Batman artist, creator rights activist and creator of the Joker Jerry Robinson passed away in his sleep last night. He was 89.
Like many Golden Agers, Robinson started young: At age 17 he became an assistant in Bob Kane’s Batman shop where he co-created Robin. He also provided the majority of visuals and background for The Joker. Eventually moving into editorial cartooning, Robinson had a long, distinguished career as an artist and educator. In the ’70s he helped spearhead the movement to get Siegel and Shuster compensation for creating Superman; he also traveled to Uruguay and the Soviet Union to help free jailed cartoonists. He was President of both the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists (AAEC) and the National Cartoonists Society (NCS).
In the last ten years, Robinson was a fixture at comics conventions, both as one of the last links to the Golden Age and a still passionate advocate for creators rights, making many friends and thrilling many fans along the way.
Robinson made headlines last year when he auctioned off two of his most iconic piece of art. When asked why he was parting with them, he said simply, “It’s time.”
Robinson was a class act all the way and there won’t be another one like him.
UPDATE: DC has released several statements on Robinson’s passing:
“Jerry Robinson illustrated some of the defining images of pop culture’s greatest icons. As an artist myself, it’s impossible not to feel humbled by his body of work. Everyone who loves comics owes Jerry a debt of gratitude for the rich legacy that he leaves behind.”—Jim Lee, DC Entertainment Co-Publisher and artist of BATMAN: HUSH
“Jerry Robinson was one of the greats. He continued to be a vibrant, creative force well into his nineties, with ideas and thoughts that continue to inspire. Jerry was a great advocate for creators. It was my pleasure to meet and work with him. He will be missed.”—Dan DiDio, Co-Publisher, DC Entertainment
“It’s impossible to work at DC Entertainment without feeling the impact of Jerry Robinson’s contributions to the industry. His influence continues to resonate today.”—Bob Harras, DC Entertainment Editor-in-Chief
“Jerry Robinson was an innovator, a pioneer in storytelling. His artwork was always astonishing, but his contributions to the Dark Knight mythology go far beyond art. The streets of Gotham City are a little lonelier today…Jerry will truly be missed.”—Mike Marts, BATMAN editor
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.