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What makes a character...


The NZA
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This one's been a debate amongst me, Jumbie, Bacchus, and Artistic for a while. Let's use the ever-present example of Spider-Man.

Stan Lee takes credit, obviously ("Ill take credit for anything that's not nailed down!" - direct quote, swear to god). So, he comes up with the idea of a man with spider powers, and the name, Peter Parker.

Now, Steve Ditko (not quite Jack "The King" Kirby, but also a very creative man) creates the costume, and with it, the web-shooters.  Both have a hand in the origin, tho one would assume its more so from Stan.  

See where I'm goin with this? Without Stan, Steve's just drawin his ideas, and without Steve, Stan's just got the barebones of an idea in his head.

For the next step, we'll use Batman.

Batman%20-%20Bob%20Kane%20sketch.jpg

bathead.jpg

Batman%20&%20Robin.jpg

Bob Kane's original Batman fought humans criminals mostly, and often snapped their necks.  He's a far cry from the Batman most folks know, which is only from the cartoons & movies anyway. It was later writers who made him who he is:  dark, more gothic, refusing to kill regardless of the circumstances, bit of a sadist, etc (i once heard the description, "An obscessed terrorist on the side of justice").  These details & those of the artist evolved him into this.

batman.gif

Batman%20-%20No%20Mans%20Land%20-%20Alex%20Ross.jpg

Batman%20movie.jpg

 

...you get the idea.  hell, the original Wolverine writer was thinkin of makin him an actual wolverine mutated into a human..:ill:

As for the Villian Cast, this obviously plays a huge part: i personally think this is why Batman & Spider-Man are as popular as they are, and not characters with weaker villians like Green Lantern.

Regardless, it comes back to writing & art, just lookin for perspective here.

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I think writing is very important, yet art has a part in the success of a character.  One case of good writing and bad art I think :D   said something about Garth Ennis' Batman book.  But Gaiman's Sandman had great writing and Great Art.  Love Amano and some of Mckean's stuff.  And you got Dillon backing up Ennis.  I don't think great art can salvage a poorly written character.

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No, not one bit, early Image days proved that - anyone remember Jim Lee on WildCATs, Liefeld's Youngblood, Portacio on Wetworks, etc...? Writing sucked.

As for :kitty:'s example, nah Ennis' batman shit that i read really blew, Alex Ross couldntve saved that.  Everyone's got their bad days tho, Frank Miller had Spawn/Batman, Mark Waid had The Kingdom, etc.

Its become pretty obvious that books only really stand out when the writer & artist are completely in sync with another, but to which of the two should more of the character's credit go?

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well i'm kinda torn. In my opinion you would need the ORIGINAL writer AND artist to present the character well for people to even notice, then good writers after the original passes it on to keep the story strong and a good cast of villians to keep it from becoming a crappy rerun comic.

 

 

basically any missing element cripples the comic but credit really must go to all or none.

 

~TD

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I agree with TopDawg, you need all of the above, though I'd think the future creators shade it. Not to detract from the original artist and writer but they create the character, give him some opponents but the future writers are normally the ones who shape the character and his foes' personalities.

 

Between the writer and artist for most credit, I can't really comment on, it depends on the partnership? ???

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you ask a very difficult question and you sum it up too quick the credit goes to the person that made him not the creator or the artist but who ever gives it shape if the original guy gave him all his traits and feel them it his credit to be had regardless of popularity.

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  • 5 years later...

it depends, when talking about spidey, bats, wolvie the later writers are more important, as they give the character depth. on the other hand creator owned stuff it's the original writer like moore - watchmen, v

and ennis - preacher.

 

so my point is, i feel the writer makes the character moreso than the artist.

if it's a good story but shit art i could still read it but if it's shit story and good art i could'nt

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I love it when someone picks up a 6 year old conversation and continues it without acknowledging the gap in time as if he was responding to a brand new thread.

 

I see a artist's role as being similar to an actor's role in TV or film. No one argues that some actors have a more influential role in shaping a character that others, and no one argues that some writers/directors give some or all of their actor more or less leeway. Some characters on screen inarguably would not have been the same with a different actor (Bogart as Rick Blaine, Ford as Indiana Jones, Stewart as George Bailey), and in that way, sometimes a writer is pivotal in creating or even reinventing a character.

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  • 4 years later...

From Watchmen prequels thread.

Because, like a lot of people in the comic book industry, he takes being mistreated for granted and is just happy to make a living, by any means necessary. Also, not to diminish the role of the artist, but he doesn't have nearly as much invested. Flat out retards can draw a pretty picture, and he lucked out. Watchman would have succeeded without Gibbons. It would not have succeeded without Moore. He lucked out and he's banking.

 

Read this and reminded me of of Darwyn Cooke's intro to 100 Bullets vol. 10 tpb intro.

 

Images are too big, so just zoom out (hold ctrl and press - ) on your browser to view correctly.

 

130fe80b.jpg

 

5268b445.jpg

 

3fc3e667.jpg

 

704f76a6.jpg

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Bob Kane's original Batman fought humans criminals mostly, and often snapped their necks. He's a far cry from the Batman most folks know, which is only from the cartoons & movies anyway. It was later writers who made him who he is: dark, more gothic, refusing to kill regardless of the circumstances, bit of a sadist, etc (i once heard the description, "An obscessed terrorist on the side of justice"). These details & those of the artist evolved him into this.

