When I joined the National Cartoonists Society in 1999, I got the chance to meet many of my cartooning heroes at the Reuben Awards. It was thrilling to get to meet legends like Jack Davis, Charles Schulz, Mort Drucker, Jeff MacNelly, Mike Peters… the list goes on and on. I’m not easily starstruck, but a few of those artists I was genuinely tongue-tied upon meeting.
Jerry Robinson might be the one I was most awed to meet, and that is saying something.
Anybody who knows me knows I am a huge Batman fan… as I type this my movie-prop replica Batman costume stands 10 feet behind me on a mannequin, ready for action. I have a studio full of Bat-toys and boxes of Detective Comics dating back to the 1950s. Jerry was one of the talents who worked on the early days of Batman that shaped him into the enduring character he became, including creating Robin and the Joker. Just those contributions to the world of comics would have been enough to cement his legacy as one of the founding giants of the industry. However, that was just one of many important accomplishments he made to cartooning. In addition to many other credits in comics including his own characters, Jerry was an illustrator, editorial cartoonist, syndicated newspaper strip creator, teacher at the School of Visual Arts in New York, president of the National Cartoonists Society from 1967-1969 and president of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists from 1973-1975. He was also a well-respected comics historian and author of The Comics, a book that studied the history of newspaper comics. In 1978, he founded CartoonArts International, syndicating the work of over 500 international artists to publications all over the world. Jerry was also a champion of artist’s rights, and was instrumental in the struggle for securing recognition and compensation for Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster for their creation of Superman, among other efforts he spearheaded.
… and that’s just scratching the surface of the importance Jerry Robinson had to the world of comics and cartooning.
Jerry passed away on Wednesday, Dec. 7th at age 89. Rest in peace, Jerry—and thank you for being you and sharing your talent, heart and passion with the world.
-Tom Richmond, NCS President