Friday, March 24, 2017

The DC Comics Trinity…of grandchildren

In 2008, DC began publishing a limited series headlined, for the first time, by only their big three: Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman.

While on the subject, here's Christie Marston, granddaughter of William Moulton Marston, co-creator of Wonder Woman, and Athena Finger, granddaughter of Bill Finger, co-creator of Batman.

photo arranged by and courtesy of 
Art Cloos, Overstreet advisor

Seeing this prompted me to contact Laura Siegel Larson, daughter of Jerry Siegel, co-creator of Superman, to ask about the possibility of arranging another photo, this time with an addition: a grandchild of Jerry's. Must complete the Trinity!

 2016 series (issue #3…of course)

Laura kindly forwarded my message to her two sons, Jerry's grandsons. As of this writing, one has responded to say he's game and that (how did I not know this?) he and his brother have already attended comic conventions. As do Athena and Christie.

So while we haven't planned a specific date/time for a Trinity Legacy photo to be taken, I am confident it will happen.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Batman credit line changed from "with Bill Finger" to "and Bill Finger"

At least as far back as December 2016, in snuck a change that only a certain elite would notice, a change at once startling and straightforward. 

Here are examples as pointed out in posts on the Bill Finger Appreciation Group Facebook page:

 Batman: A Celebration of the Classic TV Series

Justice League Dark (2017 animated film)

Dark Horse Comics/DC Comics: 
Justice League, Volume 2 

When the "Batman created by Bob Kane" credit was changed in October 2015, it read "Batman created by Bob Kane WITH Bill Finger." As you can see above, these publications and films list the Batman credit as "Bob Kane AND Bill Finger" [emphasis mine, wish come true many].

The first time I came upon this, I assumed it was
simply an inadvertent, isolated break from protocol. But now that there have been multiple sightings, it seems that this is instead the CORRECTED version of the corrected credit.

Once is a fluke. Thrice is a new normal.

That said, I have not yet seen it in monthly comics nor was it in the most recent first-run episode of Gotham ("Mad City: The Gentle Art of Making Enemies," aired 1/30/17). But unless we learn otherwise, I will presume that it is being rolled out across the board.

I'm told it was not as a result of any recent conversation between the Finger family and DC Comics. So until we learn who at DC lobbied for it, we can chalk it up to that old Bat magic...

As I've said numerous times, no matter the wording, I'm just thankful Bill's name is there...

...but yeah, "and" beats "with," big time.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

"No weak links here" - "Chicago Tribune" on "The Chupacabra Ate the Candelabra"

Review of The Chupacabra Ate the Candelabra from the Chicago Tribune (3/7/17):

  • "fresh, funny and genuinely suspenseful, thanks in part to a winning text by Nobleman"
  • "the visual storytelling is impressive"
  • "both the text and the illustrations can stand by themselves, and they complement each other beautifully"
  • "no weak links here"

Thank you, Nara Schoenberg!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

"The Chupacabra Ate the Candelabra," day 1

The Chucapabra Ate the Candelabra (illustrated by Ana Aranda, edited by Nancy Paulsen) released on 3/7/17. Some friends who pre-ordered and got it that day (or shortly after) voluntarily sent me photographic evidence.

Some showed the book on a marble countertop (names are the adults who sent me the photos, not the kids):

 Karl, NY; know from my first job after college

 Tracy, CT; know from my hometown

 Christian, VA; one of my best friends since 4th grade

Non-marble backgrounds:

Lauren, IL; know from college

 Dawn, OR; know from my cartooning days

 Alicia, CT; know from my hometown 

 Mark, NY; know from college 

 Melissa, CA; know via her brother, a longtime friend 

 Nadia, CT; know from a former neighborhood 

Some included the recipients:

my adorable nephew!

 Mimi, UT; know from Footloose, then because I interviewed her

 Aryeh, CT; know from camp

Colette, MD; know from my street

 Shana, DC; know from friends

 Dara, MD; know from college

 Jonathan, GA; know from my hometown 
Ryan, DC; colleague of Christian (see above) 

 Douglas, TX; know from college 

 Brett, TX; know from my hometown 

The book is for anyone who likes to laugh:

 Amanda, WA; know because I interviewed her

Sabine, DC; know via my wife

I recommend experiencing it inter-generationally:

Lindsey, TN; know because she's a librarian!

