Granddaughter of Batman’s Original Writer is Fighting for Justice


What’s that? You think you got screwed out a writing credit? Bet it didn’t hurt as much as what happened to Bill Finger, co-creator of Batman.

Go, Athena Finger, go!

The True Creator of Batman Never Got Credit, and Now His Granddaughter Fights to Correct History
by Kyle Swenson

…A short, 37-year-old woman with a burst of curly hair…, her 12-year-old son at her side, Athena Finger, single mom and a math instructor at Broward Community College, is the granddaughter of Bill Finger. The shy writer was the creative engine behind arguably the greatest of all superheroes: Batman.

Experts in the comic industry have conceded that Finger created just about every one of the Dark Knight’s signature details, from the Batmobile to the Joker to the backdrop of Gotham City. He also put a complex psychology between the bat ears, injecting serious themes into comics for the first time. But for decades, Bob Kane, who drew the images, got sole credit. Finger was served one of the rawest deals in entertainment history.

“Everything about Batman except the word ‘Batman’ came from Bill Finger,” says Chris Sims, a comic historian. “If you are a fan of the comics and you know what’s going on, you’re a fan of Bill Finger over Bob Kane.”

“Without the stories,” Athena is fond of saying, “Batman is nothing.”

Athena, with the help of Tamerlane and others, aims to correct the mistake of history. But millions — if not billions — hang on that mistake, and fixing it will pit the quiet Broward woman against one of the most powerful entertainment companies in the world: Time-Warner. It’s just the kind of bruising battle for justice that would inspire the Dark Knight to strap on his utility belt.

Can you say, “Holy multimillion-dollar settlement, Batman?!?!”

The two young mensches from the Bronx huddled over a desk. The cartoonist clutched a sketch of his new creation, the dollar signs already spinning in his head like flakes in a snow globe. The writer was just happy to be working.

Bob Kane, slick and elegant, liked to remind his friends he looked like the big-screen swashbuckler Tyrone Powers. Bill Finger was a book-smart shy brooder who loved storytelling and German expressionism. Kane showed Finger his idea for “Bat-Man.” On the desk was a sketch of a red-suited figure with veiny bat wings. He had flowing blond hair.

“He had drawn a character who looked very much like Superman, wearing a small domino mask and swinging on a rope,” Finger recalled years later in an interview. “He had two stiff wings sticking out, looking like bat wings.

“I got Webster’s Dictionary down from the shelf, hoping it had a drawing of a bat. Sure enough, it did. I said, ‘Notice the ears. Why don’t we duplicate them?’ I suggested Bob give him a cowl — to make him look mysterious, and not show any eyes at all. I didn’t like the wings, so I suggested he make them into a cape with scalloped edges. That way it would flow out behind him when he ran and look like bat wings.”

It was early 1939, and there was an arms race going on in the comic world. The previous summer, Action Comics had run a strip featuring a beefcake in blue tights who could leap tall buildings in a single bound. In nine months, Superman doubled its monthly sales, and other comics likewise saw bumps. Publishers swung their focus to this new superhero fad. One Friday afternoon in the offices of National Comics, which published Superman, an editor told the ambitious Kane that the cartoonists who’d invented the hero were splitting $1,500 a week.

Kane said he’d have an idea for a superhero by Monday. “I said for $1,500 a week, I can come up with anything, believe me,” Kane told an interviewer in 1989.

Kane had been born Robert Kahn, the son of a Jewish engraver at the New York DailyNews. Before 1939, his cartoons were mostly of talking animals.

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Did GIRLS reveal the truth about college writing courses?

Um…probably. But should we really be surprised at what they’re like?

hannahwritesby Molly Hannon

In episode two of the new season of Girls, Hannah, played by Lena Dunham, attends a workshop in which classmates applaud a story by second-year African American student DeAugust. They love its spare language and how it addresses gender issues in an “almost offensive, but not offensive” way.

“I would cut off my arm to just read three more pages. I just have to know what happens,” one student gushes.

“I thought it was obvious,” Hannah says. “The mom dies.” The room falls silent.

