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1. #605 – The Big Book of Superheroes by Bart King & Greg Paprocki

coverThe Big Book of Superheroes

written by Bart King

illustrated by Greg Paprocki

Gibbs Smith    4/01/2014

978-1-4236-3397-6

Age 8+      288 pages

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“Supervillains started quaking in their boots when they heard Bart King was creating a foolproof handbook that would teach superheroes how to interview and hire sidekicks, customize secret lairs—oh, and how to perfect hand-to-hand and foot-to-butt combat techniques! So, if you have a burning desire to fight evildoers, and a bit of allowance money to purchase this book, grab your battle costume disguise and join the fight for good!”

Opening

“Welcome to the world of superheroes! I have good news. By reading these words, you just became an honorary superhero. Yay!”

So You Want to be a Superhero (aka About the Book)

It begins at the beginning:  you’ve made your decision to become a superhero, fighter of evil, doer of good. Now you need to learn how to act and look like a superhero, starting with your superpower. What will it be? King gives you the 15 most popular superpowers, though there are many, many more to choose from. Then you must act like a superhero. This section gives you situations and asks you to pick the superhero answer. Many answers are further impressed upon your mind through the use of black and white illustrations.

Ways to become a superhero, short of reading the entire The Big Book of Superheroes, includes becoming an orphan, taking your vitamins, and having a rotten childhood. Those are but a few of the ways to shortcut your way to becoming a superhero. Personally, I like “Be a Handsome, Genius Millionaire,” but being hit by cosmic rays works, too. Once you tell your parents you are a superhero, the real training begins.

crayon melt evil laugh

Know when to fight—and with which weapon—and know when to run, I mean retreat. What does a superhero say? The section called “Zingers and Battle Cries—Speaking Superhero!” will help you find a battle cry, a motto, and how to super trash talk. With super training complete, who will be your toughest foe? Rugrats! That’s right, little kids, some of whom may have their own version of a superpower. You can’t just hold these rugrats at arm’s length and laugh. No, you need to know how to control supertantrums.

You need a supername. One suggestion is to find a cool word and spell it backwards, such as El Carim (miracle) or Repus (super). Repus would be a good name for a feline superhero. Add a “p” and get the name Repups, the perfect name for Repus’s canine sidekick. Yep, animals can be superheroes. Your dog or cat might be on a super mission right now. You also need a costume. Maybe a cape would be good with a utility belt to hold your utilities. The Fantastic 4 have great costumes according to King. The Human Torch had flaming underwear, hopefully not as he wore them.

dog hero

Superheroes need to know the difference between right and wrong. They need ethics. Can you learn this? Check out the quiz to see where you stand. If you have a secret identity, keep it a secret along with any super powers you may have. Secrecy is very important to a superhero. On the wrong side are supervillains and ethically challenged people. It’s best to keep an eye out for some of the worst. Those would be the jokers, mad scientists, and high school students (the most abundant).

Review

If you want to be a superhero, start with The Big Book of Superheroes. This book is more like a handbook for good rather than a literary book anyone can find in a bookstore (but you can). This book is the superhero’s bible. Everything you would ever need to know to become a superhero is in The Big Book of Superheroes. I like The Big Book of Superheroes. I had never thought of becoming a superhero, but after reading this book/handbook, it is hard not to want to join up forces with the likes of Batman, Superman, and Super Tot. There is a lot of common sense within the pages of The Big Book of Superheroes, such as,

“The more you know, the less you don’t.”

Who can argue with that? One of the best sections is the “Superpower Activity.” These boxed areas contain activities kids can immediately do, including a list of everything they will need. Kids can add to their super costume by making super goggles, utility belts, and power bands. There is even a sneaky way for superheroes to calm a rugrat using a balloon and one command. Kids will have loads of fun with these silly activities. The pop quizzes are not as abundant as the activities, but they are just as much fun for the superhero know-it-all . . . or do they? All answers are included.

superhero kid and parent

The black and white cartoonish illustrations show kids acting out some portion of the text. They are just what I would expect to see in a book about superheroes. The illustrations help break up the text, add humor, and sometimes help clarify the text. King writes The Big Book of Superheroes using text, lists, asides, blue boxes of comic facts, activities, pop quizzes, and comic illustrations, which all keep the book hopping and kids interested. King’s lists, found in every chapter, include things such as,

The 10 Most Underrated Superpowers,

The 10 Lamest Superpowers,

The Top 6 Tips for Parents of a Superhero.

 

He adds hunks of factual material, such as Superman’s original slogan, and fun comic book facts to teach kids. With Superman’s slogan, King tries to teach kids to come up with their own slogan, motto, or catch phrase. If kids love comics, superheroes, or villains they will love these easy to find snippets by King. These sections are in blue text, making them stand out from the page.

The Big Book of Superheroes, nicely bound in hardcover with bright white pages, is a substantial book filled with enough superhero information to keep a middle grader’s nose between the pages for quite some time. It is the perfect book for kids who love superheroes. Boys may seem the logical choice for The Big Book of Superheroes but girls will like this too. King includes many tidbits and facts about different comic book heroes that I found fascinating. In regards to becoming a superhero by using this book, King wrote,

“Sure, you could read this entire book. But who has that kind of time?”

The same can be said of the book as a whole. No time to read the entire book, pick out the section you want and return later for the others. Readers will not lose any continuity or meaning by skipping around. If more interested in the supervillain, jump towards the back. Interested in superpowers, head toward the middle. Back and forth can become practical. The one thing that bothered me throughout the book is King’s continued insistence on placing the word “super” before other words, making a new word. Some of King’s new “words” include superbreathe, superspeed, superhealing, superhearing, superintelligence, and supergoggles. These words are not supersmart.

superanimal heroes

Kids and adults who like supervillains, DC comics, and superheroes like Batman, the Fantastic 4, and one of my favorites, Wonder Dog, will enjoy The Big Book of Superheroes. It will keep readers entertained for hours. Reluctant readers will find The Big Book of Superheroes a great choice for summer reading. The Big Book of Superheroes can help readers become the hero they would like to become, while learning new facts about favorite superheroes or previously unknown superheroes. The appendix and bibliography are great places to continue learning about superheroes. The large book is entertaining on every page. Super-Kids will love The Big Book of Superheroes, the newest Big book by Bart King.

THE BIG BOOK OF SUPERHEROES. Text copyright © 2014 by Bart King. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Greg Paprocki. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Gibbs Smith, Layton, UT.

Purchase The Big Book of Superheroes at AmazonB&NiTunesBook DepositoryGibbs Smithyour local bookstore.

Read a hilarious review by Erik and Darth Vader, er sorry. An outstanding review by Darth Vader and ThisKid HERE.

Learn more about The Big Book of Superheroes HERE.

Meet the author, Bart King, at his website:   http://www.bartking.net/

Meet the illustrator, Greg Paprocki, at his website:  http://gregpaprocki.com/

Find more books at the Gibbs Smith website:   http://www.gibbs-smith.com/

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**Illustrations by Greg Paprocki, from The Big Book of Superheroes, reprinted with permission of Gibbs Smith.

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ALSO BY BART KING

Bart's King-Sized Book of Fun

Bart’s King-Sized Book of Fun

 Cute! A Guide to All Things Adorable

Cute! A Guide to All Things Adorable

The Big Book of Spy Stuff 

The Big Book of Spy Stuff

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ALSO BY GREG PAPROCKI

The Marvelous McCritterson's Road Trip to Grandmas

The Marvelous McCritterson’s Road Trip to Grandmas

JoJo's Big Tale

JoJo’s Big Tale

Curious George Animals Puzzle Book

Curious George Animals Puzzle Book

.

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big book superheroes


Filed under: 4stars, Books for Boys, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade Tagged: animal superheroes, Bart King, children's book reviews, gibbs smith, Greg Paprocki, learn how to become a superhero, sidde kicks, super trash talk, superheroes, supervillains, The Big Book of Superheroes

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2. Send for a Superhero! by Michael Rose, illustrated by Katharine McEwen

Send for a Superhero! by Michael Rosen with illustration by  Katharine McEwen is the kind of super fun book that makes you stop and wonder why there aren't more picture books about, starring or including superheroes. Then, when you remember that there are quite a few books of this nature you remember that most of the are forgettable - short of Mini Grey's Traction Man Trilogy. Rosen

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3. SMASH : Trial by Fire written by Chris A. Bolton, art by Kyle Bolton, 143 pp, RL 3

SMASH: Trial by Fire, a graphic novel by Chris and Kyle Bolton reads like the handful of superhero middle grade novels that have been published over the last few years, which makes it perfect for an audience reading at a slightly lower level. Jack D Ferraiolo's Sidekicks is fast paced and suspenseful with a great plot twist as well as a poignant look at what it means to

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4. The Big Book of Superheroes by Bart King, illustrations by Greg Paprocki, 287 pp, RL: 3

Bart King is the undisputed master when it comes to writing fact-filled books for kids that are incredibly fun to read - and do. With The Big Book of Superheroes, illustrated by Greg Paprocki, King covers new territory, exploring the ins and outs of this semi-secret occupation. The Big Book of Superheroes is perfect for any kid with a great sense of imagination and drama, but it is also great

0 Comments on The Big Book of Superheroes by Bart King, illustrations by Greg Paprocki, 287 pp, RL: 3 as of 6/13/2014 7:51:00 AM
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5. The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew, 158 pp, RL 5

The Shadow Hero is the new, totally awesome graphic novel from Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew. Besides being completely entertaining, humorous and suspenseful from start to finish, The Shadow Hero is smart. And The Shadow Hero is diverse in ways that, in less gifted hands, could be didactic and boring. In a time when internet voices - from authors to bloggers to educators to booksellers - are

0 Comments on The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew, 158 pp, RL 5 as of 6/6/2014 6:11:00 AM
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6. Just Following Orders: Thoughts on Agents of SHIELD's First Season

Coulson: You're going to lose Loki: Why? Coulson: It's in your nature. Loki: Your heroes are scattered.  Your floating fortress falls from the sky.  Where is my disadvantage? Coulson: You lack conviction The Avengers, 2012 Sam Wilson: How do we know the good guys from the bad guys? Captain America: If they're shooting at you, they're bad. Captain America: The Winter Soldier, 2014 What a

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7. Alvin Schwartz previously unpublished interview, 6/6/06; part 3 of 3

Part 1.

Part 2.

Were you Bill [Finger]’s best friend?

Bill had a variety of best friends. I think Jerry was a good friend of his at that time. I wouldn’t say that I was his best friend. There were times when we were very close and times we didn’t see each other. I don’t know if Bill had any best friends except from time to time, I know toward the end Jerry Robinson was hanging around there. I know Jerry. He had no need for Bill. Jerry was a self-sufficient artist. He was good. And he’d have only one reason for hanging around and that would’ve been the bimbo that Bill was living with. This was very typical for Bill. Bill would be in love with somebody who wasn’t interested in him at all, who was using him. It wasn’t the first time. And Bill had no ability to understand or relate to women. In other words, he’d never sort of gotten into his manhood. I was embarrassed—she came on to everybody including me.

They were still married when he died?

Who?

Bill and this bimbo.

I do not know. See, I come back and I suddenly find he’s been dead for years. My natural inclination was, who would know really, Portia would know where Bill is. Of course she did.

Were you in touch with Portia and Freddie after Bill died?

No.

Why did Bill never learn to drive?

Good question. I don’t know. Nobody ever answered that question, or asked him. The point is, he never learned to drive. I could give you a psychological answer. [He could never?] take charge, of himself or…a driver’s license is an assertion of manhood, of independence. Bill married Portia as I understand it, as I saw it, to get away from his parents most of all. His parents used to exploit the hell out of him, take his checks, and that was it.

While he was still living at home?

Yes.

And then he moved out eventually though.

He left with Portia.

Was it common at the time for people to not have a driver’s license in New York?

It was pretty uncommon to go through life without a car or a driver’s license. Bill could never escape or go anywhere. He did move out to the suburbs for a while when he had that awful job cataloguing stuff for I think it was a municipal outfit that he was working for. It was a real drudge job.

He wasn’t working in comics at the same time?

He wasn’t working in comics then. He’d been pushed out.

So that was near the end?

He couldn’t deliver. This withholding of the work, being unable to deliver on time, the editors couldn’t wait. It wasn’t that they were mean. They tried to help him. At least Jack Schiff did and Jack understood his problems. But when you have deadlines to meet and major stuff to go out, you’ve got to get it out somehow. If you still can’t deliver you have to give it to somebody else.

Did anything make Bill excited? When he came up with a really good story?

Oh sure. We’d jump around in excitement. We both—all of us, the whole gang, all the comics writers were like that.

Did he feel that he was missing out on something, that his name was not on there and he couldn’t tell people that he was the writer?

