Joe Simon, co-creator of Captain America, dies at 98
|NEWS - OFFWORLD|
A giant of Golden Age comics ascends to that great Valhalla in the sky...
Sad news reaches us today from comic book news blog The Beat that comics legend Joe Simon has passed away at the ripe old age of 98. Simon was best known for his partnership with fellow comics legend Jack Kirby, which resulted in the creation of iconic superhero Captain America.
A Rochester, New York native, Simon broke into the entertainment industry as a freelance publicity photo retoucher for Paramount Pictures in the mid-1930s. His skill at artistry quickly apparent, Simon was given a job at Funnies, Inc., a 'packaging' company that created comic books for various publishers. While working on his superhero creation Blue Bolt, Simon met fellow comics artist Jack Kirby and the two men began one of the most storied comic collaborations in history.
Soon after the beginning of their partnership, and with Simon having taken a job as Timely Comics' (later Marvel Comics) first editor, the two created patriotic superhero Captain America. The first issue, published in 1940, includes the famous cover image of Captain America punching Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler in the jaw. The character was a rousing success, selling nearly a million copies upon publication, and prompting Simon to immediately hire Kirby as Timely's Art Director. Copies of Captain America #1 in 'fine' condition are valued today at over $100,000.
Despite Captain America's newfound stardom, a financial dispute with Timely Comics' owner Martin Goodman soon led the team of Simon and Kirby to jump ship to rival National Comics (later DC Comics). There, they created the original Manhunter character before Simon enlisted during World War II. Assigned to a Coast Guard station in Washington DC, Simon's talents were utilized to create a comic designed to increase Coast Guard recruitment. Upon being discharged at the war's end, Simon moved across the street from Jack Kirby's Long Island home to continue their partnership. Simon and Kirby branched out from rote superhero stories, creating several comics in the horror, humor, crime, and even romance genres.
The 1950s, however, saw a sharp downturn in the comics industry thanks to Fredric Wertham's crusade against comic books and the resulting Comics Code Authority, which censored material deemed harmful to children. Soon after the Comics Code's passage in 1954, Simon amicably dissolved his partnership with Kirby, unwilling to continue in an industry with such high levels of censorship and government interference. Kirby continued his work in the comics industry, while Simon turned his attention to advertising work and graphic design, only occasionally returning to comic-related projects. In 1974, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby worked together for the last time when Simon wrote and Kirby inked the first comic of a six-issue miniseries of The Sandman. Kirby died of heart failure in 1994.
After retiring, Simon again refocused on his legendary Captain America creation, drawing reproductions of the Captain's famous comic book covers and appearing at occasional comic book conventions. Simon was also popularly sought after by media outlets when Marvel Comics 'killed' the Captain America character in 2007, with the legendary artist expressing confusion and sadness at the company's decision. A famous line stemming from these interviews quoted Simon as saying "It's a hell of a time to let him go. We really need him now."
You said it, Joe. The Golden Age feels a bit further away today. Thanks for everything.
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