Joseph H. "Joe" Simon was 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.
Simon & Kirby Years
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 In the early 2000s, original art for an unpublished, five-page Simon & Kirby collaboration titled "Daring Disc", which may predate the duo's Blue Bolt, surfaced.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), where Simon became the company's first editor, the Simon & Kirby team created the seminal patriotic hero Captain America . Captain America Comics #1 , going on sale in December 1940 — a year before the bombing of Pearl Harbor but already showing the hero punching Hitler in the jaw — sold nearly one million copies. Remaining on the hit series as a team through issue #10, Simon & Kirby broke ground with their art's dynamic perspectives, innovative use of panel layouts, and exaggerated sense of action and established the team as a notable creative force in the industry. After that first issue was published, Simon asked Kirby to join the Timely staff as the company's art director.
Despite the success of the Captain America character, Simon felt Goodman was not paying the pair the promised percentage of profits, and so sought work for the two of them at National Comics (later named DC Comics). Simon & Kirby negotiated a deal that would pay them a combined $500 a week, as opposed to the $75 and $85 they respectively earned at Timely. Fearing that Goodman would not pay them if he found out they were moving to National, the pair kept the deal a secret while they continued producing work for the company. At some point during this time, the duo also produced Fawcett Comics Captain Marvel Adventures #1 (1941), the first complete comic book starring Captain Marvel following the character's run as star of the superhero anthology Whiz Comics.
Kirby and Simon spent their first weeks at National trying to come up with characters while the company sought how best to utilize the pair. After a few failed editor-assigned ghosting assignments, National's Jack Liebowitz told them to "just do what you want". The pair then revamped the Sandman feature in Adventure Comics and created the superhero Manhunter. In July 1942 they began the Boy Commandos feature. The ongoing "kid gang" series Boy Commandos, launched later that same year, sold over a million copies a month, becoming National's third best-selling title. They also scored a hit with the homefront kid-gang team, the Newsboy Legion.
Characters Created by Joe Simon
Brother Power the Geek
The Green Team: Boy Millionaires
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