Since the last issue of Fanzing two months ago, Batman's officially-recognized creator Bob Kane passed away. It is eerily appropriate that we should dedicate our "Detectives" issue to his memory, given that he created "the world's greatest detective."
BOB KANE, 1916-1998
Bob Kane died on November 3 at his California home. At age 83, he'd been retired for a good number of years but his influence will endure. Kane, the creator of Batman and many of the Caped Crusader's major supporting cast, will be sorely missed. He has, in addition, worked on a number of special projects in the years since his retirement, including several "art gallery" projects. Kane acted as a DC representative and creative/artistic onsultant on the first two "Batman" films from 1988-92.
"Bob will be greatly missed, but he has left a legacy that will keep his memory alive," said DC Editor-In-Chief Jeanette Kahn.
Born in 1916, Kane studied art at Cooper Union and ultimately got his first job in animation with Joe Fleischer studios in 1934. His first comic books included "Hiram Hick in Wow" and "Peter Pupp in Wags," the latter, debuting in 1937, being his first project to feature a "supervillain."
After working on these and other minor projects, Kane got his glimpse of glory when in 1939 he created Batman for Detective Comics. The character caught on quick and Kane ended up working almost exclusively on Batman books for years to come.
In the later years of his career, Kane returned to television and created characters like Courageous Cat and Cool McCool.
When many of his projects failed to catch on, Kane returned to his more
successful endeavors with Batman and became a quasi-official Batman
scholar, rarely actually doing any writing or art for DC, but ultimately
advising many future projects and donating his skills for years to come.
Kane's death is one that will affect the industry in many ways, from the
simple loss of one of the genre's best sources for firsthand information
on Golden Age comics to the loss of a great creator and a beloved man.
The creator of one of the greatest characters in the history of fiction,
let alone comic books, has passed away. Let us mourn his loss in the
best way we know--by remembering not his death or his loss, but his life
A legend passes away .
I was remembering the influences in my young life. I was talking in the comic shop about Wally Wood and Jack Cole. Two artist that, in my opinion, died before their time. But then there were others that I did not mentioned. Folks like Lou Fine, Bill Everret, Carl Burgos for example. Instead I went home thinking about how much comics had changed over the years.
I remembered the half page comics that were found inside. The Super Turtle strip that would find itself in the 'Superman family of comics'. I remember 'Flash Facts' with a great deal of affection. It helped me pass more than one science test. I remember the many 'public service' announcements that were always in the inside front cover. One had so many ways of saying 'Peace on earth' that as a child I found myself wondering if there were more than just 2 languages in the world.
I thought about how much comics have changed over the years. How much simpler and innocent they seemed back then. I know it wasn't only that I was that much more innocent then. The whole country seemed to be. 'All in color, for a dime', for myself, meant a way for me to learn a new language. To allow myself to dream I could fly. I was laughing to myself as I started to thinking about Bruno Diaz.
As I logged into the DC website my laughter subsided. The good memories, that warm sense of nostalgia, became a sad sense of melancholy. Somewhere else, I knew, that Bruno Diaz must be crying. Perhaps the first tears he may have cried since his parents' tragic death many years ago.
Yes another legend has passed away. As a child I will admit that Bob Kane's art always confused me. From one comic to another there always seemed, both subtle and not so subtle, changes in his work. Later I would learn about Dick Sprang, Win Mortimer and others that worked on Batman while Bob Kane was allowed to keep his name up front. But as a child it was the dark shadows, the way Batman could hide within his cape that capture my imagination. Perhaps I wanted to hide in those shadows as well. There was something safe about hiding in the shadows if you were Batman. There still is. I knew Bob Kane as well as I knew Batman back then. He was Batman's father. I was just a member of their extended family. I guess I still am to this day.
Years later I would study comics. I came to learn of Bill Finger and how much he added to the legend of Bruno Company. I often found myself thinking how three depression era youngsters, Kane, Siegel and Shuster, created these American icons. Icons that only survived 'The Seduction of the Innocent' of the 50's, triumphed despite Comics Code Authority, the self-destruction of the 60's and 70's, the dark and gritty age of the 80's while retaining their stature. Instead of shrinking away they seemed to grow brighter and stronger.
It strange to think that only a couple of weeks ago I was able to get 'Crisis' again. That I sat in my bathtub, hidden away from my wife and kids to read the whole series again. That I was still touched by the death of Supergirl. The words that Marv Wolfman penned echoed in me as I write these words. I still felt cheated by the death of the Flash. Even as I knew that after everything that the Flash has suffered through it may have been better to start from scratch. Yet what remained of the DC universe grew stronger.
Superman emerged stronger than he had been in years. Batman seemed to have the right bite that he seemed to be lacking over the last couple of years before.
Today I sit here behind my PC lost in thought. Thinking about how much time has passed. About the last time I thought of Bob Kane and how often I read the book 'Batman and me'. It seems as my day has gotten a little darker. I should be studying but I am thinking about those legends that are gone now. Bob Kane, Jack Kirby, Siegel, Shuster, Cole, Swan and Wood are gone. Yet their legacy remains. Not only in the four color pages that we have grown accustomed to but in our hearts and souls as well. Influences all.
