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Joker Creator Jerry Robinson Dies At 89

We reflect on the death of an industry legend, and celebrate all he did for comics.

It's hard to imagine Batman comics without the Joker, isn't it? Batman's maniacal arch nemesis is, quite frankly, one of the integral parts of the character's mythos. He is the ying to Batman's yang; he essentially, completes the character. So it is with a heavy heart that we honor the life of the character's creator, Jerry Robinson who died in his sleep last night at age 89.

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In addition to creating the Joker, Robinson is also credited as co-creator of Batman's sidekick, Robin. Additionally, Robinson is also credited for having co-created Alfred Pennyworth and creating Tweedledee, Tweedledum and Tony Zucco.

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Hired at a young age to work as an inker and artist for Batman creator Bob Kane, Jerry Robinson began working in comics at the age of 17 and studied journalism at Columbia University in Manhattan. He was brought on by DC Comics to work as a cover artist for Detective Comics through the 1930's and 1940's and became an influential and important figure during the Golden Age of comic books. Being a "political animal," Robinson eventually made the move from comics to comic strips, to Editorial illustrator.

His long running comic strip "Life With Robinson" provided political commentary from the 1950's through the 1970's. Robinson was also a huge proponent of creator rights and was a supporter of the Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster battle over the rights to Superman.

Some of DC's biggest names -- from Co-Publisher Dan Didio to Batman Editor Mike Marts -- reflected on the death of a legend, here's what they had to say.

“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 well into his nineties, 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

Robinson's many works as well as his Joker sketch card (above) has appeared in various museum exhibits throughout the country. He was an incredibly influential individual and without his creativity and ideas, comics as we know them today would be very different. We tip our hats to you today, Mr. Robinson, and we thank you for all you did for the comic book industry over the years.

Image source: LA Times