Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Ambassador Of Comics!

Jerry Robinson is one of the more influential figures in the history of comics, having by everyone's admission, even that of the notoriously  fame-grabbing Bob Kane, having created probably comics most infamous super-villain (and possibly the concept of "super-villainy" itself) The Joker. Robinson also was instrumental in the development of Two-Face, Clayface, Penguin, and others including one bright shining addition to the gloomy Bat-mythos, one Robin the Boy Wonder.  Later working apart from Bob Kane, he created Atoman for Spark/Crestwood.

All of that is detailed in Jerry Robinson - The Ambassador of Comics by N.C. Christopher Couch. But we learn that comic books were only a relatively small part of the legacy of  Robinson as he branched out into comic strips with Jet Scott in the 50's and the cartoon series Flubs and Fluffs, Still Life and Life with Robinson for various newspapers over the years. We see the fine art work of Robinson and read about his work as scholar pushing forward the idea that comics were a serious art form, often at a time when such ideas were rare.

Also here is the story of how Robinson was instrumental in forcing DC Comics to at long last give some credit and delayed remuneration to Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

Jerry Robinson comes across in this tome as a self-confident artist who was lucky enough to have parents who supported him and who saw even in his earliest days that his artwork was material of merit. We meet a man who was important but who comes across as modest, affable and kind. We find glowing portraits of his friends such as his mentor Bill Finger, the painfully quiet Mort Meskin, and his best friend Bernie Klein who was tragically killed during WWII.

After reading so many comic creator biographies filled with angst and anger and resentment, the story of Jerry Robinson, a man who seems always to know who he was, is a refreshing change of pace.

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