Bill Finger, Cocreator of Batman, Posthumously Credited by DC Comics

Athena Finger
Athena Finger
Photo by Ian Witlen

One of the great wrongs in comic history has been made right, meaning one Broward woman will finally get to see her grandfather get the credit he deserves. 

Bill Finger was the shy genius who helped create elements of Batman. Along with illustrator Bob Kane, Finger cobbled together the early story lines and key features — like the setting of Gotham — for the original superhero comic in the 1940s. But when it came to receiving official credit, Kane worked out a deal so that only he would be named on Batman comics, shoving Finger into the background of history.

Until now. As we reported last January, for the past year, Finger's remaining heir, a Broward math teacher named Athena Finger, has been quietly but persistently pressing the issue of restoring her grandfather's name and credit. Last Friday, DC Comics' owner, Warner Bros., announced that Finger would now be credited alongside Kane for Batman. This begins tonight, with the September 21 return of the Gotham television show on Fox. 

"It's very emotional for me, and so happy," Athena Finger told New Times this weekend. "My sister and I decided to move forward, and we were able to come to an agreement with Warner Bros." 

Finger is mum on the specifics of the deal — how the agreement was reached and whether there was some kind of financial agreement for the Finger family: "I'm not allowed to talk about that." But the credit will be ongoing from here, meaning Finger's name will be attached to the upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice extravaganza, as well as all future Batman vehicles. 

Of course, the bummer here is that Bill Finger isn't around to see it. He died alone and broke in 1974. Athena's father, Fred, also passed away, in 1992. For years, due to tangled labor laws and Kane's savvy contract granting him sole credit, Finger was denied official recognition — the Case of the Great Comic Credit Bogarting.

But Athena, along with writer Marc Tyler Nobleman, kept the story of Finger's contribution alive. Nobleman's 2012 book — Bill the Boy Wonderis an essential text for understanding the Finger story. For her part, Athena, after years of hiding from the spotlight due to the painful family memories associated with her grandfather's tale, only recently began making appearances at comic cons to explain what really happened. That work now seems to have paid off. 

DC Entertainment released the following statement (via the Hollywood Reporter): 

DC Entertainment and the family of Bill Finger are pleased to announce that they have reached an agreement that recognizes Mr. Finger’s significant contributions to the Batman family of characters. "Bill Finger was instrumental in developing many of the key creative elements that enrich the Batman universe, and we look forward to building on our acknowledgement of his significant role in DC Comics’ history," stated Diane Nelson, President of DC Entertainment. "As part of our acknowledgement of those contributions," Nelson continued, "we are pleased to confirm today that Bill Finger will be receiving credit in the Warner Bros. television series Gotham beginning later this season, and in the forthcoming motion picture Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice."


So tune in tonight to Gotham to finally see the Finger name take its rightful place in superhero history. "I actually don't have cable, so I'm going to have to wait until Tuesday when it gets on Hulu," Athena told us. "But it's exciting." 

Athena will appear on panels at next weekend's PalmCon and Fort Lauderdale's Wizard World Comic Con on October 2 to 4. 


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