If you’ve ever read a Batman comic (or even watched any movie/TV version of the hero), you’ve probably seen the name Bob Kane. Bob Kane, along with his partner Bill Finger were the two comic book masterminds behind the character of Batman who first appeared in ‘Detective Comics’ #27 in 1939. At least that’s been the story until now.
It appears that shortly before the creation of Batman, an artist named Frank Foster II was working with his pal Al Capp (‘Li’l Abner’) to create some new comic book characters to cash in on the burgeoning superhero trend. Foster claims that during his chats with Capp, he came up with the idea for a masked vigilante who haunts the night and battles crime. But was it the Batman?
Foster says of his character’s creation:
…it seems to me that in those days, and even now, that most all of the strips were the heros of the day – such as, flying through the sky during the day and doing good deeds and so forth and so on – and I thought, well, why couldn’t that be done at night? Have a good guy do stuff at night. So, I started working, just briefly, very briefly, not too seriously, with Al Capp, and cooking up a couple of ideas. … one of the things was Batman …
After allegedly coming up with his “Batman” idea, Foster moved to New York City in 1936. While in the city, Foster (at least according to his grandson-in-law) submitted his comic book ideas to DC Comics. Foster’s grandson-in-law further goes on to imply that Foster may have even met Kane at the 1939 World’s Fair. It’s true that both men were at the Fair. Foster was painting murals for the Fair that year and Kane was asked to create a comic book character for the fair for the event. Whether the two actually crossed paths during that time is debatable.
However, Foster’s son says of Batman’s creation:
…the possibility of two men in 5,000 years of history arriving at the same character who’s a hero of the night, with the same name of Batman, at the same time, at the same place on the Earth, is zero.
So the question remains… Did Bob Kane lift the idea for Batman from Foster? Or is it mere coincidence that the two comic creators came up with similar characters around the same time in history? Comment below and let us know what you think.
Read more about Foster’s family’s claim to the Batman title and check out more of Foster’s artwork at OriginalBatman.com.