Joe Simon: Wikis

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Joe Simon

Born Joseph H. Simon
October 11, 1913 (1913-10-11) (age 96)
Nationality American
Area(s) Writer, Penciller, Editor, Publisher
Pseudonym(s) Gregory Sykes,
Jon Henery
Notable works Captain America
Awards Inkpot Award, 1998
The Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame, 1999
Official website

Joseph H. "Joe" Simon (born October 11, 1913)[1] is an American comic book writer, artist, editor, and publisher. Simon created or co-created many important characters in the 1930s-1940s Golden Age of Comic Books and served as the first editor of Timely Comics, the company that would evolve into Marvel Comics. His infrequently used pen names were Gregory Sykes and Jon Henery.

With his partner, artist Jack Kirby, he co-created Captain America, one of comics' most enduring superheroes, and the team worked extensively on such features at DC Comics as the 1940s Sandman and Sandy the Golden Boy, and co-created the Newsboy Legion, the Boy Commandos, and Manhunter. Simon & Kirby creations for other comics publishers include Boys' Ranch, Fighting American and The Fly. In the late 1940s, Simon and Kirby created the field of romance comics, and were among the earliest pioneers of horror comics.

Contents

Early life and career

Simon was raised in a Jewish family in Rochester, New York, the son of a tailor. He attended Benjamin Franklin High School, where he was art director for the school newspaper and the yearbook — earning his first professional fee as an artist when two universities each paid $10 publication rights for his art deco, tempera splash pages for the yearbook sections. Upon graduation in 1932, Simon was hired by Rochester Journal American art director Adolph Edler as an assistant, replacing Simon's future comics colleague Al Liederman, who had quit. Two years later, Simon took an art job at the Syracuse Herald in Syracuse, New York, and shortly thereafter succeeded Liederman as art director of the Syracuse Journal American. This short-lived job ended when the Newhouse chain bought and consolidated the three local newspapers.

Venturing to New York City, Simon freelanced for Paramount Pictures retouching the movie studio's publicity photos, and for McFadden Publications, doing illustrations for True Story and other magazines. Sometime afterward, his boss, art director Harlan Crandall, recommended Simon to Lloyd Jacquet, head of comic-book packager Funnies, Inc.. That day, Simon received his first comics assignment, a seven-page Western. Four days later, Jacquet asked Simon, at the behest of Timely Comics publisher Martin Goodman to create a flaming superhero like Timely's successful character The Human Torch. From this came Simon's first comic-book hero, the Fiery Mask.

Simon & Kirby

Captain America Comics #1 (March 1941), art by Jack Kirby (penciler) and Joe Simon (inker).

During this time, Simon met Fox Feature Syndicate comics artist Jack Kirby, with whom he would soon have a storied collaboration lasting a decade-and-a-half. Speaking at a 1998 Comic-Con International panel in San Diego, California, Simon recounted the meeting:

I had a suit and Jack thought that was really nice. He'd never seen a comic book artist with a suit before. The reason I had a suit was that my father was a tailor. Jack's father was a tailor too, but he made pants! Anyway, I was doing freelance work and I had a little office in New York about ten blocks from DC [Comics]' and Fox [Feature Syndicate]'s offices, and I was working on Blue Bolt for Funnies, Inc. So, of course, I loved Jack's work and the first time I saw it I couldn't believe what I was seeing. He asked if we could do some freelance work together. I was delighted and I took him over to my little office. We worked from the second issue of Blue Bolt... [2]

and remained a team across the next two decades. In the early 2000s, original art for an unpublished, five-page Simon & Kirby collaboration titled "Daring Disc", which may predate the duo's Blue Bolt, surfaced. Simon published the story in the 2003 updated edition of his autobiography, The Comic Book Makers.[3]

After leaving Fox and landing at pulp magazine publisher Martin Goodman's Timely Comics (the future Marvel Comics), the new Simon & Kirby team created the seminal patriotic hero Captain America in late 1940. Their dynamic perspectives, groundbreaking use of centerspreads, cinematic techniques and exaggerated sense of action made the title an immediate hit and rewrote the rules for comic book art. Simon and Kirby also produced the first complete comic book starring Captain Marvel for Fawcett Comics.

Captain America became the first and largest of many hit characters the duo would produce. The Simon & Kirby name soon became synonymous with exciting superhero comics, and the two became industry stars whose readers followed them from title to title. A financial dispute with Goodman led to their decamping to National Comics, one of the precursors of DC Comics, after ten issues of Captain America. Given a lucrative contract at their new home, Simon & Kirby took over the Sandman in Adventure Comics, and scored their next hits with the "kid gang" teams the Boy Commandos and the Newsboy Legion, and the superhero Manhunter.

Crestwood, Black Magic and romance comics

Another Simon-Kirby title for Prize Comics: Charlie Chan #1 (July 1948).

As superhero comics waned in popularity after the end of World War II, Simon & Kirby producing a variety of other genre stories. In partnership with Crestwood Publications aka Prize Comics, they launched an early horror comic, the atmospheric and non-gory series Black Magic, Boys' Ranch, and others. Simon & Kirby are credited as well with publishing the first romance title, Young Romance. In addition, Kirby and Simon produced crime, and humor comics.

In 1953, they would form their own short-lived comics company, Mainline Publications, creating the masked Western hero Bullseye, the superhero-parody character Fighting American, and others.

The partnership ended in 1955 with the comic book industry beset by self-imposed censorship, negative publicity, and a slump in sales. Simon turned primarily to advertising and commercial art, while dipping back into comics on occasion. He created, edited and produced material for the humor magazine Sick, a competitor of Mad magazine, for over a decade. The Simon & Kirby team reunited briefly in 1959 with Simon writing and collaborating on art for Archie Comics, where the duo updated the superhero the Shield in the two-issue The Double Life of Private Strong (June-Aug. 1959), and Simon created the superhero Fly; they went on to collaborate on the first two issues of The Adventures of the Fly (Aug.-Sept. 1959) and Simon and other artists including Al Williamson, Jack Davis, Carl Burgos and others did four issues before Simon moved on. Simon & Kirby again reteamed for Harvey Comics in 1966, updating Fighting American for a single issue (Oct. 1966). Simon, as owner, packager, and editor, also helped launch Harvey's original superhero line, with Unearthly Spectaculars #1-3 (Oct. 1965 - March 1967) and Double-Dare Adventures #1-2 (Dec. 1966 - March 1967), the latter of which introduced the influential writer-artist Jim Steranko to comics.

In 1968, Simon created the two-issue DC Comics series Brother Power the Geek, about a mannequin given a semblance of life who wanders philosophically through the 1960s hippie culture; Al Bare provided some of the art. Simon and artist Jerry Grandenetti then created DC's four-issue Prez (Sept. 1973 - March 1974), about America's first teen-age president.

Simon & Kirby teamed one last time later that year, with Simon writing the first issue (Winter 1974) of a six-issue new incarnation of the Sandman. Simon and Grandenetti then created the Green Team: Boy Millionaires in the DC try-out series 1st Issue Special #2 (May 1975), and the freakish Outsiders in 1st Issue Special #10 (Jan. 1976).

Joe Simon continued to work on concepts for the comic book as well as the film medium. For a concept called ShieldMaster created by Jim Simon, Joe Simon drew the prototype art; ShieldMaster stories and art were published in various media formats as a fully copyrighted product.

21st century

In the 2000s, Simon turned to painting and marketing reproductions of his early comic book covers. Simon in 2007 appeared in various news media in response to Marvel Comics announced "death" of Captain America in Captain America vol. 5, #25 (March 2007), stating, "It's a hell of a time for him to go. We really need him now".[4][5] In early Spring, 2010, a ShieldMaster graphic novel was released under arrangements with a European publisher to be followed by a release in English-speaking markets.

Footnotes

1974 Comic Art Convention program, reprinting Simon's original 1940 sketch of Captain America.
  1. ^ Per Simon in telephone conversation with historian Mark Evanier, as reported in "News from Me" (column of July 19, 2007): "Semi-Old Joes", by Mark Evanier. Other sources have cited 1915.
  2. ^ "More Than Your Average Joe" (excerpts from Joe Simon's panels at 1998 Comi-Con International), Jack Kirby Collector #25 (Aug. 1999)
  3. ^ "The First Simon and Kirby Story?", Hoohah! (no date)
  4. ^ Associated Press (March 8, 2007) via MSNBC.com: "Death to 'America': Comic-book hero killed off"
  5. ^ BBC News (March 8, 2007): 'Comic hero Captain America dies"

References

Preceded by
First
Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief
1939–1941
Succeeded by
Stan Lee
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