Ditko Essays: In memory of Jerry Robinson

It was two weeks ago today that comic giant Jerry Robinson peacefully passed away.

To remember the great illustrator, who once taught Steve Ditko in the fifties, Craig Yoe (of yoebooks.com) has given us permission to post Robinson’s article “Student and Teacher”  from “The Art of Ditko” book he published in 2009.

Student and Teacher
(Jerry Robinson)

I met Steve when he applied to my class for cartoon illustration at the School of Visual Arts in the 1950s. I taught for ten years at SVA, but I met him as a student at the height of the cartooning classes. I had about 30-40 students every semester, and many were competitive talents who went on to successful careers in comics. Steve became good friends with Eric Stanton, whom he met in my class.

I recognized  that Steve had a special talent right away. He was very dedicated, and always quiet and reserved. He really took in everything that I tried to convey to him and was very serious about it. A good part of making it was the depth of dedication and the hard work put in. Students could have a lot of natural talent, but hard work and dedication are what made them successful. I was impressed because Steve did put in the hard work and tried to participate in our discussion on anatomy, perspective, drapery, you name it.

Steve was very creative and a very good craftsmen. I think I might have had something to do with influencing his storytelling because that’s what I emphasized in my class. I tried to teach the students how to think about the comic, what they wanted to do with it, and that drawing was the tool. I think I made him a good storyteller. He showed so much promise I recommended him for a second year. He was in my class for two years, four or five days a week, five hours a night. It was very intense.

I began to invite editors and artists to talk to the class. I once called Stan lee, who was editor of Timely at the time.This was before The Marvel Era. I think that was when Stan first saw Steve’s work. Whenever I had a student who was at a professional level, I would recommend them to publishers and art directors. Inking and lettering were a good way for them to break in, so I made sure to include that in the course. One year, my class as a whole made $30,000 doing these jobs.

I knew Steve would make it because of his intensity and concentration. It was fascinating, over the years, when somebody like him made it in the field. I was not just giving something; I was receiving a lot. I learned a lot teaching and I could see it in my work. I’m sure I learned something from Steve Ditko’s concentration and dedication.

Thanks again to Craig Yoe and Yoe! Books for allowing DitkoCultist to post this article.

If you liked the article you can read it along with many of Steve Ditko’s early work and other article contributions by John Romita,  Stan Lee and P. Craig Russell in “The Art of Steve Ditko” hardcover that is available from yoebooks.com and Amazon.

Remember Jerry Robinson.

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