Jerry Robinson passed away yesterday, just a few weeks shy of his 90th birthday. He was the last surviving member of the group of four men who created the mythology of Batman : Bob Kane, Bill Finger, Dick Sprang and Jerry Robinson. Jerry was Bob Kane’s first ghost artist, and probably the most important of the Batman artists of the Golden Age.
Along with writing partner Bill Finger, Jerry Robinson created the Joker, Alfred the Butler, Robin, the Batcave and a host of other important parts of Gotham City while Bob Kane watched from across the room and pretended to be the one doing it. Though Kane spent his life lying about the huge contributions that his partners made, comics historians did eventually see through the nonsense, and Robinson lived long enough to get his due as one of the seminal creators of our industry. There was at least THAT justice.
Batman and Robin, keeping the cartoonists' drawing table safe, thanks to Jerry Robinson!
I had the rare chance to meet him a couple of times over the years, at awards ceremonies and conventions, etc, and Jerry was delightful and awe-inspiring company whenever I was fortunate enough to be around him. I’ll never forget the first thing he said to me, though: When I told him I was a Batman creator, writing and drawing the characters he helped create, he reached out to shake my hand and said (with a twinkle in his eye) “Where’s my cheque?”
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Jerry Robinson…my world would not be the same without having shared the planet with you for the last forty-eight years. You gave me a childhood filled with unbridled joy and fun and I cannot conceive of who I would have turned out to be if you’d never been there before me.
Ty the Guy OUT!
Here now, your Bonus Jerry Robinson moment:
I have a bunch of images of Jerry Robinson on my computer because I recently had to draw his portrait for a project about Bill Finger (see the top of this column for the drawing) but I went searching for a photo of the man to adorn this blog post and was astounded to discover the first two or three images of Jerry that pop up on google search are photos of Jerry posing in front of one of my drawings of the Joker. Why Jerry would pose in front of MY drawing of his character, rather than one of his own drawings, is baffling to me, and I assume the photographer didn’t know he’d matched up the wrong artist. But I am humbled and honoured to have Mr. Robinson and I share a few photos like that.
NOTE: For those in the Toronto area: The Toronto Cartoonist Workshop Faculty Art Show for its instructors is tomorrow night, Friday December 9! I’ll have at least one framed image of the Joker up on the wall, but I’ll make a point of bringing the original art for my portrait of Jerry with me to show off as well as sharing the wall with fellow instructors LEONARD KIRK, DAVE ROSS and ERIC KIM.
Come on down and see how comic book artists live and work, but don’t feed us, we have a very specific diet and might become ill with real food.
587A College Street (at Clinton), Toronto, 7-10pm