When Hannah gets around to reading her own story, it’s immediately lambasted. She’s accused of trivialising abuse and lacking sympathy for the male perspective. When she tries to defend herself, her teacher cuts her off and tells her to wait until everyone’s done critiquing.

Ironically, it’s DeAugust, the unspoken class favorite, who unexpectedly defends her. “That’s her voice,” he says. “We can’t squash what she’s trying to say.”

The episode, which shows workshops as places where moaning comes ahead of critiquing and in which questions about gender are a minefield, made me grateful I’d chosen journalism school over an MFA program. In journalism, editors are the bottom line, ahead of wannabe writers. And teachers don’t cut you off.

Hannah’s first foray in MFA-land also brought to mind Chad Harbach’s MFA vs NYC n+1 essay about the pros and cons of graduate school in terms of making it as a New York writer.

In Girls, Hannah has left the New York hack scene behind and moved to the seemingly cosy atmosphere of graduate school. She’s a perfect fit for Harbach’s essay, since he focuses on rising enrolment in American MFA programs and wonders whether the industry can support the rising tide of writers.

Just what kind of writing does an MFA program hone, asks Harbach? Does it train a writer to improve, or just to write more acceptably in eyes of fellow wannabes?

Though Girls is not a mirror for everything in American society, Dunham does a solid job in showing how aspiring writers tend to respond to what they read based on personal bias and pre-established preferences. The critique of Hannah’s writing seems to have less to do with what she’s written than her background. Social class, perceived entitlement, gender and political correctness all play a part.

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Oh MFG, We’re Talking About Dan Harmon Again

Cuz it’s looking more and more like he’s found the Secret of the Universe. The genu-wine article.

Well, the Secret of the TV Writing Universe anyway.

Don’t believe us? Ask Anita Singh, the Arts and Entertainment Editor of UK’s “The Telegraph:”


Does this circle represent every TV show and film there is?
by Anita Singh

It is the formula that links Breaking Bad, Father Ted and Die Hard.

A US writer has devised an algorithm that he believes can be applied to all stories you see on screen.

Dan Harmon sets out his ‘story circle’ in a series of blog posts aimed at demystifying the writing process.

The circle is divided into eight segments, each representing a stage of the plot. A character is introduced, wants something, enters a new environment, adapts to that environment, achieves their goal but encounters problems as a result, leaves that world and changes as a result.

“I can’t not see that circle. It’s tattooed on my brain,” said Harmon, creator of the US cult series Community.

“I’m not going to bother saying, ‘There are some exceptions to this,’ over and over. There are some exceptions to everything, but that’s called style, not structure.”

Does every story fit the circle? The Wizard of Oz and Disney’s Frozen certainly do: Dorothy and Elsa find themselves in strange worlds and get what they think they want, followed by disappointment and a new understanding of what they had in the first place.

Basil Fawlty and Carrie Bradshaw may not seem to have much in common, but both conform to Harmon’s model. Witness Basil in Fawlty Towers believing he has pulled off a masterstroke in each episode only to meet disaster, then ending up back where he started. The change in him is an even great air of weary resignation, and more boiling fury stored up for the next episode.

The Sex and the City women’s quest for love followed the ‘story circle’ every week, with Carrie Bradshaw explaining the lesson learned at the end of each episode.

The formula can also be applied to a series story arc. The BBC’s Last Tango In Halifax fits the mould, with the two protagonists embarking on a romance late in life and finding happiness together, only for their children to cause problems.

One Breaking Bad fan has applied the formula to the hit US show in an online post that has attracted tens of thousands of views. Walter White is a law-abiding chemistry teacher who wants to earn money for his family after being diagnosed with inoperable cancer, and embarks on a new career manufacturing crystal meth.

The idea of a hero setting out on a quest for something and learning lessons along the way is age old, but Harmon came up with the eight-point system while watching the action film, Die Hard.

On his blog, he explains the film’s adherence to his eight rules: Bruce Willis as John McClane is introduced (1), he wants to save his marriage to his estranged wife (2), terrorists attack his wife’s Christmas party and he sets out to save her (3), he takes on the terrorists and turns out to be very good at it (4), he makes peace with his wife (5), the terrorists fight back (6), McClane defeats them (7), he has learned some valuable life lessons (8).

