Finger also wrote Batman on TV, authoring “The Clock King's Crazy Crimes” and “The Clock King Gets Crowned,” which first aired October 12-13, 1966. Finger co-authored these stories, starring Walter Slezak as the Clock King, with Charles Sinclair. Finger loved surrounding Batman with enormous PROPS, such giant typewriters, colossal roller skates, and the gigantic hourglass death-trap Clock King uses on the Dynamic Duo (Adam West, Burt Ward) in Bill Finger's Batman TV show episodes:

Bill Finger is also acknowledged as the sole creator of Robin the Boy Wonder, Alfred, Bat-Mite, Catwoman, Penguin, Two-Face, Bat-Mite, and many other world-famous, immortal characters, some of whom are pictured below, along with a whole ton of stuff visualizing things written and created by the late, great BILL FINGER! Click it for giant-sized version!
Bill Finger Tribute

DC renewed Bob Kane’s contract in 1968. Although Kane was no longer drawing comics, his new contract stated that all future Batman stories would credit Kane as sole creator of the character. The company eventually FIRED Bill Finger for inquiring about the creation of a company health care program!
Finger returned to DC in the early 70s on a free-lance basis, but soon, stress, constant poverty, and his lifelong drinking problem took their toll on him. Bill Finger passed away in 1974 at the age of 59, survived by his ex-wife, Portia, and a son.

AdamsTo mark Finger’s passing, DC Comics ran a full-page illustration showing a solemn Batman at a
grave site, with a reverent requiem for Finger written on the marker. The main figure in this image was originally drawn by NEAL ADAMS, and touched up by DC staffer Carl Gafford.

WF199"The Supes retouch," Gafford recalls, "was from a SUPERMAN cover where Supes and his daughter are at Lois' grave. I reckon it was from 1968-69, the later years of Uncle Mort (Weisinger)."

The issue, Superman #215, featured an imaginary story where the Man of Steel marries Lois Lane and they have a
daughter, but it ends tragically when Lois dies. On the cover, Superman is shown at Lois' graveside with his daughter, named Lanie. Little Lanine looks just like Dad, and dresses like him too. The Man of Steel wears a blue uniform, so his daughter wears a blue dress; Superman wears read boots, his daughter wears red socks.

For the Bill Finger
memoriam page, Carl Gafford transformed the Superman figure on this cover into a Batman figure by adding a cowl, Bat chest-symbol and glove-fins. He also changed Superman's (rocket ship) belt into Batman's utility belt, removed Superman's daughter from the scene, and extended the height of the grave marker (click HERE for larger, side-by-side comparison of the two pieces).

A requiem for Finger was placed on the marker. It sa
ys, "few men have contributed as much to comics," and concludes, "he will be missed by all of us." Thus is BILL FINGER's gigantic role in the founding of our beloved comic book nation permanently acknowledged and enshrined. A moment of silence, in his memory...


A year after Finger's death, in a 1975 tabloid-sized reprint of Batman #1, then-publisher of DC Comics Carmine Infantino wrote a touching eulogy to Finger that gave credit where credit was long overdue. In full contradistinction to Kane’s long-standing claim that his creation of Batman was a solo act, Infantino wrote, “Batman has lost a father, one of his TWO real fathers, that is.” The Batman character was, as Infantino put it, “The greatest product of the Bill Finger/ Bob Kane team.”

The spotlight-hungry Bob Kane had long insisted that Finger's claims of involvement in Batman’s creation were “hallucinations of grandeur.” Kane had rationalized his attitude by claiming, with some justification, that “The Fingertrouble with being a ghostwriter or artist is that you must remain rather anonymously without credit. If one wants the credit, one has to cease being a ghost and become a leader or innovator.”

Bill Finger never saw his name appear on a first-run Batman story during his lifetime (his name did appear in reprints), and the legally-mandated omission of Bill Finger’s name as a Bat-co-creator -- a condition insisted on by Bob Kane -- continues to this day. It seems giving recognition to Bill Finger while he was ALIVE never occurred to Kane.

Even as a youngster, Kane knew the Dark Knight was a ticket to stardom, and he wanted to ride the rocket alone. Kane could find no room in it for his troubled and talented partner of peril, the man who was the true creative force behind Batman: BILL FINGER.

We're TIRED of writing new CHAPTERS in the history
of Batman's origins. It's time to rewrite the whole damn BOOK!
Click here for Chapter THREE in this three-part series!


Click here for Chapter THREE
in this three-part series!