Bob Kane Explained

Birthname:Robert Kahn
Born:October 24, 1915
Location:New York City, New York
Deathplace:Los Angeles, California
Area:Penciller, Writer
Notable Works:Batman

Bob Kane (born Robert Kahn, October 24, 1915  - November 3, 1998) was a Jewish American comic book artist and writer, credited as the creator of the DC Comics superhero Batman.


Early life and career

A high school friend of fellow cartoonist and future Spirit creator Will Eisner,[1] Robert Kahn graduated from De Witt Clinton High School and legally changed his name to Bob Kane at age 18.[2] Kane studied art at Cooper Union, before "joining the Max Fleischer Studio as a trainee animator in 1934."[3]


He entered the comics field two years later, in 1936, freelancing original material to editor Jerry Iger's comic book Wow, What A Magazine!, including his first pencil & ink work on the serial Hiram Hick.[4] [3] The following year, Kane began working at Iger's subsequent studio, Eisner & Iger, one of the first comic book "packagers" that produced comics on demand for publishers entering the new medium during its late-1930s and 1940s Golden Age. Among his work there was the funny animal feature "Peter Pupp" (which belied its look with overtones of "mystery and menace"[3]), published in the U.K. comic magazine Wags and later reprinted in Fiction House's Jumbo Comics. Kane also produced work through Eisner & Iger for two of the companies that would later merge to form DC Comics, including the humor features "Ginger Snap" in More Fun Comics, "Oscar the Gumshoe" for Detective Comics, and "Professor Doolittle" for Adventure Comics. For that last title he went on to do his first adventure strip, "Rusty and his Pals".


In early 1939, DC's success with the seminal superhero Superman in Action Comics prompted editors to scramble for more such heroes. In response, Bob Kane conceived "the Bat-Man".[5] Kane said his influences for the character included actor Douglas Fairbanks' movie portrayal of the swashbuckler Zorro, Leonardo Da Vinci's diagram of the ornithopter, a flying machine with huge bat-like wings; and the 1930 film The Bat Whispers, based on Mary Rinehart's mystery novel The Circular Staircase.[6]

Bill Finger joined Bob Kane's nascent studio in 1938. An aspiring writer and part-time shoe salesperson, he had met Kane at a party, and Kane later offered him a job ghost writing the strips Rusty and Clip Carson.[7] [8] He recalled that Kane

Finger said he offered such suggestions as giving the character a cowl and scalloped cape instead of wings; adding gloves; leaving the mask's eyeholes blank to connote mystery; and removing the bright red sections of the original costume, suggesting instead a gray-and-black color scheme. Finger additionally said[9] his suggestions were influenced by Lee Falk's The Phantom, a syndicated newspaper comic strip character with which Kane was familiar as well. Finger, who said he also devised the character's civilian name, Bruce Wayne, wrote the first Batman story, while Kane provided art. Kane, who had already submitted the proposal for Batman at DC and held a contract, is the only person given official company credit for Batman's creation. Comics historian Ron Goulart, in Comic Book Encyclopedia, refers to Batman as the "creation of artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger".[10]

According to Kane,

The character debuted in Detective Comics #27 (May 1939) and proved a breakout hit. Within a year, Kane hired art assistants Jerry Robinson (initially as an inker) and George Roussos. Shortly afterward, when DC wanted more Batman stories than Kane's studio could deliver, the company assigned Dick Sprang and other in-house pencilers as "ghost artists", drawing uncredited under Kane's supervision. Future Justice League writer Gardner Fox wrote some early scripts, including the two-part story "The Monk" that introduced some of The Batman's first "Bat-" equipment.[11]

In 1943, Kane left the Batman comic books to focus on penciling the daily Batman newspaper comic strip.[4] DC Comics artists ghosting the comic-book stories now included Jack Burnley and Win Mortimer, with Robinson moving up as penciler and Fred Ray contributing some covers. After the strip finished in 1946, Kane returned to the comic books but, unknown to DC, had hired his own personal ghosts[4] : Lew S. Schwartz from 1946-1953[12] and Sheldon Moldoff from 1953-1967.[13]


