Anyone who enjoys delving into comics history will find this new large hardcover book from Abrams a delight. As the title suggests, it’s a celebration of the life and work of Jerry Robinson, from his earliest days working with Bob Kane on Batman, where he created The Joker and helped in the creation of many other seminal characters, through his other career ventures into comic strips, editorial cartoons, teaching, starting an international comics syndicate, fine art, advertising, and crusading for social causes like getting justice for Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster as creators of Superman.
What it’s not is an in-depth biography, though there is certainly some of that, and Jerry’s early days are fun to read about, as are his ever-widening artistic circle of friends, work-mates and industry contacts. But the biographical material is largely anecdotal, stories told by Jerry to the main author, Christopher Couch, and there is little that might be called controversial. Jerry prefers to remember the good times, and who can blame him?
As expected from an Abrams book, there are lots and lots of great examples of Jerry’s art, from early covers like this one through many examples of work I’d never heard of like stories featuring the comics hero London and the comic strip “Jet Scott.” Many examples of Jerry’s later comic strips like “Classroom Flubs and Fluffs,” and “Still Life,” too. I remember seeing those in the papers, but never connected them to the early Batman artist.
Jerry Robinson’s life has, indeed, been an amazing journey through the 20th century and into the 21st, and this book is a wonderful tribute to him and that life. You’ll learn a great deal about all kinds of subjects relating to art in this book, and come away with a new appreciation for Jerry, as I did. Highly recommended!