Harmon devotes thousands of words to the story circle idea on his blog, and says that only the final part differs when writing for film or television. In television, characters change a lot less.

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by Angelo J. Bell

Thankfully, this is my first post of 2015 and not my last post ever.

If you are new to my blog, allow myself to introduce…myself. My name is ANGELO BELL and I am a writer, director and independent producer, and most importantly… a father of four amazing children. This blog post is excerpted from my crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. In December, life nearly took me away from my daughters, Israel, Cimone and Imara, and my son, Zachary. Thankfully, I was given a second chance.There comes a time in everyone’s life when they think about how things would be different if they were given a second chance. I am in that place now. In December, 2014 I got my second chance.

Sometime in November I began to have these weird shortness of breath episodes. They kind of came out of nowhere even though I’d already lost 20 lbs and routinely walked about 3 miles four time a week, including time on real-life stairs. To me, there was no reasonable reason why I would become short of breath. But, being a typical man, I figured I could tough-it-out until whatever ailment I had, ran its course. I persevered even as my lungs would routinely burn like I’d run a marathon.

Then,  in 48 hours everything changed…drastically.

Saturday, November 29, 2014 I went to dinner with my friend Isidro. We went for a walk afterwards and my chest started to burn even though we weren’t walking far or fast. The next day I went to work. It rained all day and I noticed I my breathlessness was becoming more pronounced as the day continued. It got t the point where I avoided stairs altogether. As day’s end I had to take the bus home (car problems) and notices that on my short half-mile walk home I literally had to stop twice to catch my breath.

I’ve never had to do that before.

At home I planted myself in my armchair in front of the TV. As long as I didn’t move I was fine. Unfortunately, as soon as I stood, walked to the bathroom or kitchen I would become breathless again. It was crazy! Bedtime came and I was exhausted. I used a large beanbag to prop myself up in my bed because lying flat made it difficult to breath. I remember my heart was racing but eventually I fell asleep.


Sometime after 2am something woke me up. I heard my roommate coming home but that wasn’t what disturbed me. I sat up in bed and then it hit me — oxygen! I wasn’t getting oxygen. I was breathing fast but it felt as if oxygen was missing from that equation. I walked to the bathroom just ten feet away, looked at myself in the mirror and tried to calm my speeding heart. Deep breaths, Angelo. Slow and deep breaths.  No. it wasn’t working.  For a split second I wondered if I’d make it through the night and I started to panic.

At that moment I thought about calling someone — anyone. I considered calling 911. What if this is some sort of stupid anxiety attack? I don’t want to be embarrassed by a false alarm? Even worse, I wasn’t sure if I could gather my breath long enough to speak to the 911 Operator. I thought about calling my roommate but I’d have to yell and that shit wasn’t going to happen, no way. How long could this last? How long can I last? An hour? Minutes. Was I about to take my last breath at any moment?

But I told myself to calm down and miraculously, I did. I couldn’t take deep breaths so I took shallow and rapid breaths. I got just enough air to change out of my pajamas and into jeans without losing it. I figured if I was going to the ER I was NOT going while wearing my Santa Claus pajamas.

I called 911.

The 911 Operator told me to open my front door, sit down and wait. I waited in my armchair, not moving a muscle. I heard the fire truck enter the parking lot accompanied by an ambulance. Seconds later eight people poured into my living room: four firemen, four trainees, and two people from CARE Ambulance. I couldn’t help but go back to the director in me: “This would make a really cool picture or scene!” I thought to myself.

They took my blood pressure, pulse and blood oxygen level (oxygen saturation). They took my blood pressure three times, twice with the machine and once manually to confirm because it was super high: 206/107. My heart rate was in the 140s. I seem to remember my blood oxygen saturation numbers being at 72 when they should be 96-100. They hooked me to an oxygen tank, and I could breath again. I was hoping the paramedics would simply stabilize me and let me go back to sleep. The fireman in charge said, “No, you’re going to the ER.”

