September 7, 2010

Book Review - JERRY ROBINSON: Ambassador of Comics

If you've been reading the Bat-Blog for any length of time it probably didn't take you very long, maybe a few seconds, to find out that I'm totally obsessed with Batman! ( ha ha ) So, when I heard the news that Abrams was going to publish a definitive biography about Jerry Robinson's life, I was pretty excited! I mean, Jerry Robinson was right there with Bob Kane & Bill Finger during the early creation of Batman. He drew most of the iconic Golden Age Batman artwork we now enjoy, especially the comic book covers. He is the person who created the greatest villain in pop culture history, The Joker! He also co-created Robin, the Boy Wonder! What I'm getting at is this, his contribution to the character is extremely important. So, as both a serious Batman fan & comic book history nut, I couldn't wait till this came out. The book I'm talking about is titled JERRY ROBINSON: AMBASSADOR OF COMICS.

It is the very 1st illustrated biography of the comics legend & it was written by N. C. Christopher Couch ( who had direct access to Jerry the whole time ). The book is loaded with beautiful artwork & photos from his entire career. Which, by the way, is still going on. It starts out like any other biography, telling his parent's history & sharing his childhood story. Which, is very interesting, but the great thing is that it gets to the "Batman part" pretty quick, ha ha! Now, when you're reading this book it's done in a style where you feel like you are "right there in the moment". So, hearing the origin of the Batman character & how it all came about is pretty cool. We find out how Bob Kane & Jerry Robinson actually met for the 1st time. There's a ton of "behind the scene" details on who did what & how. There's a lot of things I never knew about the actual characters that I was very pleased with learning. For example, Alfred the Butler was not introduced in the comic book. He made his 1st appearance in the 1940's Batman Movie Serials, & then later, was added as a comic book character ( Weird I never knew that ). The book goes into great details about the whole "Batman events" thing, which is just really great stuff! Now, to be honest, I thought I might be bored once they got out of the "Batman era", but I wasn't ( no offense to Jerry! ). Mr. Robinson had a very full career outside of comic books doing Illustration Work, Syndicated Comic Strips, & Political Comics. A lot of this stuff I was not familiar with because it ran in popular newspapers I never saw. Plus, he did draw, write, create, many other comic books & hearing those stories are just as wonderful.

Now, back to the actual book. The quality of the printing was the very 1st thing I was really impressed with. I'm a serious reader ( and even collect books ) & I love a well-designed book. The cover is beautiful, the inside photos & illustrations are BEAUTIFUL! I spent a lot of time enjoying the full-page photos of the original art for many of the comic book covers, especially the Batman ones. They almost always present the original art right next to the actual comic book. Both pictures are so extremely sharp that it's almost like you're looking at the real thing, it's a very neat experience. They also have a photo of the very 1st Joker drawing, the prototype, that's really neat to see. I guess I need to add some technical information, like: It's a hardcover with dust-jacket, it measures about 8" X 11", & has 224 pages. It also has 220 full-color illustrations & it's retail price is about $35.00. So, overall, I gotta say that this book is very well written, very high-quality, & if you're a serious Batman Fan, it will make you drool for days! Oh yeah, TFAW has it on sale, just click the button down below:

1 comment:

Andy Fish said...

Doing my best Simpson's Comic Book Guy voice:

Alfred was introduced first in the comics in Batman #16 cover dated APR/MAY 1943-- and he was depicted as clean shaven and portly brit named Alfred Beagle.

William Austin played a very skinny Alfred who sported a tiny moustache in the serial which was filmed in March 1943 and then released in July.

The comic books changed his appearance because of the popularity of the actor's performance.

Knowing production schedules it's very possible the Batman creators were given a copy of the script-- which I have around here somewhere and I remember as being dated Dec 1942-- and they incorporated the character into the mythos.

But the print Alfred appeared first.