Tagged: Jerry Robinson

Mike Gold: Jack Kirby’s Moxie

Next Monday marks the 100th anniversary of Jack Kirby’s birth. For one horrible moment, let us consider the following question: what if that birth never happened?

No Captain America. No Fourth World. Probably no romance comics. No Challengers of the Unknown. No Kamandi. No “Marvel Age of Comics.”

Think about that last one for a moment. The Fantastic Four, The X-Men, The Hulk, Nick Fury, Thor, Silver Surfer, Black Panther… most likely, they would not have existed; certainly not as the astonishing successes they were.

I will avoid suggesting the American comic book medium would have disappeared decades ago if not for Jack Kirby, although a case could be made for that argument. If Marvel Comics didn’t happen the way it happened, it’s possible that direct sales to comic book stores would not have happened, and that little phenomenon certainly has kept this racket alive.

Nobody put more power, more energy, more excitement onto a single page. Even when he dialogued his own work when he created the Fourth World for DC Comics – and, to be fair, his dialogue was damn close to self-parody – his story, his concepts and his ability to deliver sheer entertainment were so strong the reader would forgive his few shortcomings. In fact, after a couple panels, we usually didn’t notice.

From time to time, artists of subsequent generations would be accused of being too “Kirby-esque.” Well, all artists (including writers, musicians, filmmakers, etc.) tend to reveal their influences, particularly in their early stuff. In comics, there always has been a fine line between influence and imitation. And that applies to Jack himself: the visage of Etrigan the Demon, first published in 1972, bears very close resemblance to a mask worn by Prince Valiant on Christmas Day 1937, drawn by the great Hal Foster. And Jack always was upfront about the source material.

I look at this “influence” thing a bit differently. Instead of accusing an artist of being Kirby-esque, I wonder why some of the others are not. In the early days of their careers, a little Jack Kirby moxie would have helped guide them to their own distinctive abilities.

Sometimes I wonder if some later generation of comics talent will not know of Jack Kirby’s work. I have met many a young’un who was sadly unfamiliar with the work of Alex Raymond, Milton Caniff, Wally Wood, Jack Cole… to name but a few.

I need not worry. If there is one person who has an indelible legacy in the comic art medium, it is Jack Kirby.

•     •     •     •     •

Plug number one: I will be at Wizard World Chicago starting tomorrow, and I will be on two panels: one discussing the bombastic Doctor Who convention of 1982, the first major big-time Who show in the States. For three hot, sweaty days Chicago’s Congress Hotel looked like the San Diego Convention Center on steroids. The other panel will be a tribute to legendary artist Jerry Robinson, on occasion of the publishing of Jerry’s last memoir, Jerry and The Joker. Both panels are on Saturday.

 •     •     •     •     • 

Plug number two: Martha Thomases said it best last Friday, and since I’m about to drive off to the above-mentioned convention I shall re-appropriate her words:

Just a reminder: If you haven’t already, get thee to this Kickstarter page and pledge some money for Mine! the anthology book ComicMix is producing to benefit Planned Parenthood. You might not know it from the Fake News Media, but Planned Parenthood provides necessary health care to millions of people of all ages and genders. In some communities, it is the only place where women can receive pre-natal and post-natal care. In some communities, it is the only place where poor women can get vital cancer screenings. In some communities, it is the only health clinic available, for women and men.

You might also want to pledge so you can get a cool book, with stories by Neil Gaiman, Trina Robbins, Rachel Pollack, Becky Cloonan, Stuart Moore, Mark Said, Amber Benson, Louise Simonson, Jody Houser… and Mike Gold… and Martha Thomases!

Mike Gold: The Comic Con Can-Can

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This weekend, a whole bunch of us ComicMixers will be making our annual trip to the Baltimore Comic-Con. For the record, that’s Martha Thomases, Adriane Nash, Evelyn Krite, G.D. Falksen, and myself. Glenn Hauman and Robert Greenberger  will be in New York at a big ol’ Star Trek convention, Emily S. Whitten will be at Dragon Con, and John Ostrander will be at several Michigan theaters watching Suicide Squad again. Glenn, Robert and Emily also are regulars at BCC, but this year the show shares Labor Day weekend with these other two east coast shows.

