Bill Messner-Loebs and Jack Kirby have been selected to receive the 2017 Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing, to be presented during the Eisner Awards this year at Comic Con International: San Diego.
The selection, made by a blue-ribbon committee chaired by writer-historian Mark Evanier, was unanimous.
"As always, I asked on my blog for suggestions of worthy recipients," Evanier explains. "Many were nominated and the committee chose Bill as the worthiest of those still alive and working, and Jack because although his artwork has always been justly hailed, his contribution as a writer has been too often minimized or overlooked. In fact, in the years we've been doing this award, Jack Kirby has received many more nominations than anyone else, but we held off honoring him until this year because it seemed appropriate to finally do it in the centennial of his birth, and because members of his family will be at Comic-Con to accept on his behalf."
The Bill Finger Award was created in 2005 at the instigation of comic book legend Jerry Robinson. "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. "Even though the late Bill Finger now finally receives credit for his role in the creation of Batman, he's still the industry poster boy for writers not receiving proper reward or recognition."
Bill Messner-Loebs has been a cartoonist and writer since the 1970s. He has worked for DC, Marvel, Comico, Power Comics, Texas Comics, Vertigo, Boom!, Image, IDW, and the U.S. State Department (for which he produced a comic about the perils of land mines). He has written Superman, Flash, Aquaman, Mr. Monster, Hawkman, Green Arrow, Wonder Woman, Dr. Fate, Jonny Quest, Spider-Man, Thor, and the Batman newspaper strip. He wrote and drew Journey: The Adventures of Wolverine MacAlistaire and Bliss Alley, and he co-created The Maxx and Epicurus the Sage. He has also delivered pizzas, done custom framing, been a library clerk, sold art supplies, and taught cartooning.
Jack Kirby (1917–1994) has been called "The King of the Comics" for both his dazzling, trend-setting artwork and his innovative ideas and stories, as well as the countless popular characters and comics he created or co-created. Among those characters and comics are Captain America, The X-Men, The Fantastic Four, The Boy Commandos, The Newsboy Legion, Young Romance, Sky Masters, The New Gods, The Demon, The Challengers of the Unknown, The Silver Surfer, Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos, Nick Fury—Agent of SHIELD, The Avengers, Iron Man, Thor, The Forever People, Kamandi—The Last Boy on Earth, Captain Victory, The Eternals, The Black Panther, Fighting American, and many, many others. Many readers knew him first as an artist on the Marvel comics of the 1960s, but in prior decades he wrote as much as he drew, and even at Marvel he plotted stories and made other contributions while receiving only an artist credit. His work, with or without other writers, continues to be the most reprinted ever in the history of comic books.
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, cartoonist Scott Shaw!, and writer/editor Marv Wolfman.
The major sponsor for the 2017 awards is DC Comics; supporting sponsors are 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 International on Friday, July 21 at the Hilton Bayfront hotel.