Joe Simon (1913-2011) and Ed Barreto (1954-2011).

Jerry Robinson last week, and now two more.  Wow, that smarts.

Joe Simon wearing his personal version of the American flag.

Kirby was King of comics.  Stan was the Man, and Joe Simon was comics’ beloved Uncle.

Of course, he was Marvel Comics’ first editor back in the Golden Age, back when Stan Lee was literally sweeping up and going out for bagels.  And yes, along with his partner Jack Kirby, Joe gave the world some very popular characters:  Captain America, The Boy Commandos, the Sandman…

and, you know...comics for GIRLS.

But it’s Joe’s later career that made me love him.   First off, there was this:

The Sixties and Seventies had a lot of great satire magazines on the stands.  Mad, Cracked, Trump, Humbug, Car-toons, Crazy, Not Brand Ecch!, National Lampoon…and Joe Simon’s SICK.

Sick was hard to find, but a treasure when I could snag one.  It was a typical black and white satire mag of the time, the format was identical amongst all of the different titles…but what I loved most about SICK magazine, was that it knew darn well it was an imitator of Mad Magazine, and had joyous fun with the shamelessness of it all.  Their slogan was “We’re Number Two because we don’t try so hard” and they had a mascot that was Alfred E. Neuman’s twin brother in shabbier clothes.   Damn, I loved the balls of that.

Not Alfred E. Neuman up there, and we all didn't give a damn and that's why it was funny.

And SICK gets extra points for occasionally running articles by Lenny Bruce.  How often did Mad Magazine do THAT?

But let’s talk about Simon’s masterpiece (and, no I’m not kidding).

With a cabinet made up of Hippies and “Injuns” and Black Chicks and Teen-Agers and whatever other liberal nightmare Joe Simon could dream up, PREZ was Simon’s Seventies satire genius.  It was his Little Annie Fannie, only without tits, and that meant I could read it when I was twelve years old, and that’s the age I was when it came out.

Amputee-vampires in the White House? Don't you DARE question it!

There are people who don’t get this comic book, who don’t see the raw-staring-into-the-sun glory of this utterly unfettered series, and I pity them.  Joe Simon and artist Jerry Grandenetti created in Prez, a comic where ANYTHING could happen, where suspension of disbelief was an Olympic sport.  That’s my bread and butter when I want to be entertained.  The phrase “well worn cliche” did not apply to the work of Joe Simon and bless him for that.

Jesus Christ, is there a MONKEY in there? And is the monkey going to play CHESS?!?

Add to this, The GREEN TEAM, BROTHER POWER the GEEK, The OUTSIDERS, the FIGHTING AMERICAN, The STUNTMAN, The NEWSBOY LEGION, MANHUNTER, The FLY, the Boy’s Ranch, Foxhole, Justice, and a pretty strange version of CAPTAIN MARVEL, and it adds up to a body of work to drop your jaw.

I never got to meet Joe Simon, but his daughter once emailed me that Joe had read and enjoyed an article I’d written about him.  It made me beam for a week to know he’d read it.

You literally did it all, Joe.  Built the world of comics and shaped a corner of my sky.

Thank you.


Eduardo Barreto:  The artist’s artist.

Ignore that it says "Gordon Purcell" above his head, that's Eduardo.

Eduardo Barreto was one of those guys that made other comic artists make noises when we saw his work.  It was like eating chocolate, or getting a foot rub seeing his art.  Barreto’s work was so pretty, I actually made noises.  To fandom at large, he was probably best known for his DC work on Wonder Woman, Justice League, the Teen Titans and Superman.

All of it great stuff...

But I’ll always remember Eduardo for his astoundingly beautiful 30s period work on such projects as UNION STATION and THE SHADOW STRIKES.  These stories, all taking place in a depression era alleyway populated by thugs, rats and bullets, were brought to life by Barretto’s hand with what seemed like effortless grace.

A big part of my life-long fandom of the Shadow is because of Barreto’s mind-boggling work on this book.   The attention to detail, the sense of costume, décor, body language, character, lighting, mood, brushwork.  It was magnificent to look at AND great comics to read.

The Shadow done PERFECTLY. Month after month for a few years. It was glorious.

And if you haven’t read this overlooked Ed Barreto gem:  track it down.  I promise you’ll love it.

Fifty-seven years old is way too young to lose him.  He was still creating beautiful work up until Meningitis got to him last year.

My thoughts go out to the families of BOTH of these marvelous men who gave me so much pleasure over the years.  Your contributions to the world will be long celebrated.

You did good.

Ty the Guy OUT!

For your BONUS Joe Simon Moment:  GO HERE.

9 responses to “Joe Simon (1913-2011) and Ed Barreto (1954-2011).

  1. Paul the Curmudgeon

    Of course you know that that SICK cover is an outrageous swipe from a panel in Fighting American #1. In fact, parts of it might be an out-and-out photostat for all I know. Joe didn’t even bother to change the costume. Since F.A. was a commercial flop that had expired over a decade before, what were readers supposed to make of that cover, anyway?

  2. Paul the Curmudgeon

    Re: Prez: “a cabinet made up of Hippies and Injuns and Black Chicks and Teen-Agers and whatever other liberal nightmare Joe Simon could dream up”. What in that requires any suspension of disbelief? Oh, wait, that was 1973…. 🙂

  3. Right there with you on Prez, mister. There was always an emotional center in that series beneath the satire and madness and a premise ripped off from the deeply cynical “Wild in the Streets.” Where Brother Power the Geek mocked messed-up hippies without much sympathy, Prez seems to say “maybe those hippies had a point after all, things have gotten out of hand…let’s see what they can do with this mess, maybe their hope and idealism is what we need.” Basically the same thing Joe’s old friend was saying in Jimmy Olsen and The Forever People. I think I’ll go reread Prez tonight.

  4. Pingback: Michel Fiffe » Remembering Eduardo Barreto

  5. Reading through this entry brought to mind a question I’d like to ask: Ty, what did you think of the Shadow movie?

  6. It entertains me in the same way that the Adam West Batman movie entertains me (or, to some extent, the George Clooney Movie does), but I don’t consider it the GREAT Shadow film that we deserve. I don’t hate it the way some people do, but it does represent some wasted opportunity. The DOC SAVAGE movie has the same place.

  7. Sad losses. Seeing that cover with the Fighting American on it leads me to believe that one of the characters from Marshal Law (can’t remember which one) had a look based on that.

    Joe Simon was great, and Prez is just awesome. You left off the 3rd cover, with the great bit where his Indian friend is yelling out “Sharpshooter!” (or “Sniper!”). So bizarre, so awesome.

    Between your tribute and Greg Hatcher’s over on CSBG, I feel like I missed out on digging Barreto, although looking him up on the GCD I see I do have a lot of stuff that he did. I’ll have to go read it.

  8. Pingback: Joe Simon | Wednesday's Heroes

  9. Since you name-checked other humor mags, I thought of The National Crumb, a Simon effort, as well. Bought it when it came out and was waiting for an issue #2 that never came. A couple of years ago I was looking at a book of Robert Crumb art and the magazine cover was reprinted in the book with no explanation, as Crumb is not in TNC at all. Nor did it have anything to do with him. I had not seen this online item ( earlier–in fact, just found it today in 2013–so I wrote to the publisher and asked why they did this, but at least a few years later, I still haven’t received a response about why they included that magazine cover.

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