Oh, I think he—I’m trying to think of when or where he specifically acted that way. It was just generally known that that was the case. They were doing that to everybody.

A writer at DC, because some of the editors were very decent, that was Whit Ellsworth, if any writer needed money or wanted to borrow, we could borrow enough to buy a house anytime and pay it back in small amounts from his subsequent scripts. And that was something that Whit Ellsworth initiated and that son of a bitch Mort Weisinger afterwards couldn’t stand the idea of the writers being treated so well. I guess you’ve heard enough about Mort Weisinger.

[thanked him, said my goal is make Bill come alive]

He’s a hard one to characterize in a way. There aren’t many Bill Fingers. He had an unusual talent. He was very sharp and focused on one thing. And he could work on any kind of gimmick related story as we worked on Mark Trail, on other things.

Do you remember his reaction to becoming so popular and seeing the Batman movie serials or Batman merchandise?

I don’t know if I was there anymore by that time. I left in 19…let’s see, when did I leave for Canada? I walked out…I invented Bizarro. That was the last thing I did. I walked out in 1957.

What about Bizarro? Do you get royalties for Bizarro?

No.

‘Cause he’s everywhere.

I know he’s everywhere. I went through the idea of a lawsuit at first and then decided after some thought that in a certain way DC had really done well by me as far as I was concerned, considering the times and so on. And after all, yes, the Bizarro was everywhere, but going through court—I did have a lawyer, and I did get a response, and we were about to—I would’ve joined a whole host of other guys who were lined up trying to collect from DC.

Was that in the ‘60s?

It wasn’t so long ago, as a matter of fact. I was living here. I received letters from Levitz telling me, he sent me a copy of the Bizarro doll that they made with a note saying “The son wants to sit on the shelf of his father,” as much as acknowledging completely that I was the creator. They do acknowledge it now. But I told Paul I don’t want to get in line with all these other guys. I’m very happy with what I’m doing. I had some good times doing…I think in many ways, considering that I was able to buy a house, that I could always borrow money, that I didn’t do so badly and that was the nature of the business in those days. Nobody was trying to rob me, except maybe Mort Weisinger. So on the whole I decided I’m not going to make an issue of it. There were ways in which there could be some question about it because it was a spinoff of Superman and I know enough about law to realize that the question of trademark could easily come into it. It wasn’t wholly my invention, in other words. It was a takeoff on Superman. So I decided I’m not going to get into this, I have no time to waste for that.

Are you in touch with anybody who’s at DC now, besides Paul Levitz?

As a matter of fact I’ve been to San Diego. I’ve been invited to San Diego to receive the Bill Finger prize. I just won it.

[congratulated him]

Arnold [Drake] and I are good friends. We talk to each other often. He’s my major contact right now. I talk to Levitz. I went back to comics a little while ago, a couple of years ago, I got a call from DC, they asked me to write the main piece in the Bizarro book, which I did. Two years ago I wrote a Bizarro story. It’s in the new Bizarro book, or the last one they put out.

[he gave me Arnold’s phone number, Arnold lost his wife, has every illness under the sun from bad heart to valves, should’ve been dead long ago, he’s 81 years ago, he carries on, he’s incredible, he’s quite heroic in my mind, not a great intellectual but strong personality; Alvin had to turn down San Diego, getting too old, I’m 89, hardening of the arteries, my wife has problems, it’s just too hard, but besides seeing old friends would prefer to stay home]

0 Comments on Alvin Schwartz previously unpublished interview, 6/6/06; part 3 of 3 as of 8/8/2013 7:04:00 AM
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8. Joe Kubert previously unpublished interview, 6/5/06

Joe Kubert was a legendary comic book artist most associated with Hawkman and Sgt. Rock. I interviewed Joe for Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman. He passed away in 2012. 

The interview is transcribed (and slightly edited) from a recording, as I did with all the interviews in this series (Jerry Robinson, Shelly Moldoff, Lew Sayre Schwartz, Alvin Schwartz, Joe Kubert, Arnold Drake, Carmine Infantino, Irwin Hasen).

What was your relationship with Bill Finger?

I don’t pretend to have been a deep friend or anything like that. I can tell you my acquaintanceship was one purely on a professional level and as a matter of fact was also colored by the fact that he was quite a bit older than I. I think I was, when I was first did these things, I think I was about 16 or so, where he was an adult and probably in his late twenties and there was a wide difference in our approaches and in our backgrounds as far as personalities were concerned. He was a nice guy. As you’ve already probably found out, Marc, he had many problems, one of which I brushed up against, which was his not being able to hold onto any of his money. He was always, always in debt. And I learned this to both his and my chagrin simply because he had borrowed money from me and that was after he had done work and the fact that he had even asked me, I was so impressed (laughs) to be able to help him out was a pleasure for me. But that led to a lot of problems.

When was that?

(pause) That was before the war. That was probably in the early ‘40s. Before the war, probably 1940. That was when I was doing Hawkman, things like that. I started out as a kid doing that kind of stuff and Bill was the writer. At that time the property was owned by, oh what was his name, by Gaines, by M.C. Gaines. It was called All-American Comics. Eventually All-American Comics sold out to DC and all those properties became DC’s, which included the Flash and Hawkman and a lot of others of that type of character. During the time that it was owned by Arnold, by Gaines rather, was the time that I was doing the illustrating and Bill had done some of the stories. Now the situation was of course that no writer was assigned specifically to any one of the characters. Whenever they had time they were called in by the editor or they came in looking for work and the editor gave them whatever the next job was, whatever the next deadline that was coming up that had been written and drawn. And that’s the way it worked for most of us, to both writers and artists. It was during that time that Bill did some of the Hawkman stories. I had met him, I had known him, he was a nice guy. But again, as I said, there was no really any kind of deep personal relationship at all.

He borrowed money that he couldn’t repay?

What happened was, I had gotten a check. And the money [came] hard to all of us, but I was a kid and I had no need of money simply because the way I grew up, all the money that I made, all the money that I earned, immediately went into the family pot, which was fine, which was the way it was supposed to be. And so the money held little significance for me except for the fact that if I needed it, I had it, but mostly it was used for the family purposes. I had received a check and apparently Bill knew that I got the check that day or he was in the office at the same time, and he said, “You know, Joe, I could use some dough, I need some money.” I said “Sure, how much do you need?” I think it was $2-300 he needed at the time. This was a lot of money at that time. I said sure. As a matter of fact, I think he asked me for $200 and I asked him if it was enough. And he said, “Well, if you can squeeze out another fifty…” I said sure. “And I’ll pay you back next week.” [something unintelligible, with a chuckle] …standard line. He held off paying me until I finally got out of the army ten years ago [think he meant “later”] and had a, I put people on, I got so angry at this, ‘cause I had contacted him a couple of times, it was hard to track him down. But eventually I got an agency, a collection agency, to go after him, and I think eventually, I did get—but I don’t really recall. [It was a mostly?] sad relationship with Mr. Finger.

Did you talk to him after that?

The only time that I had really seen Bill was when we happened to come together when we went up to the company to pick up a job or something like that. So I didn’t really have an opportunity to get to know him too well. I had heard all kinds of stories about him and it was only after I lent him the money that people said to me, the older guys would say to me “You did WHAT? You lent him WHAT?” He had had that kind of reputation and I knew nothing about that.

Money aside, what sense of his personality did you get or what stories have you heard about his personality?

He was a very pleasant guy. He was a very bright guy. I understand that, I don’t know if you’re, I understand why you’re asking these questions for the purpose of the book that you’re doing, but I’m afraid that all the information that I had about him and the small experience that I had with him were not really upbeat or really good ones. He was a good, he was a nice guy as far as I knew. But I didn’t know him that well. The stories that I heard about him, afterwards, was you never lend him any money. He had some problems—I think he was divorced from his wife, he had problems, I understood, I learned later, he had problems with his wife, ex-wife and kids, all that kind of stuff.

Do you think that his work is a fitting legacy for him, or do you his personal problems tarnished that too much?

I don’t think that his personal problems tarnished the work that he was doing at all. Everybody that I’ve spoken to, everybody that knew him, including myself, admired the kind of work he did. It was a pleasure to illustrate his stories. His stories, the way he wrote his stories, the material that he wrote only enhanced the ability of anybody who was illustrating it. This medium that we work in, the comic book medium that is, is one where unless the writer has a mind for graphics, some idea of what the picture should like towards which he’s writing his script, very often the story can be very slow-paced, very boring. But Bill was capable of writing the kind of story that was intelligent. He tried to figure out little gimmicks, little ideas. I recall one sequence in a Batman story where Batman was in a hole that was dug out for him, almost like a grave-like kind of thing, and there was a huge stone that was placed over the area that was dug out and he was underneath. He could not move that stone. It was so heavy. But what he did was, he had, I think he had some pencils or some round objects, perhaps, like bullets or something like that, and wedged them underneath the stone in order to make it roll. So that instead of actually trying to do it with brute strength, he used his head a little bit. It was gimmicks like that that Bill was really terrific in working out and made it a little bit more unusual, a little bit more interesting, a little bit more interesting in terms of the graphics as well.

Do you think that he knew that he was good? Did he get any positive feedback from anybody?

I don’t think so. I think that his personal problems really got in the way of the kind of relationship that he would’ve had with his editors. I think that he always felt, how shall I say, perhaps a little bit obliged, perhaps a little bit owing, perhaps a little bit too willing to take a little bit of abuse from these guys simply because the jobs and the money that he got from it was so important to him. They really took advantage of him to that degree.

What did he look like? There are so few photos of him out there.

He was not a tall guy. He was not a big guy. I would say in retrospect I think he was probably around, I would say about 5’7” or 5’8”. But he was well-built, he wasn’t, he didn’t go to fat or anything like that. I understood he played a lot of tennis and he was into a lot of sports. Kind of sandy-haired. Not tan but nice complexion, a ruddy complexion, and very pleasant to talk to, very pleasant.

Was he handsome?

I would not call him handsome, but he was a pleasant-looking guy. His features were clean cut. I don’t remember offhand, he didn’t wear glasses as I remember, but I do remember his features were rather even and well-balanced. In other words, his nose was not too big, his face…he’s the kind of a guy that if you looked at him and caught a glimpse of him, you would say “This looks like a pleasant guy.” But there was nothing remarkable about him to cause you to remember really what he looked like. His hair was kind of sandy, not full—combed and cut in the style of the day of that time, which meant that it was kind of short and well kept. He was a clean-looking guy.

Do you know anybody who might have a photo of him or even a drawing?

Gee, I don’t know. I haven’t been able to find any…

[a passage I didn’t transcribe when I explain why I need images and he suddenly remembers one person who might have some but can’t remember the name, only that he did more art than Bob Kane…it was Jerry Robinson, “he saves a heck of a lot”]

In the late ‘30s, early ‘40s, was it the tradition that people would still dress up for work, wear ties?

Not formally, but certainly not the way we’re dressing today. He would usually wear…everything except the tie. Yes, he would wear a jacket very often, but it would be like a sport jacket, not a suit jacket, really.

[I said I got impression guys would put on a tie even when working from home and he said no]

Do you know anything about his relationship with Bob Kane?

No. As a matter of fact at that time I didn’t even know Bob—I met Bob Kane only shortly before he passed away.

Do any other stories that you’ve heard about Bill come to mind that you haven’t talked about yet?

Only that which I’ve told you and I would hesitate to repeat too many of the stories that I might’ve heard fleetingly. Again the guy I think that would probably know much more about things would be Jerry.

[I thanked him]

My pleasure. Not at all. Anything that I can help anybody who is making any sort of an effort to do anything along the lines that comic books or to enhance what we’re doing, I’m for it.

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9. Arnold Drake previously unpublished interview, 6/8/06

Arnold Drake was a writer who co-created DC Comics characters Deadman and the Doom Patrol; both will star in a movie or TV show before long. He was also a compatriot of Bill Finger, so I interviewed Arnold for Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman. Arnold passed away less than a year later; this may be the last interview he gave.

The interview is transcribed (and slightly edited) from a recording, as I did with all the interviews in this series (Jerry Robinson, Shelly Moldoff, Lew Sayre Schwartz, Alvin Schwartz, Joe Kubert, Arnold Drake, Carmine Infantino, Irwin Hasen).

What was Bill Finger’s personality like?

He was a complicated guy. (pause) You know a good deal about his talent, obviously.

Yes. There’s a lot about his Batman work but I haven’t yet found much on his texture as a man, as a person.

I never got very close to him because frankly I was kind of wary of being too close to him. The man was deeply troubled and a decent enough guy but a guy who with all of his talent really didn’t believe in himself. I stayed away because he reminded me too much of things within myself and I didn’t want to get too close to that. I tried to be friendly but I never became a friend as such. His marriage was not a good one. I don’t think his relationship with [his son] Freddie was great but I’m not even sure about that.

