Joseph H. Simon (born October 11, 1913) is a Jewish-American comic book writer, artist, editor, and publisher who created or co-created many important characters in the 1930s-1940s Golden Age of Comic Books, and who 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 houses include Fighting American and The Fly. In the late 1940s, he and Kirby created the field of romance comics, and were among the earliest pioneers of horror comics.
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.
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...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.
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.
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)(Simon created the new superhero, Lancelot Strong), 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 other did four issues before Simon moved on to other ventures. 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 also created DC's four-issue Prez (Sept. 1973 - March 1974), about America's first teen-age president, with artist Jerry Grandenetti. 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.
The Comix/Graphic Novel Shelf.(Twin Spica, vol. 9)(The Lives of Sacco and Vanzetti)(Joe Simon: My Life in Comics)(Fighting American)(Book review)
Sep 01, 2011; Twin Spica, volume 9 Kou Yaginuma Vertical, Inc. 451 Park Avenue South, 7th Floor New York, NY 10016 9781935654230 $10.95...