Comics Legend Jerry Robinson, Deceased at 89

Posted by December 8, 2011 Comment

Jerry Robinson, legendary for both his work as a comic artist and as a comic historian, passed away on Wednesday afternoon at the age of 89 in New York City.

Jerry RobinsonRobinson broke into comics at 17 while attending Columbia University, where he was majoring in journalism. He was noticed by Bob Kane while in the Catskills thanks to the jacket he wore, which he had used as his own canvass. As he told the Los Angeles Times in 2009,

That was a fad then, kids would get these linen jackets with all the pockets and personalize them with all this razzmatazz. I was wearing mine as a warmup jacket and someone tapped me on the shoulder and asked, ‘Hey, who drew that stuff?’ It was Bob Kane, who had just finished the first issue of Batman [Detective Comics #27]. I didn’t even know what that was. He showed me the issue that was on sale there at the local village. I wasn’t very impressed.

While that might not have impressed Robinson, it was more than enough to get him interested when offered a job by Kane in his studio. There, he would begin work as an inker and letterer before graduating on to pencils. It was during this time that he would leave an indelible mark on the comic industry, both in co-creating the Joker with writer Bill Finger and in naming the first, and most influential, superhero sidekick, Robin.

He would go on to do far more than just Batman, working on a variety of superheroes during the Golden Age before moving into the genres of crime and romance when the age of superheroes began to wane, as well as moving into newspapers, working on both comic strips and on editorial cartoons.

He was not just a part of comic history though, but also one of the first curators of that history. Robinson began curating artwork at fine art galleries beginning in 1972, possessing gems from the Golden Age that might not still exist if not for Robinson’s interest in preserving the history, as to many artists of the era the original was of no value after being paid and having the work printed. He would also publish, The Comics: An Illustrated History Of Comic Strip Art, one of first printed histories of the comic industry, in 1974, and he would serve as one of the champions of creator rights, joining the fight with Neal Adams for the rights of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

Reaction to his death came quick in the comic industry, and here is a small sampling of that.

Mark Waid:

Sorry to hear about Jerry Robinson, always very gracious to me. Terrific man. R.I.P, sir, and don’t let Bob Kane try to sign your tombstone.

Joe Staton:

Jerry did a lot more than just create one of the greatest fictional characters in history.

Paul Levitz:

A sad farewell to Jerry Robinson, whose lifelong love of comics and his fellow creators was inspirational in so many ways.

Peter Sanderson

{I} regret the passing of Jerry Robinson, whose long career included work as comic strip artist creator, comics historian and curator, and, of course, as a major contributor to the early years of “Batman” comics. I’m lucky to have met him; another of the Founding Fathers of the superhero genre and American comic books is no longer with us.

Elliot S! Maggin:

Jerry Robinson was a very fine man who was due far more credit for his contributions to contemporary folklore than he has gotten. And he has gotten quite a bit.

Paul Kupperberg:

A loss to everyone. Condolences to the Robinson family, and a thank you to Jerry for everything he gave us. He was everywhere in my childhood, from his influence in the comics to the syndicated strips to his illustrations for a favorite childhood book of mine, THE MAGIC TUNNEL.

Jimmy Palmiotti:

R.I.P Jerry Robinson; One of the greats and a fighter for artists rights in comics.

 

 

 

(Last Updated December 8, 2011 3:55 pm )

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