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 Bill Finger, The Secret Co-Creator of Batman

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Joe Lee
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PostSubject: Bill Finger, The Secret Co-Creator of Batman   Tue Sep 25, 2012 10:33 am



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

I ordered this book a while back, to at the very least, support the book. It's an important story, for comic book fans, and the book is worth reading. And it's a quick read too. But it's format falls short on giving the subject matter the appropriate dignity. It that lacks the gravitas of its subject. Don't misunderstand me, I liked the book, the story itself is of great interest to me, but it's design undermines it's credibility. It's the size, thickness and feel of a children's book. Hardcover too. It's not comic book size, it's pages aren't designed to look like a classic Batman comic. The pages and book are indistinguishable from a children's book.

I don't mind the idea of telling the story through illustrations, but maybe in a format and style that would be more appropriate, like a comic book, drawn in a style similar to Dick Sprang's iconic artwork which graced The Batman comics, at the same time as Bill Finger's writing. It may have been more appropriate than the children's book style page layouts. And maybe the illustrated story didn't need to be the sole content. I would have loved to see this designed with more substance, more variety to the image usage, and some of the actual source materials included. Used alongside the comic strip story telling elements, it might have been a more engaging, and more mature looking work, more like Art Spiegelman's and Chip Kidd's Jack Cole biography, (Jack Cole and Plastic Man: Forms stretched to their limits).

This is not a children's book story, it is a the story of a creative man and how his greatest achievement is credited to another man, a more ambitious man who was able to manipulate circumstances to his favor. It's a story of one man cheating another and of one man unable to do anything but let him get away with it. A story we can all relate to on some level. But harder to relate to in such a format. I liked it, and I suspect other old timey Golden-age comics fans will like this book, but I suspect some might find the format a little off-putting.


Last edited by Joe Lee on Fri Sep 28, 2012 9:10 am; edited 1 time in total
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mtnobleman



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PostSubject: The author responds (starting with a thank you)   Thu Sep 27, 2012 5:33 pm

Thanks for covering my book. I appreciate your input.

We all know you can't judge a book by its cover. I often say you can't judge it by its thickness, either.

The book is the result of five years of research and contains significant info that has never before been published elsewhere, starting with a fact in the very first sentence. The exhaustive six-page author's note also contains considerable new details, including the biggest bombshell of the book. A month before the book's release, I blogged a list specifying the discoveries I made: http://noblemania.blogspot.com/2012/06/bill-boy-wonder-reveals.html. Also, for many readers, the entire story is new.

Yes, this is a picture book, but for older readers, and it's the first book in ANY format on Bill Finger. The reason I wrote it for a wider audience is so kids would growing up knowing that "Batman created by Bob Kane" is not the truth rather than learning it as adults (if ever).

I agree that Finger deserves a longer treatment as well, but I am happy to report that many have responded with heartfelt and enthusiastic endorsement for my approach, including Batman film producer Michael Uslan, NPR's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, FORBES, MTV, the WASHINGTON POST, and many fans who attended my two Bill Finger talks at Comic-Con.
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Joe Lee
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PostSubject: Re: Bill Finger, The Secret Co-Creator of Batman   Fri Sep 28, 2012 9:35 am

mtnobleman wrote:

Yes, this is a picture book, but for older readers, and it's the first book in ANY format on Bill Finger. The reason I wrote it for a wider audience is so kids would growing up knowing that "Batman created by Bob Kane" is not the truth rather than learning it as adults (if ever).
Marc,
Thanks for your response, I greatly respect and appreciate it as well as the book itself. And for you to take the time to register as a member here to post a response to a review that was largely positive, on a site with only ten members, is even more greatly appreciated. I hope you continue to contribute to our site, that would be amazing!

As I said above my only real criticism was the format and maybe the substance. I think the book may have benefited from a little more context.

But I'm a little unclear about your some things. You say, "Yes, this is a picture book, but for older readers," and then go on to say you wrote it so, "kids would growing up knowing that "Batman created by Bob Kane" is not the truth rather than learning it as adults (if ever)."

That seems a bit contradictory to me.

If the format was chosen specifically for kids then I might understand, but doing, "a picture book, but for older readers," would seem to be appropriate to me anyway, only if the subject himself was involved in "picture books." Since it was comic books, why not layout the story like a comic? Or even better like a Dick Sprang Batman comic? Maybe that's just me, obviously NPR's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, FORBES, MTV, and the WASHINGTON POST, disagree. My brain works in weird ways. Either way, I very much enjoyed the book and hope it continues to do well!

And everybody check out Marc's blog, I'm adding it to the "League Approved" Blog List!!!

http://noblemania.blogspot.com/
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mtnobleman



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PostSubject: Re: Bill Finger, The Secret Co-Creator of Batman   Fri Sep 28, 2012 10:12 am

Thanks Joe! Every reader counts.

