Jerry Robinson (1922-2011), the co-creator of Robin, comics first sidekick, and the creator of the Joker – consistently ranked by fans as the genera’s greatest villain – was the first in a long and distinguished line of Batman ghost artist for Bob Kane. His collaboration with Kane and writer Bill Finger laid the foundation of much of the Dark Knight mythos that would follow.
At the young age of 17 Robinson, hired by Kane as an art assistant, began working on the newly created Batman series for Detective Comics. In 1941, when Kane moved on to other features, Robinson became the major artist on the strip. But Robinson, as was common in the early days of the industry, never received bylines.
In addition to Batman, Robinson also did considerable work for other strips, including Green Hornet for Harvey, Atoman for Spark, and Fighting Yank and Black Terror (together with Mort Meskin) for Nedor. At DC Robinson worked with Meskin drawing The Vigilante and Johnny Quick. In the 1950s he worked for Timely and Western on a variety of titles. In 1955 Robinson moved into the comic strip and editorial cartooning field. He was president of the National Cartoonist Society from 1967 to 1969 and created Life with Robinson in the 1970s, which eventually led him to establish the Cartoonist and Writers Syndicate. He wrote one of the “bibles” about comic strips, The Comics, and has traveled around the world promoting cartooning and cartoonists. Most recently, he served as curator of an art exhibit on Golden Age creators.
It is for Batman, however, that Robinson is best remembered and beloved by fans. Indeed, his contributions to the Dark Knight mythos cannot be overstated for in addition to his artwork Robinson contributed to story ideas, giving the Boy Wonder not only his name but also designing his costume (he also, thankfully, kept Kane from naming Batman’s new sidekick “Birdboy”). And Robinson alone takes the full credit for creating the greatest of all of Batman’s villains and, perhaps, the greatest villain in all of comics- the Joker.
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