When you say he was troubled, in what sense?

Depression, I guess. I think he was a lifelong depressive. I think it had something to do with what in those days we used to treat as a kind of joke, which was his inability to meet a deadline. And the reason for that I think was that he was a perfectionist, which is the other side of the coin of not believing in yourself, kind of. If you’re enough of a perfectionist, you’re going to throw doubt into yourself, you have to, because we don’t any of us turn out perfect product. So you’re going to keep meeting with disappointment and no matter how happy the editor may be you walk away not feeling satisfied. And I think that that constantly happened to Bill. And I think that explains why he keep missing the dates that he had on his stuff, his deadlines, because I think he rewrote and rewrote.

Did you ever see him in a social setting?

Again, not really. He invited me into it several times and I kind of turned away from it and I’m awfully sorry now that I did. I knew some of the people he hung out with, I knew that part of town. He lived in the Village most of his life. [talks about how he knows the Village, how costs skyrocketed and upper middle class moved in and chased artists and writers out, who then moved to the East Village, and the upper middle class followed them almost instantly to the East Village and chased them out of there as well] If Bill were alive today, he would probably be living either under the Brooklyn Bridge or out in Hoboken ‘cause that’s where the artists and writers have gone, again to escape the Manhattan real estate prices.

Do you think he was proud of his Batman work?

I think he was but I think he took it for granted almost. I think he took great pride in almost anything he did. Could be wrong. He was very diligent in his fashion. Took copious notes. He had books full of notes on his characters on ideas that he had and titles that he had.

They were like notebooks?

Yeah.

Did you ever see his workspace or his apartment?

No.

Do you know if he ever read fan mail about Batman?

I don’t know that the editors shared it with him. I think that there was a pretty clear attempt to keep the writers and artists from being in contact with their fans, with their audience. The fans had to find ways of knowing who they were and where they were because DC was not interested in any kind of contact. They didn’t want the writers and the artists to know each other too well. That worked to their advantage. [talks about his attempt to start a writers/artists guild] Finger was involved with us in that. He was one of the organizers in that.

Was he good at that kind of thing, organizing?

Not particularly but he was somewhat enthusiastic about it. I would guess he was a political progressive, so the idea of building a guild made sense to him. A lot of the artists were socially politically conservative. So their attitude was “We’re not workers, we’re artists. Workers join guilds, not artists.” When I would point out to them that the Screen Writers Guild—of which I’ve been a member since something like 1964—had organized all the good screenwriters and that the first ones to join were the most successful ones, they just didn’t want to listen to that kind of junk. Years later, after I left DC there was an [unintelligible]. [talked a bit about how writers/artists have made gains in last 20 years but still need to do more because they’re not organized, can be taken away from them]

Do you know if Bill was discouraged from telling people that he was writing Batman?

I don’t know. When they would give you a rate increase they would ask you not to tell other writers and artists that you had gotten the increase, so I think probably they told him they would not like him to [leave?] that around. Of course they allowed Kane to take credit over and over. He signed his work, he signed other people’s work and called it his and became famous for being the father of Batman. But he was no more the father of Batman than Finger was.

Do you think they should share credit?

Oh, absolutely.

Do you think Finger deserves more than Kane?

I think Finger probably does, but nevertheless I think that they should share the credit. Finger’s been established within the field. I think people know what Kane was, which was pretty phony.

Did you know him too?

I knew Bob very well.

Did you talk with him about Bill about Bill had died?

Yes. It was only after Bill died that Kane was willing to talk about how important Bill was to the Batman legend.

But never so far that he would change his contract to include Bill’s name?

No. He did make public statements. He would stand in front of a crowd of people and say Bill Finger was a major contributor, but he would not say Bill Finger was one of the creators. He just said he made an enormous contribution.

Can you think of any anecdotes about him as a person that might be interesting to younger people?

His background, like many of us from that same generation, a lot of it was in early science fiction. I’m sure he was an avid reader of Jules Verne and A. Conan Doyle and H.G. Wells and the Americans who started coming in in the 1920s in the science fiction pulps. I think he was a big science fiction pulp reader. I don’t know that he wrote any of that stuff. I got in on the tail end of it.

Were you in touch with Bill shortly before his death?

No, I’d been out of DC for a while at that time, so I was not in touch with him at that point. What did he die of?

I believe it was a heart attack. Do you remember hearing about it at the time?

I didn’t know until a little while later. It seems to me I was at his funeral, if I recall correctly. There were like three funerals within a few years of each other. Finger, and Miller, one of the editors—freelance writer who became an editor, and who was the other…

Do you know where Bill was buried?

I think he’s got a military grave but I’m not sure because I’m not sure that he served. I don’t know if Bill served or not. Do you know?

I haven’t seen that he did.

Seems to me he did not.

So you don’t know where his—

No, I don’t know where he’s buried.

Do you know anybody who would know that?

I don’t know anybody who might. Well, there’s one possibility and that’s [onetime writer/editor] George Kashdan [NOTE: neither of us knew at the time, but Kashdan had died on 6/3/06—five days earlier]. But George is in a recovery house kind of place out in California. [Arnold did lot of work for George] Bill died…Freddie came around and tried to get some money out of the company, which is disturbing to realize that they had given Finger so little and that his kid was coming around begging. I think he may have gotten a few bucks. But on his way out, he stopped to chat with me briefly, and he mentioned that he had sold some of his father’s comic book collection. And I said who did you sell it to? So he said, well, you know there are quite a few people who are beginning to collect those things. Now that was new. What year did you say Bill died?

‘74.

This was probably ‘75. In ‘75, that was fairly new. Thirty years ago there weren’t too many people who were beginning to…I’m sure there were a number of people who collected it but did not think of it as being a very active area, marketplace, what have you. But when Freddie told me that, this was when I began to save comics. Up to that point, I’d been giving them to my kid who learned to read from them, and then when she was done with them, I would chuck them. But when Freddie said, no it’s beginning to be a marketplace, I started to save my stuff. I got about 800 books now.

So you don’t have the originals of your first Deadman or Doom Patrol stories?

Yes, I do. I don’t have the manuscripts. I have the original magazines.

Did Freddie look like Bill?

No he didn’t. Freddie was heavier. Bill was always pretty skinny. I don’t know that Bill ate too well. Maybe Freddie ate a little too much. Freddie died young.

I read that he died of AIDS. Do you know if that’s true?

I think that’s probably true.

Was he gay?

Yeah.

Do you know if Bill had siblings?

I haven’t heard of any.

I suppose you don’t know anything about Bill’s parents?

No. I assume that Bill was Jewish.

But it wasn’t a factor that manifested itself?

I don’t think he had any real religion, no. It was a period of being irreligious. First World War, the Depression, all of that that came with it made that generation ask a lot of questions. One of the questions was, why is God letting something like this happen unless maybe there is no God? So I think Bill went through that. It was the intellectual position.

What year were you born?

1924.

You’re a bit younger than him.

I think he was born in ‘14. [yes]

Are you still in touch with any of the guys from your era in the comics industry?

I’m in touch with Alvin [Schwartz], I’m in touch with George Kashdan, as I said. I’m in touch with Carmine Infantino. We have dinner every couple of weeks.

What else do I know about Bill…when Bill was looking for an idea for Batman, one of the tricks that he used was to open up the Yellow Pages in the phone book and just kind of ripple through it. Where his fingers stopped he’d say, “Piano tuner…I wonder if there’s a story in a piano tuner?” And another thing he would do is sit on a bus and drive through the city and look at the signs, the store signs. And all of these were springboards, ways of getting off the ground with something that might never occur to him otherwise. Every writer has his own tricks.

[I said shame those gimmick books gone, Arnold said Freddie might’ve sold them, was pretty desperate, I said they’d be valuable today]

Are you feeling okay?

I’ve had a little trouble with my balance. As you get older, it doesn’t get better. I don’t do a hell of a lot of walking, which is unfortunate because it used to be one of my favorite activities. Now three or four blocks is probably it for me.

[Arnold lived in Manhattan since got married 1951]

Anybody who wrote in that period as I did, they’re not wealthy. They made so much money off of us.

[Arnold relayed how he had just drawn up contract with DC about Deadman and his other characters in case they make movies/shows; he approached them, not the other way around; said his name doesn’t now appear on his creations but it will soon; if you fight for it they’ll do it; took them four months to agree; almost more adamant about the “created by” than the money itself; most concerned about Deadman and Beast Boy, his hottest characters; would be very interested to know if my book comes to pass; he has been doing interviews with people like me for well over 35 years and has collected more than 20 of them and they might form spine of book of his own]

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10. Carmine Infantino previously unpublished interview, 6/9/06

Carmine Infantino was many things to DC Comics over many years. When I was growing up, his greatest significance to me was as the artist of the Flash. Now his greatest significance is that he was a Bill Finger advocate, even before it was trendy to be one. 

I interviewed Carmine for Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman and he was one of the few people to whom I personally delivered a copy. He passed away in 2013.

The interview is transcribed (and slightly edited) from a recording, as I did with all the interviews in this series (Jerry Robinson, Shelly Moldoff, Lew Sayre Schwartz, Alvin Schwartz, Joe Kubert, Arnold Drake, Carmine Infantino, Irwin Hasen). I just love Carmine’s rat-a-tat style of speaking and his candor. 

Thank you again, Carmine. I ought to call you one of the fathers of my research. I wouldn’t be wrong.

How well did you know Bill Finger?

I knew him quite well. He was a lovely man. I came into the company a lot later than the period we’re talking about. I don’t think he was even doing Batman at that point. He was doing other characters at DC.

Tell me what you thought of him as a person.

Wonderful. He was a brilliant writer. I think he created all those villains in Batman. He made Batman, no one else. Kane had nothing to do with it. Bill did it all.

Did he say that himself?

Bill was very upset. Bill had been promised compensation by what-the-hell’s-his-name, Kane. Kane, Kane’s father promised him all kinds of—he never got a nickel out of them, by the way. And also, when Kane settled his suit, he got a million dollars on Batman. And again, Bill got nothing out of that. He ended up doing whatever he could get out of DC. In the original stuff, Bill created all those wonderful villains. He was sensational. He had nothing for it.

Where do you think he was inspired to come up with the things that became signature Bill Finger stuff?

He and Jerry Robinson, there’s an argument about who created the Joker. Bill showed me a drawing—Bill used to go to Steeplechase out in Coney Island, Brooklyn. On there was a character that looked like a joker’s head. Bill went out there one time and Bill showed it to me. He made a copy of that head. And then he said [unintelligible] the villain the Joker. That, the Penguin, the Two-Face, he did them all. Now Jerry Robinson claims the Joker he created, Bill didn’t create that. Who can prove what? I don’t know. Bob claims he saw Conrad Veidt, and that made him create the Joker. So everybody’s created the Joker, but I tend to believe Bill, because [if ?] keep creating characters, and Bill kept creating all those villains, the Penguin, Two-Face, on and on and on. Maybe I’m crazy. Bill died broke.

What did he think of when Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were fighting for their—

He didn’t talk much about that. He may have talked to some other people, but never did it to me. The only thing he was angry about, he talked to me a lot, was Batman. Very angry. He never got nothing out of it. And he was the heart and soul of Batman. He took the character on, he created the kid, Robin, all these characters.

And he was telling you when you in a position of power at DC?

No, no, no. No, no. I was a freelancer. I used to come up there once in a while. There was a room called the writers’ room where all the writers sat and did their work. And we’d hang out there. And they would talk. And of course Billy was very upset. [NOTE: first time I heard anyone call him Billy]

When you guys would sit around in the writers’ room, how did Bill fit in? Was he one of the guys? Did he joke around?

Oh yeah, terrific guy. He sat there, kidded around a lot. He had a problem making money. He had a wife who threw him in jail all the time ‘cause he couldn’t send out the what-do-you-call-it, the divorce money?

Alimony?

He would go into Jack Schiff and say Jack, [unintelligible] he needed a check, always need a check, always running short. He said “My grandmother died,” and Jack said, “She died last week, you told me.” (laughs) He did that all the time. Always short of money.

Did you say jail before?

Yeah, his wife, when he didn’t pay his alimony, she threw him in jail. And they had to bail him out, and then he’d get out and she’d throw him back in again because he didn’t pay alimony. He wasn’t making no money, the poor guy. He had a very sad life. It was unfair what happened to him. Bob walked off with everything, with [$50,000?] a year, plus doing [?] work, and writing. He had the stuff drawn by somebody. He was paying them hardly nothing.

Did Bill have a sense of humor?

Yes. Oh, he was very funny, very funny. He did the Green Lantern, too, he created that too. He was so good. Billy was a very brilliant guy and the sad part of all this, he died broke. And he shouldn’t have.

Did people call him Billy or Bill?

