Batman, Superman, Peanuts, he’s got his hand in all of it

10 With Tom
10 questions in 10 minutes

Marc Tyler Nobleman, shown here, is the author of books including Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman, Brave Like My Brother, and Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman, which helped correct the 76-year-old credit line of one of the most iconic fictional characters of all time. This effort is the subject of the Hulu documentary Batman and Bill, premiering in October.

I had the chance to ask Marc the 10 With Tom questions:

marc-noblemanTOM: You rescued the legacy of Batman by taking over 10 years to have Bill Finger proclaimed co-creator of Batman so he has his rightful place next to Bob Kane. Why was this so important to you?
MARC: Because it was so important to so many. For decades, Batmaniacs have clamored for this (rumblings at cons, message board posts) but there was no organized campaign to rally around. I had intermittent delusions that Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman alone could lead to change, and if not, felt it could serve as a tangible focal point to educate people and build a groundswell of support for additional efforts. At the heart of the issue, the man who co-created one of our greatest champions of justice suffered from an egregious cultural injustice and it simply wasn’t fair to the Finger legacy, the Finger family, or Batman fans.

TOM: You also talk about the creators of Superman. Who would you prefer to be, Batman or Superman. Why?
MARC: Superman. Power of flight = no airport security lines.

TOM: You interviewed Peanuts voice actors a couple of years ago. That’s such a clever idea, what possessed you to do that?
MARC: Thank you. In between what I am supposed to be doing (writing books and speaking at schools/conferences), I like to fill gaps in pop culture history, particularly the eras I’ve lived through. Everyone has a story, even those who think they don’t. I believe in documenting as much as possible while the principals and firsthand witnesses are still here. The internet has been a boon for the kind of oral histories I do, in terms of both tracking down people and providing a platform to present the result. If there even are any magazines that would run such a niche feature, it’d be there-and-gone; so many fans would miss it. Online, the stories are generally easier to access and available indefinitely.

TOM: Can you draw?
MARC: Certain things! Actually, I’m a lapsed cartoonist. For several years I was regularly licensing single-panel cartoons to publications including The Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and Good Housekeeping. I also drew a book of cartoons for Scholastic. I started cartooning professionally with only one goal: break into The New Yorker. I got as far as having my own rejection folder there, and was proud of it! One day I’ll give it another go.

TOM: If you could spend the day inside any newspaper comic strip (other than Batman or Superman), which would it be?
MARC: Given how often I’m speaking in elementary schools, I already feel like a recurring cameo in Peanuts. But beyond that, Little Nemo in Slumberland for the visual stimuli alone.

TOM: Word of the moment?
MARC: Unconventional.

TOM: What is your favorite book of all time (not including your own)?
MARC: Morality Play by Barry Unsworth.

TOM: What’s the one thing you would like to change about yourself?
MARC: I’m in a constant state of trying to sleep and exercise more. At the moment, I’m doing better than usual.

TOM: What was the best phase of your life, and why?
MARC: Fatherhood. It encompasses all else (love, fun, challenge, responsibility, fear) and ultimately matters most.

TOM: What’s the one thing that people always misunderstand about you.
MARC: Perhaps some don’t realize that my persistence is not only a personality trait but also a bridge to do my job: tell stories to people whom I am confident will be moved.

Thanks for being a good sport, Marc! Marc is one of the great personalities in Tom Falco’s 10 With Tom series.

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