Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman

Charlesbridge  2012

 

His identity remains unknown—no longer; neither Batman’s nor Batman’s co-creator, Milton “Bill” Finger. In this book, structured around revealed secrets, older readers learn of another Jewish comic book genius with a sad history. Despite the picture book format, the content, mood and vocabulary will appeal to readers over age 10. Author Marc Tyler Nobleman demonstrates that Finger had better luck with Batman than teen creators did with Superman, but not much. Nobleman has made a cottage industry of bittersweet revelations about Jewish comic inventors; if he were a singer, he would do torch songs.

Bill the Boy Wonder chronologically reveals Finger’s career and the impact of his religion on his work. Older colleagues manipulated Bill’s youth and sweet personality, using him to design and write without credit. He received only a small salary. The man whose contract deemed him Batman’s sole creator came to Bill for help. Bill designed Batman’s shape, clothes and mission. He wrote plots, dreaming up Gotham City, Bruce Wayne, and Batman’s famous villains. Bill died just as he was becoming an unsung legend; leaders of the industry were beginning to acknowledge him and even the “sole creator” was sorry he had hogged the credit. Bill’s name now appears on reprints but the money goes to others. There is a light touch for targeted readers—Finger used puns writing about Batman, and Nobleman uses puns writing about Finger. The concluding author’s note is geared too old for young readers but will fascinate their parents. Readers will feel proud of their heritage; Finger is a role model who provides a strong, if not happy, life lesson. Recommended for ages 10-16.



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