• Welcome to the official Simon & Kirby Library site, offering you the latest information on Titan Books' collections from the comic book dream team!
    On this site we'll post the latest announcements concerning the Library, with exclusive sneak peeks inside the books and complete stories to enjoy. You'll also find in-depth interviews with the S&K Library team.
    Also, don't forget to check the Lithograph page where you can own a piece of comic book history, signed by Joe, and be sure to click on the Future of Simon & Kirby page to send the editor your questions, comments, and recommendations!

    Visit often--you'll never know when we may spring a surprise or two!

    • At every point Joe Simon and Jack Kirby raised the bar.

      When they came to comics, Superman had been around for about a year, and the medium was still in its infancy. They took the action and made it explode, breaking out of the panels and sprinting across the page. They showed what comics could do, experimenting with layout and design, creating the first full-page panels and double page spreads.

      Their first million-seller was a superhero (Captain America), and their next was military adventure that outsold Superman (DC's Boy Commandos). These two guys from Rochester and Brooklyn broke all the rules when they created the first romance comics, and they blazed trails in every genre: horror, science fiction, detective stories, westerns-you name it. At every turn they showed how it could be done better, and when the industry was struggling to find the next great thing, they led the way

      When they came to comics, Superman had been around for about a year, and the medium was still in its infancy. They took the action and made it explode, breaking out of the panels and sprinting across the page. They showed what comics could do, experimenting with layout and design, creating the first full-page panels and double page spreads.

      The Simon and Kirby influence continues today. Their unique blend of moody, gothic horror predicted television series fromThe Twilight Zone to Fringe.
      The explosive police action in Headline Comics and Justice Traps the Guilty starred real-world felons and featured scenarios later found in The Untouchables and The Sopranos. Writer Dee Caruso, who credits Joe Simon with giving him his start, went on to write for Jerry Lewis, Bill Cosby, Robin Williams, and Get Smart. And of course, today's blockbuster films spring directly from the medium Joe and Jack helped to pioneer.
      Their partnership was unique because they both could do it all. Both Simon and Kirby could write, pencil, ink, and letter, producing the entire package, but when they did so together, the results far exceeded the sum of the parts. Comics hadn't seen anything like them at the time, and the world hasn't seen anything like them since.
      'They're still the Dream Team'.
      Steve Saffel (editor of The Best of Simon & Kirby)

  • Interviews and Essays

  • Interviews and Essays

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    • 1/ When did you first become aware of the work of Simon & Kirby?

       I became aware of Jack's work in the Marvel comics of the '60s, and Joe's, as well--though I didn't know it. Three early issues of Tales of Suspense (#63-65) featured re-telling of Simon and Kirby stories, and the reprint title Fantasy Masterpieces featured S&K Cap stories reprinted with the credits removed and with reworked art. I suppose the first time I saw pure Simon and Kirby, though, was in Jules Feiffer's wonderful book The Great Comic Book Heroes. To this day, I consider than one of the greatest comic book books, and hope that The Best of Simon and Kirby accomplishes much the same magic.

    • 2/ What were superhero comics like before Simon & Kirby arrived on the scene?

      Early comics in general were less sequential, in that each adventure bore little relationship to the one that followed. And each title, from Target Comics to Marvel Mystery Comics to Detective Comics, had a variety of material. The same issue could have a superhero, a detective, a cowboy, and a robot. The quality of the features would vary wildly, too. One of Joe's first stories "Ranch Dude") appeared in Amazing Man #10, March 1940, and that issue includes work by Bill Everett (Sub-Mariner) and Carl Burgos (Human Torch), as well as what looks like an uncredited story by Paul Gustavson (The Angel). All three artists were mainstays of Marvel Mystery Comics.

    • 3/ How did they influence the genre?

      They brought a new level of power-packed intensity, and established a new benchmark for quality and polish. It's evident with their first collaboration, Blue Bolt, a fantastic merging of science fiction and costumed character. Joe freely states that the minute he saw Jack's work, there in the Fox Comics bullpen, he was blown away. Joe was a powerful storyteller in his own right, and he had the drive and the savvy to take their work and parlay it into deals that put them on top first at Timely, then at DC Comics.

    • 4/ Why do you think they made such a great team?

      They had the ability to work together seamlessly, each contributing to all aspects of the storytelling, each pulling the other to new heights. They both loved many of the same things, from movies to novels, and they brought that love of the fantastic to their work. But it can't be said that one did the writing, the other the artwork, because they were both excellent at all facets of comic book adventure.

    • 5/ What can fans expect to find in The Best of Simon & Kirby?

