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book industry insiders pushed to set
the record straight. A prestigious award
was established in Finger’s honor in 2005
to recognize comic writers who didn’t
get their due. But Nobleman wanted
his book to thrust Finger further into
the spotlight. “Most of all, I wanted the
book to be a springboard for an entire
campaign, to apply pressure and change
things,” he says. “I wanted to find things
that no one else had found.”
And he did. He uncovered Finger’s
real first name: Milton, a common
Jewish name that Finger ditched to avoid
discriminatory hiring practices. Noble-
man also busted a myth about Finger’s
final resting place, discovering that he
was not buried in a potter’s field, as was
rumored for decades, but instead that his
ashes were scattered by his son, Fred, in
the shape of a bat on a beach in Oregon.
Most startling, Nobleman learned that
Most Batman fans had assumed that
Bill Finger’s family line came to an end
when Fred died in 1992. After all, Fred
was Bill Finger’s only child, and he was
gay. But it turns out Fred was once mar-
ried and had a daughter named Athena
who was born two years after her grand-
father died. She was living in Florida
when Nobleman tracked her down in
2007. At his urging, Athena contacted
DC Comics. Soon after, she began
receiving modest reprint royalties from
Once Bill the Boy Wonder was published in 2012, Nobleman traveled the
world to speak at schools, conferences,
Rotary clubs, synagogues and other
venues to share all that he’d learned.
He delivered a TED Talk and snagged a
guest spot on the popular “Fat Man on
Meanwhile, Nobleman stayed in touch
with Athena Finger, encouraging her all
along to defend her grandfather’s legacy.
On Sept. 18, 2015, after much negotiating, the publisher and the Finger family
announced that Bill Finger’s name would
appear on the Batman credits. ;e financial terms of the arrangement were not
made public, but Nobleman said the
family was “pleased” with the outcome.
;e Hollywood Reporter, which first
reported the story, and other media outlets credited Nobleman as a force in raising
Bill Finger’s profile. Now, in the Gotham
television series, Batman comics, and this
year’s Batman film, fans see: “Created by
Bob Kane with Bill Finger.”
“People used to say don’t even bother
trying. It’s never going to happen,”
Nobleman says, “so seeing it finally
happen was one of the most emotional
moments of my life.” n