Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fingerprint

"Bill, the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman"

by Marc Tyler Nobleman and Ty Templeton

I ordered this book a while back, to at the very least, support the book. It's an important story, for comic book fans, and the book is worth reading. And it's a quick read too. But it's format falls short on giving the subject matter the appropriate dignity. Don't misunderstand me, I liked the book, the story itself is of great interest to me, but it's design undermines it's credibility. It's the size, thickness and feel of a children's book. Hardcover too. It's not comic book size, it's pages aren't designed to look like a classic Batman comic. The pages and book are indistinguishable from a children's book.

I don't mind the idea of telling the story through illustrations, but maybe in a format and style that would be more appropriate, like a comic book, drawn in a style similar to Dick Sprang's iconic artwork which graced The Batman comics, at the same time as Bill Finger's writing. It may have been more appropriate than the children's book style page layouts. And maybe the illustrated story didn't need to be the sole content. I would have loved to see this designed with more substance, more variety to the image usage, and some of the actual source materials included. Used alongside the comic strip story telling elements, it might have been a more engaging, and more mature looking work, more like Art Spiegelman's and Chip Kidd's Jack Cole biography, (Jack Cole and Plastic Man: Forms stretched to their limits).

This is not a children's book story, it is a the story of a creative man and how his greatest achievement is credited to another man, a more ambitious man who was able to manipulate circumstances to his favor. It's a story of one man cheating another and of one man unable to do anything but let him get away with it. A story we can all relate to on some level. But harder to relate to in such a format. I liked it, and I suspect other old timey Golden-age comics fans will like this book, but I suspect some might find the format a little off-putting.
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