Frank Robbins

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Frank Robbins
Frank Robbins c. 1975
BornFranklin Robbins
(1917-09-09)September 9, 1917
Boston, Massachusetts
DiedNovember 28, 1994(1994-11-28) (aged 77)
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Area(s)Writer, Penciller
Notable works
Detective Comics
The Invaders
Johnny Hazard

Franklin Robbins (September 9, 1917 [1] – November 28, 1994) was a notable American comic book and comic strip artist and writer, as well as a prominent painter whose work appeared in museums including the Whitney Museum of American Art, where one of his paintings was featured in the 1955 Whitney Annual Exhibition of American Painting.


Early life

Born in Boston, Robbins was in his teens when he received a Rockefeller grant and scholarships to the Boston Museum and the National Academy of Design in New York.[ citation needed ]


Robbins' early career included work as an assistant to Edward Trumbull on his NBC building murals, and creating promotional materials for RKO Pictures.

Comic strips

In 1939, the Associated Press hired Robbins to take over the aviation strip Scorchy Smith which he drew until 1944. Robbins created his Johnny Hazard strip in 1944 and worked on it for more than three decades until it ended in 1977. [2] Robbins' Johnny Hazard comic book was published by Standard Comics from August 1948 to May 1949. The Sunday strips were reprinted in a full-color volume published by the Pacific Comics Club. Other reprints were published by Pioneer Comics and Dragon Lady Press. [3]

Comic books

Cover for Johnny Hazard #7 (April 1949) Jhaz7comicbook.jpg
Cover for Johnny Hazard #7 (April 1949)

In 1968, Robbins began working as a writer for DC Comics. His first story for that publisher appeared in Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #83 (May 1968). He became the writer of Superboy [4] as of issue #149 (July 1968) and began writing Batman and Detective Comics the following month. [5] Robbins and artist Irv Novick crafted the story which revealed the last name of Batman's butler Alfred Pennyworth in Batman #216 (Nov. 1969). [6] It was later revealed that Robbins had simply used the name created by former DC editor Whitney Ellsworth for the Batman syndicated comic strip. [7] The Robbins and Novick team was instrumental in returning Batman to the character's gothic roots as in the story "One Bullet Too Many". [8] [9]

Working with editor Julius Schwartz and artists Neal Adams and Irv Novick, he would revitalize the character with a series of noteworthy stories reestablishing Batman's dark, brooding nature. [10] He introduced Jason Bard as a supporting character in Detective Comics #392 (Oct. 1969) and later wrote a series of backup stories featuring the character. [11] Man-Bat was co-created by Robbins and Neal Adams in Detective Comics #400 (June 1970). [12] Robbins and Novick created the Ten-Eyed Man in Batman #226 (Nov. 1970) [13] and the Spook in Detective Comics #434 (April 1973). [14] Robbins helped launch the Plop! title [15] and briefly drew DC's licensed version of The Shadow [16] before moving to Marvel Comics. There he launched the Invaders series with writer Roy Thomas in 1975 [17] and co-created the characters Union Jack, [18] Spitfire, [19] and the Kid Commandos. [20] Other Marvel work included Captain America [21] and Ghost Rider as well as the licensed characters Human Fly and Man from Atlantis . His final new comics work was published in the black-and-white magazine The Tomb of Dracula vol. 2 #2 (Dec. 1979). [5]

Later life and death

Robbins moved to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and spent his final years focusing on painting. He died of a heart attack on November 28, 1994. [22]


The Frank Robbins collection at Syracuse University has 1,090 original Johnny Hazard strips, consisting of 934 daily strips and 156 Sunday strips. [23]


Interior pencil work (except where noted) includes:

