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Batman's co-creator Bob Kane

Updated on May 16, 2015

Robert Khan was born on 24 October 1915, New York, his father worked as a printer at the New York Daily newspaper. Growing up Kane aspired to become an artist when he was older. In his spare time, Kane would watch Zorro films, starring Errol Flynn the idea of Zorro’s heroics and dual identity would inspire Kane’s famous comic creation. Returning from work each day his father would bring home a copy of the Daily newspaper, Kane would copy the drawings of the newspapers artists. As a youngster, at High School Kane and Will Eisner were childhood friends, Eisner later created the comic superhero The Spirit.

After graduating from High School, Kane worked for six months in Max Fletcher’s studio, drawing cartoons for five dollars an hour. Winning a Scholarship at Commercial Arts Studio for nine months, he continued to study art at Cooper Union and Arts Student League. In 1933, after turning eighteen he changed his name from Khan to Kane. In 1936, his first regular paid job was working as a staff artist at Fiction house. Drawing newspaper cartoons and drawing characters in ‘WOW what a magazine’. For two years, Kane kept applying to National Comics (later changing their name to DC Comics), his perseverance eventually paid off. 1938, Kane had the opportunity to draw cartoon characters for ‘Rusty and pals’ and ‘Clip Carson’. DC Comics were competing against their rival Timely Comics (later changing their name to Marvel Comics). The same year Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created Superman, a superhero for the new launch of a new series ‘Action Comics’. Superman proved be a huge success for the comic book publishers.

In May 1939, the editor Vincent Sullivan at DC Comics encouraged Kane to create a new Superhero. After seeing at silent Movie ‘The Bat Whispers’ in which the villain was dressed as a bat stalking his victims at night. Listening to the Radio show ‘The Shadow’ and remembering his childhood hero ‘Zorro’. Kane created Batman, a crime-fighting superhero nicknamed ‘The Caped Crusader’; there is still some controversy that exists to this day that Bill Finger a comic book writer for DC Comics. Originally thought up the superhero Batman, including his costume and later his sidekick Robin emerging a year alongside him. DC Comics was sold on Kane’s comic creation, however, he managed to keep control of the copyright. After a year as a comic strip featured in newspapers, Batman would finally get his own comic book. In his first adventure ‘The case of the Chemical Syndicate’, Batman uses his intellect, gadgets including a Batmobile to solve crimes in the fictional GothamCity. Kane managed to sell the idea to the owners at DC Comics while still holding onto the copyrights. Finger and Jerry Robinson, Kane’s personal assistant came up with the idea of the Joker, nicknamed ‘the prince of crime’ as one of the Batman’s nemesis. Over the next twelve years, Kane along with a range of comic book artists would continue to work on Batman. Many Artists like Dick Sprang and Sheldon Moldoff didn’t receive any credit for their contribution to the Batman stories.

In the 60’s, Kane started advising television producers on the Batman series in Hollywood. The show was particularly camp along with endless puns, regardless the show was a success. In 1966, Kane retired from DC Comics, so he could concentrate on fine art.In 1969, ‘Cool McCool’ was a new cartoon character drawn by Kane, ArtGallery’s in Hollywood displaying his paintings. Wasn’t until the 70’s that Kane and his family decided to move to Hollywood.

In 1989, director Tim Burton invited Kane onto the film set as a creative consultant on the new Batman film. On its release, the film proved a success with film audiences around the world. Will Eisner and Kane were both inducted into the National Hall of fame

November 1998 at the age of 83 Kane died of natural causes at his home in Los Angeles. The Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of Modern art and the University of Jamaican Art in New York, display the drawings of Kane’s work to this day.


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