With the Dark Knight Rapidly approaching his eightieth birthday, now is a perfect time to have a look back on the career on one of the original and definitive Batman artists. Whilst the contributions of legendary comic creators such as Frank Miller, Denny O’Neil, Grant Morrison, Neal Adams and many more must not be overlooked, without Jerry Robinson we would not have one of the greatest villains of all time (and that covers everything – not just comics). And now, we are given an insight from the man himself in this collection on memoirs written prior to his death.
While his life may not quite have been as colourful as the comics he illustrated, it came pretty damn close. At only seventeen on his way to college, he was recruited by Bob Kane to become an artist on Detective Comics and Batman. Together with Kane and Bill Finger, Robinson helped introduce Robin, Alfred and Two-Face to the Batman mythos. But most importantly, he was also responsible for the creation of Batman’s most famous enemy – The Joker. What follows is an amazing journey packed which details not only his time at DC, but the celebrity packed life that followed which included a long stint at Playbill Magazine where he covered Broadway theatre and produced memorable art pieces of stars such as Mickey Rooney, Mia Farrow, Groucho Marx and many more. Also included are some great tales of his world travels including a mystery country bar somewhere in Cuba that has a Robinson illustrated Batman mural on one of the walls, his travels in Europe and Africa as part of the National Cartoonists Society’s mission from the Department of Defence to entertain American troops stationed overseas, and his eventual crucial part in the campaigning for creator rights in comics.
As exciting as his life was, this book doesn’t let you forget how exciting his art was. All throughout are illustrations from every stop in his career including his political cartoons and Playbill illustrations. But the main highlights are without a doubt his comic art. Robinson’s art has a timeless quality that makes his work standout even when you compare it to today’s definitive Batman artists. Amongst the work included is his iconic Joker card which sparked the creation of the Clown Prince of Crime and full iconic pages from Batman #14 and Detective Comics #76 in all their original annotated browning cigarette burned glory. These pages succeed in every aspect whether it’s depicting suspense, action or humour. The Joker story is a particular highpoint which even without colour is a superb showcase of Robinson’s art and a fun Batman story to boot.
This is not only a excellent celebration of one of the key creators in the history of Batman, but also a fascinating look at the life of one of comics’ all-time greats. This is well worth the space on any comic fan’s book shelf or coffee table.
9781506702254 – H/B – £29.99
Post by Leo