Kane's Very Last Batman

By | Wednesday, July 06, 2022 Leave a Comment
Bob Kane is famous as the co-creator of Batman. He was also more than a bit infamous for not really being all that great an artist, but being savvy enough to know it, so he'd liberally swipe from others and had a slew of ghost artists working for him. But to keep up the image of his being Batman's creator, he would periodically doodle Batman sketches for fans and come up with occasional reasons to sketch the caped crusader.

A few years ago, I inadvertently stumbled across his very last drawing. Not just his last published drawing, but his actual last drawing. The thing that was on his drafting table when he died in November 1998. How do we know it was his last drawing? It was a Christmas card he was working up and his widow went ahead and sent it out that season with a note explaining its significance...
A couple things strike me. First, Kane's art did not improve one bit from 1938. The drawing still looks like he never mastered many of the fundamental principles of drawing. Second, that's not really fair of me because this is a "work in progress". The other cards that I found from a few years prior are much more polished, but also clearly had more time spent on them. (However, I'll refer back to my earlier "slew of ghost artists" comment if you'd like to remain cynical.)

Finally, it's almost too perfect that the very last piece of art done by Kane -- the man who spent much of his life telling people that he, and he alone, created Batman -- was of the dark knight. Given the note from his wife, it almost sounds as if he keeled over at his drawing table. But given that he spent so much of his life crafting an image of himself, I have to wonder if he didn't, on his death bed, tell his wife to publish the card with that note as some sort of enduring legacy. "He created Batman, and he died drawing Batman..." The poetry is almost too idyllic to have really happened as it's been implied.

Still, it does make for a nice story.
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