Baltimore ArchieYes, life is truly one long and never ending comic book convention. I’ve been going to the “big” ones (big as relevant to its time) since 1968. That’s 48 years, which is longer than most of today’s convention-goers have been alive. That’s about five years longer than KISS has been together, and, like former comics fanzine contributor Gene Simmons, I have long grown incapable of distinguishing between shows.

I’ve done fewer shows this year than I have in decades. That is, in part, a coincidence, but it’s also symptomatic of burn-out. I’m thinking that if I’m still alive in two years, I’ll make it a full half-century by sitting in front of some massive convention center and burn a copy of Superman #1 (the 1938 version) in protest.

And what would I be protesting? Well, to me that rarely matters but in this case I would be publically mourning the lack of comic books at these massive comic book shows. I’m a comic book fan, damnit, and the rest of you should just get off my lawn.

That’s why I go to the Baltimore Comic-Con, and in this I think I speak for my less jaded cohorts. Despite its size and its longevity, the Baltimore show remains focused on comic books. Sure, there are media guests and sure, there’s a lot of cosplay and gaming and such, but the love for comic books and the desire to meet up with others with similar affections permeates every aisle of the show. Kudos to Mark Nathan and his experienced and gifted staff.

As usual, ComicMix will be assaulting the Insight Studios booth – that’s booth #118 – once again proving that Mark Wheatley is the nicest, kindest, and most emotionally tolerant person in the time-space continuum.

Dredd BollandComics as a genre have never done better, but this is entirely because of the flock of movies and television adaptations. The average sales of the traditional comic book sucks and sucks badly, even though such low sales have been balanced somewhat by trade paperbacks, hardcover books, and electronic editions. These days, much of the fun comes from the endless parade of toys and merchandising tie-ins that dominate book stores and convention aisles. If you’re a Harley Quinn completest, your head is going to explode long before you run out of space to store all that stuff.

I still meet lots of people who have never been to a comic book convention and who are anxious to go to one of the bigger shows just to see what the hubbub is about. I envy these folks; that initial sense of wonder is a wonderful feeling.

It can also be overwhelming. We had actor/comedian Margaret Cho set up for an interview at the San Diego Comic Con several years ago. She showed up early (there goes another Hollywood stereotype) and, after scoping out the room, Margaret started to take on the appearance of an agoraphobic. I walked Margaret around the vicinity of our table and made small talk while pointing out the wacky stuff we encountered. That worked: funny appreciates the funny, and there’s lots of that at your average comics show.

I completely understood this feeling. Chester Gould was guest of honor at one of our Chicago Comicons and the turn-out at his booth was intense. Chet declined to returned to the show on Saturday and Sunday. And before he drew a single line for any American publisher, Brian Bolland was convinced nobody would have heard about him. I told him Judge Dredd was bigger here than he thought, and Titan Books had just come out with their first reprint trade – entirely of Brian’s work. As it was with Chet Gould, the turn-out at his booth was intense and Brian opted to stay in his hotel room until he could adjust to the love and enthusiasm of the western hemisphere.

WildcatBut the best part is watching the faces of the small children who are brought there by their fan parents, usually dressed up as the cutest superhero in the universe. They hadn’t had so much visual stimulation in their lives; clearly, they were having great fun. But I strongly suspect that, like Margaret Cho and Brian Bolland, they get overwhelmed and retreat to their portable hidey-hole: napping in the stroller.

Rarely have I heard a small child continuously bawling at a comic book show.

48 years is a long time to do anything, but of course the opportunity to meet up with my friends and to talk with the fans and sign some books and tell some stories is irresistible. I am reminded that first-generation comics pros such as Jerry Robinson and Irwin Hasen regularly attended comics shows until they stopped walking the Earth.

