Bill Finger took me to the biggest pop culture convention in America, if not the world: Comic-Con International, commonly known as San Diego Comic-Con, commonly hashtagged as #SDCC. Thanks, Bill—it was well worth it and I’ll go on a second date anytime.
Before I went this figure got me suitably excited:
And though I worried when no line had formed outside the room before my first of two speaking appearances (“Batman’s Biggest Secret: The Bill Finger Story,” 7/12/12), a stampede of people soon showed up. I took these photos during my presentation (while they watched the trailer for my book Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman):
On top of a robust turnout, this presentation was so rewarding for multiple reasons, and here are three:
reason #1: It was the first full presentation I’ve given on Bill the Boy Wonder. The book has snuck into other presentations for the past year or so but finally gets a presentation of its own.
reason #2: I gave out a quirky promotional item I produced exclusively for SDCC:
This is how I first envisioned it, but full color turned out not to be possible (and the book cover would be too small anyway):
At the end of the presentation, I announced that I had 25 foam hands to give out then and 25 more the following day, with a condition: to accept a Finger hand, a person had to guarantee me that s/he would wear it at SDCC…and hopefully beyond. In fact, I asked those who see The Dark Knight Rises to “give the Finger” when they see “Batman created by Bob Kane” appear on the screen. I was swarmed with interested volunteers and wish I had enough for all. (And I hope I see a person flip the foam finger during the movie credits...)
reason #3: I spotted a man who was wearing the promotional item I handed out at last year’s SDCC, a T-shirt of which I distributed only about ten (and which was also yellow):
On 7/13/12, I sat on the panel “Siegel and Shuster and Finger,” run by the Moderator King, Mark Evanier; my companion was the gifted Larry Tye, author of the well-written cultural biography Superman, which has been reviewed everywhere except your high school newspaper.
photo by the utterly nice Jenni Holmphoto by the equally nice Joe Crawford
As I had done during my presentation the night before, I took a photo of both sides of the packed room......and first one then two people flashed the foam Finger hand they got the night before!
The emotional highlight of the panel for me: after I announced that Bill Finger’s lone heir, the granddaughter born two years after Bill died in 1974, began receiving some Batman royalties thanks to my project (and after the money had wrongly been going to other people for 15 years), the audience applauded.
After the panel, Larry and I signed books side-by-side; first Superman and Batman teamed up, now authors of books about them:
That afternoon, my lovely associates (sisters Christy and Molly) and I distributed the remaining Finger hands to fans gathered around the five Batmobiles parked outside. But not before posing ourselves:
courtesy of Donnie Seto
I took this photo to capture two Finger hands “in the wild” and was later pleasantly surprised to notice a third one in the background:
Giveaways may just work after all!
That evening, I attended the Eisner Awards (the Oscars of comics) with particular interest in seeing the Bill Finger Awards, which are given out during the larger ceremony:
Friends and associates I got to chat with during SDCC (* and in some cases, whose spouses I met):
Chris Duffy *
Jenni Holm *
Matt Holm *
Michael Uslan *
Charlie Kochman *
Karen Manne (we go back to grade school!)
Had been in touch online but met in person for the first time:
Plus it was an honor to meet Scott McCloud after years of referencing Understanding Comics in my presentations on the art and humor of cartooning.
Meeting Gerry Jones (Men of Tomorrow; center) and Arie Kaplan (From Krakow to Krypton)...
The signs announcing my appearances...
The black-and-white version of the Bill the Boy Wonder cover, which was also not imprinted on the palm of the foam hand because it, too, would have come out too fuzzy...
Here is the Comic Book Resources recap of my solo presentation.
Here is the Comic Book Resources recap of my panel.