A face mask of oxygen, blood tests, two IVs and an X-Ray later I was told my troponin levels indicated my heart was under duress and I might have had a mild heart attack. Obviously that was not a good thing to hear. Then another diagnosis came in: pneumonia and hypertension. But I wasn’t going home. They admitted me, connected me to a EKG machine and brought me to my room. My doctor opted for an ultrasound my legs instead of a more expensive CT scan. I stayed in the hospital for three days, was released with antibiotics for pneumonia and meds for the high blood pressure.

I came home on a Wednesday. By Thursday I was starting to feel that same shortness of breath again. I texted my sister in law, a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN), for advice. I told her I wasn’t getting better. Technically, she’s not legally my sister-in-law anymore since my divorce from her sister, but we’re still close. Tammy and her three sisters still call me their brother. And I do likewise.

Friday I stayed glued to my chair. My kids came over and I only got up to make dinner and help with homework. But by 6pm I’d had two scary “episodes” of wheezing just from walking to the bathroom. My oblique muscles and abs had minds of their own. They would squeeze and tighten in spasms in an effort to squeeze more oxygen into my body. I called Tammy. She picked me up and took me to the ER again where I had another oxygen treatment and they sent me on my way.

Two days later, Sunday night, I was even worse. Is pneumonia supposed to be this tough? Any movement whatsoever resulted in a 2 minute gasping attack and now my throat was closing! During one episode I was so sure I was going to die I took the automatic lock off my cell phone. I figured that when my former in-laws eventually found my body they would need to get in contact with my family back in NY. All the information was in my phone.

I made it through the night but come Monday morning, December 8, I was terrified. I sat on my bed afraid to even go to the bathroom. I’d walk to the toilet and as I would pee I’d be gasping and wheezing. I called Tammy again. I told her something is really, really wrong. “Help,” I begged. She told me hold and and she’d make arrangements to get me to the hospital where she worked.

Tammy’s husband came to pick me up. It took me 10 minutes to walk down the flight of stairs from my apartment. I didn not want to trigger another attack. I didn’t know if I could survive another one. We skipped regular ER and Tammy met me in the Ambulance ER area with a wheelchair and brought me inside.

As I was attempting to stand up in the wheelchair and sit on the gurney in ER I had a terrible wheezing attack and the triage nurses saw it. My heart rate was in the 150s. Blood oxygen saturation was in the mid 80s and I was severely dehydrated. I got two IVs and fluid immediately. They put me on oxygen. The doctor came in and said something to this effect. “The pneumonia and high blood pressure, I get it, but we need to figure out why you can’t breathe, and we will.”

From what I understand the blood tests showed decreased kidney function too, which made the CAT scan technician reluctant to allow me into radiology/imaging. It was a risk to give me that dye they shoot into your veins. But my ER doc approved it and off I went.


About 20 minutes after the CAT scan my sister-in-law and the RN treating me came into my little curtain area in ER. The RN whispered something in my sister’s ear. Now, let me just say, Tammy is usually stoic. Almost deadpan. She handles crises like the best of ‘em. But after the RN whispered in her ear… she grabbed a tissues and started to CRY. Seeing her cry made me cry (on the inside). She said, “You almost died. But now we know what’s wrong and we know what to do.”

As if on cue, the doctor returned, smiling. There was no more mystery behind my rapidly deteriorating ability to breath. He told me they found a massive saddle Pulmonary Embolism. It was choking off blood to my lungs — both sides. I had no lower lung function at all, which was why deep breaths did nothing for me. I was sucking air into a part of my lungs that could do nothing with it. Everyone looked at me with astonishment. The clot was HUGE, I was told. There is this thing called sudden-death associated with PE’s. Basically it’s like, “Now you’re feeling good — now you’re dead! I, too, probably would have died in a few days. I certainly would not have made it to Christmas.

So, basically, my ex sister-in-law, who I am blessed to still get along with, saved my life.

I was put on a Heparin drip and given “clot buster.” I got a shot in my arm and then another one in my belly. I was a good candidate for the clot buster because I was younger and stronger than most patients who get it.

