One of the few remaining living legends of the golden age of American comic books is no longer with us. Artist Jerry Robinson died in his sleep last night at the age of 89. Robinson was best known as the creator of Robin the Boy Wonder, Batman's sidekick, and the Dark Knight's arch-enemy, the Joker. More after the jump.
The New York Daily News has the details on Jerry Robinson's passing. Having interviewed Robinson several times over the years, I was always struck by how such a modest, gentle and unassuming man could be responsible for one of the most famous fictional serial killers of the last century. But beneath his quiet exterior, Robinson was a lion. His work includes some of the best Batman comics ever. Indeed he was a far better illustrator and draftsman than Batman co-creator Bob Kane, who always took credit for the Joker (and just about everything else in Batman's universe). But I never knew Robinson to have an air of vanity or entitlement about him. Instead, he worked tirelessly for the rights of other comic book creators, and played a major role in earning Superman's creators -- Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster -- credit and compensation from DC Comics for their work.
In his later years, Robinson continued to draw, illustrating newspaper comic strips, while writing one of the first significant books on the history of comics (The Comics: An Illustrated History of Comic Strip Art). He also curated an exhibit on the medium's early years (ZAP! POW! BAM! The Superhero: The Golden Age of Comic Books, 1938 – 1950) that toured museums across the country. And many of us knew Robinson as a frequent, welcome guest at the San Diego Comic-Con, for he almost always had time to chat with fans.
One of the occasions on which I spoke with Jerry Robinson was on the red carpet at the New York premiere of Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight. You can see him share his thoughts on the late Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker in the following video.
Farewell, Mr. Robinson. Thanks for making this world just a little bit crazier.