I Fingered Bob Kane
The previous post about the Batman thing was perhaps a little unclear, so this is the full story as I understand it:
A while back, my friend Jay Pinkerton and I did a comic parodying the Batman origin story, which became quite popular online. Jay mentioned to me a couple of days ago that it had resurged a bit in popularity, so I Googled it to see what people might be saying about it.
I found a quiz put out by RaW, the BBC’s literacy group. In one category of questions, you’re supposed to match actors to the roles they played. For example, for a picture of Ian McKellen, the answer reads “Gandalf, The Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien). And for a picture of George Clooney, the answer reads “Batman, Batman and Robin (Jay Pinkerton and Peter Lynn). So it does seem that we’re being credited as the creators of Batman, which is, as I said, a fairly questionable claim for a world-renowned broadcasting organization to make.
My theory is that one of two things happened. The first possibility is that the writer who put the test together did a shoddy job of research by just picking the first names he found on a Google search for “batman origin”. As of this writing, we’re the number one hit, oddly enough. It’s pretty funny that anyone looking for Batman’s origin story is led to our version instead of the original. I credit the extremely simple and obvious title of our comic: “Batman Origin Story”. I’m going to do this with everything from now on. No more clever titles.1 Simple titles lead to massive hits by web searchers.
It’s kind of like what the creators of Friends did when they gave all the episodes names like “The One Where Ross and Rachel Kiss”. Even if you didn’t know the title, you still kind of knew the title. It’s not like on Star Trek, where an episode could be called “The Savage Curtain” and you’d have no idea it was the one with Abe Lincoln. They should have called it “The One With Abe Lincoln”.2
But I digress. The second possibility is that the person who wrote the quiz was a fan of our Batman Origin Comics who decided to amuse himself by crediting us in place of Bob Kane and Bill Finger, the actual creators.
Not that it’s the first time Bill Finger got robbed of credit for his contributions, thanks to Bob Kane, who hogged all the glory; according to Wikipedia, “being Fingered” has thus become the slang for being denied credit for one’s contributions to a story or character. An example of this is that although Jay takes pains to give credit where it’s due, most people online nevertheless seem to believe that he’s the sole author of the Batman Origin Comics.3 This sometimes leads to situations in which people correctly praise his comedic genius but incorrectly cite bits that I wrote to prove their case, which is annoying.
But I’ve decided that I deserve the credit for Batman—the real Batman—if only to make up for the fact that I’ve been Fingered for years by the entertainment industry, which keeps stealing my ideas. They’re bad ideas, ones written as jokes, but nevertheless, I’ve been repeatedly astonished to see them actually come to pass. I can think of three examples immediately:
- Macaulay Culkin starring in a live-action adaptation of Richie Rich
- Adam Sandler remaking The Longest Yard and featuring a Burt Reynolds cameo
- Patrick Swayze making a hip-hop record
Entertainment industry, you owe me something for my terrible ideas. Pay up. Until you do, I’m going to continue taking credit for Batman even though it’s patently obvious at a glance that I wasn’t even alive during the 1930s. I’ve already put it on my resume. And everywhere I see that “Created by Bob Kane” credit, I’m going to scratch it out and write “Created by Jay Pinkerton and Peter Lynn.”
Actually, I guess I’ll write “Created by Jay Pinkerton, Peter Lynn, and Bill Finger.” He’s owed that.
1. After this post. I promise.
2. “The Savage Curtain”, in which Kirk and Spock team up with Abe Lincoln and Surak to fight four notorious villains from history, should not be confused with “The Savage Garden”, in which Kirk and Spock battled a shitty Australian pop duo.
3. We’ve concluded the actual credit is more like 70:30 in favor of Jay on the Batman and Superman Origin Comics, both of which were his idea and none of which would be possible without his stunning Photoshop work. Also, credit is due to Steve Ely for reminding me about the story of Bill Finger.
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