      A definitive spectrum of work, both chronologically and across the genres. Each section covers a different genre--superheroes, science fiction, war and adventure, horror, detective, romance, even humor. The time frame is 1940-1960, some of the most exciting years in comics. And thanks to DC and Marvel, we were even able to include material from Timely and DC, which was where they really catapulted to the top, with features like Captain America and Boy Commandos.

      Our primary goal was to collect exciting stories, though--something you can read again and again, and never become bored. We chose carefully, to locate heavy-hitting, even explosive examples of what Joe and Jack accomplished. It helps to know Joe well, so that when we were choosing candidates, we knew what he was looking for, and what would really light a fire with the readers.

      Anyone who has this book has some of the most important stories ever published--examples of what made Simon and Kirby a dream team, and a guide to what they want to see next.

    • 6/ What else is upcoming from the Official Simon & Kirby library?
      Are there any particular stories that you can 't wait to see restored?

      In superheroes, I'm dying to see the Stuntman stories restored and in full color, as well as one of the earliest S&K collaborations, The Black Owl.

      We've been getting huge response to the Romance book, since S&K created the first romance comics, and did the best. Folks who have seen lesser examples of romance don't know what they have in store, with wild stories like "The Man I Love'd was a Woman-Hater," "Dance-Hall Pickup," and "Runaway Bride." There's a lot of that I haven't yet seen, and I think that's going to be a huge book.

      And I love the Detective stories. Both Joe and Jack loved detective fiction, and I get the impression Jack was a lot like James Cagney back then, what with growing up on the Lower East Side. They pulled characters from real life, like Ma Barker, Al Capone, and Babyface Nelson, as well as real events like the Valentine's Day Massacre, then tossed in wholly fictional adventures like "Bullets for the Bogus G-Man." Great stuff, and action-packed.

      Finally, I'm really eager to see their Blue Bolt collected into one volume, including the very first adventure, which was Joe Simon before his team-up with Jack.

    • Steve Saffel is an acclaimed professional editor and long-standing Spider-Man fan who has worked with many bestselling authors, including David Gemmell and Robert Silverberg. While on staff at Marvel Entertainment, he developed behind-the-scenes magazines that revealed the secrets of the comics and introduced readers to the worlds of film, animation, toys, video games, and much more. He also spearheaded Marvel's promotional efforts in the comic book specialty market.

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    • How did you establish your relationship with Joe Simon, and how long ago was that?

      HARRY MENDRYK: I had heard that Joe Simon was going to appear at a Big Apple Comic Convention-I believe that was in 1999 or 2000. I had finished restoring the line art for Joe's Fox covers and thought it would be great to get him to sign them. What can I say, I was-and still am-a fanboy. So I printed up 11 by 14 inch copies; a set for Joe to keep and one for him to sign for my collection. It turned out that Joe had recently recreated some of these covers, and thought I had somehow managed to obtained copies. Because of the noise levels typically found in comic conventions it took some time to straighten out Joe's misunderstanding.

      Throughout the misunderstanding Joe was calm and friendly, though I doubt that I would have been so had I thought someone else had secretly obtained copies of my work. Once Joe understood what I was doing, he was very interested in my project and invited me to visit him when I had more of the covers restored.

      So as I worked on my Simon and Kirby cover project, whenever I had finished a bunch I would call Joe up and pay him a visit. It was great experience being there when Joe looked over my latest restorations and it was obvious that he found it a treat to look over covers some of which he had not seen for some time. Joe would comment about what worked for certain covers, and what he would do differently if it was done today.

      My visits became more frequent and we began to discuss some possible publications. Unfortunately most publishers really did not have the foresight to see the potential in the old Simon and Kirby productions and nothing developed from our proposals. That is until Steve Saffel and Titan Books.

    • What effect do you seek to accomplish in restoring a story, both in terms of the technical result and the experience the reader will have?

      HARRY MENDRYK: It is all about the reading experience. While there is something to be said about reading the original comic books, I believe it is a mistake to try to recreate that effect. Trying to replicate yellowing pages and faded colors with modern papers and printers seems doomed to failure with the results that are phony looking.

      The yellowing of the paper should be removed and the colors restored to more like their original values. Some of the defects of the original primitively printed book should be corrected, or the results will be distracting; defects like uneven application of the inks or problems with the registration of the different printing plates.

      Most importantly the original line art should be restored, and not recreated. The final result should be something like the comics would have looked like when new, had they been printed by better presses and on good paper.

    • On a technical level, what goes into the restoration of a page? What hurdles do you have to overcome to achieve the effect you're striving to achieve?

