Friday, April 19, 2013

The farthest Bill Finger traveled

Kids are sometimes quick to point out that Batman doesn’t fly. 

Neither did Bill Finger.

He lived in New York most of his life, and as far as we know, usually did not wander too far. We know he vacationed in Provincetown (Cape Cod), MA.

We know he took the train to Washington DC when writing for the Army Pictorial Center circa 1969-70; he was apparently thrilled to get Pentagon clearance. 

But he never took a plane anywhere.

The farthest I’ve tracked him is an unlikely destination for an unlikely reason. At one point, probably in the 1950s, Bill went to a seder…in Texas.

Yes, Bill the non-observant Jew celebrated Passover in the Lone Star State—
probably not the first you think of when you think matzah and maror.

And on 4/8/13, I went to Texas for the first time since Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman came out to speak to the sixth graders at Gregory-Portland Intermediate School in the Corpus Christi suburb of Portland. The district’s theme for the year is superheroes. I was honored to be asked to be a part of it. (They did not know the Bill Finger connection before I came.)

It was the first time I’ve presented flanked by two bodyguards.

Favorite question of the day: “If you didn’t write this book on Bill Finger, do you think anyone else would have?”

Thank you, GPI, for allowing me to symbolically follow in the footsteps of Bill Finger, and for hosting such a lovely visit.

 more evidence of the market for this book

Hey girl, this humor was pinned to board in the teachers lounge.

GPI sent me a thick stack of thank-you letters and they contained an unusually large number of irresistible quotables:

  • “I can’t believe you went to other states just to get information.”
  • “I am now part of the Bill [Finger] army! I will go around and spread the word.”
  • “I liked how you had clarity, and great eye contact. Just keep on doing that and you won’t have anything to worry about.”
  • “Could you consider writing a book about a superhero piglet? Maybe it could be a winning idea for a children’s series.”
  • “It was a privilege to see where the first Superman comic was typed.”
  • “from the third kid in the first row”
  • “You kinda look like my Uncle, but with hair.”
  • What did you think about us as an audience?”
  • “I am sure someday you and I will be famous writers.”
  • “You inspired me not just to do your best but also be unique in what I love to do.”
  • “The part with the paperweight really teared me up. I almost cried!”
  • “Maybe I will write a book about you and you can give me the paperweight?”
  • “When my dad was little he loved to watch Superman movies or read comics. I told my dad all the information and he was amazed and I thank you for that.”
  • “If they could, I bet Jerry, Joe, and Bill would say thank you.”

All of these either made me laugh or moved me. Especially that last one.


Richard Bensam said...

Holy cow, those are great quotes.

And that one kid is right -- a superhero piglet really could be a winner. (Scott Shaw certainly thought so.) Perhaps the student who wrote that will go ahead and create one of his or her own...which would be the ultimate tribute to your school visiting skills.

Marc Tyler Nobleman said...

Thanks Richard. I agree, on both counts!

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