'Batman' Creator Kane Dies

Batman creator Bob Kane, who watched the comic-book character become an American icon, died Tuesday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 83.

Kane created the hero (originally known as the "Dark Knight") for DC Comics in 1939. Through its 60 years of incarnations, Batman began as a figure of vengeance in comics, became a comedic and colorful 1960s TV series, turned grim again as a 1980s graphic novel, and starred in a series of multimillion-dollar movies, for which Kane was creative consultant.

The comic continues to be published and read around the globe. Batman's nemesis included illustrious villains such as the Joker, the Penguin, the Riddler, and Cat Woman.

The first Batman cover (AP)
Kane took inspiration from his childhood reading and also drew on the caped or masked heroes of movies, radio and pulp novels (such as Zorro, the Shadow, and the Phantom) to create his characters.

"[Batman] is one of the world's most identifiable characters, and he spawned everything from TV and movie series to clothing lines, toys, games, cartoons, newspaper strips, and Halloween costumes," comic book historian Mark Evanier told Daily Variety. "Batman is everywhere."

Batman was wealthy orphan Bruce Wayne, who turned to a life of crimefighting after seeing his parents murdered when he was a child. Wayne designed his bat costume after seeing a bat at his window and decided it was perfect for striking fear in the ''cowardly and superstitious hearts of criminals.'' The costume began with wide black wings that narrowed and became more fashionable over the years.

Kane, who became a cartoonist in his teens, assembled a studio of artists and writers to produce the comic book, and over the years there were disputes over who created which character.

DC Comics said Kane was the cartoonist on the comic series when Robin, the Boy Wonder, made his first appearance.

DC Comics said that along with Superman and Wonder Woman, Batman is the only character to remain in continuous comic book publication, appearing in four monthly comic books.

Kane also created the television cartoon characters Courageous Cat and Minute Mouse, and Cool McCool.