You know, I totally get that.

Joe Corallo: The Joker’s Name

darkdetective1This past weekend was WonderCon out in LA. DC made many announcements about it’s upcoming Rebirth, some of which we already had some idea about. Now we were given information on creative teams, like Scott Snyder heading up All-Star Batman with rotating artists including Sean Murphy and Paul Pope, and James Tynion IV taking the reigns on the soon to be back-numbered Detective Comics. One of the other Bat family announcements was that they will soon be revealing the Joker’s name.

Why?

The short answer is that Batman found out his name when he asked that question on the Möbius chair in Justice League #42 (42, the answer to the ultimate question of life. Coincidence?). The long answer is a combination of figuring out how to handle a decades old franchise coupled with changes in audience expectations.

Now, I know what you might be thinking. Don’t we already know the Joker’s name? Many comic historians will tell you that the Joker is Jerry Robinson. Some out there may still argue his name is Bill Finger or even Bob Kane. Or maybe it was Conrad Veidt?

His name has changed many times over the years. Dick Sprang, Carmine Infantino, Denny O’Neil (Hi Denny!), Neal Adams, and many others. Personally, I liked when the Joker was both Marshall Rogers and Steve Englehart. Maybe sharing two minds helped to fuel his insanity. In more recent years, he’s gone by Frank Miller, Alan Moore, Brian Bolland, Grant Morrison, Dave McKean, Tony Daniel, Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, and many other names.

Conrad Veidt JokerThere are some purists out there who will tell you that no, the Joker only has one name. They’ll argue with you that his one true name is Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, Mark Hamill, or Heath Ledger. Some new Joker worshippers are even claiming that his real name has been Jared Leto all along. Perhaps we’ll find out soon enough.

Now that I’ve had my fun, I’ll address the long answer to that question (kind of the sort of thing the Joker does, isn’t it?) of why we are finding out the Joker’s name. The real answer is we’ve changed a lot as a society. Part of that is entertainment is different. Oddly enough, in the disposable age where we create more garbage than ever, the one thing we won’t discard is a story.

Way back in May of 1939 when Batman debuted, back when the United States was only comprised of the continental 48, comics were not intended to be reprinted the way they are today. Audiences were not expected to stick around either. No one imagined that a nine-year old reading Batman would still follow that character for decades to come. All of that came later. Television was the same way. People used to just pump out television programs and if an episode was rushed and turned out to be pretty bad, who cares! People will forget by next week. Who would ever see it again?

Now that’s all changed. We’ve gone back and we’ve read many of those stories. We’ve tried to make continuity out of stories that were never intended to have any originally because we demand that the world makes sense. We even demand that the Joker makes sense. Part of making the Joker make sense is giving him a name.

Detective_Comics_475Personally, I have less than no interest in the Joker’s name. Just tell me a good story with the character. That’s not the point of the Joker. Audiences want it though. Or we think they do. In the age of the Internet, people want to know everything about the things they like. Many people “keep up” with comics by reading wiki entries of storylines at this point. Maybe it’ll sell a few comics too.

In defense of the decision to reveal the Joker’s name, audiences do appreciate an immersive world and I do appreciate that and I even enjoy that myself. Escapism is easier in a fully fleshed out world that we can imagine. When imaginary worlds leave out pieces of information like that, it can be harder to be immersed in that world. Plus, selling a few comics isn’t and shouldn’t be a bad thing. Having issues of comics sell big in this market helps to allow the wiggle room to try more experimental comics or to keep a critically acclaimed comic that might not be selling as well afloat for a few more months.

Either way, we’re finding out his name whether we like it or not. I could have sworn Tim Burton already told us his name was Jack. I don’t see why Burton would lie to us.

