Saturday, October 24, 2009

Bob Kane..."I'm Batman, Dammit!"

Today is the birthday of Bob Kane. Born is 1916, Bob would have been 93 years old today.

Back in 1938, Action Comics #1 was published featuring the first appearance of Superman and the age of the superhero was born. Young Bob was working at DC Comics at the time, and after seeing Superman's success, the powers that be turned to all their young staffers and asked for ideas for more super-hero ideas that they could publish.

This was on a Friday afternoon, and the following Monday Bob returned with some sketches he had made of his new idea, "Bat-Man".

Unlike Superman, Batman was a character with no super powers, he was a masked man who used his detective and natural physical skills to fight crime. Partly based on "Zorro" and visually inspired by Leonardo Di Vinci's sketches of men in flying suits, Bob was given the go ahead.
In May of 1939, Detective Comics #27 featured the first appearance of the character. "The Dark Night Detective", "The Dark Knight", "The Caped Crusader" hit the comic book page, and the rest is history.

Here's that first 6 page story for your enjoyment!

Batman was a huge success and still is today. From the imagination of a young Jewish boy in Depression era Brooklyn, the character still captures our imagination today.

There is a lot of controversy over Bob Kane and his ghost artists and writers over the years, mostly spurred on by the fact that only his name appears on the strip. Dick Sprang, Jerry Robinson, Bill Finger and others have all been given credence in their contributions to the strip and fans still look down their noses at Kane for hogging the glory and money for himself and his shameless self-promotion over the years.

I really don't care about the ins and outs of the business side of all this though. I just appreciate the worthwhile work that was done.

Here from 1940 is probably one of the first full telling's of Batman the character's origin. Dark, serious simple drawings, that over the course of 2 pages, have kept storytellers going for 70 years in comics, TV and film and still have the fans wanting more.

Happy birthday Bob. Though many lay claim to contributing, it was you who brought all the creative forces together, recognized the value of the work and trudged through the dry business of it all.

You kept Batman alive and going when others would have walked away.

Thanks Bob!

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