We called him Billy. We were close. We kidded around. Billy had a son, too.

Did you know [Bill
’s son] Freddie?

I don’t know much about—I met him once. Arnold Drake knew him a lot better than I did, apparently. I’m sure Arnold’s story coincides with mine.

Did you go to Bill’s funeral?

No. I didn’t know about it at the time. Isn’t that awful?

Does anybody know where he’s buried?

No. I don’t know. Did Arnold know?

No.

Terrible.

Do you have any photos of Bill?

No.

Does anybody?

No. Not that I know of. He was small. He was not tall. He used to go to the gym, he used to work out a lot, I heard.

Did he used to wear a baseball cap a lot?

No. Maybe once in a while but I never saw him at the office with that. No, he liked to dress well. He’d go to Paul Stewart on Madison Avenue. He used to like button-down shirts.

Long sleeve shirts?

Long sleeve. Button-down. Oxford. Blue shirts, he’d buy. He always had new ideas for different strips. He worked for mostly Jack Schiff. I won’t knock Jack but I don’t think he did a great job on Batman. He couldn’t have because it went to hell. He used to imitate what Mort Weisinger did on Superman. [They] had a Supermite, he had a Bat-Mite. Remember all that junk?

What did Bill think of Bob?

He hated him. We all hated him, frankly.

[talks about how Bob Kane complained to Liebowitz about Carmine’s covers; Carmine on Bob: “He was a real sickie, this guy”]

William [NOTE: don’t know why Carmine switched from “Billy” to “William”—something else no one else called him!] is a genius. I tend to think he created the Joker, too. If the other guys created the Joker, why didn’t they create more villains? Am I right or not? Billy created not only that, but Penguin, Two-Face, he kept coming up with them one after the other. Bill got screwed, period and simple.

[Carmine said Bill’s son died too, Carmine asked if he was gay, even though I already explained why I was interviewing him he asked if I’m writing a thesis, he asked how Boys of Steel did, I said it hadn’t come out yet, tells how Jerry Siegel and his wife and kids used to go to Great Neck to Donenfeld’s, march up and down in front of house with sign “He robbed me,” Irwin used to invite kids in, feed them, and send them out, Carmine never met Jerry and Joe, tells me how Joe was mugged leaving the movie house, got beat up pretty badly]

What would you to be conveyed about Bill in this book?

I think Billy was a frickin’ genius. If it wasn’t for him, Batman would be nothing. Bob created a character, period. But Bill gave it soul. And then he created all those wonderful villains which really gave it its body. He was a genius.

[he talks about a group that used to get drinks, Bill didn’t go that often, mentioned the writers’ room]

This writers’ room, was it just—

—it was just a room, it was nothing special. But that’s where they hung out, they did their writing. A freelancers’ room.

Was it a room where they actually wrote or they just hung out?

They did some corrections there.

There were desks?

Yeah, there were desks. What they did sometimes, at the end, they’d give them changes, so they’d go back in there, and there’s typewriters there and they make some changes and bring them back in. The actual writing they did at home.

Rows of desks, nothing on the walls, just very plain?

No, it was very plain.

With windows?

No. I remember it was a side room.

[thanked him, complimented him, other wrap-up business, told him he gave me details no one else did, he asked like what, I said blue shirts, writers’ room]

He was meticulous about his clothes, by the way. Brooks Brothers, he was a freak for Brooks Brothers. He loved their suits. He’s used to always wear the tie and the shirt.

He wore a tie when we was working?

Yup, yup, yup, yup, yup. He always wore a tie.

Even when he was home?

I don’t know about home, but I know in the office.

Did everybody wear ties though?

No, no. One thing about Bill, I know he wore a shirt and tie most of the time. … He was too nice a man. The guy was a brilliant man. And he got shoved up, well…

Well, the best we can do is keep talking about him.

I know. I’m glad somebody’s writing about him. You ought to call it The Father of Batman. You wouldn’t be wrong.

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11. Irwin Hasen previously unpublished interview, 6/12/06

Irwin Hasen was a comic book artist who co-created Wildcat with Bill Finger. I interviewed Irwin for Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman

Of the eight Golden and Silver Age creators (Jerry Robinson, Shelly Moldoff, Lew Sayre Schwartz, Alvin Schwartz, Joe Kubert, Arnold Drake, Carmine Infantino, Irwin) whose previously unpublished interviews I'm posting, Irwin is the second oldest (after Alvin)—and last one living. 

The interview is transcribed (and slightly edited) from a recording.

What say you about Bill Finger?

Bill Finger was the greatest guy in the business at the time. A very sad character. He was always late. Always needed money.

What was your first impression of Bill?

A nice guy. We had a lot of common. We became friends. We became very close friends. And he was a very sweet guy.

What did you have in common?

Socially. We’d go out occasionally together. I met with his wife, Portia. We were like buddies.

What was he like when working? Was he making jokes?


A very civilized jokester. He was erudite and very, very smart. He wasn’t clever, but he was smart guy.

What is the difference between smart and clever?

He wasn’t a wiseguy. He was just a low-key, lovely guy. Very serious. And we made each other laugh.

Did he ever talk to you about working on Batman?

No, he never did. We worked on the Green Lantern stories, and of course Wildcat, which he and I both created, with Sheldon Mayer. [Irwin doesn’t read comics today, they can’t tell stories, idol is Alex Toth, and Irwin was Toth’s idol, Toth was 12 years younger than Hasen] I hope I’m not talking too much.

[I said of course not, backed up and told him I’m working on book on Bill Finger for young people]

Really? Good for you. Good for you.

[asked about texture of Bill’s life]

The texture of his life was very [vague?] and fleeting. He was never anchored. He was always in trouble financially.

Were you in touch with him until his death?

No.

Did you hear about his death?

I heard vaguely about his death.

But you didn’t go to his funeral?

No, I didn’t. I didn’t know where the hell it was. I don’t think he had one. He was a very underrated guy. … But Bill lived in obscurity.

So if there’s one thing you want conveyed in a book about him, what would that be?

I would say he was probably the most flamboyant creative artist in the stable of writers. He was short-lived and no one gave him that much credit except after he died. Of all of the writers, he was probably the most creative.

Do you have any photographs of him?

No. Isn’t that funny, I really don’t.

What did Bill look like?

A short man. Very good looking. He looked like a college professor.

Did he wear glasses?

I don’t think so, except probably when he worked.

He was well-dressed?

Always nattily dressed. He looked like an elegant professor.

Did you ever go golfing with him?

No, I never did. I never played golf. I played tennis all my life and he didn’t play tennis. … We drank … We weren’t drunks but we drank. We worked our tail off and when we delivered our work we bumped into each other, that’s all.

[I asked if he has any late night anecdotes about Bill]

No, I don’t. He was very secluded with his wife, Portia. I only saw them together, usually. Bill was a very elusive guy. He was only a couple inches taller than I was.

How tall is that?

I’m 5’2”. He was probably 5’4”.

What about Portia, what did she look like?

Very, very heavy. I don’t want to put her down but she was very heavy. Short. She was delightful. Delightful sense of humor. She and I hit it off beautifully. She and I became more friends than he and I.

Were you in touch with her later in life?

No.

Did you know [Bill’s son] Freddie?

No. … Bill was his own worst enemy. He just couldn’t keep up with deadlines and they didn’t want to pay him anymore.

Do you think that he regretted that he was never more assertive and asked for credit?

Possibly. I don’t know. When I did Wildcat, I insisted—that’s one thing I did nice in my youth—I insisted that his name would be next to mine.

[asked if he gets royalties for Wildcat, said no, Arnold Drake is going after getting credit, Irwin went to DC couple years ago cause Nodell got big sum for Green Lantern, approached Paul Levitz gingerly with articles that say he created Wildcat, DC said Wildcat is not a big thing with them, not busy with it, sort of patted Irwin on the head, said Arnold said they might make Deadman movie, he said “Arnold has dreams,” don’t want to risk that Wildcat becomes big, they send him Wildcat statues that are “disgusting”; after more shootbreezing, said Jerry Robinson most talented guy in the business]

Anything else about Bill?

I can’t tell you—he was an elusive character, that’s all I can say. If you can get something out of that, which could be interesting, by the way, it could be an interesting path. An elusive kind of a chap, elegant, he looked like a guy just out of Yale.

He looked handsome in those photos.

Oh yes.

But some people have said he wasn’t handsome.

He was a good looking. Don’t believe them. He had a lovely and refined looking little face (laughs)—little face, I like the way I talk about him. And he always smoked a pipe. And I loved to make him laugh.

1 Comments on Irwin Hasen previously unpublished interview, 6/12/06, last added: 8/12/2013
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12. Lyn Simmons previously unpublished interview, 2006; part 1 of 3

Lyn was Bill Finger’s companion in the 1960s and his second wife from 1968 to 1971. She was unknown to the comics world before I discovered her.

I interviewed her for Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman and am now posting many of those previously unpublished interviews.

6/23/06

As you probably know, Bill Finger was a major factor in the creation of Batman and never received [official] credit.

That’s right, he was, and he never received enough credit for it. And I feel very badly about that. He was the one—he decided on having the Penguin, giving Batman a cape, and all sorts of different details that I may or may not remember. He was very instrumental in developing the whole image of Batman.

How old are you?

I’m 83. I was born in 1922. Bill was 10 years older than I. [Bill was born 1914]

Tell me what your memories are of Bill as a person and as a creative type.

As a person, he was very, very warm, very sincere, very hard-working, even though he problems meeting deadlines. We were very much in love most of the time. Toward the end it got a little bad. But for the most part he was my big, passionate love affair. We spent enormous amounts of time together. He had a good sense of humor. He was very interested in the theater, and ballet, and classical music. He gave an awful lot of thought to writing. He wouldn’t write any violent comic books.

Did he feel pressure that other people wanted him to write violent stuff?

Well, they would ask him to and he wouldn’t. He was asked to go out to Hollywood to write the Superman script and he didn’t do it. [NOTE: It turned out she was most likely thinking of the 1966 Filmation Superman series of animated shorts.] He liked New York and he didn’t want to leave there. And when we married he was out on Long Island with me but he just held on to the space he had and didn’t like to leave it. So going out to California was a great big step for him.

They asked him to write the script from scratch, or did they want him to edit somebody’s—

I think he would’ve had a partner. I don’t remember—you know, it’s 34 years, or 31 years, since he died. I don’t remember but I know he could’ve gone out and written Superman for the movies. And he just never took up that opportunity. He also worked very hard at getting the right words and the right image for Batman. He worried about it a lot and thought about it a lot. It was real important to him. Personally he was wonderful, I was in love with him, and he was a wonderful guy.

How did you meet?

We met at a friend’s house in the village. She was my friend. It was a couple—they were Bill’s friend and I was there with another friend and we went up to visit. He was there. And that’s how we met.

Do you know what year that was?

Oh God. I would’ve been about 35—that would’ve been 50 years [ago] almost.

When did you two start a relationship?

Right away. We started going out. He called me about two weeks after we met. He took me a foreign film, the first date. Something about the fifth lamb, I forget what it was.

This was in the fifties?

Oh yes.

So he was already divorced from Portia?

No he wasn’t. He didn’t get divorced for a few years.

The first time you lived together was in Great Neck, right?

No, we were together, I lived with him in the Village. We were living with each other on and off. We vacationed together often. We used to go to Cape Cod and up to the Hamptons.

Where did you live in the city?

When I met Bill I was on the island. I have three children.

So you have Eve and Steve…

…and Andy.

Where does he fall, oldest, youngest?

He’s my middle son.

When you lived with Bill in the city was that the 45 Grove Street address?

Oh god…

Or the neighborhood if you can’t remember the address.

No I don’t. He lived alone. I don’t remember that first apartment’s address.

But it was in the Village?

Yeah it was in the Village, it was always in the Village.

That might’ve been the 45 Grove Street. 


[said how I went around city and took photos of where he lived]

I think it’s awfully nice that you’re doing this. I’m so happy for Bill that you’re doing it.

Do you have any photos of Bill?

I think I had a couple. I’ll have to look through my books. We weren’t photo people so we just didn’t take many photos.

[she said she had just gotten back from New York and she’s tired so can we continue tomorrow, then: Could you tell me what you said about things you’d do for Bill?]

As I understand it, he was buried on Hart Island so he doesn’t have a gravestone. Do you know about that?

I was in California [when Bill died] and my son was having a very serious operation. He has no gravestone?

I’m almost positive.

Oh god.

The friend of his that told me about you whose name is Charles Sinclair—

Oh yeah! Where is Charles?

In Brooklyn. I could put you guys in touch.

Yeah, I’d like to be in touch with him again.