Mike Gold: Alfred, Master of the Butlerverse!

alfred the butler 1943When it comes to the world of heroic fantasy, there have been a hell of a lot of really great butlers. We’ve got such luminaries as Ram Singh (The Spider), Bernardo (Zorro), Cadbury (Richie Rich), Ianto Jones (Torchwood), Lurch (The Addams Family), Max von Mayerling (Sunset Boulevard), two different Smitherses (Veronica Lodge and the Simpsons), Fritz Brenner (Nero Wolfe), Birmingham Brown (Charlie Chan) and of course Edwin Jarvis (The Avengers or Agent Carter – take your pick). There were the Green Hornet’s Kato, but that dude was more of a partner/sidekick than a butler, and Jack Benny’s pal Rochester was only technically a butler. He was actually Benny’s arch-enemy.

But head and shoulders above all other butlers, the king of the mountain of butlers is Bruce Wayne’s own Alfred Pennyworth. You can tell from the actors who played him on film and television – Michael Caine, Jeremy Irons, Michael Gough, Sean Pertwee, David McCallum, Alan Napier, to name but a few.

However, the actor who most looked like the Alfred Pennyworth of comic book and newspaper strip fame was a gentleman named William Austin, and he didn’t even receive screen credit.

Austin played Bruce Wayne’s gentleman’s gentleman in the 1943 serial, aptly named Batman. If you’re curious, you can check him out on TCM Saturday mornings at 10 AM Eastern. In fact, Alfred plays a major role in this coming Saturday’s episode, “Poison Peril.”

If you’ve never seen a movie serial, well, for most these days that’s an acquired taste. Imagine a movie with the budget of Doctor Who. The original 1963 version of Doctor Who. Now imagine spreading that budget out over 260 minutes carved into 15 spine-tinglingish parts. Worse still, Batman was made by Columbia Pictures, which at the time was Hollywood’s bargain basement so we’d better cut that budget in half. If you enjoy wonderful cheapness – and I do – then movie serials should be right up your alley.

This 1943 production starred Lewis Wilson as the title character, and when not in costume he truly looked like the Bruce Wayne of the comics. In costume, he truly looked like an idiot. But he came off a lot better than Douglas Croft’s Robin, who, according to IMDB, was 17 at the time. In costume, he looked like a 40 playing the lead in Eraserhead.

The remarkable J. Carrol Naish played the ominous villain Dr. Daka, the yellow peril of the week as mitigated by World War II. Naish was a world-class character actor with a list of performances as long as your arm. Longer.

The 1943 Batman serial was pretty damn close to its comic book origins, perhaps closer than any other filmed incarnation. But for today’s comic book fan, it is William Austin’s performance as Alfred that is most arresting. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that Jerry Robinson drew him.

The interesting part to this is that it is quite possible that Alfred was redrawn to look like Austin. Introduced in comics shortly before the serial as a short, kind of goofy unmustachioed fat guy, Wikipedia   reports “when the 1943 Batman serial was released, William Austin, the actor who played Alfred, was trim and sported a thin moustache. DC editors wanted the comic Alfred to resemble his cinematic counterpart, so in Detective Comics #83 (January 1944), Alfred vacationed at a health resort, where he slimmed down and grew a mustache.” Wiki isn’t always accurate – they’re doing better – but I’d like to see more in the way of evidence.

There are two reasons why you might want to check this out. The first is that it is fun – slightly goofy fun, but far less goofy than the mid-60s teevee series.

The second is that this Saturday’s episode only runs 17 minutes. It’s worth that much of your life if the only thing you like is the logo.

 

Mike Gold: R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Gold Art 131002From time to time, I find myself in a sort of comfy-awe of our neighbors to the north. Of course, that’s pretty easy this week – Canada’s government is still in business and while it provides its share of amusement, at least it’s not littered with a handful of bratty children who decide to bring everything to a halt because they can’t get their way.

But, as we often say here at ComicMix, I digress. And another respectful shout-out to Peter David, who wishes he could have trademarked that phrase.

