Wednesday, 28 December 2011


My obit of the comic-book artist Jerry Robinson, who created The Joker, Robin, Two-Face, and Alfred the Butler for Bob Kane's Batman, is in today's Independent; you can link to it here. The paper has a wonderful layout of Robinson and his Batman art. And I ought to point out my own mistake, as the first Superman movie appeared in 1978, not 1975.

I was fascinated to learn that Robinson had taught Steve Ditko, because you really can see the link between their thick, expressionistic inking, and the way they exaggerate to create realistic characters out of somewhat unrealistic drawings. And also because their political world-views couldn't be more diametrically opposed!

It's also rare to write an obit of someone so universally admired. He helped artists in myriad ways, guys like Siegel and Shuster in particular, in the fight for the rights to Superman, but many others in general, by helping them win the fight to retain copyright to their work (and here Neal Adams stands as the other beacon), syndicate their material, and fight for the human rights of political cartoonists. He also deserves for credit for his early history of comic art, one of the first books to take it seriously and do it well.

I wanted to include this quote from Stan Lee, for whom he worked at Atlas in the 1950s, but cut it for space. In retrospect, I wish I had. 'Jerry Robinson was not only one of the finest artists ever to illustrate comic books, but he was also the head of an editorial syndicate which made cartoons available worldwide, as well as being an inspiration to young artists whom he always found time to help and advise. A genuine talent and a genuine gentleman, he was truly a credit to the arts.'

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