Bob Kane, creator of Batman, died on November 3, 1998 at the age of 83.
Batman, inspired by Zorro, the designs of Leonardo da Vinci, and the 1931
movie The Bat Whispers, first appeared in Detective
Comics No. 27 in May 1939. Kane with the help of writer
Bill Finger created the Batman canon. Batman quickly became one of the
popular characters in comics. His success transferred over into serials,
television, movies and animation.
One reason for the character's success was the fact that he possessed no superhuman powers. Unlike Superman, who debuted a year earlier, Batman was a mortal man who trained both his body and his mind to the peak of perfection. He relied on his own resources rather than paranormal powers to solve his problems. Anyone of us with sufficient training could be Batman.
The other reason for Batman's popularity was his dark nature. Batman was grimmer and more intense than most comic heroes of the time. He exclusively operated at night. His image was designed to instill fear in criminals. His motivation to fight crime was a result of his parent's murder. Some of this was diluted in the 1950s as a result of Dr. Frederic Wertham's book Seduction of the Innocent, which connected comic reading with juvenile delinquency. The comics became less gritty and more fantastic. This set the stage for the camp TV series in the 60s. By the 70s, writer Dennis O'Neill brought Batman back to his dark roots Kane had established in the 30s and 40s. In 1986 Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns these elements were amplified and helped comics receive mainstream acceptance.
Kane, unlike Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, had always enjoyed an amicable relationship with DC and profited form his creation. Bob Kane's influence is still felt not only in comics but in the popular culture as well.
Return to Fan Writings