illustration from Jerry Robinson: Ambassador Of Comics by Abrams Books
Legendary comic creator Jerry Robinson has just passed away at 89. Robinson was probably best known for being the key creator of the iconic comic book villain, The Joker — but he also leaves a long and illustrious legacy as an editorial cartoonist and a champion for creator’s rights.
Batman film producer Michael Uslan broke the news on his Facebook page today, with the LA Times’ Hero Complex later confirming Robinson’s passing on Twitter:
MTV Geek interviewed Robinson in Baltimore Comic-Con 2010, where he described how he came up with the idea for The Joker:
“From my studies of the Classics, I knew that all great heroes had a protagonist — and the comics didn’t have any great super-villains at the time. So I wanted somebody bigger than life, somebody that was worthy of Batman.”
Robinson was born in Trenton, New Jersey in 1922, and was pursuing a career in Journalism when he met Bob Kane and was hired by the Batman creator to do inking work on the book. While Kane later contested his claim to having created The Joker, it is clear that Robinson was a key contributor to some of the most iconic elements of the Batman mythos — including having suggested the name “Robin” for the superhero’s new sidekick, and using a playing card as a stylistic reference for the Batman villain.
He went on to draw the Batman comic book in 1943 after Kane left to focus on the comic strip version, and later worked for other publishers. Robinson then had a successful “second career” as an editorial cartoonist in the 1960s, and became president of the National Cartoonists Society in 1967.
Perhaps influenced by his own experiences in the Golden Age of comics, Robinson campaigned tirelessly during the 1970s for comic creator’s rights — specifically on behalf of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. And in 2007, the comic book legend’s career seemed to go full-circle — when he was hired by DC Comics as a “creative consultant” for the company who first published Batman so many years ago.
You can see the rest of our 2010 video interview with Jerry Robinson here: