Jerry Robinson


NEW YORK (AP) - Comic book industry pioneer Jerry Robinson, who helped create Batman sidekick Robin the Boy Wonder and their arch-nemesis The Joker, has died at age 89.

An editor and friend, Charles Kochman, said Robinson was different from most artists in the field because he worked on every kind of comic genre, from political cartoons to theater illustrations.

"Jerry brought a realism to comics - and a sense of humor," said Kochman, his editor at Abrams Comic Arts, which last year published a book called "Jerry Robinson: Ambassador of Comics."

Robinson not only used his fame and position in the industry to serve as its ambassador but also fought on behalf of other artists and creators - especially to win credit for their work, including the Superman series. Initially, in the 1930s and '40s, publishers owned the rights and would discard drawings after they were used.

Robinson died in his sleep Wednesday at a hospice in New York where he lived. He was a native of Trenton, N.J. He was only 17 when he was hired by Batman creator Bob Kane. The two had met by chance at a resort in the Catskill Mountains, where Robinson had a summer job selling ice cream. Kane noticed Robinson because he was wearing a white jacket decorated with his own illustrations.

In the early 1940s, Robinson "illustrated some of the defining images of pop culture's greatest icons," said Jim Lee, co-publisher of DC Entertainment Inc., the parent company of Batman publisher DC Comics.

While Robinson is credited by many comic enthusiasts as the primary creator of The Joker for issue No. 1 of Batman, he and Kane clashed over who was first to dream up the caped crusader's arch-enemy. In a 1994 interview, Kane said he and writer Bill Finger had come up with the idea and Robinson then produced a joker playing card for inspiration.

Robinson was hired away from Kane's shop by the Batman publisher, for which he drew many of the mos t striking covers from the golden age of comics, such as that of "Batman" No. 13, showing the caped crusader parachuting down.

In the 1950s, he started drawing newspaper comic strips, political cartoons and cover illustrations for Broadway's "Playbill."

Later in life, Robinson taught at New York's School of Visual Arts and was president of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists and the National Cartoonists Society.

"He saw the value of comics as an art," Kochman said.

In recent years, rare issues of comic books have fetched hundreds of thousands of dollars at auction.

Robinson also served as a historian, authoring "The Comics: An Illustrated History of Comic Strip Art" and curating gallery exhibits, including one of the biggest at the Kennedy Library in Washington in 1973 that included all the genres of the strip comic art form.

Mike Marts, editor of the Batman line at DC Comics, said Robinson was "an innovator, a pioneer in stor ytelling."

"The streets of Gotham City," Marts said, "are a little lonelier today."

Written by VERENA DOBNIK, Associated Press

Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Guest Book

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To the family of Mr. Robinson: He was a talented man. I am glad he shared his talent with us. I pray that your family finds comfort during this difficult time. (Isa. 33:24)

To the family, Draw close to God and He will draw close to you. James 4:8.

God has the absolute power to remember all of our loved ones who have fallen asleep in death. Malachi 3:16. Please find comfort in prayer to him.

My prayers are for the family and friends of Jerry Robinson during this sad time. May the God of all comfort, comforted you all at this needed time through your prayer.

May God cover the family &friends &fans of the late Mr.Jerry Robinson.He had a special gift from God he will live own through his ordinary talent.I grew up own Batman &Robin ,heaven has just got a little more amusing with all the gifts and talents that lies in the arms of the most high God is the highest of all.May grace and mercy cover you all as you lay your love one to rest.May his memories bring you joy and laughter,he will live own in the hearts of so many people who life he...

May the God of all comfort, please comfort the family, friends, and fans of Jerry Robinson.

Jerry was one of the first cartoonists I met at my first Reubens Awards in NYC back in '85. I've loved and admired his work even before then, but found even greater respect for him after meeting and knowing him over these many years. Jerry was nothing but kind, generous, encouraging, and a great friend. Even though I was not a big "Name" well known cartoonist, Jerry always went out of his way to speak and talk with me. For those who didn't know him personally, I pity you,because you...

My condolences to the Robinson family,,,

May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.