Or even inter-species:

 Betsy, FL; know because I interviewed her, too 

3/13/16 addendum: The first weekend after the release, my son and I even got to hand-deliver a copy to a neighbor who happened to call a bookstore while I was right there signing stock:

Monday, March 6, 2017

"Chupacabra" hoopla

Three recent honors for The Chupacabra Ate the Candelabra, which releases tomorrow:


Children's Book Council "Hot Off the Press" list (3/17); a "unique bibliography [featuring] anticipated bestsellers"


The Spring 2017 Kids' Indie Next List Preview; these 52 titles "are based on recommendations from booksellers at independent bookstores"

"Oh boy, is this going to be a hoot and a half to read aloud! While children are giggling during story time, they'll be soaking up wonderful new words like 'candelabra,' 'cucaracha,' and 'chupacabra.' This is a delicious read-aloud that will keep kids on the edge of their seats, but in a most benign and silly way."
—Kathleen Carey, Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, NY


#1 in children's multicultural titles on Amazon (2/16/17)

I signed my first copy of the book at Thompson Elementary in Arlington, MA, on 3/2/17. Since it doesn't officially release till 3/7, I was surprised they had copies already.

Thank you to all who have supported the book.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Best of the blog 2016

This blog launched on 2/19/08.

Every February 19, I share what I feel have been the strongest posts of the previous 12 months.

This year’s lineup:


granddaughter of the late Bill Lutz, original writer of Scooby-Doo
Mimi Broadhead, who played Ren's younger cousin in Footloose
Harry Waters, Jr., who played singer Marvin Berry in Back to the Future
Jennifer Runyon, who played a Venkman test subject in the opening scene in Ghostbusters
Fran├žoise Brun-Cottan, who voiced Tuffy/Nibbles in 1950s Tom and Jerry cartoons


speaking at Google NYC headquarters
last-minute bookings can work out great
superheroic welcomes 


trying to interview H.F. Saint, reclusive author of 1987 novel Memoirs of an Invisible Man
Amazon's dialogue-only short story app Rapids and the value of reading on devices


every Entertainment Weekly "in memoriam" cover since its 1989 launch
guess the kidlit desks contest
comic book covers with more than two hero/villain logos 
Superman/Dick Grayson team-ups
responding to writer who believes Bill Finger should not be credited for Batman
tracking down sites of iconic Vietnam War-era photographs in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) 
my 1990 short story that inspired a 14-minute song
what I learned making a documentary
a post-election plea to reissue a 1949 Superman poster pitching tolerance
meet the "Flintstones" routine
Jurassic Park with elephants
visiting The Breakfast Club school

Monday, February 6, 2017

Elementary principal: "Author visits are essential"

In December 2016, I had the pleasure of speaking at various schools in the Saginaw, Michigan area. This was orchestrated by the principal of Hemmeter Elementary, Jim Bailey—and that was only the beginning of his kindness.

On 2/5/17, at Nerdy Book Club, Jim posted an article that he wrote the week after my visit: "Inspiring Readers and Writers with Author Visits."

Humbling excerpts:

After Marc's visit, a group of staff members were so fascinated by the presentation that they gathered in the teachers' lounge after school and spent the next 45 minutes discussing the books and the visit. 

Most classrooms read [some of Marc's] stories in advance to prepare for the visit. However, after it was a Marc Tyler Nobleman reading explosion. The waiting list for one of Marc's books was twenty students long. The excitement was still going strong a week later. Kids were writing stories and illustrating comics up and down the halls of Hemmeter. It was awesome! 

Twitter was my first contact with Marc. We chatted about his book Bill the Boy Wonder. That conversation lead to me attending his session at the Michigan Reading Association Conference, which led to him coming to my school and completely blowing away the students and staff. 

But the point of the article was, of course, not me but rather an impassioned and informed plea for more schools to do more author visits. As Jim wrote, "If author visits are so powerful for creating readers and writers, why don't more schools schedule them? I believe two obstacles exist: funding for the author visit and finding an author to visit."

His suggestions on funding:

  • prioritize your budget—"You likely have things that will not give the return you will get from an author visit."
  • fundraise (remember, cutting author visits is not an option)—"One of our most successful fundraisers is our annual used book sale. This accomplishes two goals. It helps get books into our students' hands while raising money for the author visit. Most of the book donations come from our current and past families, community members, and current and retired teachers. We usually sell the books for $1-2. It's an easy fundraiser to organize. I like to find ways to raise money by doing things families are going to do anyways. We have restaurant fundraisers once a month. Many restaurants offer schools a night where the school receives a percentage of the total bill for families eating at the restaurant."
  • partner with another school—"It's a win-win." [MTN: I'd say it's win-win-win.]

This point by Jim sums it up succinctly: "Author visits are not extras; author visits are essential. They need to be a part of every school, every year."

It reminds me of a quotation I saw elsewhere by a school librarian:

"I can spend $1,000 on books and get 50 books that will be read by 30 students. Or I can spend that money on an author, who will reach all 350 students."

