RARA-AVIS: Re: The Mark of Kane

Ted White (tedwhite@compusnet.com)
Tue, 16 Feb 1999 11:53:10 -0500 Mark Sullivan asks me, "Am I right to assume that you don't remember
the title of the 'key' Frank Kane book, since you didn't put it in
your post?"

You are correct, sir! It's been close to forty years since I read
those books, and I can't say I'm likely to reread them any time soon,
considering the pile of to-be-read books awaiting me. And I have but
one Henry Kane book on my shelf, no doubt a sign of how I felt about
him after reading it -- also at some point in the sixties.

Mark adds, "My favorite Kane, however, has to be Bob, the somewhat
recently deceased creator of Batman."

I don't want to rain on your parade, Mark, but Bob Kane was pretty
much a hack and a fraud. (I recently -- after his death -- had an
exchange with Mark Evanier on this subject on the DC Comics newsgroup,
and you can find more in my chapter, "The Spawn of M.C. Gaines," in
ALL IN COLOR FOR A DIME (recently reissued) -- the first chapter in
the book.) Briefly, Kane did not "create" Batman. He *was* the
first artist to draw it, but he quickly drew upon a studio of friends
to do most of the work, and Jerry Robinson was the major hand in that
studio (Kane was a terrible artist, as his pre-Batman work makes
clear). Dick Sprang did the best post-Robinson forties Batman
stories. By the fifties Kane -- who *never* wrote the stories -- was
farming the stories out to other pencillers and inkers and paying them
the bottom rates in the industry ($5.00 a page) -- with the results
you'd expect. Kane was an egotist who took credit for the work of
others most of his life, and his obituaries pretty much reflected

--Ted White

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