To the general public, the perception of the term "picture book" is often that the format is aimed primarily at kids who can't read yet (so typically ages 5 or 6 and younger). But within the publishing industry, that's not the reality. Some authors, including me, stretch the boundaries of the format (to nod to the Plastic Man book you mention). We believe that it's not the length but rather the content and prose. Sometimes a picture book is the FIRST type of book to address a topic, as with my Finger book. There are actually middle and even high schools that use picture books in the classroom. There are also, of course, a wealth of picture books about equally sophisticated topics from Anne Frank to Martin Luther King. I sometimes blog about picture books for older readers: http://noblemania.blogspot.com/search/label/picture%20books%20for%20older%20readers.
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Joe Lee
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PostSubject: Re: Bill Finger, The Secret Co-Creator of Batman   Fri Sep 28, 2012 4:05 pm

Y'know, maybe I'm not being fair.

I'm the first guy to chime in with,"it's a medium, not a genre," when defending comics against preconceived notions. Maybe a similar argument could be made for the "picture book" format.

Either way, as our first celebrity poster, you have earned the title of "Official Celebrity of the League of Extremely Nostalgic Gentlemen" please come back anytime!
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Peter Urkowitz



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PostSubject: Re: Bill Finger, The Secret Co-Creator of Batman   Sat Sep 29, 2012 2:17 am

I'm hoping to read this soon. Thanks for the tip!
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Peter Urkowitz



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PostSubject: Re: Bill Finger, The Secret Co-Creator of Batman   Sun Oct 21, 2012 3:13 pm

I did get to see this in the store, and my impression is that it is intended for middle-school kids or younger. It seems to do a good job for that age range. Certainly i appreciate the information contained within, and I will be returning to Mr. Nobleman's blog for more details.
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Terry M (Ditko Fan)



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PostSubject: Re: Bill Finger, The Secret Co-Creator of Batman   Sun Nov 04, 2012 1:19 pm

mtnobleman wrote:
To the general public, the perception of the term "picture book" is often that the format is aimed primarily at kids who can't read yet (so typically ages 5 or 6 and younger). But within the publishing industry, that's not the reality. Some authors, including me, stretch the boundaries of the format (to nod to the Plastic Man book you mention).
The Jack Cole, Plastic man book was nothing like this book, the Cole bio was obviously made for a mature reader, and fan of the artist. The Cole book was done like a trade paperback with a special cover. This Bill Finger book looks like a child's book, inside and out, there is no "boundry stretching" going on here. What a load of crap. This book was done in a hardcover child's book form, and the illustrations do nothing to say it isn't for kids. I don't know who this guy thinks he's kidding.
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Joe Lee
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PostSubject: Re: Bill Finger, The Secret Co-Creator of Batman   Sun Nov 04, 2012 1:44 pm

Books like Holy Terror and 300 or even the old Flash Gordon comic strip reprints were all done structurally the same as children's book yet they don't convey that children's book feel like the Bill Finger book.
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Terry M (Ditko Fan)



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PostSubject: Re: Bill Finger, The Secret Co-Creator of Batman   Mon Nov 05, 2012 3:53 pm

Joe Lee wrote:
Books like Holy Terror and 300 or even the old Flash Gordon comic strip reprints were all done structurally the same as children's book yet they don't convey that children's book feel like the Bill Finger book.
But there was no boundary stretching going on there either. They were just obviously not for children. The design and the art made it obvious. The only thing different about the Bill Finger book is that even the interior layouts and art make it look like a child's book. Which is not the issue, I'm asking what is it that makes this book according to the author, "boundary stretching."
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Peter Urkowitz



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PostSubject: Re: Bill Finger, The Secret Co-Creator of Batman   Tue Nov 06, 2012 12:55 am

Ditko Fan, I think it was just a bit of a misunderstanding. Let it go.

Mr. Nobleman just meant that the book is meant for older kids, not for pre-readers. That's the boundary-stretching that he was talking about. He was not saying that his book was meant for the same audience as the Jack Cole book.

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Terry M (Ditko Fan)



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PostSubject: Re: Bill Finger, The Secret Co-Creator of Batman   Wed Nov 07, 2012 11:56 am

Peter Urkowitz wrote:
Ditko Fan, I think it was just a bit of a misunderstanding. Let it go.

Mr. Nobleman just meant that the book is meant for older kids, not for pre-readers. That's the boundary-stretching that he was talking about. He was not saying that his book was meant for the same audience as the Jack Cole book.

With all due respect, I think you are misunderstanding me. Mr. Nobleman claims he is one of many boundary-stretching authors merely by utilizing the children's book format. He claims the audience assumes these are only for children learning to read. There are many picture books for kids of reading years. I read them with my grandkids all the time. He says as much himself, "There are also, of course, a wealth of picture books about equally sophisticated topics from Anne Frank to Martin Luther King."

He was not saying that his book was meant for the same audience as the Jack Cole book, nor did I, he was claiming it was just as "boundary-stretching" as the Cole book. I'm not sure I see how that is relevant, but it certainly isn't as "boundary-stretching."
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Joe Lee
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PostSubject: Re: Bill Finger, The Secret Co-Creator of Batman   Wed Nov 07, 2012 12:18 pm

This may be my fault. I brought up the Jack Cole book, just as an extreme example of what more could have been done to add more context. There may have been better examples to use. I thought the book was nice, but extremely over-simplified. Visually but story-wise too. Even given it's target audience of younger readers, I thought it could have benefited from more interesting page layouts, and more substance. affraid
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