Who’s getting the Finger in 2017? The 2017 Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing to be exact. This year, it’s Bill Messner-Loebs and Jack Kirby. The winners – given to recognize writers, one living, one deceased, who have been overlooked by history –  were selected by a blue-ribbon committee chaired by writer-historian Mark Evanier.

Kirby’s contribution to comics can hardly be stressed enough but he isn’t always thought of as a writer, but after about three seconds of contemplation, even if it was just for his epic Fourth World books, he’d be one of the most influential writers in history. Give him his co-writing due for the early days of Marvel and his work with shop partner Joe Simon and, surprise, Kirby is King again.

Messner-Loebs is a less known figure. His Journey, published by Renegade back in the heady black and white indie days of the 80s, was a fantastic, thoughtful work with fully formed stories. That led to Messner-Loebs contributing some foundational work to the DC Universe (The Flash, I believe) and co-writing The Maxx, another home run, and the sublime Epicurus the Sage. The award is richly deserved, to put it mildly.

And from the PR:

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“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.”

cci2017_fingeraward_loebs.jpgBill 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.

 

cci2017_fingeraward_kirby
Photo by Jackie Estrada

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.

Additional information on the Finger Award can be found at

4 COMMENTS

  1. Which reminds me: Has there been a definitive collection of Journey: The Adventures of Wolverine MacAlistaire? And if not, why not?

  2. Ditto — Messner-Loebs is a perfect choice.

    Besides JOURNEY and EPICURUS, I’d also point to his work on JOHNNY QUEST for Comico — one of the best continuing series to come out of the 80s, and one of the best adaptations, ever.

    FYI, Andrew Laubacher: IDW published a 2-volume collection of JOURNEY back in 2008.

  3. At one point, Bill Loebs was working on a memoir, which was attached to a certain mature-readers imprint of a major publisher, but I gather it got lost in the editorial shuffles there. It would be great to see that.

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