The good folks in Canada decided to honor one of its greatest innovators, Toronto-born Joe Shuster. My J-School training obligates me to point out he’s the guy who co-created Superman, but if you didn’t know that you wouldn’t be reading ComicMix.

To commemorate Joe’s existence and his contributions to our global culture, Canada released a limited edition set of silver and gold coins incorporating Superman art (not just Joe’s) and logos. There’s even some Kryptonian lettering on the coins; roughly translated, it says “Bite my Twinkie, Americans!”

The gold coin, which you see above, has an irrelevant face value of $75 (so it’s a real coin) and was put on sale for $750. 58.33% gold (14k), 41.67% silver, proof finish, about a half-inch across and weighing in at a little less than a half ounce. They made 2,000 of these puppies.

And… they sold out faster than a speeding bullet. A quick check at eBay shows them offered for between $1500 and $3700 dollars. That’s in U.S. currency. But, as a comics fan since the age of four (back when all the continents were just one huge land mass), I’m hardly one to bitch about collector’s pricing. Perhaps you’ll make the comparison between the price of these coins and the price Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster got for creating The Man of Steel, but, to be fair, we must do so in constant dollars. That means Jerry and Joe got paid approximately $2500 in 2013 dollars. So they could have taken that payment and purchased one coin. To share. Between them.

The United States doesn’t honor the creators of our culture in this manner. Oh, sure, a few get commemorative stamps, but thus far Jerry and Joe haven’t received their props. The rule of thumb is 10 years after death; Jerry Siegel died 17 years ago, and Joe Shuster went to his Phantom Zone five years before that. But a set of silver and gold coins – that reeks of permanence. It’s really cool.

It would be nice if the United States chose to honor its top comics creators in this manner. I don’t see the Treasury Department aping Canada, but I think a Jack Kirby coin would be in order. Maybe even a Batman gold coin, noting Bob Kane.

I’d buy that… but only if Jerry Robinson’s face was on the coin instead of Kane’s.

THURSDAY MORNING: Dennis O’Neil

THURSDAY AFTERNOON: The Tweeks!

 

Dennis O’Neil, Time Bandit

O'Neil Art 130103Okay, let’s agree that 2012 wasn’t a bad year. It wasn’t a good year, either. (Does that mean it wasn’t tired?) It just…wasn’t. It had no reality other than the one we slathered onto it, and either do minutes, seconds, hours – the whole temporal shebang. (All hands brace for Blather.)

Once upon a time…no, let’s just say once the ancestors who still live deep within us observed certain natural events and recurrences and used them to structure their lives and somewhere in the ancestral murk they gave the intervals between these events names and when a lot of intervals had passed and the universe committed us, we homo sapiens acted as though the names were real and – heck, we probably believe that they are. We place labels on the unknowable and believe the labels are the reality.

Anyone seen a unicorn lately?

There were obvious benefits to believing these illusions – this time stuff. For some of us, probably for most of us, these phantom seconds and hours and so forth help prevent our lives from being a tumble through chaos. If they weren’t useful, evolution would have dispensed with them before now. (Can you define now?)

Of course, not everything is part of an interval and maybe we should be glad. How boring would our lives be if they were ticked off by a metronome? If our happenings were utterly predictable? A little surprise occasionally brightens our…I was going to type “days,” but given the context, it might be better to use the word “existence” instead.

I’ve had some good happenings this past yea…ooops!…this past interval. Enjoyable books, movies, television. Enjoyable companions. A few laughs. New snow in the front yard and dazzling foliage in the fall…ooops again! Not “fall,” not another damn time word. (Maybe “state of existence after a warm interval”?) I’ve taken some interesting courses and finished writing a book and taught a comics writing class and traveled a bit and there is nothing much wrong with any of that. I should be grateful for all of it and I probably am.