Thank you, Jim, for inviting me, and for being such an advocate for people like me visiting people like you and your communities.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The debt owed to Charles Sinclair and Lyn Simmons

When researching Bill Finger for what became Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman, the first two people I found who had not been interviewed before on the subject were the two most important: his longtime friend and sometime writing partner Charles Sinclair and his previously-unknown-to-comics-historians second wife Lyn Simmons.

I tracked down both in mid-2006, when Charles was 82 and Lyn was 84.

Ten years later, both are still with us.

And both were invaluable in fleshing out what we know about Bill.

Prior to my interviews with Charles and Lyn, and aside from an interview with Bill's only child, Fred, that was published in Comics Interview #31 (1986) and reprinted in Alter Ego: The Comic Book Artist Collection (2001), all of what we knew about Bill came from people he worked with. Talking to people who knew him outside of work was especially helpful in getting a sense of his personality, his motivation, his demons.

The most notable details we learned courtesy of Charles:

  • how and where Bill died
  • Bill's scarab paperweight (which I now proudly own)
  • details about Bill's legendary gimmick books (including what kind of notebooks they were and examples of entries)
  • how Bill got to write for the Batman (1966 TV show)
  • Lyn! (Charles was the one who told me about Bill's "lady friend" who, it turns out, was more precisely his second wife)

The most notable details we learned courtesy of Lyn:

Now you know why the dedication of the book is "To Charles, Lyn, and Athena, the soul, heart, and hope of Bill Finger."

Me with Charles and Lyn in 2008:

Sunday, January 22, 2017

"Readers will be sorry when this one is over" - "Publishers Weekly" on "The Chupacabra Ate the Candelabra"

Review of The Chupacabra Ate the Candelabra from Publishers Weekly (1/16/17):

  • "Aranda's vibrant mixed-media artwork amplifies the book's cross-cultural brand of humor" 
  • "Readers will be sorry when this one is over" 

Thank you!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

"Plenty of lively touches" - "Booklist" on "The Chupacabra Ate the Candelabra"

Review of The Chupacabra Ate the Candelabra from Booklist (2/1/17):

  • "plenty of lively touches"
  • "an amusing take on the legendary beast"

Thank you!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

What I looked like when Bill Finger died

Bill Finger died 43 years ago today.

I didn't know about him at the time. This is why:

Monday, January 9, 2017

"Batman & Bill" panel at Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour

In 1997, I moved to Los Angeles to try to sell three screenplays I'd written. In late 1999, I moved back east with three unsold screenplays.

File it under "bizarre" that I most recently came back to LA not because of a film I'd written but rather because of one I appear in. One, in fact, that is about me.

The Hulu feature documentary Batman & Bill tells the story of my nine-year effort (including the 2012 publication of my book Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman) to get Bill Finger's name added to the Batman credit line. The film releases in May.

On 1/7/17, I joined filmmakers Don Argott and Sheena Joyce, Bill's only known grandchild Athena Finger, and Athena's lawyer/sister Alethia Mariotta in Pasadena to participate in a panel at the annual Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour.

I saw actors from Hulu shows I have not seen including Michelle Monaghan, Alexis Bledel, and Aaron Paul.

The banquet room in which the panel was held was capped with blinding light and lined with long tables of journalists who have seen the film; they asked us questions for about 20 minutes. One of the journalists said I am even more obsessive than I admit. Then we mingled at a cocktail party.

A highlight: a Hulu exec told me his favorite part of the film is how the audience learns the last of the big twists of the story via my then-11-year-old daughter.

Overall, this new experience was lovely if whirlwind. It remains a tremendous honor to have a role in this story—Batman's story, Bill's story.


This wasn't a premiere but before I left, my wife made me a red carpet anyway.

The night before our TCA panel, I hung out with one of my best friends from college, Justin. We have a tradition of hunting for late-night donut shops and this time, the only one we found open was a place serving gourmet donuts and appropriately called Donut Friend.

Apparently all networks/companies participating in TCA get a day to themselves to present their upcoming offerings. Naturally each begins setting up the night before; here is a room where Hulu put out spreads of snacks.

Another room sported Hulu pillows. Here they are prior to distribution.

Don and Sheena chatting with a journalist.

My badge, perhaps implying it takes talent to be yourself.

The meat of the day was a blur and therefore I didn't take photos. Here is one from another source. And two courtesy of Hulu:

 I am not wearing a cummerbund made of flowers; 
those are on the table in front of us.

Here is the room where the cocktail party was held (and the pillows were arranged on various couches)…less than an hour after it ended. They break down these things so fast.

Among the coverage that posted same-day:

Thank you again to Perry Seaman, Melinda Casey, Rob Gati, and the rest of the Hulu team for making this happen.

6:15 a.m. the morning after
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