Comic-Con announced that six writers will posthumously receive the 2021 Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing. The recipients are Robert Bernstein, Audrey “Toni” Blum, Vic Lockman, Robert Morales, Paul S. Newman, and Robert “Bob” White. The selections were made by a committee, chaired by writer-historian Mark Evanier.
“Since we are not yet in a position to honor a writer who is still with us in a proper ceremony, we’re going to a long list of comic book writers from the past who we feel did not receive sufficient recognition or reward for their contributions to the field. As with last year, we have selected six posthumous awards and no ‘alive’ award,” Evanier said. “Each of these six writers left us with a body of work that the judges deem worthy of this honor.”
Created in 2005, The Bill Finger Award was conceived to honor comic book writers like Finger who had not received the credit they deserve. In Finger’s case, he was often given too little credit for his work, especially on Batman, the supporting characters, and character mythos.
“Though Bill Finger now receives a lot more recognition than he received in his lifetime, there are still so many who have not, and that’s why we keep giving out these awards,” Evanier said.
Bernstein began writing comics in 1945, working with Fox, Hillman, Harvey, and Spark. While working with Lev Gleason, he became a ghostwriter for Charles Biro on Crime Does Not Pay and other books. In the ‘50s, he wrote war, western, and horror scripts for Atlas and EC, and wrote the entirety of the short-lived EC series Psychoanalysis. At DC, he wrote stories starring Superman, Superboy, Supergirl, Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane, Aquaman, Green Arrow, Congo Bill, and Congorilla. In the 1960s, he wrote Iron Man, Thor, and The Human Torch stories for Marvel and ghostwrote The Fly, The Jaguar, The Shadow, and other books for Archie.
Blum was one of the earliest female comic writers and creators, though she worked under pen names. Her first work may have been in The Vikings in 1937 for DC. She started working for the Eisner-Iger shop in 1938, writing stories for many genres. Her most well known work was with Quality Comics on Black Condor, The Ray, Dollman, and Uncle Sam and she reportedly wrote scripts for the The Spirit and Lady Luck Sunday newspaper comic book inserts. Moving on from comics after World War II, she wrote children’s books.
Lockman began his comics career in 1950 as a letterer at Dell and spent nearly 30 years there writing funny animal stories. Collectively with one-pagers to book length stories, he is said to have sold more than 7,000 scripts. His work appeared in Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, Uncle Scrooge, Goofy, and Disney titles at Western, as well as stories with Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Tweety and Sylvester, Woody Woodpecker, and Andy Panda. Lockman, rote Terrytoons comics with Mighty Mouse for St. John Publishing and Dennis the Menace comics for Hank Ketcham. He also published dozens of books in Christian literature.
Morales started out writing magazines such as Heavy Metal and Publishers Weekly, then moved on to entertainment journalism for Reflex magazine and at Quincy Jones’s Vibe magazine. His best known work in comics was Marvel’s Truth: Red, White & Black with Kyle Baker. Published in 2003, the comic introduced Isaiah Bradley, a black man who was the first successful recipient of the super-soldier serum. It explored America’s history of racial injustice and medical experimentation on African-Americans. After that he wrote a monthly Captain America series in 2004.
Newman is noted in the Guinness Book of World Recordsas the most prolific comic book writer with over 4,100 published stories in 36,000 pages. In the late ‘40s, he worked with Avon Comics, the American Comics Group, Fawcett Comics, Timely (Marvel), Hillman, Fiction House, and others. His longest runs were for The Lone Ranger and Turok, Son of Stone for Western Publishing in tandem with Dell Comics. Newman’s career highlights include Doctor Solar, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Plastic Man, The Sub-Mariner, Mighty Mouse, I Love Lucy, Gunsmoke, Hopalong Cassidy, Fat Albert, The Twilight Zone, Jungle Jim, Patsy Walker, Zorro, and Mr. Ed. He also wrote dozens of young adult novels, movie scripts, and newspaper strips.
White was the creator, writer, and artist of Archie’s Cosmo the Merry Martian comedy sci-fi series. In 1954-1968, he was a penciller/inker and sometimes writer on many Archie titles, including Archie and Me, Archie’s Jokebook, Archie’s Madhouse, Betty and Veronica, Jughead, and Reggie and Me. He also wrote stories about The Shield, Black Hood, and The Web from Archie’s superhero line. After leaving comics he worked in computer programming.
In addition to Evanier, the selection committee consists of Charles Kochman (executive editor at Harry N. Abrams), comic writer Kurt Busiek, artist-historian Jim Amash, cartoonist Scott Shaw, and writer-editor Marv Wolfman.
The Bill Finger Award is presented by Comic-Con International, administered by Jackie Estrada. Additional information on the Bill Finger Award can be found on Comic-Con’s website.