I spent the next three days in ICU and then seven days in the Heart Center. I had an ultrasound on my legs which turned showed DVT (deep vein thrombosis) behind my left knee. This clot was probably the bastard origin of the clot that broke off and lodged in my lungs. Turns out the whole blood clot in the lungs thing had some affect on my heart, which was slightly enlarged from working overtime due to the PE. Over the next ten days I had daily blood tests, IVs stuck in either arm, and oxygen connected to my nose. I saw a cardiologist, a doctor of internal medicine, a hematologist and a pulmonologist. It was surreal to have these doctors visit me and hear each of them make the same comment, “Mr. Bell, it’s amazing that you are here.”

“That clot was massive,” they would say.

I was released from the hospital on December 20th. Tammy took me home. I told her I was scared. I downplayed it. I was terrified. I was terrified that I’d have another attack walking up the stairs to my apartment. I was scared to be alone since I’d been alone so many of the times I had an “episode.” I was scared to have my daughter come over because I didn’t want her to have the burden of seeing me go through this bullshit again. She assured me it was normal, and that I should just take it very slow.

At home, Tammy waited in her car by the staircase as I climbed to my apartment. I was able to reach my apartment without incident. My 13-year-old, Cimone, came to stay with me and take care of me. Best of all — I made it home before Christmas!


I feel resurrected. A friend of mine said there’s nothing like a near-death experience to get your mind right and help you focus on the important things in life. But it’s hard to do that under the crushing weight of bills.

Now the New Year is here and I’m going after a fresh start. I need to be healthy physically and financially. Family friends and career — that’s what it’s all about.

I didn’t work for the entire month of December and first two weeks of January. Filing for Disability Insurance in California leaves you at the mercy of doctors and state bureaucracy. I’m still waiting for retropay.

So, I’ve humbly decided to ask for help. I’ve started an Indiegogo campaign to accept kind donations from friends to help me get back on track. Thankfully my six-figure hospital bill is mostly covered by insurance as are most of my meds and weekly IR level blood tests and doctor visits for the next two months. But the month of not working left a huge deficit in my budget and bank account.


Simply. All the money raised will go to help me catch up on rent, pay uncovered medical bills, buy meds and buy some cheap clothes (I lost so much weight 90% of stuff in my closet is too big for me). Maybe if there are enough donation I get resolve my car situation and make money on the side with my ride again :)

I have been given a second chance. I don’t look at life the same way now. In order to take advantage of the opportunities before me I need to get settled financially and physically once again. Once I do that I’ll be able to enjoy my children, my friends AND excel at my chosen profession — PRODUCING GREAT CONTENT FOR FILM AND TELEVISION. My project BROKEN HEARTS CLUB has made the rounds on TV in the US, Canada, Italy, Belgium and the UAE. Now it’s streaming on Amazon Instant Video. My indie thriller, RESURRECTION OF SERIOUS ROGERS has been downloaded over 40,000 times from all over the world. Last year a script analyst compared my screenplay, A PERFECT WEAPON to the Coen Brother’s film, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. In the past 24 months I’ve met with executives at NBCUniversal 24 times to pitch TV show ideas to NBC, USA, BRAVO, OXYGEN, E!, and ESQUIRE.

This year I’m shooting a TV pilot dammit!  I just want to look back at 2014 and shake my head and whisper, “You didn’t beat me!!”


Typically when you donate you get the donee’s eternal gratitude. But I have something else in mind. Something bigger that last much much longer!  So please, click on the link to visit my Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign page and see whats in store for you.  Thank you for your friendship and support. Feel free to share the links.

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For contest ending December 1, 2014

Public domain image, royalty free stock photo from


ARCHER: YELLOW DAWN by Michael Sumner



GIRLS: FORTUNE COOCHIE by Julie Livingston

GIRLS: PENIS ENVY by Ryan Rodman





HANNIBAL: BREAD & WATER by Angela Berliner




THE BLACKLIST: FATHER FRANCES NO. 189 by Michelle R. Anderson

THE WALKING DEAD: ZONE 4D-M by Barbara Ishida


CONSEQUENCES by Robert Frostholm

DRIVEN by Gerald Cote

ERASED by Scott M. Richter

LADY OF THE LAKE by Dawn McElligott



THE REBORN by Andrew Fisk

The way the judges saw it, every one of these Finalists is a wow. In previous years, each one could have been a Winner. In fact, as of this writing, we still don’t know who the Winners will be. The Battle of the Judges’ Chambers continues!

