Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Jerry Robinson previously unpublished interview, 6/9/06; part 2 of 3

Part 1.

When was the first time you guys [on the Batman creative team] started to feel like celebrities? Was that a feeling back then or not quite that early?

No, not generally. The only time I felt like a celebrity was back in my home town. A local celebrity.

Can you think of any anecdotes about Bill that you haven’t told anybody else? Something that gives a little bit of texture to him, like a joke that he made or something that he once did that made a big influence on the strip?

If something pops to my head, I’ll tell you.

Did you know his parents?


Did he ever talk about them?

Not very much.

And he didn’t have siblings, right?

No, not that I know of. 

[NOTE: turns out he did]

Did you know [Bill
’s son] Freddie?

I knew him when he was a baby. He was a, you know, uh…he was a…Batman was long gone—Bill was long gone before he grew up to know anything about it.

[NOTE: Jerry’s timeline was off. Bill died in 1974, the year Fred turned 26.]

You mean before Freddie knew what was going on?


So you never saw Freddie as an adult?

No. I may have once. I was trying to think of that the other day. I know I spoke to Portia about him several times. I can’t remember meeting him. If I did, it wasn’t very much.

Do you remember Bill talking about him?

Only as a child, when he was young.

Was Freddie born while you guys were already working on Batman?

No, I think he was born later, as I recall? At least it might have been after I had left Batman, not Bill.

And what year did you leave?

I left about ‘47.

Was Judaism important to Bill?

Not that I recall.

Do you know what his inspiration was for his oversized props? You drew oversized villains on the covers. I was wondering if that might have influenced him or he influenced you?

I also drew oversized props. I haven’t thought of where that began. I know I used them in my covers ‘cause I tried to do very symbolic covers and splash pages if you ever looked at them. I never tried to do a literal theme.

So you don’t remember where you guys—

[unintelligible] track it down. I know he had employed them in his scripts. I would hesitate to take credit for them, but who knows, I might have done [here?] without even thinking of it, [thinking?] of doing a symbolic cover, you know, obviously has part of the symbolism.

Did you guys ever have a moment where you felt, to use a modern word, “cool”—like if you were on the street and you saw some kids eagerly buying a Batman comic?

Yeah, I would say that might have occurred. I [could] remember that, yes. It’s kind of marveling that it was so part our culture already.

Do you have a specific incident in mind?

Not with Bill… [tells the Cuba story that’s also in one of his Alter Ego interviews]

What did Bill look like?

[NOTE: At the time of this interview, I’d seen only the two regularly republished photos of Bill, neither of which was an especially clear likeness; I went on to uncover close to a dozen others.]

He was not tall. I’m not tall either but I think he might’ve been a little shorter than me. I was like five eight 5’8” or something. I think he was [slightly?] shorter. He was a little stocky—not heavy. Strong. As you probably know, he loved golf.

Was he balding?

Not at that time.

But later?

Later he was.

Did he have a certain style?

No, I don’t think he was that concerned with fashion. I think it was just everyday stuff.

What did his workspace look like?

He worked in his apartment. The times that I visited he and Portia there, it was just a part of the living room, but he may have had a study, I’m trying to remember now, with files. I think he did, because he had extensive files.

In filing cabinets?


And back then they were probably wood, right?

I would guess. Although we had steel files then [too]. We’re not talking about prehistoric times. (we both laugh)

Part 3.

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