Sunday, April 8, 2007

Constant Mistakes Should Be Easy To Correct

Credits in fancy hardcover reprints of classic comic books often contain many errors for various reasons, most significant of these being that fact and fiction are not so easily separated. Many comic book fans know that Bob Kane, the "official" creator of BATMAN, who developed that character with writer Bill Funger in the late 1930's (BATMAN premierd in DETECTIVE COMICS #27 in 1939) had a great contract with National Comics (now DC COMICS), the company that published DETECTIVE COMUCS and BATMAN. The deal dictated that Kane's name appear on all BATMAN products, be they comic book stories or films, or, in effect, what-have-you. Consequently, to this day, Kane's name appears on BATMAN items. Kane, however, seldom drew his character very much some time after 1945--he did, as I understand it, provide layouts to some of the cartoonists who actually drew the comic books, as I understand it, but I need to research this more. In any case, Kane employed a number of assistants, usually called "ghosts" in the comic book industry, who would draw the stories that the freelance writers turned in and sign Kane's name.
In 1989, when the Tim Burton directed BATMAN movie came out, I saw Bob Kane interviewed by Larry King who revealed lack of awareness of his interview subject when he questioned Kane "oh, so you don't draw Batman anymore", or, at least, words to that effect.
In any case, there are some great researchers and experts out there, like Craig Delich and Bob Hugehs, who are really good at spotting ghosts on comic boo work.
I can recognize the work of many cartoonists myself, but I tip my hat to these gentlemen.
Future blogs here will discuss "The Ghosts Of Batman".


--steve cohen said...

Of course here I was railing about mistakes and I mis-spelled not only Bill Finger's name, but also Bob Hughes' name.
Sorry, Fellas!!!

--steve cohen said...

Of all of the various cartoonists who worked under the "Bob Kane" signature, the two perhaps most famous are Jerry Robinson, who created The Joker, and Dick Sprang, whose stylized drawings and huge props, as well as his rendition of Batman's razor sharp chin, make his work pretty easy to spot.
Sheldon Moldoff, Gil "no relation" Kane, Chic Stone, Curt Swan, Jim Mooney, George Roussos, Charles Paris, the list goes on.
In the early to mid-1960's, when famed editor Julius Schwartz took on the task of running the "bat-books" we were treated to some gorgeous, beautifully designed illustration on many BATMAN stories by Carmine Infantino, who was the first caroonist to render the so-called "New Look" BATMAN, most easily recognized by the placement of the yellow oval around Batman's chest emblem, making it resemble the famous, or infamous, Bat-Signal, from the 20th Century Fox television series BATMAN, that starred Adam West as Batman, and Burt Ward as Robin.
We knew that these various cartoonists were definitely not Bob Kane, but those pesky attorneys had the staff at National Periodical Publications, the name of those days for DC COMICS, jumping through hoops.
Dick Sprang passed away some time ago, but Sheldon Moldoff continues to draw commissioned works for his fans, I will get contact information into this blog soon.