The Bat-Man and his Ancestors
When writer Bill Finger met artist Bob Kane at a party in 1938 he realized that he’d met a kindred spirit. Both young men were anxious to succeed in the new publishing enterprise that was blossoming in New York at the time: comic books! Just that year two other young men, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, had sold an idea they’d thought up in their teens to National Publications. It was their comic strip about an extremely physically fit extraterrestrial good guy. Superman became a publishing phenomenon, exceeding sales expectations almost faster than a speeding bullet, and National Publication wanted more.
Bob Kane had the idea for another costumed superhero, as the genre would come to be called. Like the popular radio announcer turned pulp fiction detective The Shadow, this character disguised his crime fighting activities by presenting himself to the world as a wealthy and somewhat idle young man about town. He followed in the footprints of that scourge of old California evil doers, the “Fox.” And like El Zorro, he often used the night as the time to issue fourth from the secret cave beneath his mansion clad in dark colors to right wrongs. Bill Finger suggested, in addition to some improvements in his costume, that the new character be a detective, a brilliant, driven, you might even say obsessive, amateur detective like Sherlock Holmes.
Kane and Finger’s creation, the Bat-Man, made his first appearance in May 1939. By the next year he’d dropped the hyphen, and like his famous predecessors, the Batman became a character that has so captured the public imagination that he has outlived his creators and has gone on to multiple incarnations in print, on radio, on television and at the movies.
Who are the heroes of your imagination?