Monday, July 16, 2012

Bill The Boy Wonder - a review

Nobleman, Marc Tyler. 2012. Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman. Ill. By Ty Templeton.  Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge.

Batman.  Who doesn’t know Batman in one format or another? The 1960s TV show, the incredibly popular Dark Knight movie series, cartoons,  and of course, the original comic books which first appeared in 1939, bearing the name of Batman creator, Bob Kane. 

Every Batman story is marked with the words “Batman created by Bob Kane.” 
For almost thirty years, fans did not suspect otherwise.  But that is not the whole truth.  Bob Kane himself said so.
A Finger had a hand in it, too.
Bill the Boy Wonder is the story of that Finger, Bill Finger, the co-creator and long-time writer of Batman.

First forced to hide his identity as a Jew (his real name was Milton) to obtain work during the Great Depression, later writing in obscurity while Batman illustrator, Bob Kane,  rose to fame, and finally working (if only half-heartedly) to gain his duly deserved recognition, Nobleman chooses to present Bill, The Boy Wonder as a story with three parts, "Secret Identity 1 – Bill," "Secret Identity 2 – Writer of Batman," and "Secret Identity 3 – Co-creator of Batman."  This well-sourced and researched biography is as fascinating as it is entertaining,

Bill liked to ride through the city to think.  As the bus picked up passengers, Bill picked up plots from street scenes and daydreams.

He recorded stray facts – the boiling point of mercury, the Chinese character for virtue, what happens when a dog’s nose gets cold – in what he called his “gimmick book.”  He routinely skimmed it for a spark that might ignite a story.  In time he had a library of gimmick books at his Fingertips.  He even let other writers – his competitors – hunt for story ideas in them.

Though brimming with details and quotes, Nobleman moves the story along with the talent of a comic book writer.  A six-page Author’s Note adds details and period photographs.

Ty Templeton, a Batman artist himself, was the perfect choice to illustrate this fascinating look at Bill Finger’s work and the work of other talented artists, writers and fans who struggled to garner for him the credit he deserved.  The end papers are dramatic and inspired, and the illustrations are done, of course, in comic book style with white text box insets.

from Ty Templeton's site

Even if you’re not a Batmanian, you’ll love this book. It's clear that it was a labor of love for the author.

(I'll be showing this one at my book club meeting!)

Can’t get enough of Bill The Boy Wonder?  Check out these great sites:

 and just for fun,

As I was reading this book, I could see a small child wearing the Batman symbol on his tee-shirt and his Crocs, and my own children were planning an opening night visit to the theater to see the Dark Knight’s latest incarnation.  Bill Finger’s now not-so-secret-identity lives on.

Today's Nonfiction Monday roundup is at Practically Paradise.


  1. This looks really cool - especially the illustrations. I was wondering if it might be a comic book.... as the Batman I remember. Thanks for sharing this book!

  2. Great review! I've been waiting for our library to get this book. Meanwhile, I read Mark Tyler Nobleman's other picture book about superhero creators -- Boys of Steel, The Creators of Superman. I think he combines the best of picture book and graphic novels -- a perfect fit for these topics.

  3. I need to find a copy of Boys of Steel. Thanks for the links and the video! This is a terrific book.

  4. Thanks Lisa and friends for this kind response!

  5. How horrible it is that he would have to hide himself because of his ethnicity/religion. Many Koreans and Chinese in Japan do the same thing even now.

  6. thank you very useful information good luck

  7. thank you for the information very useful. good luck


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