Frank Doyle—a prolific writer for Archie—and Steve Skeates, a busy comics writers of the ’70s, have won the Finger Award, which honors two writers, one living, one deceased, whose contributions to the comics medium have been underappreciated. Two great choices. The awards will be presented during this year’s Eisner Awards.
Frank Doyle and Steve Skeates have been selected to receive the 2012 Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing. The choice, 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.
“There have been way too many writers in this industry who have not received their rightful reward and/or recognition,” Evanier explains. “The idea Jerry had was that this award could at least supply a little of that recognition for folks who have, like the man for which it is named, an impressive body of work. Frank Doyle, with his thousands of uncredited scripts for Archie is a perfect example. So is Steve Skeates, who wrote some of the brightest, cleverest scripts in comics in the late sixties and early seventies.”
Frank Doyle started in comics as an artist, drawing for Fiction House and other companies before deciding that his true calling was as a writer. He began writing for Archie Comics in 1951 and soon became their most prolific writer, handling not only Archie, Betty and Veronica, Jughead, and other Riverdale titles but also the She’s Josie comic, “That Wilkin Boy,” and just about every other funny strip the company published. Archie editor Victor Gorelick recalls, “Frank wrote a story every day and on Monday, he’d usually hand in a two-parter he wrote over the weekend.” An exact tally is impossible, but everyone familiar with Doyle’s output agrees he authored more than 10,000 stories for the firm before his passing in 1996.
Steve Skeates began his comic book career as an assistant to Stan Lee (his replacement when he left was Roy Thomas) and then wrote westerns for Marvel, numerous scripts for Tower’s T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents and Undersea Agent. For Charlton he worked on, among others, The Many Ghosts of Doctor Graves, Thane of Bagarth, Kid Montana, Abbott and Costello, and Sarge Steel. At DC, he handled Aquaman, The Hawk and the Dove, and numerous stories for House of Mystery, House of Secrets, Supergirl, and Plop, among others. He also worked for Warren, Gold Key, Atlas, and Red Circle Comics.
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 2012 awards are being underwritten by DC Comics (the major sponsor), along with supporting sponsors Maggie Thompson and Heritage Auctions.
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 Friday, July 13.
Additional information on the Finger Award can be found at http://comic-con.org/cci/cci_finger.php
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.