[she said let’s continue tomorrow, I said if the book does well I’d like to get Bill a proper gravestone and she agreed]

I’m so glad, I’m so glad you’re doing this. I came out here 35 years ago to take care of my son Andrew who had a very bad accident and injured his spinal cord and he’s in a wheelchair so I took care of him out here for 12 years. When Bill died, well that’s another story that might interest you, Charlie said I was psychic, but it was very strange thing that happened, but I’ll talk about that tomorrow.

Part 2.

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13. review#409 – The Middle Sheep By Frances Watt

. The Middle Sheep (Ernie and Maud) By Frances Watt Judy Watson, illustrator Eerdmans Books for Young Readers 4 Star . Back Cover:  The Adventures of Extraordinary Ernie and Marvelous Maud continue . . . but what—or who—is making the usually cheerful and dependable Maud so grumpy? And why are she and Ernie arguing all …

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14. Captain Awesome No. 8: Captain Awesome vs. the Spooky, Scary House, by Stan Kirby, illustrated by George O'Connor, 117 pp, RL 1.5

<!-- START INTERCHANGE - CAPTAIN AWESOME TO THE RESCUE -->if(!window.igic__){window.igic__={};var d=document;var s=d.createElement("script");s.src="http://iangilman.com/interchange/js/widget.js";d.body.appendChild(s);} <!-- END INTERCHANGE --> Captain Awesome vs. the Spooky, Scary House is the eighth book in this super series that debuted early in 2012. With his cry of MI-TEE!, Captain

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15. The Big Bang Query

In March 2013, during the Q&A after an educators conference in Georgia, a huge fan of The Big Bang Theory suggested I send a copy of each book to the show. 


Though I don’t watch it (heresy!), I know it regularly references superheroes. I didnt see what the producers might do with my books...yet this audience member kept kindly suggesting (almost insisting), and eventually I was convinced.

What did I want from this? Well, this woman seemed to think the true stories in these books could inspire a storyline on the show. I felt that is probably unlikely, but I am a never-hurts-to-try guy. In any case, I
d be thrilled if either or both could be added to the set, even if for just a scene. I believe they are the kinds of books the characters would own...


On Facebook, I asked if anyone in my network has a connection to anyone connected to the show, and within minutes, I heard from a friend who is friends with Kaley Cuoco’s makeup artist. She happened to be supremely nice, and offered to pass along my books, so I sent them to her. Every time I followed up, she was equally nice and complimentary.

As of now, nothing has come of it. But you can’t predict a big bang…

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16. John Ferguson on Saltire: “He’s Big, He’s Blue, and He’s Ginger” [Interview]

Scotland has been missing some good superheroes recently, and especially giant hulking shirtless ginger ones. Luckily that’s all changed thanks to Saltire, a new character created by writer John Ferguson, who’ll be the star of a series of graphic novels over the next few years. A proud Scot, Saltire is a centuries-spanning hero who starts in Roman times and fights for Scottish pride from then onwards.

Drawn by Gary Welsh and Tone Julskjaer, the first graphic novel ‘Invasion’ is out now in the UK, and will be arriving in the US later this year. A best-selling title in Scotland, Saltire marks a creator-owned attempt to revitalise superheroes, and a follow up called Saltire: Annihilation is promised for the near future. I spoke to John recently about the series – and more specifically, about the character himself. Who is Saltire? Is the World ready for a Ginger superhero? Read on to find out!

Saltire Front Cover

Steve: What is the basic concept of Saltire? What is the book about?

John: Saltire is the immortal protector of Scotland and Invasion is the first in a graphic novel series set in a pseudo history of the country that takes the reader through some of the great legends and myths, and the most climatic moments of it’s past. He’s big, he’s blue and he’s ginger, with quite an iconic superhero visual.

The first book is set in ancient history and tells of the famous Roman Ninth Legion, who have had many books and films in the last few years, championing their heroism. This however, comes from the Scottish perspective of an invading Imperial force to a peaceful land. The book also includes the origin story of Saltire, “Inception”, which explains the background to his creation and his reason for being.

Steve: To that regard, the book starts in post-Roman times. How did you decide the timeframe for the series? Without spoiling anything, the character *is* immortal.

John: To be honest, the history of Scotland dictated the time frame. So many amazing events have happened in its past that we wanted Saltire to cover them all, so we had to make him immortal.

Steve: There’s been a slight misreporting of the character – you call him “the first Scottish hero” and so people have raced to the internet to write about pre-existing characters like Wolfsbane and Ghost Girl (no? just me on that one?) Yet what you’re actually saying is that the book goes back in time chronologically before any other Scottish hero existed – Saltire is the first superhero in Scottish recorded history. Is that about right? I just wanted to clear that up!

John: Actually there has never been a lead comic book superhero from Scotland or a series set in Scotland, only comic strips, or characters who are supplanted into America like Wolfsbane or Fantastic Four’s Caledonia. So Saltire is first in a few ways. We know comic book fans like a good debate and I’m sure it will carry on for a while yet.

Saltire Map

The World of Saltire

Steve: The book is full of Scottish mythology, both real and (I think!) invented. Scottish mythology is not a subject which has been explored in comics, particularly. Was that part of the appeal of writing the story: that you could delve into this dense mythology?

John: Actually none of the mythology is invented. It is all based in some sort of belief or legend from the Picts, Scots or Gaels, with just a little tweaking to fit it all together as a cohesive world. Telling the story of Scotland’s legends and folklore in a modern, dynamic way is a huge undertaking, but it’s hugely enjoyable and the first book has been selling out all over the country.

Steve: Were there any particular myths or folk stories that you knew you particularly wanted to touch upon? It would have been tempting, I imagine, to immediately throw in Nessie and The Stone of Destiny and all the most famous references, but you hold back here.

John: Absolutely. The tale of Scotland’s otherworld (the spirit world) and the folk tales of the Blue Stones are central to the Saltire series. The records of Scotland’s history were destroyed twice, so our own past quite often reads like mythology because it is fairly unknown. This is not the story of tartan, bagpipes and haggis.

Steve: So what defines Saltire as a character? What’s his personality, what’s his ambition – what is he looking to achieve?

John: In a word, Scottishness. He’s aggressive, protective, believes in liberty and freedom but he has his flaws and one major weakness, one that Scotland is famous for. His ambition and purpose is to see the people of Scotland live in freedom and peace. Saltire will hibernate for centuries in times of peace, meditating under the mountains, to be called upon through the ancient Stone of Destiny, when a threat to the nation is at hand.

Saltire Page 16

Steve: Am I right in thinking the design for the character was run as a competition, and that artists Gary Welsh and Tone Julskjaer won said competition? What was it about their art which appealed to your sense of the character?

John: The prestigious Duncan of Jordanstone Art College in Dundee produces many of Scotland’s finest artists and also champion’s comic books and animation, so running a competition through them seemed logical. Gary and Tone have a great mix of dynamics and artistry and they have really captured the feel of Scotland and its scenery. It is a very beautiful style and looks different to the traditional Marvel and DC superhero style.

Steve: Did you deliberately want to find emerging talent from Dundee University – which hosted the competition – to help design the concept of Saltire? To make him contemporary as well as rooted in Scottish history?

John: We want Saltire to become quite iconic and recognisable, particularly in Scotland but also into the rest of the English speaking world. We don’t want Saltire to be seen as an old fashioned sword and sandals comic. Our artists will always look to bring a contemporary feel to all the books.

Steve: How did you pick the name for the character – ‘Saltire’?

John: “Saltire” is the name of the national flag but its etymology is ambiguous so we like to think the flag was named after the character in our pseudo history.

Steve: What are your plans with the character following Saltire: Invasion? Will you be continuing on for more stories with him?

John: Yes, the next book Saltire Annihilation is our later this year and is a bit of an epic, set in the dark ages of Scotland and Saltire has to deal with the threat of the Anglo Saxons and the legendary Ban Sith. We have four or five books in development. The script of the third book is almost complete.

Saltire Page 19

Steve: How can people find copies of the book? Are there plans to make it available for a US audience?

John: The book is widely available in book shops and comic book shops in the UK, and is one of the bestselling graphic novels in Scotland. We are looking forward to getting Saltire Invasion released in the US later this year along with a digital version for those unable to pick up a hard copy.  Invasion and Annihilation may end up with consecutive releases for the international market. Currently the book is available online worldwide on Amazon and directly from Diamondsteel Comics.

Steve: Do you have anything else coming up? Where can we find you – and Saltire – online?

John: We’ll be releasing the first book in Scots and Gaelic language editions later in the year, which allows people in Scotland to read the book in all of the countries languages. A lot of people with Scottish ancestry, particularly in North America, are keen to read new material in these languages, so it’s creating a bit of a buzz.

You can find us on Twitter, on  Facebook, and at our website www.diamondsteelcomics.com

-

Many thanks to John for his time! And thanks also to Clare, for arranging the interview! Saltire Invasion is available in UK stores right now.

1 Comments on John Ferguson on Saltire: “He’s Big, He’s Blue, and He’s Ginger” [Interview], last added: 4/4/2014
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17. Granddaughter of Wonder Woman's creator - her first interview

After a talk I gave at a Virginia elementary school in 11/13, one of the teachers, Nancy Wykoff, introduced herself...as the granddaughter of William Moulton Marston, the creator of Wonder Woman.

Naturally I asked to interview her. Luckily she said yes. (Photos may be forthcoming.)

Your grandfather died in 1947 so I presume you never met him?

No, I never met my grandfather.

According to family who knew him, what kind of person was he?

My grandfather was a kind man. He was brilliant. Very bright. He not only created Wonder Woman, but he created the first lie detector. He loved his children and he loved women!

Any funny stories about him? In particular any funny Wonder Woman-related stories?

He died when my dad was 13 so most of the stories came from my grandmother. Stories say that he modeled Wonder Woman after Elizabeth Marston but my grandmother, Olive Richard, claims that Wonder Woman was designed after her. If you ever see a picture of the two ladies, you would see that indeed Wonder Woman was designed after my grandmother. 

Bill Marston had four children with two different women. All the children, three boys and one girl, have Marston as their last name. My grandmother Olive met Bill when she was 19. Bill came home to his wife, Elizabeth Marston, and asked if Olive could come live with them. Elizabeth agreed. Olive was the homemaker and Elizabeth was an attorney for Met Life.


After Bill died, the women raised the kids together and continued to live together until their death. The children were well educated, Andover Prep School and Harvard. My dad was an attorney and Byrne was a doctor. The two children from Elizabeth, Pete and Olive Ann, I am not as close to. Pete and O.A. are still living and live in Connecticut. I am very close to my Uncle Byrne. We see him and his family quite often. He lives in Florida. My dad [came] to Washington D.C. to attend law school, moved to Arlington, Virginia, and I am still here!

Do you know what inspired him to create Wonder Woman?

Bill Marston said that he wanted a superhero that females could identify with. The few that were around then were characters that boys idolized or wanted to be, so he wanted to have a woman superhero. As you can tell, Bill loved women! He certainly created a well-shaped female!

Do you know about any controversy he had to deal with surrounding Wonder Woman?

I don't know if there was any controversy...

Do you what his opinion of Wonder Woman was?

I think he wanted WW to be a female who was strong, self-sufficient, and could help solve the world's problems. She used her lasso to get people to tell the truth (hence the lie detector connection), flew around in her invisible plane, and helped fight crime. What is not to love about that? She came from Amazonia, a land of strong women, goddesses... Remember Bill loved women. Fantasy, strong women, shapely...Wonder Woman.

Is Wonder Woman mentioned on his gravestone? 

I am not sure. My dad spent many years of his life being angry at his father. Since there were two women living in his house, neighbors and peers often teased him about being a "bastard child" of Bill Marston. My dad was really confused and pissed off. I have never been to my grandfather’s grave. To be honest, I am not sure where he was buried. I think New York. That is where they were living when Bill died. I will have to find that out for you.

What is the oldest piece of Wonder Woman memorabilia you own?

We own a few of the first sketches for the first comic Wonder Woman. We have the original script for the first comic and we have the first comic book published. We even have the first lie detector! I know, it should be in the Smithsonian or someplace like that!

I understand that your family still owns Wonder Woman. Does that mean that DC Comics needs the family's approval for all Wonder Woman stories and products?

Yes, they need family approval before any decisions are made.

Have you been interviewed before about this?

Never!

Do you pay attention to the narrative changes DC has made to the character?

We wish they would go back to the kinder, gentler WW. I am not thrilled with the new look.

Who would you like to see play Wonder Woman in a movie? [NOTE: Question asked before Gal Godot was cast for the 2016 Superman/Batman movie...but no matter, she will not be the last actress to portray Wonder Woman.]

I liked Jessica Biel. They also had another choice, a woman from Mexico, I think. She was a good choice. I think he character needs to be young to attract the young girl audience. Too old and you lose that. I can't tell you how many kids at my school have WW stuff. The girls love her!

