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Jerry Robinson (born January 1, 1922 in Trentonmarker, New Jerseymarker) is an Americanmarker comic book artist best known for his work on DC Comics' Batman line of comics during the 1940s.

He was inducted into the Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2004.

Biography

Early life and career

Jerry Robinson was a journalism student at Columbia University in Manhattanmarker when he began working for writer-artist Bob Kane in 1939. Kane, with writer Bill Finger, had shortly before created the character Batman for National Comics, the future DC Comics. Robinson rented a room from a family in The Bronxmarker near Kane's family's Grand Concoursemarker apartment, where Kane used his bedroom as an art studio. He started as a letterer and a background inker, shortly graduating to inking secondary figures. Within a year, he became Batman's primary inker, with George Roussos inking backgrounds. Batman quickly became a hit character, and Kane rented space for Robinson and Roussos in Times Square's Times Towermarker.

Approximately a year and a half after Robinson and Finger were hired by Kane, National Comics lured them away, making them company staffers. Robinson recalled working in the bullpen at the company's 480 Lexington Avenuemarker office, alongside Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, as well as Jack Kirby, Fred Ray, and Mort Meskin, "who was one of my best friends, who[m] I brought up from [comics publisher] MLJ".

Robin and the Joker

By early 1940, Kane and Finger discussed adding a sidekick. Robinson suggested the name "Robin" after Robin Hood books he had read during boyhood, saying in a 2005 interview he was inspired by one book's N.C. Wyeth illustrations. The new character, orphaned circus performer Dick Grayson, came to live with Bruce Wayne (Batman) as his young ward in Detective Comics #38 (April 1940). Robin would inspire many similar sidekicks throughout the remainder of the Golden Age of Comic books.

Batman's archnemesis the Joker was introduced near that same time, in Batman #1 (Spring 1940). Credit for that character's creation is disputed. Robinson has said he created the character. Kane's position is that

Robinson, whose original Joker playing card was on public display in the exhibition "Masters of American Comics" at the Jewish Museum in New York Citymarker, New Yorkmarker, from Sept. 16, 2006 to Jan. 28, 2007, and the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum in Atlantamarker, Georgiamarker from Oct. 24, 2004 to Aug. 28, 2005, has countered that:

In 1943, when Kane left the Batman comic books to focus on penciling the daily Batman newspaper comic strip, Robinson took over the full penciling, along with others such as Dick Sprang. As was customary of the time, only Kane's name appeared on the strip.

Later career

Robinson went on to work on numerous other characters and for several publishers, at one point even doing free-lance illustrations for at least one textbook publisher. In a long, successful interlude outside of comic books, as a newspaper cartoonist, Robinson created True Classroom Flubs and Fluffs, which for most of the 1960s ran in the New York Sunday News (later incorporated into the Daily News).

He was president of the National Cartoonists Society from 1967 to 1969 and served a two year term as president of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists starting in 1973.

In 1974 he wrote "The Comics," a comprehensive study of the history of newspaper comic strips.

During the mid-1970s, Robinson was a crucial supporter of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in their long struggle with DC Comics to win full recognition and compensation as the creators of Superman. With comics artist and rights advocate Neal Adams, Robinson organized key support around Siegel and Shuster, to whom DC, in December 1975, granted lifetime stipends and a credit in all broadcast and published Superman works. In 1978, he founded Cartoonists & Writers Syndicate/CartoonArts International.

During 1999, Robinson created an original manga series, Astra with the help of mangaka Shojin Tanaka and Ken-ichi Oishi. This was later on released in English through Central Park Media by their manga line CPM Manga as a comic book miniseries and then a trade paperback.

On May 26, 2007, DC Comics announced that Robinson had been hired by the company as a "creative consultant". The press release accompanying this announcement did not describe Robinson's duties or responsibilities.

Awards

For his work in comics, he won several awards, including the National Cartoonists Society award for the Comic Book Division in 1956, their Newspaper Panel Cartoon for 1963 for Still Life, their Special Features Award in 1965 for Flubs and Fluffs, and their Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000. Robinson was inducted into the Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2004.

Footnotes

  1. Excerpt from Jerry Robinson interview in The Comics Journal #271 (Oct. 2005)
  2. Jones, Gerard. "Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters and the Birth of the Comic Book." New York: Basic Books, 2004[
  3. Newsarama (Oct. 26. 2007): "DC Comics Names Jerry Robinson Creative Consultant"


References




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