Bill Finger Award

Barbara Friedlander, Sam Glanzman to Receive 2023 Bill Finger Award

Barbara Friedlander and Sam Glanzman have been selected to receive the 2023 Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing. The selection, made by a blue-ribbon committee chaired by writer-historian Mark Evanier, was unanimous.

“Once again, we’re excited to honor two folks who wrote great comic books that perhaps didn’t receive the attention and recognition that their work deserved,” Evanier noted. “Readers who only know from fictional superheroes should be aware of the excellent writing that has sometimes been found in comics about real-world romance and real-world war— two areas represented well by this year’s recipients.”

Barbara Friedlander (now Barbara Friedlander-Bloomfield) began working for DC Comics at the age of 18 in 1963. She started in a clerical position but quickly graduated to editorial work and writing, mainly for the company’s line of romance comics, which included Young Love, Young Romance, Heart Throbs, Secret Hearts, Falling in Love, Girls’ Love Stories, and Girls’ Romances. All of these titles featured her stories, and she created several ongoing serials including “Three Girls: Their Lives & Loves” and “Reach For Happiness.” She was also responsible for teen comics such as her creation Swing with Scooter and for many of the text and advice pages that ran in all these comics. Her scripts showed an insight into male/female relationships that one might not have expected from a writer that young. She left DC in 1970, but we are proud that she will be a Special Guest at the 2023 Comic-Con.

Sam Glanzman (1924–2017) had work in some of the earliest comic books ever published in America, getting his start in 1939 at Funnies, Inc., a “shop” that produced comic book material for several publishers. His brothers David and Lew were also comic book writers and artists, so it ran in the family. Sam’s first work in print seems to have been text stories he wrote for Amazing-Man Comics, published by Hillman. Soon though, he was writing and drawing for Harvey Comics but his burgeoning career was interrupted by World War II, much of which he spent stationed by the Navy on the U.S.S. Stevens. Discharged in 1946, he did not return immediately to comics, working instead in manual labor. After several unsuccessful attempts, he returned to steady comic book work in 1958, working for Charlton Comics and later for Dell, mainly as an artist. In 1970, he began selling work to DC Comics, primarily for their war titles, and it was there that he wrote and drew an outstanding series of personal and autobiographical stories. The “U.S.S. Stevens” tales recalled his days stationed aboard that destroyer in vivid and realistic detail. It is mainly for these and other such autobiographical works that we honor him and will be pleased to present his Finger Award to his son and grandson at the ceremony.

The Bill Finger Award was created in 2005 at the instigation of the great comic book artist and cartoonist Jerry Robinson. It was his way of preserving the memory of his friend and colleague, the late Bill Finger. Evanier explains, “At the time, Mr. Finger rarely received credit as co-creator of Batman and of the entire voluminous mythos and supporting cast that surrounded the Caped Crusader. Gloriously, the name of Bill Finger now appears on Batman movies and comic books. That doesn’t stop us from continuing to hand out awards bearing his name to other writers who, in the opinion of the committee, have not received sufficient reward or attention for what they have contributed to 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 2023 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.

Bill Finger Award Recipients
  • 2022: Bob Bolling, Donato “Don” Rico
  • 2021: Robert Bernstein, Audrey “Toni” Blum, Vic Lochman, Robert Morales, Paul S. Newman, Robert “Bob” White
  • 2020: Virginia Hubbell Bloch, Nicola Cuti, Leo Dorfman, Gaylord DuBois, Joe Gill, France Edward Herron
  • 2019: Mike Friedrich, E. Nelson Bridwell
  • 2018: Joye Murchison Kelly, Dorothy Roubicek Woolfolk
  • 2017: William Messner-Loebs, Jack Kirby
  • 2016: Elliot S! Maggin, Richard E. Hughes
  • 2015: Don McGregor, John Stanley
  • 2014: Robert Kanigher, Bill Mantlo, Jack Mendelsohn
  • 2013: Steve Gerber, Don Rosa
  • 2012: Frank Doyle, Steve Skeates
  • 2011: Bob Haney, Del Connell
  • 2010: Otto Binder, Gary Friedrich
  • 2009: John Broome, Frank Jacobs
  • 2008: Archie Goodwin, Larry Lieber
  • 2007: Gardner Fox, George Gladir
  • 2006: Harvey Kurtzman, Alvin Schwartz
  • 2005: Jerry Siegel, Arnold Drake