In the comments section of last weeks post on Bill Finger, Golden Age aficionado Cash Gorman presented this interesting insight into the origins of the Batman comic. Here's what he said:
Considering the first Batman story was lifted in writing AND art from a specific issue of THE SHADOW, I'm thinking that maybe a couple other
guys might deserve the credit. But, it shows that if Finger was the main
writer on that first issue, he and Kane were working closely together
Commissioner James Gordon is the real name of the
title character from THE WHISPERER whose nickname is that of another
Bill Finger creation, Wildcat.
The story of Batman being inspired
by being surprised by a wayward bat is almost identical to the origin
of another pulp hero called The Bat.
The origin of Two-Face is a direct
lift of the origin of The Black Bat (as are Batman's finned gloves)
despite the two companies almost suing each other over the near
simultaneous publication of the first appearance of their respective
The Joker gas probably came from the 1919 Harry Houdini movie The Master Mystery by
Arthur Reeve, a very chilling scene where some scientists are poisoned
and laugh themselves to death. Also features an automaton, a literal man
of steel also referred to as "a superman"
Editor's note: While looking for images to accompany Cash's comments, I also discovered that Bob Kane credits the 1930 mystery movie The Bat Whispers as an influence on the character:
Notice how similar the title character's silhouette is to Batman's signature entrance.
What I think this all points to is that Batman was the culmination of a lot of different pulp era influences distilled and refined into a character who resonated so successfully with readers that he survived long after the pulps faded in popularity. With that in mind, it's fitting that the connection was spiritually acknowledged back in the 70's when Batman met The Shadow: