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Oh So Serious

Shivah Stars

Marc Tracy
December 15, 2011

Each week, we select the most interesting Jewish obituary. Today it’s that of Jerry Robinson, who died last week at 89. Robinson was a comic book artist (yes, a Jewish comic book artist, imagine that!) whose most famous creation can be seen to the left as portrayed by Heath Ledger in 2008’s The Dark Knight. Robinson was brought on to the Batman team by the legendary Bob Kane when the Caped Crusader was still in his infancy—Gotham’s hero was supposed to serve as a counterpart to Siegel and Shuster’s Superman. In 1940, only a year after Batman’s debut, the world met Batman’s chief nemesis (also famously portrayed by Cesar Romero and Jack Nicholson, though I’ll cop to preferring Burgess Meredith’s Penguin to them all) in Batman #1.

Robinson continued as a comics artist while also looking out for other comic artists, including a persecuted Uruguayan satirist in the 1980s and Siegel and Shuster themselves, who were locked in a long copyright battle with DC Comics. Interestingly, though Joker’s provenance is disputed—Kane claimed he and another writer created him, while Robinson said it was him; most historians believe Robinson—nobody denies that it was Robinson who gave birth to another character from the Batman series: Robinson’s son is … Robin.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.