But the interval had its negatives, too. My world is emptier without Jerry Robinson and Joe Kubert. Although it was kind of exciting too watch Hurricane Sandy shake the trees outside the window, the storm wasn’t really very friendly. And I could have done without the kinney stoones. It has been a dismal exercise in masochism to learn of the behavior of our politicians and to witness a presidential campaign that might have shamed Thomas Jefferson. Lies have been told and the telling of lies has gone unpunished and we wonder if it is now acceptable to lie. And if it is, what happens next?

That’s what we always want to know, isn’t it? What’s next? And this mystery, this next, is what none of our constructs can help us with. Not que sera sera, not “what will be will be” but rather, “what is, is.”

Have you defined now yet?

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases

DENNIS O’NEIL: Kiss This, Kate!

Once, longer than a while ago, at this time of year, I would make a list of what were, in my opinion, the year’s ten best and ten worst movies. I was writing a column, on movies, for Marvel’s Epic Magazine, and I saw that as part of the job. Not that anybody told me that it was something I had to do, or even should do. But isn’t that a movie critic’s duty? Make these year-end lists? Then, after a year or two, I realized that I was blowing about ten percent of the annual column inches available to me on the year’s worst list and…accomplishing what?

Not much. Nothing, in fact. Unless you count taking easy shots – one liner-type – at other people’s work. Might have made me appear…oh hell, what? Clever? Sophisticated? Maybe witty? Or was it snottiness masquerading as wit?

You may be familiar with Dorothy Parker’s line about Katharine Hepburn: “She runs the gamut of emotions from A to B.” Clever, sophisticated, witty – traits Ms. Parker had solid claim to. But what does it really tell you about Ms. Hepburn, her acting, her rendering of any one role? Are we shedding any light here, friends?

Anyone who’s ever presumed to write or act or sing or dance or tell jokes or do tricks with a yo-yo for others’ entertainment knows that sometimes you miss the mark. Usually it’s not for want to effort. Such failures might merit regret, but not ridicule.

I eighty-sixed the ten worst list, and I doubt that anyone ever missed it. Including me. Including Epic’s editor, Archie Goodwin.

Archie, editor, colleague, friend and the nicest man I ever met, is gone now these…is it really 13 years? I still remember him and sometimes mention him when lecturing. At times of festivity – the holidays; right now – the absence of someone like Archie dims the lights a bit, maybe makes the laughter occasionally forced.

We’ve lost other good and valuable men in 2011, we denizens of the funny book world. Eduardo Barreto. Joe Simon. And Jerry Robinson.

I’ve seen a bit of Jerry these past five years and, always, it was a pleasant experience. But I didn’t realize that he was ill. The other night, Danny Fingeroth, who’d also seen a lot of Jerry recently, told me that Jerry was battling illness for much of that time. Jerry expressed concern when I had a brush with mortality, but said very little about his own problems.

He was gallant, and brave, and in the best sense of the word, a gentleman.

Here, we end our dark-day rumination. It’s Christmas Eve as I write this, fully night, and I’ve had enough of gloom. Pretty soon, Marifran and I will get into her noble Honda Civic and go hither in search of a few groceries – and to see what kind of Christmas decorations our fellow Rocklanders are displaying for our edification.

2012 is waiting in the wings and we welcome it. (Well, okay, we don’t have a lot of choice, but we smile a welcoming smile anyway.)

So ends my catechism.

(Editor’s Note: For those who are not in possession of visual reference, the photo above is of our friend Archie Goodwin.)

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases

DENNIS O’NEIL: ‘Tis The season, continued…

According to some recent news, the sun seems to be bouncing stuff off an invisible, planet-sized object near Mercury. Of course, the smarty-ass scientists have an explanation – don’t they always? – something about how the pictures are processed. Other, more sensible, people have speculated that the invisible thing is a spaceship hidden by a cloaking device, maybe spying on us from two planets away. (Really big binoculars?) I’m afraid that misses the mark, too. The obvious answer is…Santa’s sleigh! Think about it – a cloaking device. Of course. That explains why we’ve never seen it. And the size of a small planet (which is still pretty big)? Well, it can’t exactly be tiny, not when it carries all those toys for good girls and boys.