DC Comics

Marvel Comics

Standard Comics

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  1. Miller, John Jackson (June 10, 2005). "Comics Industry Birthdays". Comics Buyer's Guide . Iola, Wisconsin. Archived from the original on February 18, 2011.
  2. "Frank Robbins". Lambiek Comiclopedia. 2012. Archived from the original on October 14, 2012.
  3. Markstein, Don (2010). "Johnny Hazard". Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on December 15, 2013. Retrieved December 15, 2013.
  4. Levitz, Paul (2010). "The Silver Age 1956-1970". 75 Years of DC Comics The Art of Modern Mythmaking. Cologne, Germany: Taschen. p. 325. ISBN   9783836519816. In 1969, Superboy...swerved radically from the complacent Super-house style once writer Frank Robbins came aboard...Overnight the comic was reinvented with realistic teen angst, natural dialogue, and a sex appeal that was only aided by the inks of good-girl artist Wally Wood.
  5. 1 2 Frank Robbins at the Grand Comics Database
  6. Forbeck, Matt; Dougall, Alastair, ed. (2014). "1960s". Batman: A Visual History. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 103. ISBN   978-1465424563. Writer Frank Robbins and artist Irv Novick revealed Alfred's last name as Pennyworth.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  7. "Letters to the Batcave ( letter page )" Batman  220(March 1970)
  8. McAvennie, Michael; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1960s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 135. ISBN   978-0-7566-6742-9. When Dick Grayson moved out of Wayne Manor to begin college, writer Frank Robbins and artist Irv Novick orchestrated a chain reaction of events that forever altered Batman's personality.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  9. Robbins, Frank (w),  Novick, Irv  (p),  Giordano, Dick  (i). "One Bullet Too Many!" Batman  217(December 1969)
  10. Greenberger, Robert; Manning, Matthew K. (2009). The Batman Vault: A Museum-in-a-Book with Rare Collectibles from the Batcave. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Running Press. p. 26. ISBN   978-0-7624-3663-7. Editor Julius Schwartz had decided to darken the character's world to further distance him from the camp environment created by the 1966 ABC show. Bringing in the talented [Dennis] O'Neil as well as the innovative Frank Robbins and showcasing the art of rising star Neal Adams...Schwartz pointed Batman in a new and darker direction, a path the character still continues on to this day.
  11. Wells, John (May 2013). "The Master Crime-File of Jason Bard". Back Issue! . Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (64): 39–43.
  12. McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 140: "Scripter Frank Robbins and artist Neal Adams [issued] 'The Challenge of the Man-Bat!'"
  13. McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 141: "Scripter Frank Robbins and artist Irv Novick gave Batman two handfuls of trouble in this issue."
  14. Manning, Matthew K. "1970s" in Dougall, p. 114: "Scripter Frank Robbins and penciller Irv Novick introduced a new villain, the green-robed Spook, in this comic."
  15. McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 156
  16. Schweier, Philip (July 2016). "Shedding Light on The Shadow". Back Issue!. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (89): 12–14.
  17. Sanderson, Peter; Gilbert, Laura, ed. (2008). "1970s". Marvel Chronicle A Year by Year History. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 170. ISBN   978-0756641238. In 1975, [Roy] Thomas and adventure comic strip artist Frank Robbins created the Invaders.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  18. Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 175: "In July [1976], Roy Thomas and artist Frank Robbins introduced the British World War I hero Union Jack."
  19. Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 178
  20. Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 186: "In May [1978], the Invaders team of writer Roy Thomas and artist Frank Robbins introduced the Kid Commandos, a World War II team of costumed teen super heroes."
  21. Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 168
  22. Aushenker, Michael (Spring 2013). "The Mexican Sunset of Frank Robbins". Comic Book Creator. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (1): 14–21.
  23. "Frank Robbins Cartoons". Syracuse University. n.d. Archived from the original on October 30, 2013.
Preceded by
Leo Dorfman
Superboy writer
Succeeded by
Leo Dorfman
Preceded by
Gardner Fox
Batman writer
Succeeded by
Len Wein
Preceded by
Gardner Fox
Detective Comics writer
Succeeded by
Archie Goodwin
Preceded by
Archie Goodwin
Star Spangled War Stories writer
Succeeded by
David Michelinie
Preceded by
Michael Kaluta
The Shadow artist
Succeeded by
E. R. Cruz
Preceded by
The Invaders artist
Succeeded by
Alan Kupperberg
Preceded by
Sal Buscema
Captain America artist
Succeeded by
Jack Kirby