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"Batman" cartoonist Jerry Robinson dead at 89

(Reuters) - Jerry Robinson, a comic book artist who was among the earliest Batman illustrators and was credited with creating the characters of sidekick Robin and archvillain The Joker, has died at age 89.

Robinson died in his sleep on Wednesday at a New York hospice, his family and associates said.

Robinson, a New Jersey native, came into the Batman fold under the wing of creator Bob Kane.

He was largely credited with creating the Joker character, telling the New York Times in an 2010 interview that the name came to him first, "then I thought of the playing card." Kane, who died in 1998, often claimed he had co-created the character.

Robinson also came up with Robin, Batman's sidekick, as well as other recurring characters including Alfred, millionaire Bruce Wayne's loyal butler, and the villain Two Face.

Robinson started out drawing political and editorial cartoons, and continued that work throughout his lengthy career. He also worked for the cause of creators' rights.

Often appearing at conferences and conventions, he also served as president of the National Cartoonists Society, and wrote the seminal book "The Comics: An Illustrated History of Comic Strip Art."

Robinson was the subject of a 2010 biography "Jerry Robinson, Ambassador of Comics." In 2004 he was inducted into the Comic Book Hall of Fame.

DC Entertainment co-publisher Jim Lee said in a statement that "Everyone who loves comics owes Jerry a debt of gratitude for the rich legacy that he leaves behind."

(Reporting and writing by Chris Michaud in New York; editing by Bob Tourtellotte in Los Angeles)

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