1939 Batman manuscript
Original Manuscript for the 4th Batman Story
(DC Comics, [August] 1939)
Original hand corrected typescript. The complete story from Detective Comics #30, here titled “The Batman and the Diamonds of Death” (the title changed when published to “The Return of Dr. Death”). 5 leaves (8” X 13”), 1,500 typed words plus 196 words of handwritten ink and pencil corrections, deletions, changes, and additions including a rewrite of the last scene on the back of page 5, with a sketch of a gliding Batman. Very good. This is Dark Knight incunabulum and rare as a 1 ended stick. I know of no other Batman manuscripts from this vintage, or even from near this vintage. In fact all DC super–hero manuscripts before 1945 are rare. Ex–Bob Kane. Ex–Sacripante. And (full disclosure) Ex–HA, $5,676, Nov. 23, 2013.
Batman is the model for the modern super–hero without super powers. Always cryptic, fueled by his incomparable intellect, and powered by his fabulous toys, he first showed up 75 years ago in Detective Comics #27 (May, 1939) in a story written by Bill Finger and illustrated by Bob Kane. Finger also wrote the second story (in Detective Comics #28). Then Gardner Fox took over, writing the next 4 (including this one). Finger and Fox collaborated on the 7th story (in Detective Comics #33), then Fox wrote the 8th one alone before moving on to a long, influential, career at DC, co–creating The Sandman, Flash, Hawkman, and the first super–hero team–up with The Justice Society of America (forerunner of The Justice League).
Literary super–heroes trace back, at least, to Gilgamesh, and then through Achilles, Aeneas, Beowulf, Merlin, and Robin Hood, to shout out a few. They divide on 2 lines, some with super powers, some without. The modern take on the independent super–hero without super powers began with Rodolphe in Sue’s Mysteries of Paris, followed by such as Monte–Cristo, Sherlock Holmes and Zorro. And then there was Batman. And since then, no one’s done it better.