A micro-deception in Kane memoir

By Mark Voger | Author, “Britmania”


A quick post (for once) on something that’s kinda bugged me for years.

OK, I recently learned the identity of the lovely young lady who posed as Catwoman in a photo published by Batman co-creator Bob Kane in “Batman and Me” (Eclipse Books), his 1989 memoir written with Tom Andrae. As if it wasn’t bad enough denying credit for Batman to writer Bill Finger — not to mention credit for Robin and the Joker to artist Jerry Robinson — Kane passed off the work of artist Lynne Feldman, the woman in the Catwoman costume, as his own. In his caption, Kane referred to Feldman only as “a girl friend.”

For your edification, that page from “Batman and Me” is reproduced below.

I learned Feldman’s name via a letter from RetroFan reader Vinny Belizia. In an editorial reply to same, RF editor Michael Eury wrote that he wants to hear from anyone in the magazine’s considerable readership with knowledge of the outcome of Feldman’s 1966 lawsuit against Kane.

So stay tuned, and in the meantime, please read my post about Feldman HERE.

Was this really drawn by Bob Kane five years before Batman’s debut? No one thinks so.

This all reminded me of two more instances of chicanery on Kane’s part in “Batman and Me.” One is an illustration of a Batman prototype Kane claims to have drawn five years before the character’s debut in Detective Comics #27. For a variety of reasons, the veracity of the date Kane jotted on the illustration (Jan. 17, 1934) has been under a cloud of suspicion for almost 90 years.

A number of comics professionals consider it a fraud. No one’s doubting that Kane drew it; they’re just doubting that he drew it in 1934, which would conveniently bolster his claim as the sole creator of Batman. (There’s a brief segment about the illustration in Hulu’s 2017 documentary “Batman and Bill.”)

The second instance of deception is a bit more subtle, a bit harder to spot. I’ve never heard anyone mention it in print, online or in conversation. So, this might very well be a scoop for! Here goes …

There’s something fishy about this photo. Can you spot it?

In the section on Tim Burton‘s 1989 movie “Batman,” Kane published a photo showing himself, his wife Elizabeth Sanders, and Jack Nicholson attending the “Batman” premiere. The caption reads in part: “Me and my actress wife, Elizabeth Sanders, share the spotlight with Jack Nicholson.”

Only problem is, Sanders is not in the photo, exactly. She has been pasted in.

Red arrows point to crude knifework in this blown up detail.

I use the word “pasted” quite literally. This was in the pre-Photoshop era. I’m a career-long graphic artist, and I can tell you exactly how she was inserted into the photo. It’s gonna get a bit old-school-graphics-nerd up in here, so I strongly suggest you skip the next two paragraphs unless you own a T square, border tape and a supply of Zippotone.

It went like this: Two black-and-white “veloxes” (reproductions for print) were made from two photos. The velox of Sanders was run through a “waxer” (a hot wax machine used to coat the blank side of a velox, so it can be affixed to a paper grid). The image of Sanders was then “silhouetted” — that is, trimmed using an X-Acto knife. (Crudely, I might add.) And then, viola! Sanders was magically added to the photo of Kane and Nicholson.

She is smiling at someone, but it ain’t these guys. Her poofy blond hair is the giveaway. It looks to have been silhouetted by a rushed artist with a dull blade.

P.S.: Yes, I realize that these things don’t matter anymore. Everything is faked by AI. To quote the great philosopher John Lennon: “Nothing is real.” But I’m not talkin’ about now. I’m talking about the days when we put pages together with knives and wax. And we weren’t supposed to knowingly deceive the reader. The days of “journalistic ethics,” y’all.

There. I feel better. Thanks.