Saturday, July 23, 2016

"The Caped Crusade" by Glen Weldon

Author, NPR personality, and hilarious tweeter Glen Weldon's latest book is The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture, and it's racked up rave reviews. 

I'm honored to be acknowledged in it.

The biggest honor, however, goes to Bill Finger, to whom the book is movingly dedicated.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

"Excels in every regard" - "Times Herald" (MI) on "Brave Like My Brother"

A roundup in the USA Today-owned Times Herald titled "Books that explore emotions" breaks new children's releases into two categories, books to borrow and books to buy. Brave Like My Brother is under the latter, with this most kind comment:

"Thoroughly engaging on every account, Brave Like My Brother excels in every regard."

Thank you!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

All known Bill Finger photos (as of now)

Prior to the start of my Bill Finger research in 2006, only two photos of Bill were generally known, the only two that the few books on Batman's history had used and reused. A third Bill photo had been published in 1941 in Green Lantern #1, but that's not an issue most people have on their coffee tables so it was mostly forgotten (plus very grainy). A fourth was published in a 1965 comic convention program, but it, too, is too grainy for its own good.

Despite what some comics folks told me, there were more photos of Bill...quite a few more. To date I have turned up 12, plus a 13th surfaced in DC Vault, a 2008 book. Speaking of 2008, starting then I've posted most of the ones I uncovered. Here they all are in one shot: 

There is at least one other we know of that may be Bill, but I didn't include it because both Bill's longtime writing partner Charles Sinclair and his second wife Lyn Simmons independently said that it is not Bill. Still, you may see it this fall...

Friday, July 8, 2016

Rooftop twilight photo shoot

On 7/6/16, at 8 pm, a clandestine meeting took place on the top floor of an otherwise deserted DC-area parking garage...and neither party was named Deep Throat II.

It was much more mundane—but still fun. Bethesda Magazine is doing a story on my Bill Finger efforts for the September/October 2016 issue and wanted some dramatic, Gothamesque photos to go along with it.

Moody twilight sky: check.
Sleek, tall(ish) buildings: check.
Imposing physique with intimidating expression: oops.

Two out of three was good enough. 

The photographer, Michael, took some shots with me standing with one foot on a small guard rail and the other on a small stepladder he'd brought. When I suggested I stand instead on a (fairly wide) ledge that would offer a more striking skyline background, he nervously agreed, saying it's usually the other way around: usually he is asking the subject to do something anxiety-producing.

Not your father'sor anyone else'sBatman.

The shoot mildly and temporarily freaked out a couple of people who had just moved into the building behind me (which is new and which Michael thought was still vacant).

In an hour's span, from sunset to near-dark, we were done.

Thank you, Michael and son, for your time and graciousness. 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Meet the "Flintstones" routine

In high school, I was also in the international Jewish youth group B'nai B'rith Youth Organization. Just like I now compile stray thoughts as possible fodder for books I write, I then compiled random ideas as possible fodder for the skits my friends and I would do at the biannual BBYO conventions—two highly-anticipated nights in a hotel with no parents.

I reminisced about one of those skits after Michael Jackson died.

Another came about almost subconsciously, inspired by a cartoon I didn't even like
The Flintstones. (The main thing it had going against it: it was not Scooby-Doo.)

I had a cassette of classic TV show theme songs, and one, of course, was
The Flintstones. (Though I found the show meh, how can you not like that theme?

One day when it came on, I found myself doing a (for lack of a better word) "routine" along with it. It wasn't a dance—that's above my pay grade. Almost nothing more than my hands were involved. When the music spiked up, so did my right hand. When it spiked down, so did my left hand. It all felt natural, like a universal script everyone would immediately understand. I unlocked a more "complex" routine for the closing theme and did them back-to-back—for no one.

That is, until I showed my friends. Through a turn of events lost to memory, my "Flintstones" bit became our next BBYO skit (the night of 11/19/88). It was relatively easy to learn. I thought that the more people who did it in sync, the funnier it was. Our skit had nine, all boys. We wore Ruach shorts ("Ruach," Hebrew for "spirit," was the name of our Connecticut chapter)—and nothing else. I'll spare you those photos.

So simple, so silly…and so well-received. In its favor: it was unexpected and it revolved around a catchy song everyone had known most of their lives.

On 4/28/90, during the talent show at our final convention, my friends and I redid every skit we'd put on during our time in BBYO. We called it "Ruach's Greatest Skits." (That selfishly ate up about 30 minutes of an event that was probably supposed to last only an hour.) For "Flintstones," we wore the same shorts…but also a sweatshirt from the respective colleges we'd be attending in the fall. (It was an act of mercy for the audience.)

One of those friends, Seth, went to the same college as I did (Brandeis University). Seth and I joined the college comedy troupe. As a duet, in sensible pants, almost two years to the day we first did "Flintstones," we delivered its final performance.

That is, until I showed my kids almost 25 years later.

And this time, it was filmed.

(I bring this up now partly just because and partly because this week, DC Comics launched a reimagined Flintstones series—which has gotten some scathing reviews but also some decent ones. I haven't read it but presume it's sorely lacking in hand jive.)

My bit has also gone through a bit of a reimagining. Well, I changed one gesture (and did not shout out "yabba dabba doo" with Fred): what was originally a slap is now the more sensitive snapping of a stick. (And I'm back to shorts.)  

Return with me now to the silly days of yesteryear...

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

When two heroes aren't enough

Team-up stories with more than two superhero (or villain) logos on the cover:

 1964; not quite logos

 1972; no logos but perhaps because there
wouldn't have been room

 1973; the "Plus?" was Two-Face,
who I'm counting even though it's
only a tease

 1975; all three headliners are Bill Finger creations


 1976; only one co-star logo but the
other three are named and do appear 
more prominently on the cover of the
next issue (part 2)

 1977; in most of the Brave and Bold team-ups
with multiple co-stars, one of them was
Green Arrow

 1978; the fourth co-star was...
no, not Green Arrow...Sherlock Holmes

 1983; also made this list


 1986; one of the weirder
type treatments...why not just
use the existing logos?



Am I missing any?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Superman and Robin/Nightwing cover team-ups

If Superman and Batman are the World's Finest, let's say Superman and Robin/Nightwing are the Globe's Greatest.

 strikingly illustrated by Evan "Doc" Shaner

The start:

(thanks J.L. Bell!)

And then...



 1983, with Elongated Man; 
also made this list 








A few covers focusing on Superman/Robin but also including other heroes:




Superman/Robin co-starring in other media:

 Superman: The Animated Series, "Knight Time"

Sorry, Ralph.

A few fun interiors showing the relationship between the Man of Steel and the Boy Wonder.

Am I missing any covers that focus primarily on Superman and Robin or Nightwing?
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