Were you ever Wonder Woman for Halloween?

Yes! So was my daughter!

What do the kids in the family think of the family's connection to Wonder Woman?

They think it is awesome! They so want a movie to be made. They think it isn't fair that Batman and Superman have had so many movies already. When they tell friends that their great grandfather created WW, most friends don't believe them!

On a side note, my great grandmother is Margaret Sanger. When the kids mention her, then there is total doubt! That is what used to happen to me when I was younger. My friends would say, “There is no way your dad's dad created WW and your great-grandmother started Planned Parenthood!” It is true! 

My son's middle name is Marston and my daughter's middle name is Sanger…so it continues... :)


A stage play about Marston.

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18. Molly Danger - comics in audiobook?

Recently, I reviewed an audiobook version of a comic book.  It sounded crazy to me, but it works!  Below is my review as it appeared in the April/May 2014, issue of AudioFile Magazine.

MOLLY DANGER

Jamal Igle

Read by Olivia DuFord, Robin Miles, Lance Roger Axt, and a Full Cast

Crunch! Kaboom! Pow! A superhero action comic in audiobook format? Yes! With sound effects including crashing cars, screaming citizens, beeping computers, and whirring helicopter rotors, AudioComics brings this new series to life with a full cast of narrators. Likable Molly Danger is a super strong, immortal 10-year-old alien who is never far from action. Orphaned when her parents' ship crashed to the earth, she was recruited by the Danger Action Response Team (D.A.R.T.) to fight the evil Supermechs, who threaten Earth. Quiet music accompanies Molly's sad and lonely backstory scenes, while techno pop and suspenseful music highlight battle and chase sequences. Multiple narrators and excellent special effects make it easy to follow this fast-moving audio comic. L.T. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

Children • 1 hr. • Audio Program • © 2013

Copyright © 2014 AudioFile MagazineReprinted with permission.





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19. Sea World water skiing superheroes...2013?

Artist Michael "mic?" Magtanong created a skillfully executed homage/update to the fondly remembered Sea World water skiing superhero show of the 1970s, which I have been known to mention here.


He kindly gave me permission to re-post it here:



Some clever, understated touches:



  • the cables for Wonder Woman, Mera, and Batman are their own devices/abilities
  • the cables for the rest (and the skis for those who need them) are Green Lantern constructs
  • Superman don't need no cable
  • love the updating: John Stewart replacing Hal Jordan (and/or Robin or Captain Marvel), Hawkgirl and Vixen replacing Supergirl and Batgirl
  • love the gay pride flag (this debuted online the week that DOMA was named unconstitutional)

And coloring the sky blood-red is an interesting choice. Perhaps this show took place during an invasion from Apokolips.

Kudos again, Michael, and thanks again for letting me help share your great work.

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20. Why Kick-Ass Kicks the Avengers’ Butts: Kick-Ass (2010) Review

Stars: Aaron Johnson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chloe Grace Moretz, Nicolas Cage

Inspired by comic books, Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson), an ordinary teenager, decides to become Kick-Ass, a masked vigilante and soon discovers he’s not the only crime fighter roaming the streets of New York, when he encounters the far more competent father-daughter team of Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) and the ultra-flashy Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). However, when Kick-Ass comes to the attention of Frank D’Amico, a local mafia boss, he becomes drawn into a world far more dangerous than he ever imagined and must become the superhero he dreams of being or die trying.





In the last week, I have watched two superhero films: The Avengers and Kick-Ass; and although Kick-Ass didn’t make even a fraction of what The Avengers made at the box office (at the time of writing, The Avengers is the third-highest grossing film of all time), as far as I’m concerned, it is by far the superior film.

While all hugely successful, the recent string of movies based on Marvel comics has been rather hit and miss. Iron Man was excellent (with one of the most memorable endings of a superhero movie ever), as was X-Men: First Class, but some of the other films have felt more like extended television episodes than proper movies in their own right (I’m thinking of you, Iron Man 2). The Avengers sits somewhere in the middle of the spectrum.

In spite of taking way too long to get going (largely due to the fact that each of the four main superheroes must be introduced one by one and given roughly equal screen-time – I’m guessing this was some sort of contractual thing), when The Avengers does finally get to the point, the action scenes are pretty awesome, and there are a number of moments in Joss Whedon’s script that are laugh-aloud funny. Yet, in spite of the fact that Thor, Iron Man, the Hulk and Captain America are all fighting to save the planet on which I live from an alien invasion, at no point in the film’s 143 minute run time did I actually care as to whether or not they were going to succeed. This is because, in spite of having the greatest physical goal imaginable, none of the Avengers have anything at stake emotionally. Saving the world is just a job for them and they have nothing to prove or change in their lives. It’s the “why” that makes us care about a character, be it saving the world in order to ask out the girl/guy of their dreams or killing the bad guy in order to avenge the death of a loved one. You can have all the wisecracks and special effects in the world, but without a good “why”, a movie is nothing more than a hollow shell destined to be forgotten as soon as you leave the cinema. And this is why Kick-Ass outdoes The Avengers.

Part teen angst comedy, part ultra-violent superhero parody, with Kick-Ass we are presented with a superhero it is impossible not to like. Unlike the Avengers, Dave Lizewski has no special powers or skills, but he still goes out and fights crime because of his twin desires to make a difference to the world and to get the girl of his dreams to notice him. Those are goals that ordinary people can understand and as such, we want him to win. In fact, every major character in Kick-Ass is motivated by something more complex than “I’m doing this because that’s just what I do,” and as a result, we want them to get the happy endings that they so richly deserve.

That’s not to say that happy endings are inevitable for these characters. Mark Millar’s graphic novel upon which the movie is based is actually pretty bleak and depressing and does not deliver on this front, leaving some readers (i.e. me) feeling bummed out at the end of reading it. Nevertheless, bleak and depressing does not a successful Hollywood blockbuster make and screenwriter/director Matthew Vaughn (who, incidentally, also co-wrote and directed X-Men: First Class) has the good sense to replace the comic’s loneliness and despair with optimism and hope, improving the story dramatically and turning it into a feel-good film that will leave you grinning for days after watching it.

Verdict: As well as providing Nicolas Cage with his best role in years, this tale of an underdog with good intentions is one of the best superhero films of the last decade and runs circles around mega-hits such as The Avengers.

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21. DC vs. Marvel: the film series

In Washington DC, a clever spin on the superhero film festival:



Oddly, however, no Superman? Or Spider-Man, for that matter.

0 Comments on DC vs. Marvel: the film series as of 8/3/2013 7:02:00 AM
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22. Shelly Moldoff previously unpublished interview, 6/2/06

Shelly Moldoff was a comic book artist most associated with Hawkman and Batman, along with multiple Batman villains. I interviewed Shelly for Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman. He passed away in 2012.

The interview is transcribed (and slightly edited) from a recording, as I did with all the interviews in this series (Jerry Robinson, Shelly Moldoff, Lew Sayre Schwartz, Alvin Schwartz, Joe Kubert, Arnold Drake, Carmine Infantino, Irwin Hasen).

What was Bill Finger’s personality?

Bill didn’t have much of a personality. You can’t really go into any depth with him.

What was he like when you were talking with him?

Very laid back. Quiet. Ambitious. He wanted to be a writer. But that’s about it. Can’t say he had a great sense of humor or anything like that.

Was he one of the guys or did he keep to himself?

Not really. He kept to himself.

Why do you think that was?

First of all, he was a complete opposite I would say of Bob Kane. Bob Kane was tall, good-looking, attractive guy, particularly to the women. Was a womanizer. He had a lot of things personality-wise going for him. He was likable. Bill was very quiet and laid back. He wasn’t an attractive guy like Bob was.

I couldn’t tell. In the few pictures I’ve seen, he looked like he was pretty handsome. He wasn’t?

No, not really. I wouldn’t say that.

Do you have pictures of him?

Not really, no. He was quiet, ambitious, and overshadowed by Bob.

Did his personality change over the years?

He had a lot of personal problems. I don’t know that I should go into it, or anybody else. But he had personal problems.

Did he become more depressed or withdrawn?

I would say he became more withdrawn. For example, Jack Schiff the editor and many other editors liked his work. He was a very good writer. They would give him a script and an assignment, but getting the finished script was like pulling teeth out of him. Many times he wouldn’t finish the last two pages and you had to chase him to get the last two pages. It was just part of his personality or nature. Some people are never late. I was never late on a deadline. But they had to chase Bill a lot and as he got older, it became a little bit more difficult to work with him. I know the editor of Batman and Robin, Jack Schiff, would say, “I’ll give you a script anytime, but I gotta have it. You never bring it in.”

What was his response?

More like begging. He’ll be there, he’ll do it. As I say, he had a lot of personal things.

He only had one son?

I don’t know too much about his family. You have to be careful talking about him because nobody likes to read anything bad about anybody. That’s the nature of the person.

Are you talking about Bill now?

Yeah, I’m talking about Bill. Anybody, for that matter. I used to tell Bob “You got a lot of fans, you got a great strip going, very popular. But you have no rapport with your fans. You look down on them. If it wasn’t for them you wouldn’t be sitting way up here. If you had a better rapport, you’d be much more popular and it would help you. It would make you a better person. But it didn’t sink in to him. He wasn’t interested. He wasn’t interested in accolades or going to a convention and meeting people. It was of no concern to him. He just didn’t care.

What do you think he thought of Bill Finger?

He thought of him as a writer, period.

Not a friend too?

A fan?

A friend.

Yeah, as much as he could be a friend.

But they weren’t buddies when they weren’t working?

Not really buddy-buddy.

They sound like they were so different.

Some people think that Bill Finger should have his name up there alongside Bob’s. It should be “Created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger.” Well, Bob would never give anybody a byline, never under any circumstances would he give you a byline. He wouldn’t give his own father a byline. That was his nature.

Do you know if Bill ever asked for a byline?

I would say he probably did. I can’t say for sure, but I would say it’s only natural to say I’d like to see my name up there. I made a big contribution. But Bob wouldn’t give anybody a nod.

What do you know to be Bill’s contribution to Batman?

I would say the writing, the type of story. It was a like a movie set. He loved to write like that. They were lucky they found Dick Sprang, that was right down his alley. Those big spectacle stories where all the background props and things like that, Bill loved to write like that.

Which elements of Batman did Bill create—certain characters, parts of the costume?

When you say did he create certain characters, this is a subject that a lot of people don’t understand and a lot of people make claims that they did. You get a script, and the editor sits down with the writers, and believe me, they spend an awful lot of time trying to come up with a plot and a story. You get a story and in it it calls for a character that waddles around, short, funny-looking, and in your mind you have to conceive what kind of character they want. He might say to you it looks like a penguin or something like that. And you work on that premise. Now who created the character? Was it the artist or the writer?

There was no one person that said I created Catwoman or I created Penguin?

Well, it comes with the story. I created the visual image of Bat-Mite. In the story, it was about a little alien from outer space, a little tiny creature that flew around and wanted to help Batman. What do they look like? Did he look like a mouse, did he look like a rabbit? What was he like? Did he hop, did he fly? It’s up to the artist to conceive what the Bat-Mite looked like. Then afterwards, what am I going to say, I created the Bat-Mite? I never said I created the Bat-Mite. I did the story, but I never take it away from the writer who came up with the idea.

So you would say it’s a joint effort?

It’s a joint effort. Now Bob doesn’t realize that. Bob never accepted that.

Did you talk to Bob after you stopped working?

No.

What about Bill?

Oh, Bill was long gone. I think Bill had passed away before that.

Did you stay in touch with Bill until he died?

Never, never in touch with Bill.

Do you think Bill deserves a credit along with Bob on the strip, if it were possible?

Not unless you want to give it to everybody else.

Everybody who ever worked on it?

Yeah. What are you going to do, give it to Jerry Robinson, give it to me? Jerry Robinson did the outfit for the Robin, which is an important character. I did something else, somebody else did something else. Bob’s theory was this: I created Batman, it’s my strip. I can do what I want with it. Anybody else that works on it is actually working for me and whatever they do belongs to me. It would never have been possible unless there was a Batman strip. He never acknowledged that anybody had any rights to anything.

You agree with that?

No, I don’t agree with that.

If anything was possible, whose name or names do you think should be on every issue of Batman today, as the creators? Is it a long list?

I would still leave it.

Leave it as Bob?

Leave it at Bob.

Just to make it simple?

At the very beginning when he created it, he put every ounce of energy and talent that he had in it. He was completely taken by it and involved in it. And he did a great job. It was his feeling of the character that made it successful. You gotta give him credit for it. That’s how I feel about it. He was responsible for making it so popular. Add to that different people embellished on different parts of it. But it was his feeling, his spirit, of the way he wanted it done. And he was active at the beginning, he was active the first couple of years, he did participate. And he was very into it. Then once it started taking off, he had other artists, the publisher had other artists come in to help because of the quantity of work that was necessary. Then he kind of stepped out of it. I give him credit for it, no question about it.

