SAN DIEGO – Steve Gerber and Don Rosa have been selected to receive the 2013 Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing. The selection, made by a blue-ribbon committee chaired by writer-historian Mark Evanier, was unanimous.
The Bill Finger Award was instituted in 2005 at the instigation of comic book legend Jerry Robinson. Each year, the awards committee selects two recipients, one living and one deceased.
“The premise of this award is to recognize writers for a body of work that has not received its rightful reward and/or recognition,” Evanier explains. “That was what Jerry Robinson intended as his way of remembering his friend, Bill Finger. Bill is still kind of the industry poster boy for writers not receiving proper reward or recognition.” Evanier also notes the appropriateness of this year’s selections: “Steve Gerber was one of the most influential writers of his day, and his work has stood the rest of time. Don Rosa is now retired from producing his acclaimed work with Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge. He also drew the comics, but we honor him for the excellence of his stories, which will forever be reprinted around the world. Also, we liked the idea of having an ‘all-duck’ Finger ceremony.”
Steve Gerber got his start in fanzines, worked in advertising, and then found his way to comics in 1972 when he was hired by Roy Thomas for a staff job at Marvel. Gerber wasn’t suited for staff work, but by the time Marvel realized that, they’d discovered the value of his quirky imagination as a writer. Before long, he was distinguishing himself with scripts for, among others, Daredevil, The Defenders, Sub-Mariner, and Man-Thing. It was in the Man-Thing feature that he developed his most popular, lasting character, Howard the Duck. Somewhat autobiographical and wildly popular when written by Gerber, Howard was a unique presence in the Marvel Universe that is fondly remembered by many fans of the era. They also hailed Omega the Unknown, which Gerber co-wrote and co-created with Mary Skrenes. He parted ways with Marvel over a contract dispute in 1978, though he would return later. Thereafter, he worked for DC and Eclipse and in TV animation, story-editing and writing shows including Thundarr the Barbarian, G.I. Joe, and The Transformers. Gerber died in 2008 from pulmonary fibrosis.
Don Rosa also got his start in fanzines, with “The Pertwillaby Papers,” a comic strip for his college newspaper in Kentucky. An avid collector of comics, he chose for a time to write and draw as a hobby and to make his livelihood in his family’s tile business. In 1986, though, he had the opportunity to write and draw stories of Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge, his favorite characters when in the hands of the legendary Carl Barks. His meticulous, carefully researched work caught on big, at first in America and then overseas, where he was hailed for expanding on the foundation laid by Barks. Particularly popular was a 12-part series he began in 1991, The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, which filled in many details of the character’s past. That series, along with Rosa’s other tales, has been reprinted around the world as much as any comic book of the last quarter-century. Rosa has now retired from creating new stories, due to failing eyesight and disputes with his publisher over compensation.
The Bill Finger Award honors the memory of William Finger (1914-1974), who was the first and, some say, most important writer of Batman. Many have called him the “unsung hero” of the character and have hailed his work not only on that iconic figure but on dozens of others, primarily for DC Comics.
In addition to Evanier, the selection committee consists of Charles Kochman (executive editor at Harry N. Abrams, book publisher), comic book writer Kurt Busiek, artist/historian Jim Amash, and writer/editor Marv Wolfman.
The 2013 awards are being underwritten by DC Comics (the major sponsor), along with supporting sponsors Heritage Auctions and Maggie Thompson.
The Finger Award falls under the auspices of Comic-Con International: San Diego and is administered by Jackie Estrada. The awards will be presented during the Eisner Awards ceremony at this summer’s Comic-Con on July 19.
Additional information on the Finger Award can be found on this page.