The Gentleman of Comics is Gone

People revered Jerry Robinson in our industry because he created The Joker and worked on Batman when he was seventeen years old. I revered Jerry Robinson because he survived our industry with his integrity intact.

He died two days ago, here in New York City.

[via NYCGraphicNovelists.com]

In 1938, he started working for Bill Finger and Bob Kane on Batman as a letterer and assistant inker. A year later, he was inking the book, then naming Robin, on to creating The Joker, Two-Face, and the best butler in popular fiction: Alfred Pennyworth. Soon, he was the key writer, then he switched to penciling the adventures of the Dark Knight.

Later he moved over to newspaper strips, creating two different strips in the 60s and 70s, which in turn led him to two terms as the president of two different nation-wide cartoonists guilds. He next tried his hand as a comics historian, penning a comprehensive history of comics in newspapers.

Most remarkably, in 1975, he and superstar artist Neal Adams secured credit and a lifetime stipend for Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, long-since cast-away. Siegel and Shuster were literally brought in-house and eventually fired from DC after selling them their biggest cash-cow: the first superhero, Superman. Thanks to Adams and Robinson, a small permanent salary was established and their names have been attached to every piece of media featuring Superman ever since. Although even partial ownership rights to their creation was still not granted to them or their families until quite recently, the first steps were made by Adams and Robinson.

In 1978, he upped his commitment to this industry and founded an international syndicate of comics creators, one that still exists today.

This man's accomplishments are not just wide-ranging, not just impressive. Not merely great. They were genuine. They displayed integrity.

When I met Jerry Robinson, very very quickly, in October 2o1o, I was delighted to discover that he was a gentleman. I also learned about his versatility that night: Artist. Writer. Historian. Humanitarian.

Jerry Robinson was an inspiration. A direct inspiration, as I foresee in his legacy a world where comics creators don't have to be cheated out of their rights or their pay.

Losing this man is a loss for us all.

~ @JonGorga

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