L: Tales of Suspense v.1 #7 (January 1960), pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by George Klein
R: Journey Into Mystery v.2 #15 (February 1975), pencils by Ron Wilson, inks by Mike Esposito (Click image to moltesize)
An excerpt from The Giant Public Art of Gotham City by Vicki Vale, released 2006 by Wayne Publishing
The Wellpruf Giant Cash Register was, to several generations of young Gotham boys and girls, a first stop on their tour of fiscal responsibility with a complimentary miniature cash register bank and a visit to the world's largest cash register inside the Wellpruf headquarters in the Gotham financial district. Founded in 1922 by Cash R. Wellpruf, the Wellpruf Cash Register Company designed, built, and distributed tills for the new era of shoplifters, robbers, and gangsters. It was heavy (and could be bolted to the counter upon installation), locked securely and resisted jimmying open by all but the most gigantic of crowbars. In its heyday of the 1950s, Wellpruf was selling over fifteen thousand cash registers a year in the post-War atmosphere of a booming recovery economy.
The Wellpruf Building, located at the corner of Barr and Davis, just a block south of the Gotham City First National Bank headquarters, was built in 1925 as a home to the growing company. Designed by architect Jerry Finger in the neo-Gothic style that characterized industrial growth in Gotham of the period, the fifty-story boasted the city's first high-speed elevators, an elaborately decorated high-vaulted marble lobby, and an observation deck on the forty-fifth floor from which it was said you that on a clear day you could see the globe of the Daily Planet building across the state line in Metropolis.
Panels from "The Secret Life of the Catwoman" in Batman #62 (December 1950-January 1951), script by Bill Finger, pencils by Bob Kane (Batman & Robin figures only) and Lew Schwartz, inks by Charles Paris, letters by Ira Schnapp
It was for the model giant cash register installed in the antelobby in 1948, however, that the Wellpruf Building became best known. A perfect 6:1 scale model of a Wellpruf standard register #154, the model was not only perfect down to each detail of decoration but also boasted an elaborate scaled-up working mechanism that, with the physical effort of several men, could duplicate every calculation and sale-making function of the 154. Inside the register's massive drawer was stored poster-sized novelty dollar bill replicas featuring the grinning face of Cash Wellpruf as well as the famous giveaway cash register banks given to every visitor under the age of 13. A "sale" was rung up six times a day during business hours; the original mechanism's full operation required four men to operate the gigantic buttons, although the drawer could be sprung (after guiding the crowd cautiously back behind velvet safety ropes) by a single athletic man.
The debut of the Wellpruf Giant Cash Register was a smash hit that several other of the many cash register manufacturers of Gotham City attempts to copy, with little success. Notable among this copycat giant cash registers was the Federal Cash Register Company's rooftop-mounted giant cash register. Although a strong advertising icon on the Gotham skyline, its relative inaccessibility meant that the Federal Giant Cash Register attracted only moderate attention.
Panels from "A Greater Detective Than Batman!" in Batman #56 (December 1949-January 1950), script by Bill Finger, pencils and inks by Jim Mooney, letters by Ira Schnapp
With the advent of computerization, however, the Wellpruf Cash Register company fell behind in the market, and by the 1980s it was only shipping a few hundred registers annually. The Wellpruf Building was damaged during the Crisis, and the company went bankrupt a year afterwards. Its doors were shuttered by new owner Lex Luthor, and the building condemned for demolition after the Cataclysm earthquake, but the giant cash register remained in the building until 2002, when the Joker blew it up.
As we saw earlier in the day, it's the birthday of the man we call the Immortal Bard (despite him dying in 1616): Will.I.Shakespeare! Not to be confused with this here feller:
Panel from Archie's Madhouse Annual #5 (1968), artist uncredited
But that only goes to show just how often Mister Shake appears in comic books. I'm not talking only his plays being adapted into comics (like, f'r instance, here and here, but actual comic book characters (and the real life Benjamin J. Grimm) quoting the Whatchamacallit of Avon (like here). Let's look at some of the many fine comic book characters who know Shakespeare, starting with the Man of the Year, Alfred Pennyworth!
