The Men Who Made the Mythos
The Second in a Series Examining Green Lantern History
|The late Martin Nodell in his studio|
|The elusive Bill Finger|
Like so many people who entered the comic book industry, Bill Finger was a first generation American. Born to Jewish parents in 1914 Denver, Colorado, Finger and his family moved to New York City during the Great Depression. Finger was an aspiring writer and having met up with Bob Kane at a party got introduced to the job of ghost writing and began writing comic strips.
Kane and Finger both graduated from the same high school and after the success of Superman Kane sought to create his own superstar in the form of Batman. Kane’s Batman was a far cry from what the world came to see when the character in Detective Comics #27, complete with red tights, wings and a domino mask. Finger took the loose concept and redefined, suggesting the now-famous cape and cowl look and inventing elements such as Batman’s secret identity, Bruce Wayne, and Batman’s detective skills. Batman and Kane went on to become famous and it wasn’t until long after his death that Finger began to receive the credit he deserved for creating so many characters and aspects of one of comics most beloved characters.
Finger was brought in to work with Mart Nodell on his creation, Green Lantern. Unlike Batman, Green Lantern was a complete creation that Nodell had come up with, but Finger added so much to the mythology during his seven years working on the character that he is credited frequently for the character’s creation. Finger evolved Alan Scott’s abilities beyond some of the simple things that characterized early stories, creating the ability for Green Lantern to form hard light constructs limited only by the wearer’s imagination and establishing the Golden Age Green Lantern’s weakness to wood. Finger died in 1974 at the young age of 59.
Known as one of the founding fathers of science fiction, Alfred Bester was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1913. In his early twenties Bester began writing science fiction short stories while working in public relations and won a contest which led to meeting editor Mort Weisinger who published a number of Bester’s early work. When Weisinger left his job to join Detective Comics as editor of the Superman and Batman books he called upon Bester and lured him away from writing short stories to take on comics.
Bester wrote Superman, The Phantom and Mandrake the Magician and replaced Bill Finger on the Green Lantern series, adding some antagonists for Alan Scott besides the regular criminals he usually fought, notably creating Solomon Grundy and Vandal Savage. Bester also changed the oath that Martin Nodell had created for Green Lantern to the infamous “In Brightest Day….” oath that lives on today.
When the comics industry faced the demise of superhero comics Bester found his way to radio where he wrote a number of scripts for shows like The Shadow and Charlie Chan. Bester went to on to be a prolific writer for television, magazines and novels as well as returning to his short story roots. Bester died in 1987 at age 73.
- Green Lantern: The Golden Age 1938 – 1956(blogofoa.com)
- Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of Green Lantern!(lanterncast.com)
- Back Where It All Began – 75 YEARS OF GREEN LANTERN(flodospage.blogspot.com)
- A Green Lantern 75th Anniversary Celebration(blogofoa.com)