Now, it’s true that as I look about me I don’t see many good girls and boys. None, in fact.  So maybe the invisible sleigh is full of lumps of coal to be put in the stockings hung by the chimney with care, assuming anyone hangs stockings anymore.  This could be glad tidings. If the coal comes from Mercury – and surely it might – why, we might just have ourselves a source of clean energy.

Isn’t it grand when truth meets science?

***

About 15 years ago, give or take, a movie-involved bearer of my DNA put a video cassette into our VCR and showed us a short cartoon that was going around titled, just a bit sacrilegiously, Jesus vs Santa. The plot was simple: the Jolly Old Elf and Our Lord and Savior duke it out to determine who’s the king of the holiday. I forget who won and that isn’t really important (and herewith I resist the impulse to launch into a diatribe). What is important, or at least interesting, is that the two young guys who perpetrated the cartoon were (and are) named Trey Parker and Matt Stone and what played in our living room was the predecessor of Comedy Central’s champion half-hour, South Park.

The story probably doesn’t have a moral, or even a point, but if you really need one, you could try, You just never know, do you?

***

Jerry Robinson, a man I was proud to know, is gone. Others have celebrated his achievements and accomplishments, his generous spirit, his activism, and his art. I have nothing to add.

But, thinking of Jerry, I remembered a quotation from Raymond Chandler’s Simple Art of Murder: “He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world”

That was Jerry.

RECOMMENDED READING: Jerry Robinson, Ambassador of Comics. By N. Christopher Couch.

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases

MIKE GOLD: R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Like most popular culture websites, we noted the passing last week of Jerry Robinson. Ours had a bit of a personal touch at the end; that’s what makes ComicMix ComicMix. While I was writing the piece I heard the announcement of Jerry’s death on CBS radio. While I was impressed, I wasn’t surprised: the major comics icons get noticed these days, and Jerry certainly was, and is, a comics icon. But such wasn’t always the case.

I first saw a major to-do about the passing of a comics great when ABC-TV noted Jack Kirby’s death back in 1994. For several years prior to that the passing of an occasional comic book creator was noted in the local obituaries but significant folks like Bill Finger didn’t get national play. We weren’t important enough. We were still part of the throwaway culture; adults who read comics were considered morons. Or professionals… but only after Fredric Wertham was toast.

Kirby not only made the network news, he was chosen “Man of the Week” or whatever the segment was called at the time. That meant two things: ABC-TV already had footage of Jack in their library (a bigger deal at the time as teevee networks were only beginning to digitize their files), and the comics medium had finally earned enough respect for producers to deem one of our greatest creators as worthy of such an honor.

From that point, respect for the comics medium continued to grow. Batman instigator Bob Kane received his due and then some, Will Eisner’s passing was well-noted… to name but two. In my eyes, more than all the reviews from the intelligencia, more than all the decent comics-based movies, the national coverage of the passing of our greatest has given validation to the art form.

I read five newspapers every day, one of them a national paper, one the local Norwalk Connecticut paper. Each of these five covered Jerry’s passing. Each and every one. All but one gave the story coverage with a photo and/or art.

A few days after publishing their obit, the New York Daily News did an editorial (above). Okay, Jerry’s Sunday newspaper strip was run in that paper for several years – but that was many decades ago, and if you read their editorial they play up Robinson’s comic book work. He may have created The Joker, but he did not create The Batman. Bill Finger and that other guy did that.

That’s pretty cool. Jerry most certainly deserves the additional recognition, and so does the comic art medium.

And we deserve it, in part, due to Jerry’s contributions to our craft.

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil

DC Comics Remembers Jerry Robinson

DC Comics Remembers Jerry Robinson

English: Jerry Robinson at Comic Con Internati...“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, 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