EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is an “Old School BOF” article from 2010. Enjoy! – Bill “Jett” Ramey
EVENT: “Spotlight on Jerry Robinson” with Michael Uslan (host) and Jerry Robinson
DATE: July 23, 2010
LOCATION: Comic Con International San Diego 2010
TOPIC: “Who Created The Joker?”
“For better or worse,” said Jerry Robinson when asked by Michael Uslan, “I did create The Joker.”
Before continuing, Robinson wanted to emphasize that Bill Finger deserves to be credited as the co-creator of Batman alongside Bob Kane. Then, Robinson broke down just how the Clown Prince of Crime was created.
Robinson, Kane, and Finger were assigned the job of writing four stories to be featured in the premiere issue of BATMAN. They were used to writing single stories every month for DETECTIVE COMICS, but now having to produce four, Robinson agreed to write one of the stories in addition to providing the artwork.
RELATED: BATMAN #1 Retrospective
Robinson knew — in the literary sense — that great characters often had contradiction. When it came time to create a villain, Robinson figured that contradiction should be for the villain to have a sense of humor. That thought led Robinson to the name “Joker.” That led Robinson to find a deck of playing cards because he really wanted to use the image of a joker card for inspiration.
Robinson then began outlining a story that would have this “Joker” being to outwit Batman.
Uslan asked Robinson about Bob Kane’s claim that he created The Joker based on Conrad Veidt’s appearance in the film THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. Robinson said that Kane did indeed present him with the image of Veidt, but that was “after the fact.”
Basically, Robinson had already created The Joker and Kane simply recognized that the character in Robinson’s original sketch resembled Veidt and pointed it out to Robinson and Bill Finger.
Despite the controversy/disagreement about who really created The Joker (and other major Batman characters), Robinson said he did have some fond memories of Bob Kane.
While “out in the country” right prior to starting college at Syracuse University, Robinson was approached by Kane after seeing some sketches by Robinson that he had at his table. (Mr. Robinson didn’t say how both he and Bob Kane were “out in the country.”)
Kane asked Robinson — who hadn’t yet heard of Batman — who had sketched those images. After saying it was him, Kane offered Robinson job on the spot.
For much more on the life of Jerry Robinson, pick up a copy of the book, JERRY ROBINSON: AMBASSADOR OF COMICS. – Bill “Jett” Ramey