Kane, Bob

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KANE, BOB (1916–1998), U.S. comic book creator. Born in New York City with the surname Cahn, he attended Cooper Union and the Art Students League before entering the comics field. His first strips, Peter Pupp and Hiram Hick, were published in 1936. In 1938, while he was drawing adventure strips for National Comics, a comic book hero named Superman appeared. Kane's boss asked him and his high-school classmate, Bill Finger, then a shoe salesman, to come up with a Supercompetitor. They developed Batman, which came out in May 1939 in Detective Comics, the successor to National. Batman the Caped Crusader was not as strong as Superman, but he was much more agile, a better dresser, and had more sophisticated technological contraptions. He lived in the Batcave with his "ward," Robin the Boy Wonder, drove the Batmobile, which had a crime laboratory and a closed-circuit television in the back, and owned a Batplane. In creating Batman, really a man named Bruce Wayne, a wealthy socialite, Kane said he drew on a number of sources: a 1920s movie, The Mark of Zorro, a radio show called The Shadow, and a 1930 movie called The Bat Whispers. As Batman's popularity increased – there was a television series, Batman movies, toys, and costumes – over the years, Kane did less and less of the drawing. Although his name appeared on the strip until 1964, the work was done mostly by other artists. According to a recollection-tribute by Jerry Robinson, who was a writer during the creation of Batman, Kane and Finger, like himself and the creators of Superman, came from middle-class Jewish families beset by the Depression. Bruce Wayne, he wrote, "is rich, handsome and equipped with a butler, the Batmobile and an array of seductive women. That, of course, represented our ultimate fantasy." The fantasy proved to be universal. Batman was soon speaking Greek, Arabic, and Japanese, among other languages. In 1966 Kane turned to children's television cartoons and in his last years he devoted himself to Batman paintings and lithographs for collectors.

[Stewart Kampel (2nd ed.)]