Comic book industry pioneer Jerry Robinson, 89, who helped create Batman sidekick Robin the Boy Wonder and their arch-nemesis, The Joker, died Wednesday at a hospice in New York where he lived. He was a native of Trenton, N.J.
Mr. Robinson was different from most artists in the field because he worked on every kind of comic genre, from political cartoons to theater illustrations, said Charles Kochman, his editor at Abrams Comic Arts. He used his fame and position to help artists win credit for their work. Initially, in the 1930s and '40s, publishers owned the rights and would discard drawings after they were used.
Mr. Robinson was 17 when he was hired by Batman creator Bob Kane. In the early 1940s, Mr. Robinson "illustrated some of the defining images of pop culture's greatest icons," said Jim Lee, copublisher of DC Entertainment Inc., parent company of Batman publisher DC Comics.
While Mr. Robinson is credited by many comic enthusiasts as the primary creator of The Joker for issue No. 1 of Batman, he and Kane clashed over who was first to dream up the caped crusader's archenemy. Mr. Robinson was later hired away from Kane's shop by the Batman publisher, for which he drew many of the most striking covers from the golden age of comics, such as that of "Batman" No. 13, showing the caped crusader parachuting down.
In the 1950s, he started drawing newspaper comic strips, political cartoons and cover illustrations for Broadway's Playbill. Later in life, he taught at New York's School of Visual Arts and was president of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists and the National Cartoonists Society. He also served as a historian, authoring The Comics: An Illustrated History of Comic Strip Art and curating gallery exhibits.