 

The man in question is Bill Finger. He is for all intents and purposes the creator of Batman. Bob Kane came up with the name but... Well I'll just copy/paste the wikipedia article:

 

 

 

Early life and career

 

Finger was born in 1914 to a Jewish family.[6] He joined Bob Kane's nascent studio in 1938. An aspiring writer and a part-time shoe salesman, he had met Kane at a party;[7] Kane later offered him a job ghost writing the strips Rusty and Clip Carson.[8][9]

Early the following year, National Comics' success with the seminal superhero Superman in Action Comics prompted editors to scramble for similar heroes. In response, Kane conceived "the Bat-Man". Finger recalled that Kane

...had an idea for a character called 'Batman', and he'd like me to see the drawings. I went over to Kane's, and he had drawn a character who looked very much like Superman with kind of ... reddish tights, I believe, with boots ... no gloves, no gauntlets ... with a small
domino mask
, swinging on a rope. He had two stiff wings that were sticking out, looking like bat wings. And under it was a big sign ... BATMAN.
[9]

Finger offered such suggestions as giving the character a cowl instead of the domino mask, a cape instead of wings, adding gloves, and removing the red sections from the original costume.[7][10] He later said his suggestions were influenced by Lee Falk's popular The Phantom, a syndicated newspaper comic strip character with which Kane was familiar as well,[11] and that he devised the name Bruce Wayne for the character's secret identity: "Bruce Wayne's first name came from Robert Bruce, the Scottish patriot. Wayne, being a playboy, was a man of gentry. I searched for a name that would suggest colonialism. I tried Adams, Hancock ... then I thought of Mad Anthony Wayne."[2] As Kane summed up decades later in his autobiography, "Bill Finger was a contributing force on Batman right from the beginning... I made Batman a superhero-vigilante when I first created him. Bill turned him into a scientific detective."[12]

Finger wrote both the initial script for Batman's debut in Detective Comics #27 (May 1939) and the character's second appearance, while Kane provided art.[7] Batman proved a breakout hit, and Finger went on to write many of the early Batman stories, including making major contributions to the character of the Joker[13] as well as other major Batman villains. When Kane wanted Robin's origin to parallel Batman's, Finger made Robin's parents circus performers murdered while performing their trapeze act.[14]

Bill Finger recalled that,

Robin was an outgrowth of a conversation I had with Bob. As I said, Batman was a combination of
Douglas Fairbanks
and
Sherlock Holmes
. Holmes had his Watson. The thing that bothered me was that Batman didn't have anyone to talk to, and it got a little tiresome always having him thinking. I found that as I went along Batman needed a Watson to talk to. That's how Robin came to be. Bob called me over and said he was going to put a boy in the strip to identify with Batman. I thought it was a great idea".
[9]

Comics historian Jim Steranko wrote in 1970 that Finger's slowness as a writer led Batman editor Whitney Ellsworth to suggest Kane replace him, a claim reflected in Joe Desris' description of Finger as "notoriously tardy."[7][15] During Finger's absence, Gardner Fox contributed scripts that introduced Batman's early "Bat-" arsenal (the utility belt, the Bat-Gyro/plane and the Batarang).[16][17] Upon his return, Finger created or co-created items such as the Batmobile and Batcave,[18] and is credited with providing the name "Gotham City".[15] Among the things that made his stories distinctive were a use of giant-sized props: enlarged pennies, sewing machines, or typewriters.[19][20]

Eventually, Finger left Kane's studio to work directly for DC Comics, where he supplied scripts for characters including Batman and Superman (introducing to the latter's mythos the character Lana Lang). He would eventually write for other companies as well, including Fawcett Comics, Quality Comics, and Marvel Comics' 1940s predecessor, Timely Comics.

[edit] The Joker

 

In 1994, Bob Kane gave Finger co-credit for creating Batman's archnemesis the Joker, despite claims on the character by writer Jerry Robinson:

Bill Finger and I created the Joker. Bill was the writer. Jerry Robinson came to me with a playing card of the Joker. That's the way I sum it up. [The Joker] looks like
Conrad Veidt
— you know, the actor in
The Man Who Laughs
, [the 1928 movie based on the novel] by
Victor Hugo
. [...] Bill Finger had a book with a photograph of Conrad Veidt and showed it to me and said, 'Here's the Joker'. Jerry Robinson had absolutely nothing to do with it, but he'll always say he created it till he dies. He brought in a
playing card
, which we used for a couple of issues for him [the Joker] to use as his playing card.
[21]

Robinson, whose original Joker playing card was on public display in the exhibition "Masters of American Comics" at the Jewish Museum in New York City, from September 16, 2006 to January 28, 2007, and the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum in Atlanta, Georgia from October 24, 2004 to August 28, 2005, has countered that he created the Joker to be Batman's larger-than-life nemesis when extra stories needed to be written quickly for Batman #1 and that he even received credit for the story in a college course.[22] Regarding the Conrad Veidt similarity, Robinson said:

In that first meeting when I showed them that sketch of the Joker, Bill said it reminded him of Conrad Veidt in
The Man Who Laughs
. That was the first mention of it...He can be credited and Bob himself, we all played a role in it. The concept was mine. Bill finished that first script from my outline of the persona and what should happen in the first story. He wrote the script of that, so he really was co-creator, and Bob and I did the visuals, so Bob was also.
[23]

 

It's also worth noting that Bob Kane killed The Joker in his first appearance but Bill Finger added in a panel with two cops carrying a stretcher saying "Hold on... this guy's still alive."

 

So next time you call Stan Lee a thief, recall that while he's a terrible writer and took credit for a lot of things he was still at least partially responsible for what he did. Bob Kane didn't do much of anything.

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panch you've got a little bit of Stan's semen on your lip right there...excelsior!

 

wasn't aware of that ryan, thanks man. also ASC could you maybe find larger images, my eyes aren't so good these days and that's so hard to read with the tiny font

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