Alfred knows Shakespeare!
Page from Batman: Gotham Knights #27 (May 2002), script by Devin Grayson, pencils by Roger Robinson, inks by John Floyd, colors by Gloria Vasquez, separations by Wildstorm FX, letters by Bill Oakley
In fact, don't forget Alfred was a Shakespearean actor! He was so successful an actor back in those in those days that he could afford a toupee, infuriating his fellow thespian Patrick Stewart. Oh, the squabbles they had!
Panels from Nightwing: Alfred's Return one-shot (July 1995), script by Alan Grant, pencils and
inks by Dick Giordano, colors by Adrienne Roy, letters by Albert DeGuzman
Which probably makes it no surprise that
Robin knows Shakespeare!
Panel from Batman #682 (Early January 2009), script by Grant Morrison, pencils by Lee Garbett, inks by Trevor Scott, colors by Guy Major, letters by Jared K. Fletcher
In fact, Dick Grayson had a love for the Bard (and hot girls in diaphanous gowns) even after he became Robin the Teen (Yet Still in Green Shorts) Wonder!
Panel from Batman #216 (November 1969), script by Frank Robbins, pencils by Irv Novick, inks by Dick Giordano
However, that didn't extend to Dick learning that there's no such thing as a surviving play script in Shakespeare's hand.
And it appears that Alfred didn't teach anything about Shakespeare to Bruce Wayne:
On the other hand,
Professor Xavier knows Shakespeare!
Panel from Uncanny X-Men #379 (April 2000), plot by Alan Davis, script by Chris Claremont, pencils by Tom Raney, inks by Scott Hanna, colors by Brian Haberlin, letters by Richard Starkings and Saida Temofonte
And he probably taught it to his students, because
Storm knows Shakespeare!
Panel from Uncanny X-Men #151 (November 1981), script by Chris Claremont, pencils by Jim Sherman, inks by Joe Rubinstein, colors by Bonnie Wilford, letters by Tom Orzechowski
Oh, wait: that's not Storm, that's Emma Frost. In Storm's body. Man, she just can't stop impersonating X-Men, can she?
Wolverine kinda knows Shakespeare.
Page from "Follow the Leader" in X-Men Unlimited v.2 #5 (December 2004), script by Scott Killinger, pencils by Rael Lyra, inks by Jay Leisten, colors by Transparency Digital, letters by Dave Sharpe
Nemesis knows Shakespeare!
Panel from "Operation: Overkill" in The Brave and the Bold v.1 #192 (November 1982), script by Cary Burkett, pencils and inks by Dan Spiegle, colors by Carl Gafford, letters by Adam Kubert
(Even though most of us don't remember Nemesis.)
Page from Who's Who in the DC Universe v.1 #16 (June 1986), text and colors by these guys, pencils and inks by Dan Spiegle
Yes, all the most admirable characters in comic books know their Shakespeare! And then that jerk John Wilkes Booth goes and ruins it for everybody:
Panels from The Kents #7 (February 1998), script by John Ostrander, pencils by Timothy Truman, inks by Michael Bair, colors by Carla Feeny, letters by Bill Oakley
John Wilkes Booth. Actor, murderer, bigot, lousy fan of Shakespeare.
So, on his 448th birthday, please celebrate the birthday of William Amadeus Shakespeare by refraining from committing Shakespeare-related crimes, won't you?
Panels from "Enemy No. 1" in Batman v.1 #29 (June-July 1945), script by Bill Finger, pencils and inks by Dick Sprang, colors by Bob McCay, letters by George Roussos
Oh for Pete's sake! Penguin! You're just ruining it for everyone!
Splash panel from "The Penguin's Apprentice!" in Batman v.1 #27 (February-March 1945), script by Don Cameron, pencils by Jack Burnley, inks by Jerry Robinson, letters by George Roussos