February 8, 2020
Day 39 of 366
February 8th is the thirty-ninth day of the year. It is Prešeren Day is Slovenia, which commemorates the death of national poet France Prešeren in 1849.
In the United States, it is “celebrated” as National Boy Scouts Day, National Kite Flying Day, National Iowa Day, and Ice Cream for Breakfast Day. The last one is typically observed on the first Saturday in February.
Historical items of note:
- In 1587, Mary, Queen of Scots, was executed on suspicion of having been involved in the Babington Plot to assassinate her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I.
- In 1828, author, poet, and playwright Jules Verne was born.
- In 1865, the State of Delaware refused to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Slavery was outlawed in the United States, including Delaware, when the Amendment was ratified in December 1865. The state finally ratified the Amendment on February 12, 1901, the ninety-second anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln.
- In 1879, Sandford Fleming first proposed adoption of Universal Standard Time at a meeting of the Royal Canadian Institute.
- In 1882, Thomas Selfridge was born. As a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, he was the first person to die in an airplane crash and the first active duty member of the U.S. military to die in a crash while on duty. He was killed as a passenger in the Wright Flyer, on a demonstration flight piloted by Orville Wright.
- In 1910, the Boy Scouts of America was incorporated by William D. Boyce.
- In 1931, actor James Dean was born. He was the first actor to be posthumously nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor.
- In 1932, composer and musician John Williams was born.
- In 1940, journalist Ted Koppel was born.
- In 1955, author John Grisham was born.
- Also in 1955, Ethan Phillips was born. He played Neelix in Star Trek: Voyager.
- In 1961, DC Comics animation producer Bruce Timm was born.
- In 1968, Planet of the Apes premiered in New York City.
- In 1969, puppeteer and writer Mary Robinette Kowal was born.
- In 1971, the NASDAQ stock market index opens for the first time. The name was initially an acronym for the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations.
- In 1974, the crew of Skylab 4 returned to Earth. After completing their 84-day long mission, they were the last crew to visit the American Skylab space station.
In 1914, Bill Finger was born. He was the co-creator of Batman.
As an aspiring writer and part-time shoe salesman, he joined Bob Kane’s new studio in 1938 and took a job of ghostwriting Rusty and Clip Carson strips. In response to the success of Superman, the duo conceived the idea for Batman. Finger was responsible for most of the character’s iconic elements, including the cowl, the cape, and the alter ego.
Kane recalls creating the superhero’s vigilante side, but that Finger added the elements of the World’s Greatest Detective. Unfortunately, Bob Kane negotiated the contract to run the character’s stories without including Bill Finger.
Finger wrote many of the early Batman stories, including significant contributions to iconic characters like the Joker, Catwoman, and Robin, as well as elements such as the Batcave, Batmobile, and Gotham City. He also was credited for Ace the Bat-Hound, Bat-Mite, Clayface, Betty Kane (the original Bat-Girl), and so much more.
Finger also made a considerable impact in the worlds of Superman and Green Lantern. He also a screenwriter for both film and television, including the second season live-action Batman episodes “The Clock King’s Crazy Crimes / The Clock King Gets Crowned”, which aired October 12–13, 1966.
Because of the contract that Bob Kane signed nearly thirty years before, those television stories were Bill Finger’s first public credits for a Batman story.
He did not receive official credit on Batman stories or films until 2015, approximately forty years after his death.
He was posthumously inducted into the comic book industry’s Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1999. The Bill Finger Award, established by Jerry Robinson in 2005 and presented annually at the San Diego Comic-Con to honor excellence in comic-book writing, is named for him.
He was the subject of a 2017 documentary film on Hulu called Batman & Bill.
The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.
For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.