      HARRY MENDRYK: It all starts with a high resolution scan of the original comic. As I mentioned earlier I use Photoshop, an application by Adobe for manipulating images. The first step is to remove the yellow from the paper and restore the original value to the faded colors. At this point it is much more like the original appearance when first published. Adjusting the colors is not difficult, but does take some care to get the best results.

      Then begins the more hands-on work using Photoshop tools to remove some of the original printing flaws. I do not try to eliminate every printing defect, but those that detract from Simon and Kirby's original intentions and the reader 's enjoyment.

      I realize that some might find my description of my process rather vague. I am really not trying to be secretive, but it all involves a lot of technical details that experience has shown few people are really interested in. I once started a Yahoo list on comic book restoration, but abandoned it when it became obvious that most members really did not get what I was trying to explain. Those interested in a more explicit explanation of some of my techniques-including color restoration and digital bleaching-can find it in Digitizing Comics. The list is dormant, but the archives still include my original posts and there are images in the photo section to make it all clearer. The list requires membership, but as I am the moderator, there would be no problems.

    • What are some of your personal favorites among the Simon and Kirby legacy?

      HARRY MENDRYK: There is little that Simon and Kirby produced that was not successful and worthy of much praise. I have a particular fondness for the covers Jack and Joe did for the Al Harvey when he started his publishing company; covers for Speed, Champ and Green Hornet Comics. They were done at the same time as Joe and Jack's early work for DC, and that is when I feel the Simon and Kirby style first really took hold. The Harvey comics are hard to find, but the covers are just marvelous. I am sure Titan will be including some when they publish the Simon and Kirby superheroes.

      As for stories, I feel the best comic that Simon and Kirby produced was Foxhole. The stories were based on the premise of being either written or drawn by actual war veterans. Despite being printed during the height of the Cold War, the stories are not what you would expect; they are not gung-ho patriotic tales. There is not a lot of Jack Kirby art included, but what he did was just amazing. A couple of stories provide the rare occasions of Kirby supplying a script for another artist to draw.

      Simon and Kirby employed some great artist for the comics they produced, and these artists did some top notch work for Foxhole.


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      When Simon met Kirby, comic books changed. It probably wasn't apparent at that moment but boy, did they change, and only for the better.

      How 'd they change? Well, for one thing, a comic book stopped being a mere adjunct to newspaper strips. Originally, that 's what comics were, of course - reprints of old Mutt & Jeff and Dick Tracy strips. Then comic books containing original material appeared… and for a time, they weren 't all that different. They looked like reprints of newspaper strips you just hadn 't heard of before… and in some cases, that was deliberate. The artists not only copied the style from the funny papers but inherited the panel compositions, as well. For Detective Comics, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster produced Slam Bradley, which looked not unlike Roy Crane 's Captain Easy. It even had that journeyman newspaper strip pacing and format, with all the panels the same height and everything tucked neatly within one frame or another.

      Joe Simon and Jack Kirby weren 't quite the first to realize that you could do so much more in a comic book, composing to the entire page and varying the size and shape of those panels as the content dictated. They weren 't quite the first to decide that if your characters were dynamic enough, there was no reason to contain them within rigid panel dimensions. Activity could spill outside of those panels, projecting beyond the borders and right into the readers ' laps. Not quite the first. But almost immediately the best and most-imitated.

      Nowhere is that better demonstrated than in "Captain America and the Red Skull" from Captain America Comics #1. The impact of the Simon-Kirby Captain America comic cannot be overstated. At every newsstand and candy store in the country, consumers took note, raised eyebrows, spent dimes. Comic books - already a new and exciting form - were suddenly becoming even newer and more exciting. A kid named Stan Lee who apprenticed with them at Timely, and took over after they left, once said, "When I saw their Captain America, I thought he was the handsomest, most exciting character I 'd ever seen."

      They noticed it at other comic companies, too. Artist Irv Novick was drawing for MLJ, the company that would morph into Archie Publications. He was doing The Shield, a patriotic hero who predated Captain America and seemed to have patronized the same tailor. Novick was MLJ 's star illustrator and they loved his work. Still, as he later related, he walked into the editorial offices one day to find his boss waving issues of Captain America and asking the all-important question: "Why don 't our books look like this?" Before long, many did.

      "The fight scenes had impact," said Novick. "The story wasn 't just in the words. They told me that from now on, when the hero punched the villain, they wanted the reader to feel it. They [Simon and Kirby] had invented action in comic books."

      "Captain America and the Red Skull" is primitive but primal - mostly Simon and Kirby with an apparent inking assist by Al Liederman, a former sports and editorial cartoonist Simon knew from his days in the newspaper game. Like much of their best work, it was done fast, and that energy seemed to translate onto the page. Also like much of their best output, it 's hard to tell where one guy left off and the other took over. "We both did everything." That was Kirby 's stock answer when folks asked, as so many did, who wrote this and who drew that.

      There were other strips for Timely: Captain Daring, Marvel Boy, Mercury, and The Vision are good examples. But after ten issues of Captain America, they up and left the firm in a monetary dispute. "We were being swindled," Simon would explain. "Hollywood Accounting" they 'd call it in another time and place. It meant juggling the books to make sure that profit participants participated in few - if any - profits. They left without their shares but with their reputations. Throughout those ten issues, they 'd bettered their style, bettered their craft, raised the bar. By the time they decamped for DC Comics, they were the guys who knew how to make superheroes super-heroic.

      At DC, there were more heroics and more Joe 'n ' Jack innovations: a life-changing makeover for Sandman, and a strip called "Manhunter" built out of the rubble of a dismal and defunct strip. Even better and fresher were the kid gangs, The Newsboy Legion and The Boy Commandos. One held down the fort back home; the other took the war overseas to the enemy. Both tapped into their makers ' past lives - Kirby 's, especially - splitting the difference between genuine childhood memories and how they wished things had been.

      Readers of the day identified, and there were times when Boy Commandos was the company 's top-selling title … no small achievement in the house of Superman and Batman.
      More heroes would follow. Fighting American was a short-lived effort of the fifties who started life as a Captain America doppelganger and quickly made the jump to self-parody. If the readers had enjoyed reading it half as much as Joe and Jack liked doing it, it would still be running. Stuntman may have been even better - a mid-forties burst of excitement that was killed by the only thing that could defeat a great comic book superhero: bad distribution.

      Which brings us to one of the last Simon-Kirby collaborations. The Fly happened after they 'd split, going their own separate ways during an industry recession. One day, Joe sold a new book to Archie Comics, and was wondering who he could get to draw it when he happened to run into Jack at Columbus Circle.

      Who better?

      Jack left after two issues and Joe left after four, but the hero soared for years after. The 1959 tale reproduced in this volume foreshadows much of what would make the Marvel Super Heroes of the sixties so special. And all of these stories show Simon and Kirby doing what they did so well: creating exciting heroes who transcended mere newsprint. One who isn 't included (though you 'll meet him in The Simon and Kirby Superheroes) is a character named Captain 3-D whose comic - as you might imagine - was in 3-D, complete with red/green glasses to create the stereo effect. When the project was proposed, they went along with it, though Kirby thought the gimmick was unnecessary. "Joe and I," he said, "can make a hero leap right off the page without those silly glasses."

      They sure could.

      Extracted from Pages 12-14 of The Best of Simon And Kirby
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  • Info

    BIO • ChecklistLinks

    JOE SIMON, with Jack Kirby, created one of the most enduring American heroes Captain America with the 1941 release of Captain America Comic for Timely Comics, the company that became Marvel Comics. A true pioneer in the industry, Simon proved to be a brilliant creator, editor, writer, penciller, inker, and businessman
             Born in 1913 and raised in Rochester, NY, the son of a tailor, he became a professional artist right out of high school producing newspaper editorial cartoons, particularly for the sports sections. In 1938 he made the move to New York City, quickly entering the fledgling comic book industry.

             Simon met Kirby at Fox Comics, and he was the first editor for Timely, hiring a teenage editorial assistant named Stan Lee. In 1942 Simon and Kirby moved to National Comics "today known as DC Comics" where they produced stories for Adventure Comics, Boy Commandos, and Star Spangled Comics, among others.

             During World War II Simon served in the U.S. Coast Guard, and following the war served as a creator and editor for Harvey, Crestwood, Archie, and Mainline Publications "Simon and Kirby's own company. They produced stories in every genre, including westerns, detective fiction, military adventure, humor, horror, science fiction, and super heroes. They created the first romance comics, and Simon created and produced SICK magazine.

    In the 1960s Simon moved to advertising and produced political and educational comics. He created concepts for DC Comics that included Brother Power the Geek, Prez, and a new Sandmanâ€"his last collaboration with Jack Kirby. In 1990 he released The Comic Book Makers, co-authored with his son, Jim Simon, and currently he is working on the forthcoming Official Simon and Kirby Library.

    JACK KIRBY is one of the most famous illustrators in comic book history. Born Jacob Kurtzberg in 1917, he grew up on Manhattan's Lower East Side. Like Joe Simon, he was the son of a tailor, and an avid fan of movies, pulp magazines, and newspaper comic strips.

    His first comics work was for syndicated strips such as Blue Beetle for the Eisner-Iger shop. He joined the Fox Comics bullpen in 1939, where he met Joe Simon and a dream team was born. They produced features for Blue Bolt and Captain Marvel Adventures before moving to Timely Comics, where they created Captain America.

    During World War II Kirby served in Company F of the U.S. Army's 11th Infantry under General Patton. He left the Army with honors and returned to New York, where he and Simon reunited. For two decades they produced material for nearly all of the major publishers, creating new features and setting sales records in every genre.

             Beginning in the late 1950s Kirby returned to Marvel, first to work on monster, western, war, and science fiction titles such as Journey Into Mystery, Battle, and Rawhide Kid. With Stan Lee he created Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, The X-Men, and many more. Together they produced one of the first original graphic novels, The Silver Surfer, in 1978.

             Moving from New York to California, he returned to DC Comics in the late 60s, where he created the New Gods, The Demon, and Kamandi. He worked extensively in television animation on series such as Thundarr the Barbarian, and developed several more original comic book concepts, including Silver Star and Captain Victory.
             Kirby passed away in 1994.

  • Info

    BIO • Checklist • Links

    Adventure Comics (National Periodical
    Publications/DC Comics), 1942-46
    Stories: #72-91, #102
    Covers: #72-97, #102

    Adventures of the Fly (Archie Publications),
    Stories: #1-2, #4
    Covers: #1-4 (Simon #2-4)

    All-Star Comics (National Periodical
    Publications/DC Comics), 1942-43
    Stories: #14-16, #19

    Blue Beetle (Fox Publ.), 1940
    Covers: #2-3 (Simon)

    Blue Bolt (Funnies Inc.), 1940-41
    Stories: #1 (Joe Simon), #2-10
    Covers: #3 (Simon), #7

    Captain America Comics (Timely
    Comics/Marvel Comics), 1941-42
    Stories: #1-10
    Covers: #1-2, #5-10

    Captain Marvel Adventures (Fawcett
    Publications), 1941
    Stories and cover: #1

    Detective Comics (National Periodical
    Publications/DC Comics), 1942-49
    Stories: #64-83, #85, #95, #110, #128, #134,
    #136, #137, #140, #150 (Boy Commandos)
    Covers: #65

    Dick Tracy (Harvey Publications), 1958
    Covers: #129 (Simon)

    Fantastic Comics (Fox Features Syndicate),
    Covers: #6-8 (Simon)

    Fighting American (Prize Comics), 1954-55

    Fighting American (Harvey Publications), 1966
    Stories and cover: #1

    Green Hornet Comics (Harvey Publications),
    Stories: #37-38 (Simon), #39
    Covers: #7, #8 (Simon), #10

    The Human Torch (Timely Comics/Marvel
    Comics), 1940
    Stories: #2 (Simon)

    Marvel Mystery Comics (Timely Comics/Marvel
    Comics), 1940-42
    Stories: #13-27 (The Vision)
    Covers: #12

    Marvel Stories (pulp magazine, Timely), 1940-41
    Vol. 2, No. 2; Vol. 2, No. 3 (spot illustrations)

    The Sandman (National Periodical
    Publications/DC Comics), 1974
    Stories and cover: #1

    Stuntman (Harvey Publications), 1946

  • The Future

    If you have a question about Simon & Kirby, have any recommendations for future stories you'd like to see in the library collections or just want to leave your feedback, please contact SimonandKirby@titanemail.com, and we'll feature some of the best ones on this page!

    Summer 2010--The Simon and Kirby Superheroes: From the creators of Captain America, brilliantly restored adventures of Simon & Kirby's most exciting costumed characters. Thrill to Fighting American, their Cold War take on the patriotic hero, The Fly, with secret origins in an unknown Spider-Man prototype, Lancelot Strong, the soldier leading a double life, and the Hollywood swashbuckler known as Stuntman. Look for never-before-published and forgotten tales by the Dream Team of Comics. Details to be announced soon!

    Also in 2010--Joe Simon, the Official Autobiography: In his own words, this is the life of Joe Simon, the first editor of Timely Comics (precursor to Marvel), the co-creator of Captain America, and one of the most important figures in the history of the medium. This is the official and comprehensive chronicle, featuring original artwork stretching back before he birth of the comics, as well as photos and other exciting items from the Simon archives..

    But wait--there's more! Watch this space for announcements concerning The Simon and Kirby Detective Adventures, as well as The Simon and Kirby Horror Tales, and The Simon and Kirby Romance Stories. These are the only collections authorized and overseen by Joe Simon himself, and authorized by the Estate of Jack Kirby! Accept no substitutes!

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