Former SVA faculty member Jerry Robinson, the legendary comic book artist credited with creating Batman’s nemesis The Joker, died on December 7 at the age of 89. Born in Trenton, New Jersey on January 1, 1922, Robinson started his long career at DC Comics at the age of 17, and went on to become a renowned comics historian and editorial cartoonist as well. He was also president of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists and the National Cartoonists Society, and was inducted into the Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2004.
Jerry Robinson was an incredibly “prolific” comic book artist, said Dennis Hevesi in The New York Times, and The Joker “has created havoc” ever since its debut in 1940. But Robinson was also a champion of artists’ rights, and “instrumental in mobilizing support for the writer-and-artist team of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, who created Superman in the 1930s and had sold their rights to the character for $130. A long legal fight resulted in a settlement with Warner Communications, DC Comics’ corporate parent, providing the pair with annual payments for the rest of their lives and provisions for their heirs.”
The world of comic books would have been “much the poorer” without Jerry Robinson, said The New York Daily News. Batman’s sidekick, Robin, and The Joker were “only the beginning of his contributions to an art form belatedly recognized as an art form.” And as a historian, Robinson’s collections were “a treasure trove that helped shape comic book history—including the major role he played right here in Gotham City.”