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Bob Kane story

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
I've heard the broad strokes of this story before (I believe it's mentioned in Gerard Jones' 'Men of Tomorrow' book?), but it's still pretty funny/sad. This is the late Arnold Drake's recollection, as recently posted on Mark Evanier's website:

"Bob had gotten to the point where he never drew anything. Never drew anything on the Batman comics, anyway. [Sheldon] Moldoff was ghosting them all and when he didn't, someone else did. The only thing I think Bob ever drew was when we'd be out somewhere, in a restaurant or someplace, and a pretty girl would come over to him and say, 'Are you really the man who draws Batman?' Then he could whip out a little sketch for her, a big sketch if she was wearing something low-cut and would bend over to watch him draw.

One day I'm over at his house to discuss this newspaper strip idea we had and he's talking about who we might get to draw it. I was going to write it and we were going to get someone else to draw it. I'm not sure what Bob was going to do on it except sign his name. I said to him, 'Bob, isn't it disappointing to you that you don't draw any more? You were once such a great artist.' He wasn't but you had to talk to Bob that way.

He said, 'Oh, no. Let me show you something.' He took me into a little room in his house. It was his studio. I didn't even know he still had a studio. It was all set up with easels and things and there were paintings, paintings of clowns. You know the kind. Like the ones Red Skelton used to do. Just these insipid portraits of clowns, all signed very large, 'Bob Kane.' He was so proud of them. He said, 'These are the paintings that are going to make me in the world of art. Batman was a big deal in one world and these paintings will soon be in every gallery in the world.' He thought the Louvre was going to take down the Mona Lisa to put up his clown paintings. I didn't have the heart to tell him.

So a few months later, I'm up at DC and I ran into Eddie Herron. Eddie was another writer up there and we got to talking and Bob's name came up. Eddie said, 'Did you hear? Bob's getting sued by one of his ghost artists.'

I said, 'How is that possible? Shelly Moldoff's suing Bob? But they had a clear deal. Shelly knew he wasn't going to get credit or anything...'

Eddie said, 'No, not Shelly.' Bob was being sued by the person who'd painted the clowns for him..."
post #2 of 19
After reading that, I literally covered my eyes and titled my head back, mouth agape in awe of how utterly insane that is.

It reads like a friar's club roast or something, which just hurts the credibility of such a story all the more, but as I tend to say stranger shit has happened.

On another note, does anybody else find it odd that women would apparently recognize Bob Kane?
post #3 of 19
Remember how the geek community cheered when Steve Ditko got co-creator billing in the credits for the Spider-Man movie?

It was my not-so-secret hope that Bill Finger would get at least that when Batman Begins came out, seeing as how the selfish "Created by Bob Kane" credit has been on everything Batman-related since '39, including the previous four films. The odd thing is that I didn't even see this boilerplate credit on Begins, so I don't have any idea what DC's official stance is now.

Anyway that story is hilarious and sad. Whether or not it's actually true I'm inclined to believe it.
post #4 of 19
I've heard enough similar stories not to have much trouble believing this one. As far as movie credits, I'd guess that it's completely down to the good will of the producers, since technically people like Finger and Ditko have no legal claim. So cheers once again to Sam Raimi, I guess.
post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 
The clown painting stuff and the "ghost artist" who sued him have been corroborated by various sources...knowing Drake, he probably embellished a bit here and there (pretty girls in low-cut blouses wanting Kane's autograph, Kane thinking the clown paintings would hang in museums akin to the Louvre), but as far as I've read, the basic facts are pretty well straight.

It's a huge crime that Finger still isn't credited as a co-creator. I assume DC and the Kane estate still have some binding agreement there, at least as far as comic book credits go.
post #6 of 19
It is a crime and it will continue to be so, DC lawyers have every aspect of Batman locked down and from what I understand it's even become taboo to mention that 'The Man Who Laughs' played a key role in the creation of The Joker.
post #7 of 19
Originally Posted by JacknifeJohnny
...from what I understand it's even become taboo to mention that 'The Man Who Laughs' played a key role in the creation of The Joker.
Ironic how DC has released a one-shot in the past year or so with that very title.
post #8 of 19
To be completely realistic, though, one would have to credit dozens of people if the intent was to pay proper credit to those who have informed public perception of the modern incarnation(s) of the character. That's why there are entire books detailing the historical cultural impact of the phenomenon. At this point it's probably just easier to say it's the property of DC Comics and leave it at that.
post #9 of 19
I might have a copy somewhere but a while back Jim McLaughlin, formerly of Wizard wrote the best article that mag ever published on the history of Bill Finger. He wroter up what the current standings were and Bob Kane's estate has a legal standing and Finger sadly will continue to be screwed over by the Kane estate.

Bob Kane was a complete and utter douchebag, Finger actually designed the bat-suit as well.
post #10 of 19
post #11 of 19
That about sums up my post. Thanks 70s
post #12 of 19
Hahahahaha how ridiculous.

Something I just noticed, his signature looks like it takes far more effort than most I've seen. Even his signature reflects his blatant self-promotion! Wouldn't surprise me if at some point he and another guy signed something for somebody and Bob signed his signature right on top of the other guy's.
post #13 of 19
Originally Posted by Smeagol
Wouldn't surprise me if at some point he and another guy signed something for somebody and Bob signed his signature right on top of the other guy's.
I'd say having his signature/logo all over EVERYTHING done during the Jerry Robinson/Dick Sprang years is pretty much tantamount to that very situation.
post #14 of 19
well hey, it boils down to this, Bob Kane was an egomaniac with damn good lawyers.

Besides, everyone knows Walt Simonson has the best signature in comics (bottom right-hand corner):
post #15 of 19
Yeah, I've always liked Simonson's signature. Plus, he has the added bonus of being monstrously talented. One of my comics heroes.
post #16 of 19
The signature is a brontosaurs (Walt loves dinos). And yes, it's the best signature in comics, and yes, it means the art will be dynamic, energetic, and exceptional.
post #17 of 19
I love the new BATMAN DVD documentaries, where his widow tearfully recounts how touched Bob was when he went to the BATMAN premiere and saw throngs of fans waiting for him. She sobs that he was so touched by the sentiment that he was moved to tears and haltingly asked, "Are they all here... for ME?" in humble disbelief.

This is all undercut by footage of him confidently, shamelessly cavorting on the red carpet and flapping his Bat-cape with a big grin on his face.
post #18 of 19
Couldn't say it any better myself.
post #19 of 19
I think that punchline is made up, but everything else is essential accepted truth. Kane was the Rob Liefeld of his day.
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