16 May 2010

The Wit and Wisdom of Comics Alliance on Robin

I had a different idea for this weekly Robin, but then Chris Sims and David Uzumeri discussed the top kid sidekicks in comic books at Comics Alliance, and I simply had to quote from their conversation:

  • Uzumeri: I love Dick Grayson, the original, the carnie kid taken in by a billionaire who indulged him in his own delayed childhood, Bruce’s physical younger brother and emotional older. I love Jason Todd, the angsty, rebellious teenager with the cojones to lift the wheels off the Batmobile. I love how he was the pissy, you’re-an-asshole Robin who kept calling Bruce on his hypocrisy. He was the punk Robin. I loved Tim Drake, the self-made, self-motivated Batman and Robin fanboy who forced himself into the legacy purely with his wits and his drive. I even love Stephanie Brown. And my GOD, do I love Damian Wayne.
  • Sims: I mean, he was really easy for me to relate to as a kid because I didn’t necessarily want to BE Batman, but I definitely wanted to hang out with Batman.
  • Uzumeri: Nobody wants to have their parents horribly murdered, but everyone wants to hang out in a cave that looks like the TARDIS meets FAO Schwarz.
  • Sims: I’ve always wanted to have a miniature version of myself that would run around and distract people while I punched them in the face. It’s kind of the American Dream, when you think about it.
  • Uzumeri: Dick Grayson’s problems largely have to do with trying to figure out which superhot lady he’s going to get with that night, or having to call up Batman again and remind him to talk to people.
  • Uzumeri: I totally picture Batman as the kind of guy who realizes he’s lonely and wants to hang out with Robin so he calls in a bomb threat at the nice restaurant Robin’s having dinner with some lady at.
  • Uzumeri: Speedy is the most editorially abused of all kid sidekicks. His life is a nonstop train of tragedy. It’s like if Green Arrow is supposed to be a lighter version of Batman, then all of his sidekicks need to be really dark.
  • Uzumeri: Dick Grayson keeps getting older but Bruce Wayne stays the same age
  • Sims: I’ve read a lot of Silver Age Batman comics, and I can pretty much assure you that the story with Gaggy is the most weirded-out I’ve ever seen Batman and Robin. All of their reactions seem to be just totally creeped out.
It becomes clear from Uzumeri’s comments and conceptions of the Robins that he became a fan after Tim Drake took on the role in the early 1990s. Similarly, Joshua S. Hill just wrote at Robot 6: “I’m 25 years old, and…Dick Grayson is not my Robin.” Such perspectives remind me how old I am: Tim didn’t even exist until a few years after I’d reached adulthood and stopped reading comics.

The Comics Alliance conversation comes complete with a photograph of young Uzumeri in a Robin costume modeled on Tim Drake’s.
Uzumeri: I forced my mother to make one that was COMPLETELY ACCURATE, down to the ridges on his sleeves. I also attempted, and failed, to fabricate a retractable bo.

Sims: Oh man, you too? I totally used to wear a Robin t-shirt and green dishwashing gloves and bike around a park near my house on the lookout for thematic crime.
These gents thus join David A. Zimmerman, author of Comic Book Character, as comics critics who once dressed in home-made Robin costumes. In a fruitless attempt to reestablish his maturity, Sims later refers to Speedy as “like Robin, only more useless,” but let’s face it—conversation clearly reinforces how the character appeals to many young readers.


Anonymous said...

John, have you seen these? Part 2 includes a Robin & Nightwing fashion survey.




J. L. Bell said...

I filed the second link as soon as I heard about it, and hope to post a transcription of Tim Gunn’s remarks on the Robin and Nightwing outfits soon. But first I have to find out exactly who Tim Gunn is.