Bill Finger And The Power Of Determination

One person can make a difference. You’ve heard that before, right? That one person can make a difference? It is never truer in heroic fiction, whether that be science fiction, fantasy, westerns, or super hero comics, where the very nature of the stories that are being told are all about somebody trying to make a difference. Superhero stories are, at their very core, all about a person going out into the great wide world and trying to do something, anything, to make the world a better place – sometimes in spandex. These are the stories that I’m betting you have read, or do read, if you’re reading this right now.

Why is it, then, that when faced with a moment in life where it has been positioned to you that you can make a difference, many of us scoff?

Admittedly, there’s also the cynical side of us that’s rolling our eyes at another commercial or poster begging for a donation because you can make a difference! But here’s something to ponder for a moment; cynicism aside, you don’t need to give to those charities or organizations blindly. You can, and honestly you should, do some research before handing over your hard earned money in order to learn how much of your donation will be used to help those who need it, and how much will go toward “administration” fees. Many of us don’t do the research, and even more of us don’t actually bother to donate because what difference will that actually make?

Have we become so accustomed to thinking that our efforts aren’t going to be as effective as we want them to be, so the overwhelming feeling is one of pure apathy; rather than commit we sigh and shake our heads at the people trying to make a difference because we know that their efforts are basically going to result in nothing but a wasted effort. It’s a shame, it really is, but what can you do?

What happens when you come across a cause that you believe in, though? Do you sit there and think that Somebody should Do Something, all the while sitting in front of your keyboard laughing at the people who are trying? Their efforts are in vain anyway, right, so why both to help? Are you that sure you can’t make a difference?

How do you know? Did you even try?

Much like the medium we love, where men and women stand against injustice and all that, when you dedicate yourself to something, eventually you can make change happen. Even if you have to scream bloody murder and tell every person on the subway that something must be done (not literally – that may not be the most effective way to organize a long lasting impact beyond people thinking you’re a bit nuts), at least get off your arse and make an effort. You might actually be successful.

cover - Bill the Boy Wonder - MEDIUMCase in point is the case of Bill Finger. The first time I came across Bill Fingers name, and upon reading his story, I was angry. Batman’s co-creator had been legally screwed out of his legacy by Bob Kane; up until last year, had you ever seen Bill Finger’s name published as the co-creator of Batman by DC? No, you hadn’t. They couldn’t legally acknowledge his contributions because of a contract signed more than seventy years ago. I was angry that Finger died almost penniless, I was angry that it seemed like almost nobody  knew his name, and I was angry because as far as I knew due to contractual reasons nothing could legally be done.

So what’s my point here?

My point is, is that despite reading that nothing could legally be done, I still saw one man’s name over and over again in his crusade to bring Bill’s name to prominence: Marc Tyler Nobleman. While Mr. Nobleman wasn’t the only voice shouting for Finger’s recognition, he was one of the loudest, and one of the more visible. His efforts helped inspire me to get off my arse and start Ramblings of A Comics Fan, and while I was under no illusion that the audience I would reach would be miniscule, that never stopped me from taking every opportunity I could to talk about Bill Finger – indeed, posts about Bill Finger have been some of the most read pieces on Ramblings. I honestly believe his efforts play a huge part in having Bill Finger’s name appear as co-creator of Batman, indeed, only this year I was fortunate enough to talk to Mr. Nobleman about his efforts to bring Bill’s name to prominence for Graphic Policy’s Bill Finger week. 

Last year, despite the contractual legality previously mentioned, Bill Finger’s name was added to the Batman Created By… byline, proving that if you’re tenacious enough, and you refuse to give up, then the difference you’re fighting for may just be achievable.

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