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Jerry Robinson, cartoonist who created Batman rival Joker, dies

The Joker

The Joker Credit: DC Comics

It's a sad day in Gotham City.

Jerry Robinson, the comic book artist who created one of comics' earliest villains -- Batman's nemesis the Joker -- died Wednesday night in his New York City home. He was 89.

"Jerry Robinson was an innovator, a pioneer in storytelling," Batman editor Mike Marts said in a statement Thursday. "The streets of Gotham City are a little lonelier today ... Jerry will truly be missed."

Robinson began drawing cartoons at 17, working on the original Batman comic book while still a journalism student at Columbia University. He is credited with naming and costuming Batman's sidekick, Robin, and Alfred, his trusty butler.

In addition to his comic book creations, Robinson worked extensively to protect cartoonists' rights. In the 1970s, he helped Superman creators Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel fight DC Comics to get paid for profits made off of their superhero.

"Everyone who loves comics owes Jerry a debt of gratitude," said Jim Lee, DC Entertainment co-publisher and a Batman artist.

Robinson hung on to original comic-book drawings from early in his career, in an era where such work was routinely tossed by publishers. He sold two important pieces, including one featuring the Joker, last year.

"Nobody had a real appreciation of the art form," Robinson told amNewYork last year. "I can't say I had the foresight to think it was so valuable. We would just save [the art] from destruction and save it for the studio wall."

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