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Creator of ‘Batman’ Dies at 83

November 6, 1998

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ When Bob Kane created a comic superhero with a fearsome bat mask six decades ago, he considered it just another one of his doodles.

But Batman became an instant sensation when he debuted for DC Comics in 1939. He continued to inspire young and old fans through the years, whether fighting villains such as the insidious Joker or the modern ills of drug addiction and poverty.

``Bob described himself as a doodler, so he found it absolutely amazing that one of his doodles should live this long and become the symbol that it is,″ Jim Leonard, Kane’s attorney, said Thursday.

Kane died Tuesday of undisclosed causes at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center at age 83.

``The day before he died he was sitting there looking at fan mail,″ Leonard said. ``They get stacks and stacks every day.″

Kane’s ``Dark Knight″ began as a noir figure of vengeance, did a buffoonish turn in the kitschy 1960s TV series, turned grim again in a graphic adult novel in the 1980s and became the star of a new series of multimillion-dollar movies, for which Kane was creative consultant.

The comic continues to be published and read around the globe.

``He adapts to each era,″ Kane said of his creation in 1989. ``He fights against all injustices in the world. He fights the battle for the little man. ... He rights the wrongs that they cannot.″

Kane was born in New York City on Oct. 24, 1915. He broke into comic book work in the mid-1930s. Batman was born a year after the debut of ``Superman″ when DC Comics editor Vincent Sullivan asked him to devise a new superhero.

Kane took inspiration from his childhood reading and saw a book that ``had a picture of a flying machine with huge bat wings. ... It looked like a bat man to me.″

He also drew on other influences, including the somber 1930 movie ``The Bat Whispers,″ featuring a costumed villain who wore a full-face bat mask.

The result, concocted in a single weekend, was the Batman. He lacked the inherent powers of Superman, relying instead on strength, agility, a fortune in high-tech equipment and a fearsome bat mask and cowl to terrorize criminals.

Batman’s alter ego was Bruce Wayne, a rich man who vows vengeance on criminals because, as a boy, he watched a robber gun down his parents.

DC Comics president and editor-in-chief Jenette Kahn said Kane was ``one of a handful of people who launched the comic book industry and gave the world a group of characters so colorful and inventive that they continue to captivate every new generation.″

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

Kane is survived by his wife, Elizabeth Sanders Kane; a daughter, Deborah Majeski of New Jersey, a grandson and a sister.

Private services were scheduled for today in Los Angeles.

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