This month, as the holiday season celebrated by gift giving approaches its crescendo, the comic industry has lost two giants in the field that have played significant roles in giving the world the gift of a comics industry that we have all come to know and love. Without the creative efforts and genius of these two men the Golden Age of comics may have been nothing more than a blip on our cultural radar. They, along with all the Golden Age comic book pioneers, gave a gift that keeps on giving: their talents, energies and inspiration. We could never thank them enough.
Jerry Robinson was the creator of the Joker, a nemesis that defined the Batman. Robinson also co-created the boy wonder, Robin, but was probably most notable for his valiant championing of creator’s rights. He fought for compensation to Superman creators Siegel and Shuster. He went as far as traveling to Uruguay and the Soviet Union to help free jailed political cartoonists. He was dauntlessly motivated to protect creators.
Joe Simon was an industrious creator having been a writer, artist, editor and publisher. He teamed with Jack Kirby to co-create Captain America and many other superheroes while also pioneering the comic genres of romance, horror and satire.
I’ve written in the past about the legacy and lessons that comic creators leave behind when they die. This is true of these two legends as well.
Regarding the current tough economic times that most creators face, inspiration can be found in Joe Simon’s words from a 2009 interview with Graphic NYC:
“There were a lot of times when artists were unemployed in this business, and we had to make our own jobs by creating something off the beaten track, a new type of hero or something entirely different like Young Romance. We were the guys that were up to the task.”
Ever resourceful and resilient Simon forged paths in the industry that created jobs and opportunities not just for himself and his partner but generations of comic creators to follow. That is not just an inspiration to the creators of today but a challenge to be equally resourceful and willing to overcome the obstacles of the current market.
Jerry Robinson’s legacy is one of creative diligence. Robinson’s lifelong fight for creators rights demands that we be better educated about the legal matters that protect the ownership of our own creations. More than ever we have the ability to be the stewards of our intellectual property and profit from our works fairly thanks to standard-bearers like Jerry Robinson who waved the flag of righteousness for creators past, present and future.
With the new year upon us and the comics market possibly poised for tumultuous change, move forward with a keen eye to the past so the lessons learned from great masters of the medium like Jerry Robinson, Joe Simon and so many others from that great generation of the Golden Age of Comics are not forgotten but are used as a source of empowerment for a better, more creatively exciting and profitable comics industry of tomorrow.
Making Comics Because I Want To