Saturday, November 20, 2010

10 Minutes on Obsession (not the fragrance)

        I'm the type of person who doesn't merely develop an interest in something. Unfortunately I'm the type that has to dissect a subject. I need to take it apart and see how it works. I delve into the history attempting to find out the why, put it into context of a when, and maybe somewhere along the line I can figure out a why.

      This is amplified by tenfold when I'm writing about something. It becomes a matter of trying to show off in a very MTV "You think you know, but you have no idea" way. It was in doing this kind of research that I discovered that Bob Kane was an asshole.

     The non geeks among you probably won't recognize the name Bob Kane. The rest of you will know that Bob Kane created Batman...At least he took credit for it, as it turns out that his friend Bill Finger added a good deal more to the mix than Kane ever did. As well as the overall look of the character (Kane's version wore a red union-suit, stiff batwings and a small domino mask, no gloves) Finger came up with the backstory, the main characters and the noir atmosphere that still remains with the book. Meanwhile Kane's participation with Batman seems to have stopped (apart from making sure his was the only name connected with the caped crusader, and ensuring he got a cut of any merchandising of same) with the 3rd appearance of the character, where Jerry Robinson pretty much takes over and you see a vast improvement in the artwork.

     I was researching the story of  Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster for a project I'm still hoping to develop, when I uncovered another story that put Kane in a less than favorable light. It seemed that when WW2 was over and Siegel & Shuster were in renewal negotiations with National Comics (aka DC) for the rights to their creation, Superman. They went to Kane for help, and laid their cards on the table. If they could get his help then they would have the top two creations in NAtionals stable and force them to the bargaining table. Kane said he'd think about it, then used the information to negotiate a better credit and merchandising deal for himself, and when Jerry and Joe returned , he apologetically told them that he regretted that he couldn't help them. National fired Siegel and Shuster and informed them that since publishing the first Superman story in 1938, which they had purchased for 132 dollars, they had owned the rights to the Man of Steel, and didn't need their permission to do anything with him. Siegel and Shuster end up in borderline poverty, and Bob Kane makes a ton of money particularly during the different resurgences of Batmania.

     Jill Sobule has a song called "Heroes" which asks the musical question "Why are all our Heroes so imperfect..." In most cases it's simply because they're human. Anyway I traded Bob Kane for Jerry Robinson ( who eventually did see that Jerry and Joe got some of what they deserved) and Bill Finger, so I figure I got the better end.

By the way this took about a half an hour to write, but I figured since I missed yesterday, I needed to make up time.





No comments: