MARVEL COMICS first ever editor-in-chief is 97 years old today, and looking damn fine.
The man c0-created Captain America, the Sandman, Newsboy Legion and a host of other characters, and managed to do it in an era when a black soul singer could not have had an easy time of it in the New York publishing industry.
Oh wait, that might be the wrong Joe Simon. Wait a second…
He’s known primarily for his work with Jack Kirby, Timely, and DC, in the Golden Age of comics, introducing the world to the BOY’S RANCH, THE BOY COMMANDOS, FIGHTING AMERICAN, THE FLY, SANDMAN AND SANDY, and romance and horror comics in general. Simon, along with Kirby, were the original “IMAGE” comics, as they formed their own creator-based company, called MAINLINE COMICS, in the fifties, long before disgruntled Marvel employees of the nineties were a gleam in their disgruntled parents’ eyes!
So much of this was before my time, I only know about it through reprints and history books. …HOWEVER, I am old enough to recall the Joe Simon comics of the late 60s and early 70s, and they were so F***ING WEIRD that they remain amongst my favorite comics of all time.
Who but Joe Simon would have given us BROTHER POWER: THE GEEK?
Crazy bikers, hippies galore and midgets in turbans is the standard for this title, only two issues of which were ever published. In the late sixties, if you wanted a writer to talk to the new generations of peace and love, turn to a man in his fifties and let ‘im loose. This wasn’t Joe’s only foray into talking to the young…just a few years later, Joe Simon would create the BEST comic DC would ever publish about teenage politics.
The loons in the car with Prez are his cabinet, I kid you not. The Native American fellow was Secretary of State, and he never wore a shirt, even to peace talks with Israel. Go daddy, go! When I was 14, this comic spoke to me, but mostly it told me to go kill the neighbor’s dog.
Another of the Joe Simon lunatic-masterpieces of the 70s. It’s Richie Rich meets the Newsboy Legion, and it lasted three issues, only ONE of which was actually published. My favorite part of this comic was the subtle racism that the white kids either inherited or earned their millions…but the black kid got his money through a glitch in the bank that accidentally credited a shoe-shine boy’s account with a million dollars, because, you know…well…he was black.
My all time favorite of the wacky 70s Joe Simon creations was his last pairing with his original partner Jack Kirby for another run at the character name “SANDMAN”.
It was a precursor to the Vertigo series. The main character lived in the “Dream Dome” and was able to enter the dreams of living people, and fight their nightmares. And it was drawn by Kirby and inked by WALLY WOOD! Talk about a Dream Team! Unfortunately for DC and the rest of us, Simon, Kirby and Wood weren’t available for an issue #2, and they handed it off to lesser teams until the book was canceled 5 issues later. (Kirby did a couple more art jobs, but without Simon and Wood…meh).
So HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOE SIMON! Marvel Comics, and the industry in general, would be nothing like it is today without you. Thanks for helping Kirby find his style, and this youthful comic fan his joy in Oddball Comics. You continue to be the legend you are. Many more to come.
TY THE GUY OUT!
Here now, your comic book moment of zen.