Bob Kane

From Academic Kids

Bob Kane (October 24, 1915November 3, 1998) was the co-creator of Batman, although many sources credit Kane as the sole creator of the character.

He was born Robert Kahn but legally changed his name to the familiar "Kane" at age 18. An eager young artist, Kane came to the burgeoning comics world in 1936 with his own book that led to various assignments in the following years. Following the success of Superman in Action Comics, editors at National Publications (now DC Comics) requested more superheroes comics. In response, Kane created a character called "Birdman". His collaborator Bill Finger offered such suggestions as renaming the character "Batman", giving the character a cowl instead of a simple domino mask, giving him a cape instead of wings, giving him gloves, and removing bright red sections of the original costume. Finger wrote the first Batman story, while Kane provided art. Because Kane had already submitted the proposal for a Batman character to his editors at DC Comics, Kane was the only person given official credit at the time for the creation of Batman.

The character was a breakout hit, but National sought to improve sales even further. Editors suggested that the character receive a youthful sidekick who the readers could use as an audience surrogate. Kane initially suggested an impish character like Puck, while Finger suggested a more down-to-earth character, Robin.

Kane, the more business-savvy of the Kane-Finger creative team, negotiated a contract with National, signing away any ownership that he might have in the character in exchange for, among other compensations, a mandatory byline on all Batman comics stating "Batman created by Bob Kane", regardless of whether he was involved in the specific issue. Bill Finger's contract, by comparison, left him with a monetary pittance and no credit even on the stories that he wrote without Kane.

Kane's major contributions to Batman were in the 1940s, with several "ghost pencilers" assisting him (like Jerry Robinson, who co-created the "Joker" while working under Kane's name). As his comic work tapered off later in his career, Kane parlayed his official status as sole creator of Batman into a low level of celebrity. He enjoyed a post-comic book career as a painter, showing his work in art galleries. Even some of these paintings were produced by other, uncredited artists, now ghost-painting under Kane's name. Kane died in 1998 and was interred in Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles.


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