Do you have any stories about Bill that stick out, a little anecdote about him that might be interesting to kids? The way he worked, what he said, his reaction?

Not really. He was a very tight guy.

Very what?

Very tight. Never pick up the tab. If you were in a taxi, no matter who he was with, he would get off that cab before you did so that he wasn’t involved in paying the bill. That’s how cheap he was.

Did you have a favorable impression of him overall?

We used to date together, his wife and my wife, we socialized. His daughter used to sleep at my house on the weekends. We were very close. But he was a very funny guy. Cheap. We used to fight over money. I would feel I was [?] a certain amount. His checks bounced regularly.

Are you talking about Bob or Bill?

Bob.

When you said the story about the taxicab, was that Bob or Bill?

Bob.

I’m talking about Bill.

I don’t know enough about Bill. I have very little to say about Bill.

Because you didn’t know him well?

I knew just from being there, if he was at the apartment at the same time that I was there. But otherwise we never socialized or anything like that.

I got the impression from the books that you knew him quite well.

Not really. I never said that.

I know you didn’t, but that’s the impression I got when I was reading some of these books.

I didn’t know him that well.

Do you know anybody out there who did know him well?

Not really. As I say, he was a little bit strange and he had a lot of personal problems.

Did you have an impression of Bill?

I don’t know enough about him. But as I say, I admire him on his writing ability. He was perfect for the beginning of Batman because that’s the type of stories that seem to be the main lead story in Batman’s adventures. Dick Sprang loved to delve into history and the museums and get all the background, so it was a great partnership there.

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23. Lew Sayre Schwartz previously unpublished interview, 6/2/06

Lew Sayre Schwartz was an artist most associated with Batman. I interviewed Lew for Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman. He passed away in 2011.

The interview is transcribed (and slightly edited) from a recording, as I did with all the interviews in this series (Jerry Robinson, Shelly Moldoff, Lew Sayre Schwartz, Alvin Schwartz, Joe Kubert, Arnold Drake, Carmine Infantino, Irwin Hasen).

What was Bill Finger like?

I did not know him at all.

Do you know anything about him?

Most certainly. I think Bob Kane failed to credit him along the way for the creation of Batman and always stated some regret as long as he didn’t have to put it in writing.

Do you think that they should share equal billing?

You’ve got to put it this way. I worked on many of Bill Finger’s stories. Are you familiar with what I did for Bob Kane? I worked for Bob almost seven years. Early on, most of the scripts that I got were Bill Finger’s. They were always the most imaginative; they were always the best stories. They were the most visual and creative of…I did about 115 stories between ‘47 and ‘53.

That’s incredible.

How the situation worked, which might be of interest to you, Bob Kane never liked to let anybody know that somebody else is doing the work. In my case, he was particularly interested in not letting DC know because his contract called for I think 12 stories, I’m not positive of that, and with me he did 24. I was very happy to get the work. I was very happy to remain anonymous. I never met anybody at DC. All of the guys—Shelly, Dick Sprang—I never met any of those guys. The only one I knew was Jerry Robinson and Jerry and I have been good friends for many years. And I actually replaced Jerry. What Bob would do is take my pencils and this is very interesting because for a long period of time DC has very nicely credited the artist. And there would be a little bio in Batman in the ‘50s, for example. Apparently, Bob wrote my bio and it was a lie from the beginning. It said I did backgrounds and it was a long tutelage, if you will. I mean, I never saw the guy. We’d meet occasionally, but by and large he would mail me a script and I would do the pages and send them back to him and if you’ve seen Alter Ego, look at my pencils and you’ll see that I wasn’t doing backgrounds.

Where did you live at the time?

I lived in Wilton, Connecticut. I lived in Massachusetts for a short time. I was born here. But by and large I doubled Bob’s output. In effect, at the end of the year, I was paying for myself very handsomely because he’d pay me $100 which was good money at the time, especially for a kid, and he got $500. That’s okay. I might’ve done the same thing. I was very happy to get the $100. I thought I was being very well paid. In contrast to what some of those other guys were paying people, it was good money.

Do you have a sense of what Bill Finger’s contribution was besides what you already described? What aspects of Batman’s are his legacy?

Bob always commiserated that he didn’t give Bill Finger sufficient credit. Now I can only judge from the material that I worked with that Bill Finger sent and knowing Bob Kane that it was not Bob Kane alone who created Batman. I don’t think so.

Do you think that Bill should get equal credit if that were possible?

Well, I think he should get equal credit. If you talked to Jerry Robinson, you’ll find Jerry feels the same way.

When Bob said that he felt he wasn’t giving Bill enough credit, did you believe that or do you think that was just an act?

I think that understanding Bob’s ego—and translate this properly—Bob Kane was making big money when he was 18 years old by contrast of what anybody else was making. I don’t think he ever believed it and he was always afraid to give anybody credit for fear that he would lose it. So he became a sort of minor pseudo-celebrity. Ate it all up. But mostly everybody else was doing the work. And he was fortunate with people like Jerry Robinson and Dick Sprang and Shelly Moldoff and a lot of talented guys who gave him the backup. Most of my things looked like Caniff. (laughs) Be that as it may, looking back, I couldn’t believe how many stories I did, but it’s true.

You never met Bill in person?

We never met.

You guys never even talked on the phone?

Nada. Too bad. I’ve never met Shel Moldoff, never met Dick Sprang.

[tells a Mort Weisinger story, how he hated Bob, for years Mort was trying to find out who Bob had doing the work, Lew worked in art department, did Bob’s work as freelance thing but was on staff at King Features, we had a phone booth in back of room, Mort went to the trouble of finding out the number and tried to nail me and called me at least two or three times, offered to buy lunch just to nail Bob, but I wouldn’t have any part of it, first of all didn’t like his manner when he spoke to me…apparently he (Mort) doesn’t enjoy a good reputation either]

Kane was just a frightened man and feared almost forever. Last time I spoke to Kane was probably ‘93. He called me from California. He had been trying to peddle his book since the late ‘70s and nobody would buy it. Batman and Me. And I congratulated him. I said “Bob, you finally made it. Be a good guy and send me a signed copy.” Dead silence. I said “What’s a matter, Bob?” He said “Well you’re not in it.” Sometimes you don’t come up with the right response. I said, “Gee, I only worked for you for seven years. I wouldn’t expect you to remember that.”

[I said how I don’t believe some of the book even though it’s an autobio]

Oh, you can’t. I haven’t read it, I haven’t bought it, and I have no interest in taking the time.

Well, it’s out of print.

(laughs) The first time I ever went up to DC was around ‘93 when I discovered I had royalties coming to me.

Have you ever heard any stories about Bill over the years?

You gotta talk to I would think the DC people that are still left that worked there when Bill Finger worked there. What about Paul Levitz? … All my peers are gone.

Well, I just talked to Shelly Moldoff and I’m going to talk to Jerry so you guys are hanging on.

Well, we’re lucky. The miracle of modern medicine is keeping a lot of people alive.

How do you feel these days?

I’m good. I had a six-month battle with a pinched nerve but I finally hit the right doctor and he removed the problem. I can walk again and I’m getting around okay. And strangely enough I keep getting these requests for drawings.

I’m not surprised at all. Do you go to conventions?

Hardly. Once in a great while.

Who were your best friends in the industry?

Well, my mentor was Caniff. And I was very close to Stan Drake and Alex Raymond and I guess Mort Walker and that whole crew. Dik Browne. Dik Browne’s daughter Sally is my younger son’s godmother.

[I tell Lew he was part of the golden age of comics, he said it was not the newspapers]

I would have never ever said to Caniff that I was drawing Batman.

He didn’t even know?

In those days, working in the books was not exactly a class act. If you read through that Alter Ego piece—it’s tedious but there’s a lot there—I went into the film business and became a writer and director and producer. But all of my cartoon experience really had to do with growing up understanding sequential art, which is what film is.

I really appreciate your time.

It’s okay. I’m happy to be helpful. I would’ve loved—I heard Bill was a very sweet, very laid back guy, and he took a lot of crap from a lot of people unfortunately, and he was not well treated.

[said I’ll let him know if the book goes anywhere]

For Bill Finger’s memory, it would be very nice. It’s extraordinary that Batman even more so than Superman seems to continue to go on. … It’s inconceivable to me that Bob would’ve done anything by himself. I think the credit would be long overdue. He was apparently a very sweet guy and he got the shaft. He died a poor man, as were the circumstances surrounding Siegel and Shuster.

Did you know them, too?

Oh yeah. I was at Bob’s apartment the day they tried to get Bob to join the lawsuit.

Oh, you mean they came over? It was just the four of you?

Bob’s father was a very wise old Jewish guy and he said, “Listen, let them do what they want. But you’re doing good. Don’t touch it.” And his father was right.

So he said that once they were gone?

Yeah.

So there were five of you guys there?

Well, I didn’t sit in on the thing, I was in the other room. I knew them. That was the big day. They won. They won $2 million, the lawyers took a million, they split the other million, and three years later they were broke.

You’re talking about in the ‘40s, right?

Yeah. That was a lot of money in the ‘40s.

Do you know if Bill ever stuck up for himself or tried to get credit?

I don’t think so. What I knew about him, and Jerry would know better, he just did his job. Fortunately, he did it damn well. It’s funny because I got out of the comic business for a living in the mid-50s but I remember those scripts like it was yesterday.

Let me know if you make a hit.

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24. Alvin Schwartz previously unpublished interview, 6/6/06; part 1 of 3

Alvin Schwartz was a writer most associated with Superman and Batman; he penned the first Bizarro story. I interviewed Alvin for Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman.

Alvin was the only person I talked to who allegedly knew why Bill was declared 4-F during World War II, but to respect the privacy of his friend, he would not reveal the reason (and the official military record doesnt, either). 

He passed away in 2011. 

Here is how Alvin responded when I asked if I could interview him:

From: Alvin Schwartz
To: Marc Tyler Nobleman
Sent: Saturday, June 03, 2006 7:14 PM
Subject: Re: Hi Alvin - Bill Finger (the award and the man)

Dear Marc:
Before I allow myself to be interviewed, understand that I knew Bill very well. You will discover this if you go to the second reference in my currently running column which offers a detailed, if relatively short, review and analysis of Bill. It contains about all I can freely tell you, unless you can convince me that you have the skills and capacity of a good biographer and can understand the deeper motivations that made Bill what he was and not merely because it would be timely to write a Finger biography. There are depths to his relationship with Freddie that I know about that go beyond his taking his son to the zoo and other sentimental hogwash like that. Bill was not a good father. He had problems being a grownup himself—expressed in some ways by his never having owned or driven a car and other details. But read my column and you’ll understand my reluctance to discuss Bill with a potential biographer who may not be equipped to do the job. Besides, I don’t think there’s any kind of children’s story in this. Understand—I’m not being grumpy—just protective of a very good friend.

Alvin Schwartz

Somehow I did manage to convince Alvin.

The interview is transcribed (and slightly edited) from a recording, as I did with all the interviews in this series (Jerry Robinson, Shelly Moldoff, Lew Sayre Schwartz, Alvin Schwartz, Joe Kubert, Arnold Drake, Carmine Infantino, Irwin Hasen).

Tell me about Bill and Bob.

I suddenly remembered that I knew Bob Kane way back in elementary school, my first class, 1A. My mother sneaked me in early, I was under six. And there was this tall, handsome kid, who was as dumb as hell, was always occupying the dunce seat, sitting in front of the class on a dunce stool with a dunce cap on his head. His name was Robert Kahn at that time.

And that was in New York?

That was in P.S. 28, in the Bronx, the west Bronx.

I understand that you also went to DeWitt Clinton. Is that right?

I did.

Did you know Bill in high school?

No, I didn’t. I didn’t know him in high school. I was really separated out. I was part of the Clinton News and Magpie, the literary magazine. I don’t think Bill would’ve [been?] there at all. Or had any connection. They were very literarist, T.S. Eliot and Gertrude Stein and the European literati and the critics.

How would you describe Bill’s personality?

His normal personality was affable. He was pleasant. I would say very positively. There was nothing about his personality that turned people off. People didn’t dislike him for anything that I know about. He was always friendly, helpful, almost too much so. I’d see him angry but he’d tend to get more petulant, like a… He could never really express true anger in a manly way. He seemed very much the exploited kid, exploited by his parents, he never really got over that. And mostly…you know what passive-aggression is? Bill’s withholding, his lateness, to go back to a very discredited Freudian idea, it was a proposed explanation for a certain kind of constipation, for example. His inability to get work out on time, his diddling with it instead of actually sitting down and working with it, his inability to act independently other than in his fantasy life. For example, the fact that he didn’t drive a car. He never had a driver’s license. The only thing that he ever did was play golf.