Bill Finger recalled that,

Kane, who had previously created a sidekick for Peter Pupp, proposed adding a boy named Mercury who would have worn a "super-costume".[14] Robinson suggested a normal human, along with the name "Robin", after Robin Hood books he had read during boyhood, and noting in a 2005 interview he had been inspired by one book's N.C. Wyeth illustrations.[15] The new character, orphaned circus performer named Dick Grayson, came to live with Bruce Wayne as his young ward in Detective Comics #38 (April 1940) and would inspire many similar sidekicks throughout the Golden Age of comic books.

The Joker

Batman's archnemesis the Joker was introduced near that same time, in Batman #1 (Spring 1940). Credit for that character's creation is disputed. Robinson has said he created the character.[16] Kane's position is that

Robinson, whose original Joker playing card was on public display in the exhibition "Masters of American Comics" at the Jewish Museum in New York City, New York, from Sept. 16, 2006 to Jan. 28, 2007, and the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum in Atlanta, Georgia from Oct. 24, 2004 to Aug. 28, 2005, has countered that:

Later life and career

As Kane's comic-book work tapered off in the 1960s, he parlayed his Batman status into minor celebrity. He enjoyed a post-comics career in TV animation, creating the characters Courageous Cat and Cool McCool, and as a painter showed his work in art galleries, although even some of these paintings were produced by ghost artists.[17] In 1989, Kane published the autobiography Batman and Me, with a second volume Batman and Me, The Saga Continues, in 1996.

He was set to make a cameo appearance in the 1989 movie Batman as the newspaper artist who prepares the drawing of the "Bat-man" for Alexander Knox, but scheduling conflicts prevented this. Kane's trademark square signature can still be seen clearly on the drawing.

Kane died on November 3, 1998, from natural causes, leaving behind his wife, Elizabeth Sanders (Kane), an actress who appeared in three Batman films, a daughter, Deborah Majeski, and a grandson.[18] Kane is buried at Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.[19]


External links

Notes and References

  1. Book: Weinstein, Simcha. Simcha Weinstein

    . Simcha Weinstein. 2006. Up, Up, and Oy Vey!. 1st. Leviathan Press. 978-1-881927-32-7.

  2. Book: Kane, Bob. Tom Andrae. Batman & Me. Eclipse Books. Forestville, CA. 1989. 1-56060-017-9. 44.
  3. Bob Kane Biography (1914-1998)
  4. Biography by Joe Desris, in Batman Archives, Volume 3 (DC Comics, 1994), p. 223 ISBN 1-56389-099-2
  5. [Les Daniels|Daniels, Les]
  6. Daniels, page 20
  7. Walker, Brian. The Comics Since 1945 (Harry N. Abrams), pp. 10-12
  8. [Jim Steranko|Steranko, Jim]
  9. Book: Kane, Bob. Tom Andrae. Batman & Me. Eclipse Books. Forestville, CA. 1989. 1-56060-017-9. 41.
  10. [Ron Goulart|Goulart, Ron]
  11. Kane, Andrae, p. 103; Daniels, page 29
  12. Lew Schwartz interview, Alter Ego #51 (Aug. 2005)
  13. Moldoff, in a 1994 interview given while Kane was alive, described his clandestine arrangement in Alter Ego #59 (June 2006, p. 15)
  14. Comic Book Interview Super Special: Batman (Fictioneer Press, 1989
  15. Interview,. 2005. October. Jerry Robinson. The Comics Journal. 271. 0194-7869. 2007-11-18.
  16. Per many sources, including Robinson interview, The Comics Journal #271
  17. POV Online (column of March 15, 2007): "News from Me: Arnold", by Mark Evanier
  18. Boxer, Sarah. "Bob Kane, 83, the Cartoonist Who Created 'Batman,' Is Dead", The New York Times November 7, 1998
  19. "The Grave of Bob Kane"