“Robin the Boy Wonder“ another collaboration by Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson.
Richard John “Dick” Grayson was born on the first day of spring, son of John and Mary Grayson, a young aerialist couple. Robin first appeared in Detective Comics #38 in April 1940. The youngest in a family of acrobats known as the “Flying Graysons”, Robin’s debut was an effort to make Batman a lighter, more sympathetic character. DC Comics also thought a teenaged superhero would appeal to young readers, being an effective audience surrogate, which parallels the “winged” motif of Batman.
In his first appearance, Dick is a circus acrobat, and, with his parents, one of the “Flying Graysons”. While preparing for a performance, Dick overhears two gangsters attempting to extort protection money from the circus owner. The owner refuses, so the gangsters sabotage the trapeze wires with acid. During the next performance, the trapeze from which Dick’s parents are swinging snaps, sending them to their deaths. Before he can go to the police, Batman appears to him and warns him that the two gangsters work for Tony Zucco, a very powerful crime boss, and that revealing his knowledge could lead to his death. When Batman recounts the murder of his own parents, Dick asks to become his aide. After extensive training, Dick becomes Robin. They start by disrupting Zucco’s gambling and extortion rackets. They then successfully bait the riled Zucco into visiting a construction site, where they capture him.
Some influence for Robin’s costume can be seen in this poster for Errol Flynn’s movie “The Adventures of Robin Hood” from 1938.
Finger on the creation of Robin:
Robin was an outgrowth of a conversation I had with Bob. As I said, Batman was a combination of [Douglas] Fairbanks and Sherlock Holmes. Holmes had his Watson. The thing that bothered me was that Batman didn’t have anyone to talk to, and it got a little tiresome always having him thinking. I found that as I went along Batman needed a Watson to talk to. That’s how Robin came to be. Bob called me over and said he was going to put a boy in the strip to identify with Batman. I thought it was a great idea.
Robinson on the creation of Robin:
“The idea of adding that character was Bill’s.”
We had a long list of about 30 names, and we kept adding others. The names are very important for the characters. Bill was very specific about that, as well as Bob. Most of the names, as I recall, were of mythological origin — Mercury and others. None of them sounded right to me, or to anybody, because we never agreed on any one.
My reservation was that I thought that it should be a name that evoked an image of a real kid. He didn’t have superpowers, nor did Batman. That was what distinguished it from Superman and the other superheroes. I thought the boy should be the same. And thinking of a more human name, I came up with Robin because “the Adventures of Robin Hood” were boyhood favorites of mine. I had been given a Robin Hood book illustrated by N. C. Wyeth — I think it was a 10th or 12th birthday present. It was a big, very handsome book for the time, very elaborate because it had full-color illustrations, maybe a dozen throughout the book. It was the full text with full-plate tip-ins. I remembered those because I had pored over them so many times as a kid. I had a vision of Robin Hood just as Wyeth drew him in his costume, and that’s what I quickly sketched out when I suggested [the name] Robin, which they seemed to like, and then showed them the costume. And if you look at it, it’s Wyeth’s costume, from my memory, because I didn’t have the book to look at. But it is pretty accurate: the fake mail pants, the red vest, upon which I added the little “R” to correspond with Batman’s bat on his chest. When I started to letter the strip, every legend I did started off with a little round drop-out white letter. So I thought of that for the vest.
Robin proved popular enough to star in his own solo adventures in the pages of Star Spangled Comics #65–130 (1947–1952)
Robin has appeared in other media some of which are listed below:
< Douglas Croft: “Batman Serial” 1943
< Johnny Duncan: “Adv. Batman and Robin Serial” 1949
< Burt ward: “Batman 66” t.v. series
< Casey Kasem: (voice) “Super Friends”
< Loren Lester: (voice) “Batman: TAS”
< Chris O’Donnell: “Batman Forever”
< Scott Menville: (voice) “Teen Titans Go!”
< Jesse McCartney: (voice) “Young Justice”
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Source: DC Wiki, Bill Finger Appreciation Group