R.I.P. Jerry Robinson, Creator of The Joker
By Andy Khouri
The comics community woke up Thursday morning to the sad news that Jerry Robinson, creator of the legendary Batman villain The Joker, had passed away. Besides his invaluable contributions to the medium during its Golden Age, Robinson was throughout his life a vocal proponent of creators’ rights and representing the comics medium as a true art form and creatively valid form of storytelling and expression.
Robinson’s storied career in comics began in 1939, when he was hired by Bob Kane to work as a letterer and inking assistant on the then-new Batman character. During his time with Kane and writer Bill Finger, Robinson created comic books that saw the first appearances of Robin, the Boy Wonder and The Joker. As is typical in cases of Golden Age comics, there is debate as to who exactly created what, but Robinson is popularly credited with inventing the substance of The Joker, and served as a creative consultant to Christopher Nolan’s hugely popular and highly acclaimed Joker-centric Batman film, The Dark Knight.
In his later career, Robinson became known as an ambassador for the comic book medium. As CBR points out in its obituary for the cartoonist, Robinson curated comic book shows in art galleries and authored The Comics, a definitive text on the history of comics art that is still available in a new edition from Dark Horse.
DC Comics Co-Publishers Jim Lee and Dan DiDio and Batman Group Editor Mike Marts released the following statements:
“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, 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
Jerry Robinson was 89.