And Bruno Diaz, known here in the states as Bruce Wayne.., sheds a tear , as silently as we all do.
All My Heroes of Yesterday
Used to be I believed in fantasies,
George Mercado GMercado@getnet.com
Certainly the saddest news in quite awhile. To the man who created the greatest character in comics, I salute you. Your legacy will live on for generations to come.
Thousands of people have created "characters." Bob Kane created a cultural icon. Because of him, stories have been written that have entertained and inspired millions.
He will be missed.
Louise Freeman Davis
Bob Kane is dead. The news is no longer news, but it's still not reached everyone as I type this on November 22 -- the anniversary of John F. Kennedy's death. One of my best friends only found out this weekend, and no one has been a bigger Batfan than he.
Siegel and Shuster's deaths got more media coverage, as I recall. And they deserved what they got, don't get me wrong but Bob Kane deserved more than what he seems to have gotten.
It's a cold, dark night in Gotham. A chill blows through all of us whom Bob Kane's work touched. We may have never met the man -- and, sadly, never will now -- but he had more of an impact on many of us than a president or a king or a pope would.
I can make that bold statement because in my case it's true. Batman is one of those characters that have helped the comics industry survive the bad periods and not just completely collapse away. And comics to me were never just a hobby -- they were, in many ways, a literal lifesaver.
Growing up as an overweight and shy kid is hell on earth. I would never repeat the experience. If I hadn't had comics to retreat into for some respite from the bullies, I might no, I *would* have been a teenage suicide. It was just that bad.
And to me, a turning point was Dark Knight Returns. It came out when I was in junior high. This story of the human will's power to overcome any obstacle -- to defeat even superman -- was a real inspiration to me. Frank Miller wrote Dark Knight, yes; but where would Frank Miller be without Bob Kane?
Batman is about the human spirit. It's about a man swearing to prevent others from suffering as he has suffered. It is about willpower and determination and their ability to raise a man beyond a normal person's limitations. It is about fighting a losing battle for the sake of knowing, at the end of the day, that one has done something to help one person.
The Talmud teaches that "whoever saves one life saves the world entire." Batman is about saving that one life at any cost. Bob Kane's contribution to the comics industry helped save my life, and I can only hope that one day something I write will inspire another person to be a kinder, more loving human being.
Jason Tippitt firstname.lastname@example.org
Bob Kane was really an ingenious guy. He lived a long and good life and he is responsible for creating one of the greatest and most recognizable comic characters and pop cultural icons of all time. He will be missed for all he has done, and I hope he's up in heaven happy. I also hope that DC will do a tribute to him in one way or another.
As for Ye Olde Editor, well this may surprise or shock you, but I don't mourn Bob Kane. He wasn't taken from us too soon; he lived beyond the national average and had what must have been a very satisfying life. Unlike a lot of early comic book creators (such as Siegel and Schuster, the creators of Superman), he didn't get shafted. Bob Kane's credit was always carried in the Batman books; he even got credited for stories done by other people. And while we're talking credit, Bill Finger never got co-creator credit, despite his contribution of numerous essential elements to the character we recognize as Batman. Batman has been shaped by a good many people in addition to Bob Kane.
Bob Kane lived a good, long life, received kudos and thank yous from thousands of fans and I doubt he died poor. His story is a delightful example of the American Dream! At the very least, every would-be comic book artist would love to take his place in history.
None of this is meant to detract from Bob Kane's memory. I simply do not mourn his passing. I reserve "mourning" for those who are cut off in their prime, such as Jim Henson and Sonny Bono. Instead of mourning, I celebrate the man Bob Kane was and what he contributed to our global culture. Without Bob Kane, there wouldn't be a Batman. Period.
We lost one more Batman-related celebrity recently. Roddy McDowall passed away shortly after the day that he announced that he was stricken with cancer. Roddy is, of course, greatly remembered as playing in the "Planet of the Apes" movies. However, he not only played the original villain The Bookworm in the Adam West Batman show, but he voiced the Mad Hatter in the current Batman Animated Series. Hats off to Roddy McDowall!
I remember that Roddy McDowall never had much range in the characters that he played, but he certainly played those characters charmingly. He never won an Oscar, but he'll always be near the top my favorite actors list. For instance, there isn't much that distinguished the characters of Cornelius (from the 'Planet of the Apes' films) or Peter Vincent (from the cult classic 'Fright Night'), from the pastor in 'Bedknobs and Broomsticks' and the butler in 'Overboard'.
No matter what, you always knew it was Roddy McDowall playing the part. The charm was the thing. It was the thing that made me love him in anything he did. The man couldn't NOT be charming. The guy could make us believe in a talking ape, so there had to be SOMETHING magical there I couldn't help but liking him in any role he played. It's what will make me remember him always.
Kurt Belcher email@example.com
All characters are DC Comics
This column is © 1998 by Fanzing.
Bob Kane collage is © 1998 Chad Sanborn.
Bob Kane and Roddy McDowall tributes are © 1998 Bob Riley