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Jerry Robinson

Jerry Robinson died on Wednesday. He was 89.

He was a great artist, innovator and creator renowned for his work on Batman in the 1939 and the early 1940’s. He did many, many other things as well. He was an illustrator. A syndicated cartoonist. An author and historian. And a hero. He was a champion of the rights of cartoonists all over the world, often at great personal risk. He helped free a Uruguayan artist imprisoned because of his political cartoons, smuggled money to cartoonists in the Soviet Union who were disenfranchised and destitute because of government oppression, and aided Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in their fight to gain recognition and compensation for creating Superman.

I met Jerry only once, at the Baltimore Comic-Con a couple of years ago. I spoke with him briefly. He seemed to me to be a wise and thoughtful man. A gentleman, in all the best senses of the word, albeit with the heart of a lion. He was honored with a special Harvey Award for his many achievements. He gave a wonderful, unforgettable speech.

He was great.

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16 Comments

  1. Just to give credit where it's due, but Robinson was not sole creator of the Joker or Robin. Bill Finger was apparently the one who suggested Conrad Veidt as a visual inspiration for the Joker, after Robinson came up with the initial idea of a villain based on the Joker playing card. And Finger wrote the first Joker story. Robinson always acknowledged Finger as co-creator of those characters.

  2. Paul Dushkind

    Bob Kane claimed to have created Robin. Alfred was created for the 1943 movie serial. He appeared in the comics first, because they knew that the serial was coming. They didn't know yet what the actor was going to look like. They changed his likeness in the comics when they found out. Kane also said, "Jerry Robinson will go to his grave thinking that he created the Joker, but it was Bill Finger." I believe that Bill Finger created Two-Face, and almost every other villain in Batman.

  3. Old African Proverb (I think): When an old man dies, a library burns.

    Robinson also came up with Robin, Batman's sidekick, as well as other recurring characters including Alfred, millionaire Bruce Wayne's loyal butler, and the villain Two Face.
    http://www.brecorder.com/general-news/single/599/172/1259500/

    Have to recommend visiting his website and gallery at:
    http://www.jerryrobinsonart.com/comics/gallery/comics_gallery3.html

    I remember seeing some original art of his, and just marvelling.

  4. George

    Though I never met Mr. Robinson, I recently listened to an extraordinary interview he gave to a local (Pittsburgh) radio station. I'm saddened by his passing and add him to the list of yet another great it will never be my privilage to meet. We miss you already Jerry.

  5. Anonymous

    Half a week of entries about Michael Winner, then we get an obit and he's not starring in it.
    Cruel Jim, cruel.

    R.I.P. Jerry Robinson.

    Paul

  6. Oh, man, that's right! He, Brandon DeStefano, maybe Mike Solof and I were sitting at a table together and I asked him if he was going to tell that story and he was surprised I already knew it because he indeed intended to tell it there.

    The short version is that he hated drawing "that damn dog." He would draw Lassie running into a corn field and so forth so you could only see the tail.

    At any rate, in one story Lassie's running all over the place trying to stop and arsonist. At the end of the story (his version) Lassie actually turned out to be the arsonist.

  7. Dear J.C.,

    Jerry Robinson told the tale of getting himself fired from the Lassie strip in his speech at the Harvey Awards, but I forget the details. Tell me again.

  8. Dear Jesus,

    Mickey Rooney lived across the street from DEFIANT's offices. We'd see him on the street a lot. Our terrace looked down on his penthouse and rooftop deck. In the summer, there often were attractive women sunbathing on Rooney's deck, which our guys, who often ate lunch on the terrace greatly appreciated.

  9. ja

    I wish I had met Jerry Robinson, but alas not. Defiant1's comment reminds me of my best friend's grandmother who just several weeks ago died at the age of 107. She stayed with her daughter and her husband until she was about 102, until she had to be put in a rest home because of the particular care she needed. She always had people visiting her. She was a rare case in this day and age.

    I noticed that she loved chocolate, so I brought her chocolate whenever I'd see her. One day I forgot, and she made me go buy her some right then and there. I never forgot to bring her chocolate again! Never deny an old woman her chocolate jones. She'll go nuclear on your butt.

  10. I've never met the guy – and haven't been a follower per se – but I am familiar with his work.

    In honor of that, here is my costume from 2 years ago. Sorry the makeup is messy at this point , it was last at night. I also forgot to take my glasses off. I suit I found really makes it. It's a late 80s style and really works. Heath Ledger's Joker was all the rage that year, but I kept it real with a comic inspired one.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/63283251@N04/6290400025/in/photostream/

  11. He gave me a lovely interview a few years ago and was unfailingly kind and helpful each time I bothered him. Ironically he'd not heard about Lew Schwartz passing earlier this year before I called him and he immediately asked if he could have a contact number for Lew's widow. Class. Pure, unadulterated class.

  12. Jerry was a very interesting guy, Jim. You're brief meeting was echoed in my experiences with him. He told me a story about how he got fired off / quit drawing Lassie in comics. He's probably told it elsewhere, but if not I'll relate it next time I see you.

  13. He lived a full life. I was close to my grandmother who lived to be 100. There's just something about living that old and knowing that one by one, everyone you've cared about the most in the prime of your life has already passed away. Tributes like this are the best way to honor someone in my opinion. Let the facts speak for themselves.

  14. Jesus Chambrot

    I met Jerry Robinson back at MIAMI DADE COLLEGE Career Fair in 1992. He told a story of how he couldn't get Mickey Rooney to sit down for a caricature. He finally got Mickey to sit down by putting an admiral's hat on his head. Mickey sat with a grin as huge as the hat he wore. Mr.Robinson was able to finish the portrait.

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