Bill Finger Award

Jo Duffy, Ralph Newman to Receive 2024 Bill Finger Award

Jo Duffy and Ralph Newman are this year’s recipients of the 2024 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.

“Since 2005, we have been honoring writers whose work in the comic book industry has not, we feel, received the attention and recognition that their work deserved,” Evanier noted. “This year’s posthumous recipient wrote hundreds if not thousands of comic book scripts without, as far as we can tell, ever getting his name on any of them. That’s about as unrecognized as you can be.”

Jo Duffy has written comics including Power Man and Iron Fist, Catwoman, Batman, Wolverine, Fallen Angels, Nestrobber, Glory, Crystar, Elvira, Defenders, Punisher, and Star Wars, as well as the English-language edition of Akira. She has written short stories, essays, the comic book biography of Saint Francis, and an adaptation of Kipling’s Jungle Book, and is the co-writer of two Puppet Master movies. She was managing editor of Epic magazine and an editor at Marvel Comics, handling such titles as Elektra, Daredevil, Dreadstar, Groo, Doctor Strange, Hulk, and ROM. She co-edited Bernie Wrightson’s Frankenstein.

Ralph Newman (1914–1989) was born in Michigan and spent his professional life doing advertising cartooning and then magazine cartooning. His first sale in the latter field was to Amazing Stories, and he later worked as an “idea man” for other magazine cartoonists and as a story-and-gag man for Paul Terry’s Terrytoons animation studio. This led to him writing comic books for Timely Comics (now Marvel) featuring Terrytoons characters such as Gandy Goose and Sourpuss throughout the 1940s; when the license shifted to the St. John’s publishing company in the 1950s, Newman shifted with them. It is not known precisely when he also began working for the Harvey company, but its longtime editor Sid Jacobson called him the most prolific writer the firm ever had. During his years there, Newman probably wrote for every character who had any kind of longevity, including Casper the Friendly Ghost, Wendy the Good Little Witch, Sad Sack, Little Audrey, Little Lotta, Richie Rich, Spooky, Little Dot, Hot Stuff, The Ghostly Trio, and many more—all without credit. If you read Harvey comics during the company’s peak years, you couldn’t help but read stories written by Ralph Newman. He left us in 1989.

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 2024 awards is DC Comics; supporting sponsors are Heritage Auctions and Maggie Thompson.  

The Finger Award is produced by and one of several awards presented by  Comic-Con International 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 26.

Bill Finger Award Recipients
  • 2023: Barbara Friedlander, Sam Glanzman
  • 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