Comic fans, I must bring you sad news today. Yesterday we learned that Jerry Robinson had passed away in his sleep at the age of 89. For those of you who are not aware, Jerry was the young artist who first drew the Joker. As awesome as that is, it was not nearly his greatest contribution to comics. Born on January 1, 1922 he once told LA Times’ Hero Complex that he got his big break when he was at a resort at age 17 and Bob Kane saw his artwork on a hat that he was wearing. A short time later he was in New York, enrolled at Columbia, and drawing for Batman.
Jerry was involved in the creation of Robin, Two-Face, and many other now-iconic members of the Batman cast. It’s a remarkable role reversal to imagine a young artist starting his career drawing Batman stories when many would now count that as a lifelong goal. Robinson then spent the next three decades as a highly regarded political cartoonist, though he was far from done with comics.
Probably his greatest contribution to comics was his tireless efforts to obtain rights for comic creators. Having worked in a time when it was standard for creators to work as contractors, often signing away the rights to their own creations in the process, Robinson was not content to let creators work be taken from them. He was a staunch supporter of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in their struggle to gain compensation for Superman, and helped them for many years.
His loss is not only an opportunity to mourn a wonderful artist and creator, but to celebrate someone who stood up for what he believed in and never sat back down. Jerry is an inspiration to every kid out there who longs to become a professional dreamer, and the world is a little sadder without him in it. We would like to extend our sincerest condolences to Jerry’s family and friends.
RIP Jerry Robinson, December 7, 2011.