Original Batman Drawings to be sold!

Original Batman

In the early 1930’s, when the world was gripped by the Great Depression, Frank D. Foster II was a young art student in Boston. Foster became friendly with Al Capp, who later became famous for the comic strip “Li’l Abner”. Capp was interested in cartoons and comic books, and suggested to Foster that they should work together to develop some comic characters. He worked with Capp briefly and “cooked up” a couple of ideas.

Foster described this in a 1975 interview with a Boston attorney:

" … he got me interested enough to make some ideas up. And it seems to me that in those days, and even now, that most all of the strips were the heros of the day – such as, flying through the sky during the day and doing good deeds and so forth and so on – and I thought, well, why couldn’t that be done at night? Have a good guy do stuff at night. So, I started working, just briefly, very briefly, not too seriously, with Al Capp, and cooking up a couple of ideas."

"...one of the things was Batman..."

A portion of a panel of drawings of
Frank Foster's Batman

Frank Foster Circa 1932

In July, 1932, Foster Married Ruth Hardy, and he pursued a painting and decorating business.

By the end of 1935, the Foster family had grown to three with the birth of Frank D. Foster III. The painting and decorating business failed in 1936, and with the business bankrupt, the Fosters moved to New York that fall.

From then until 1940, Frank found intermittent and part-time work at a variety of jobs, including painting murals for the 1939 World’s Fair and drawing cartoons for publishers.

In 1937 while the Foster family lived in New York at 53rd street, just a few blocks from DC publications, located at 480 Lexington Avenue (between 46th and 47th streets), Frank showed his work to comic book publishers. He recalled working for a week or two drawing cartoons at Munsey Publications. According to his son, he also recalled leaving his work with various publishers including DC Comics at 480 Lexington Avenue to be evaluated for possible publication. He distinctly remembered leaving his drawings, having them returned and being being told they couldn't use them. He did not, however, remember the exact dates or names of the various individuals who interviewed him.

There is little room for doubt that people at DC saw the drawings. Most likely it was Bob Kane himself who was at DC at the time and claimed credit for creating Batman.

Further establishing the drawings during this period was a letter from a friend of the Foster’s who had lived in the same apartment in New York in the late ‘30s. In 1975, Frank wrote to Byron MacDonald to find out if Byron remembered seeing the drawings during this period. About two weeks later, MacDonald replied:

"I definitely do remember those drawings as we had lots of discussions concerning Batman..."

In April 1939, the work on the World’s Fair ended and Frank was out looking for work again. In 1940, the Fosters moved to Washington, DC where Frank went to work assisting the curator of the Mellon Art Gallery (now the National Gallery of Art).

"Will you look at that! They stole Batman!"

Sometime shortly after moving to Washington, Frank saw "Batman" comics on the news stands. His wife remembers him saying "Will you look at that! They stole Batman!".

Being without financial resources for attorneys or knowledge of how to proceed with doing anything about it, nothing was ever done.

Frank D Foster II passed away in 1995. His son, Frank Foster III, feels that although there is no chance for any kind of a legal action, he believes that his father should at least receive some recognition for his idea:

“In my mind there’s been a tremendous injustice and I don’t feel right about just letting it lie forever and never trying to make it right.“

Circa 1989

“My Father’s passed away, so if anything develops, he won’t be there to enjoy it. There is an injustice to be made right and history should be corrected, and even if it’s posthumous, he should be given some recognition. I know he created Batman. It’s the first Batman. It was there, at the same place, at the same time Batman was published. There has to be a connection. The possibility of two men in 5,000 years of history arriving at the same character who’s a hero of the night, with the same name of Batman, at the same time, at the same place on the earth, is zero.”

The Drawings