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Frank Robbins 1917 - 1994

Frank Robbins

This page updated June 28, 2008

Frank Robbins
1917 - 1994

Robbins brush work is beautiful, black, curving stuff. Robbins fills his solid patches heavily, and the dry brushing he adds for texture is a school all in itself. Robbins best work in the comic book format is so "alive" with movement and a beautiful light/dark balance that it sad his work is so often dismissed by comics fans as "wrong".

Frank Robbins artwork is unique in a number of ways and there are many admirers of his style among comic book professionals. His style would shift slightly between his comic book work and his strip work Frank Robbins Artworkfor newspapers (he originated the adventure strip Johnny Hazard and drew it until it stopped in 1977) - - the somewhat more 'realistic' approach to his comic book pages reflects the larger size available for him to work with and the inherently different demands a page requires versus the three-panel newspaper strip.

Robbins inventively utilized panel sizes for both page placement and for what he put inside of them. His figure anatomy was well within comic book conventions, but he was obviously not bound by it in any meaningful way as his figures turn, twist and jump around like animated characters in contrast to the stand and pose style. This difference comes off as if he intended to deliberately inject a dash of humor into his depictions of humankind. With Robbins there is not long dwelling upon abdominal muscles – something you can certainly find in abundance elsewhere. He drew dramatic, theatrical images, but he bent his figures and graphic forms into the demands of telling the story efficiently.

Robbins head modeling is formulaic, but it is a formula unique to his style and stylized exactly. Its obviously derived from classic comic strip styling (e.g., Milt Caniff) but Robbins is not stiff in this regard but absolutely rubbery in how he gets human expressions across a face. His characters are not particularly contemplative but expressive and unrestrained in showing emotion.

He was a very good letterer. His story writing skills were employed in Detective Comics during the 1960s and 1970s, and though they were not anything that went beyond the adventure format of the Batman character of those days, his plots and stories made sense - - not something I can say about all the stories I have seen from Batman comics. He was very, very good at making a 12 page (or far shorter) story "work." Whether as the writer, or artist (or both) he could fit within whatever number of pages he had to make do with.

But it is with his drawing and brush work that Robbins is the most expressive. Be sure to look at the 21 sample pages below.


LINKS FOR FRANK ROBBINS:

Wikipedia has a brief page on Robbins here.

The National Cartoonists Society has an autobiographical piece here.

A page on Frank Robbins at Lambiek is here.

There is a forum string at Sketchbooksessions.com that has pages of Robbins art and information here

The Book Palace has a mass of original Johnny Hazard art for sale here.


PAGE IMAGES
Click on the page images [below] for image enlargements.

Adventure into Fear #25
December 1974
Published by Marvel Comics

Robbins Morbius - Frank Robbins 1974

Detective Comics #420
February 1972
Published by DC Comics, Copyright DC Comics

Frank Robbins Batman 1972 - Frank Robbins Batman 1972

Frank Robbins Batman 1972 - Frank Robbins Batman 1972

Detective Comics #426
August 1972
Published by DC Comics, Copyright DC Comics

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The Shadow #8
Dec-January 1975
Published by DC Comics, Copyright DC Comics

Frank Robbins - Frank Robbins

The Shadow #7
Oct-Nov 1974
Published by DC Comics, Copyright DC Comics

The Shadow-

Frank Robbins The Shadow Artwork-

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House of Mystery #228
Dec - January 1974-1975
Published by DC Comics, Copyright DC Comics

Weird Mystery #16
Feb - Mar 1975
Published by DC Comics, Copyright DC Comics

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Detective Comics #429
November 1972
Published by DC Comics, Copyright DC Comics

Frank Robbins Batman Artwork -

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Weird War #27
July 1974
Published by DC Comics, Copyright DC Comics

Weird War #21
Jan 1974
Published by DC Comics, Copyright DC Comics

Written by Erik Weems ©2007
Artwork is by Frank Robbins
Copyright 1972 - 1975 DC Comics

 


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