COMING NEXT WEEK FRIDAY: The Spec Scriptacular Winners (cuz as they say in the comics, “Lo, there’s gotta be an ending!”)

Peggy Bechko: Tighten It Up


by Peggy Bechko

Yes, writers, there it is. Almost every writer’s writing needs to be tightened, but when it’s your baby and you’ve written it, you, as the writer, frequently hesitate to do what needs to be done. So right here, right now, I’m going to spell it out for you.

Yep, you have to tighten it up and here are some ideas on how to do that.

1. Every Word Counts – how often have you heard this? It’s true. For novelists and even more so for screenwriters. Look, it doesn’t matter how many words you’ve actually written, just be sure every one is necessary. Check out those adjectives. Think about the adverbs. If you’re adding a character you better be sure that character is absolutely essential on many levels. If describing a location choose the words that make the reader feel he or she is actually there. Everything works together to move the story forward and to capture the reader or watcher. Don’t ramble, just don’t. Review, edit, and cut ruthlessly.

2. Think About Language and how things change. And about how the world around us changes. This isn’t the 1980’s when the web didn’t really exist. Now you have a lot of competition for your attention out there – and the attention of anyone who might come across your material to read. So modern writing has changed greatly from that of 10, 20 or 30 years ago. Everything seems abbreviated. Think twitter, facebook and other social media. Think the succinct advertising messages you’re bombarded with. Then translate that into how you write. Leave out the fluff and go for attention-grabbing. Show the reader the adorableness of puppies at play, don’t tell him about it. Strengthen your language.

3. Think in Details and Skip the Generalities.

Don’t: He jumped into a car and drove away.

Do: John flung open the door to his new Ram Charger, jumped in and peeled rubber out of there.

Remember what will really stick in a reader’s mind, whether novel or script are the little details that strike a chord with them.

Don’t: The dog ran down the stairs after the ball.

Do: Mary’s pug bounced down the stairs in pursuit of the red tennis ball.

When getting into a story people crave those details. The lack of them causes a disconnect with the story. So don’t skip the details.

4. Give Up The Qualifiers. Really, just toss words like ‘practically’, ‘almost’, ‘nearly’, ‘sort of’, ‘my thoughts are’, and their ilk. Stop it. Now. Seriously. Why would you think for a moment your readers would want to read stuff like: Joe was nearly exhausted and verging on the suicidal so he believed it wouldn’t be long before he checked out, permanently?

Oh, for crying out loud. Keep it simple and make it strong: Joe was exhausted. Suicide was his only out.

Uh huh, now that’s a line.

5. Ponder Cause and Effect. In life there’s cause, then effect. You know, house burns down then people mourn the loss of their effects (hopefully not a loved one). Earthquake happens. People start cleaning up the rubble. So your story needs to be peppered with questions that need answers. Curiosity is the key to dragging people into and through your story. If your questions are interesting enough people will read on or keep watching if it’s a film.

To accomplish it consider tossing the effect out there before the cause. Like – Mom and Dad are crying on the front lawn as the remains of their home smolders behind them. Immediately the image brings the questions. What happened? What caused the Fire? Did Granny leave the fat on the stove? Are there kids? Are they all right? A pet? Anyone get killed? Where are the firefighters? And more deeply, was there a cause beyond simple accident? Did someone have a vendetta against this family or a member? This back-tracking can add up to a very engrossing story.

Consider these five points when you go to tighten up your writing and remember method and style are always changing, evolving. A classic like Little Women reads nothing like Airport out of the sixties or The Da Vinci Code or Ender’s Game. Movies move ahead from Some Like It Hot through Lord Of the Rings through Taken and Avatar and Horns and the broad spectrum of movies along the way.

Cultivate a feel for the communication of our day and develop your own voice. There lies the path to success.

Wanna read some scripts? Check out Drew’s Script-o-rama

Wanna read some novels? Try your library or borrow from a buddy or check out and get a good deal or even some freebies.

And don’t just sit there, tell us what you think about this article – comment below.