Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Jerry Robinson, and the Quote That Won't Go Away

A delicious old Jerry Robinson cover

In my conversations with comics people, Jerry Robinson's name often pops up. Jerry was an early comic artist who started at age 17 back in 1939. He later went on found Cartoonists & Writers Syndicate in 1978, a firm that represents 550 artists in 50 different countries, syndicating their work worldwide. He was a giant in the industry.

Here's a double time capsule: A few words I wrote back on Dec. 8, 2011, the day after Robinson passed away, plucking some quotes from a 2002 Bill Finger feature I wrote. I'm always grasping for this "Who knew this stuff would be so significant?" quote, and place it here as much for my ready reference as anything.


Dec. 8, 2011:

Legendary comic artist and humanitarian Jerry Robinson has passed away, aged 89 years. There are many eulogies and obits already, I'm sure, trumpeting his works both in art and in service to his fellow man. And they are all well deserved. He was a great guy.

The only thing I'd like to add are just some brief excerpts from an interview I did with Jerry back in 2002, while researching a Bill Finger feature. I'm pretty sure this was all "cutting room floor" stuff that didn't make the final piece, but speaks nicely to that time-and-place of when Jerry started working as an assistant to Bob Kane at age 17. Who knew this stuff would be so significant?

“We certainly didn’t have any thoughts about if this would be popular in 60 years, or even if it would endure at all. At 17, you really don’t think that far in advance. We were all young. It was a young art form. We were all in our early- or mid-20s. But we did have the feeling that were creating something new. We didn’t think of it as being lofty as an art form, but that it was a new means of communication.

“And almost every time we did something, it was new! It was a first. There was no precedent to fall back on.

“It presses on me more and more as time goes on. So many great talents in comics have passed on in the last few years. I guess I am the last of that first Batman group—Bill Finger, Bob Kane and myself. Shelly Moldoff worked around that period. But yes, there is a sense that I’m the only survivor. It is the end of an era."

Godspeed, Jerry Robinson. You are loved and missed.

Jim McLauchlin

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