How did he get there?

I don’t know that story but it wasn’t very hard where we lived. There were links in Van Cortland Park that didn’t cost very much. It wasn’t a fancy club. It didn’t require any membership fees. And Bill, I don’t know how good he was, but he certainly had the body and the shoulders for it.

What did he look like?

I used to say Bill was built like a top. He had very broad shoulders. He was a short man. I’m a short man. He seemed to taper to small feet.

So he was kind of developed?

He seemed kind of developed, yes. But I don’t think he was an exercise nut. The only thing he did was play golf.

Would you describe him as handsome?

No. He wasn’t handsome. He wasn’t unattractive. There was something not male enough about him. I’m not saying he was gay or anything like that. He wasn’t. He was more infantile than anything. Ultimately, I mean his behavior—he didn’t behave in an infantile way normally. He was affable, as I said, he was friendly, he was intelligent in that he had acquired amount of cultivation and interest in the arts. He was a cut above the average comic writer or artist. There were a few exceptions, like Don Cameron.

Did he write from home?

Yes. I suppose at some point everybody at times worked in the office. There were cubbies where we could sit and work when something has to be gotten out quickly. Bill worked at home mostly. So did I. So did most of us. I remember sitting alongside Jerry Siegel one day, in one of the cubby holes. We were each working on a Superman story. It’s funny because I said, “Jerry, how much are you getting for that story?” He said $800, then he said “How much are you getting for yours?” I said $125, which I thought was fair. After all, Jerry had invented the character. Jerry didn’t know that was fair. Jerry thought he should have had everything. Jerry had no idea of the costs of running a business like that, of fighting the mobsters for space on the newsstands, and what that cost, and maintaining bodyguards. In a way, Jerry and Joe were rather childish.

When you were working in these cubbies there, was it desks that were lined up with separation, or was it just desk next to desk?

They were small rooms, well lit, with desks. Just room for two at a time at most. They were small. They were perfectly well adapted to writing and to privacy. And you didn’t have to work there, it was just a convenience.

So they were actual rooms with doors and windows? It wasn’t an open cubby?

It was all glassed in.

The wall was made out of glass?

Yeah.

Did people wear ties to work in those days?

Oh no, anything but. It was very informal there. In fact, in the very early days, you’d see people chasing around the bottle. A lot of them were heavy drinkers. You’d see bottles lying around. People never wore—neckties were almost taboo. This was the very early days, a lot of prosperity, right on top of the Depression. People were having a lot of fun. There was an often lot of drunks around. A lot of the writers couldn’t work unless they were drinking. I’m talking about some of the guys who came in at the end of the war. Some of the earlier ones were pros. Don Cameron was an alcoholic. He didn’t carry a bottle into the office but one day he came in, he tried to push Mort Weisinger out the window, but I guess you know that story.

Actually, I don’t. That would be great for another book. It sounds like a good one.

A whole lot of it’s been told in Alter Ego. I’ve told some. [something unintelligible] Don was a little guy. And I’m small. At that time, I was five six and three quarters, I’m now five two, I had two discs removed. At that time, I towered over Don. Don was an excellent writer.

How tall were you compared to Bill back then?

Bill and I were about the same height. Bill was a short man, maybe he was an inch or so taller than me.

What color hair?

Brownish. Light brown. Blue eyes, I remember. I think they were blue eyes [selective service report from 1940 confirms brown eyes, brown hair, 5’7”]. Now I can’t be sure. These are strange memories. My most painful memory of Bill was the time when he really was out in the doghouse with DC, had no work, and was working out on Long Island for some kind of municipal cataloging place. He was getting very badly paid. He was really at the very bottom at that time. He was broken with Portia. At that time he came to visit me and he brought Freddie. He had to take charge of Freddie ‘cause Portia had to do something. They were separated, but he was still visiting… He didn’t know, we took him out, and he told us this terrible story about his suffering. And you could see it. He was like parchment when you looked at him. It was very sad to see because Bill was very good when he was good. But Bill had that inability to get his work in on time. It was almost as though a Freudian withholding.

Did he talk about his work?

Yes he did.

When he talked about it, was he compelling? Did people listen to him?

No, he talked together with other writers, would get excited. If you read my first column, when Bill and I are plotting a Plastic Man story, that’s the way it worked, with excitement, with all of us, we’re all the same that way. There wasn’t anything different or unusual about the way Bill did it, except in many ways Bill was better at it. Also, Bill had a talent for taking a certain kind of life and doing a real biography of it, like he’d take a fisherman’s life on the east coast and he’d build a story around that, building in the details, lot of good research. It had a realism that was very rich around which the story was woven.

Are you talking about a Batman story, for example?

Yes, Batman stories specifically. All of his stuff is Batman.

Where did he do his research?

That’s kind of hard to know. He’d go to the library. He was not an organized researcher. He was a badly educated man. I don’t know if he got through high school. He was selling shoes. The story is that this idiot and uh, you know, Bob Kane, or Robert Kahn, was absolutely an idiot. He couldn’t talk and worst of all, he couldn’t draw. But what happened was that his father was a lawyer and at the time that DC was negotiating with the syndicate in order to get in there, that was the time old man Kahn or Kane or whatever struck and demanded a contract for Bob. That was how Bob got hold of it and got all his security. But if you ever talked to Bob…they were doing a Batman movie. Bob went out to Hollywood. They figured he’d be good for advice. He had nothing to say. He had no ideas. He never did have an idea. The only exchange that I’ve had with him, and I knew him for a long time, in association with Bill…I remember in the office he came over to me and he said “What’s the idea of putting a stampede in there? You know I can’t draw sheep!” (laughs) Well, they weren’t sheep! He would talk almost in monosyllables. He was really the kid with the dunce cap.

What did Bill think of him?

Bill didn’t express himself that I remember about Bob.

If he was such a smart guy and Bob wasn’t—

You know, Bill was smart and Bob wasn’t, but what their personal relationship was you didn’t see. You only saw it from it from the outside. I never saw Bill alone with Bob. How would you, you know? He never treated him with any contempt or anything. As a matter of fact, the other way around—Bob sort of lorded over Bill because Bob could’ve fired him any time he wanted because of that contract. Bill had no security whatsoever. Now all the editors knew this, and some of them made an effort—like Jack Schiff and Bernie Breswell (sp?) in the old days, and these guys were Marxists. Right-wing Marxists, I call them—they were Stalinists. I don’t know if you know much about the politics of those days and the differences between Trotskyites and Stalinists?

I should but I don’t.

Yeah, you should, but you don’t—well, Jack Schiff and I were good friends, in spite of the fact that he was a Stalinist and I was a Trotskyist. (laughs) Jack had a very human quality. He cared about the writers. He cared about fairness. This is why he got involved in all these things. Basically, he was a do-gooder, he was a very decent man. He was a very competent editor. And when he left he was very bitter too because I saw him afterwards. But everybody who left was bitter. That’s the way it goes in those businesses.

Part 2.

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25. Alvin Schwartz previously unpublished interview, 6/6/06; part 2 of 3

Part 1.

Let me go back to Bill [Finger]’s home for a minute. Did you ever go over there when he was working and see what his workspace looked like?

Oh, yeah, I’ve been in Bill’s place many times.

What was it like?

Ordinaire. Pretty plain. It wasn’t sloppy or anything. He kept his files meticulously. Enormous files.

Was that like a filing cabinet?

Yes, he had it all in—well, you’ve heard about his famous gimmick book?

Yes.

All that stuff was sort of pulled together. I’m trying to remember whether it was in book form or files or what. But in general, Bill was a neat man, personally. He was tidy. He was not very sloppy. He was always well dressed, clean.

Did he have a special place that he would work in his house?

Can’t tell you that. Most of the time, we were just talking and walking just back and forth if we took the typewriters.

Remingtons, right?

So he sets the typewriter anywhere, on a table or with a chair.

Was Bill Jewish?

Yes.

Was that important to him?

Um…I didn’t get the feeling that it was any more than it was so important to me at that time. [sic]

So it wasn’t a factor in his life really?

No, not that I know of.

Were you in touch with Bill for his whole life?

I was in touch with Bill up until he married this dingbat, this bimbo. He was always looking for a romance. He was always in love with somebody who wouldn’t look at him. He married Portia, he wasn’t happy with her, but Portia took care of him and she was the real man of the family. She ran things. I don’t know what the hell he would’ve done without her. She was a good woman. She was not that attractive. She was fat and she was bossy and she had to be.

Bill remarried someone?

He remarried later on. I discovered—I was by this time long gone from comics but I kept in touch with Bill. I was [unintelligible] big stuff in the market research world. I’ve left comics—I figured this is not a place to make a living. I was miserable working for Mort Weisinger. Comics were down very much at that time. I sort of jumped into something else, maybe even using my comics skills. [talks about his successful career in advertising]

At that time, you did not stay in touch with Bill?

As a matter of fact I did stay in touch with Bill. I visited. Now when I moved to Canada in 1968, I didn’t see Bill for some—I had seen Bill at his apartment and Jerry Robinson was always hanging around. And this bimbo that Bill had married was making passes at me. And I know she was making passes at Jerry. She was making passes at any man who walked into that place. Bill didn’t know it. What are you going to do, tell him? Now I have very uncomfortable feelings about what Jerry was doing there. Now by the way I want to say that Jerry’s artwork is something I’ve always admired. Jerry as a person I really don’t know so I don’t have too much to say. He was there quite frequently toward the last—when I left to go to Canada. Well, I’m still in Canada. I came back after eight years and the first person I wanted to see was Bill. I knew right away he probably couldn’t be married to that bimbo anymore so I called Portia. And Portia said “Didn’t you know that Bill has been dead for the last x number of years?” I think five years, she said. Now I knew Bill was having heart problems. I knew about the first attack. I knew about his chicken soup, which was his idea to cure—he couldn’t drink strong coffee. I didn’t drink at work but a lot of us did.

What did you say about chicken soup? I didn’t get that.

Bill regarded chicken soup as the best picker-upper. [He ate?] loads of it. He had to be careful with his heart. I was there at the time of the first heart attack, but I was not there—I missed his—I didn’t know about his death because we didn’t correspond.

Was the chicken soup just after his heart attack?

No, he’d always sort of gone into that. He wasn’t a drinker. He didn’t do it the way most of the other guys did.

You were actually with him when he had his first attack?

No, I was not. He told me about it in detail but I wasn’t there.

Was Bill living in Manhattan when he died?

Yes.

Do you know anything about his funeral? Did people go?

I don’t know anything about it because all I got was from Portia. I had a double shock. When I called Bill I found out he was dead.

Do you know where Bill is buried?

I have no idea. [None of those things?] was I involved in.

Do you have any photos of him?

No I don’t.

Do you know if anybody does?

Nope.

[then talks about how he lived in two worlds, literary and comic book, says the people in that essay he wrote where he and Bill were plotting a Plastic Man story were his friends, not Bill’s]

Was Bill jealous of that?

No, Bill wasn’t jealous of that. We didn’t discuss it much. He himself was always interested in literature, but he never got involved in that world and he wasn’t writing anything that would lead him into it. But I lived in these two different worlds. But Bill’s world was pretty much the comic book world. Bill and I tried to do some other things. We worked on The Mark Trail Show. I have an old script that Bill and I did. That was a radio show.

Do you have anything else of Bill’s as a memento?

All I have is that. It’s on the shelf looking at me.

If there was one thing that you would want conveyed in a book about Bill, what would it be?

I don’t think I can boil it down to that. That’s a journalistic—I would have many things to say in many different ways. I can’t answer that. How do you sum up somebody you cared about, have partial relationship with? Bill in a way was my connection with the comic book world although I didn’t get into comics through Bill. In fact, I met Bill because I had a friend who was in comics who lived in the same apartment house and we all were friends together. Got to know each other. It became a gathering place. And that was John Small who was an artist who worked for Fairy Tale Parade. He’s the one who actually got me into comics.

Was that in Greenwich Village?

That was in Greenwich Village.

Are there any anecdotes about Bill particularly that stick out in your mind fondly?

I think I’ve given them to you.

Anything that you haven’t said? A little moment in passing that defines him in another way?

Well, I remember the fact that when he did come out to visit when he was in this terrible condition, he had Freddie with him. Portia had to do something and he had to look after Freddie. And we went out on an expedition. We took our kids, and every once in a while we had to stop, tie Freddie’s shoelaces, and pull up his pants. And Freddie was about six or seven at this time. And Bill—it wasn’t that he wasn’t paying attention to him. He just wasn’t fatherly enough to think of these things, he didn’t know about being a father. And so Portia had taken over the entire role. It wasn’t that he didn’t care about him. He did.

Part 3.

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