Finger Food for Thought
It's that time of the year again. Each July at the Comic-Con International, we present something called the Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing. Actually, we present two of them — one to a deceased writer of the past and one to someone who's still with us. Ideally, the person who's still with us will be with us at Comic-Con to receive it in person. So around this time, I solicit nominations of who you think oughta get one. If you have a thought, I'd love to hear it but please, remember the following…
- This is an award for a body of work as a comic book writer. I put those points in bold because every year, people send me — in the clearest demonstration I've seen that comic books impair one's reading skills — the names of artists. One person wrote me last year to suggest John Buscema. I wrote back to him that John Buscema was a wonderful artist, not a wonderful writer. The fellow wrote back to argue, "He co-wrote an issue of one Marvel book once so he qualifies." No. Doesn't work like that.
- Bill Finger in his lifetime received almost no credit for his work and nowhere near a respectable share of the revenue it generated. So this award is for a writer who has received insufficient reward for his or her splendid body of work. It can be insufficient in terms of recognition or insufficient in terms of legal tender or it can, of course, be both. Every year, someone writes me to say, "How can you have an award for comic book writing and not give it to Stan Lee?" Well, maybe because he's the most famous, well-compensated person in the history of the medium. Frankly, I think if I called Stan and told him we wanted to give him an award because his work was so uncelebrated, he'd slap me. Right after he fired his publicist.
- A person can only win this award once. So far, it has gone to Arnold Drake, Alvin Schwartz, George Gladir, Larry Lieber, Frank Jacobs, Gary Friedrich, Del Connell, Steve Skeates, Jerry Siegel, Harvey Kurtzman, Gardner Fox, Archie Goodwin, John Broome, Otto Binder, Bob Haney and Frank Doyle. Those folks are therefore ineligible.
Beyond all that, it can be anyone with a body of writing work in comic books. Not strips. We've fudged the definition to include MAD but will fudge no further. My address is on this page. If you have a thought, I'd love to hear it and pass it on to our Blue Ribbon Judging Committee, none of whom has a blue ribbon. Thank you.