In the comments to my post on Joe Simon, Art Director Steven Brower asked whether Joe Simon worked in advertising as an art director. I did not answer Steven then because I decided it was time I wrote a little about Joe’s career outside of comics.
There were a number of comic book artists who made the transition into advertising. Generally those that did ended up working for some advertisement agency. Joe followed a different route, he established his own company, Northart Concepts Inc., and sold his services. Much of this work was designing brochures and advertisements. This amounted to laying out art, photographs and text where the art was not his own. Perhaps not very exciting but it was bread and butter worked that supplied income.
The above is an example of an ad Simon designed for Miller Cardboard. Joe created a number of advertisements for Miller. This is an interesting connection because most of the Simon and Kirby art was done on illustration boards manufactured by Miller or King. There is an ad Joe did, I believe for King, which unfortunately I cannot locate right now. In it Simon endorses the illustration board and says he used them to create comic book characters. The ad is provided with a drawing of a patriotic superhero that looks very much like, but is not identical, to Captain America.
Most of Joe’s customers were small clients, too small to have their own art department. But Simon also did some work for large businesses such as American Airlines. The above is certificate Joe did. Today air travel is so common it is hard to imagine a day not that long ago where a company might give a certificate to a customer for taking a flight.
Joe Simon even did some book cover designs. Pageant Books is still in business today.
Sometimes Joe would provide the art as well. In the early ’70s Joe did a number of illustrations for Mechanics National Bank. The Internet provides information about Mechanics National Bank but this all seems about a particular bank building in Philadelphia. I believe Joe’s art was for banks in New Jersey. These are among his best work but are unknown to comic book fans. Joe still has the original art but unfortunately I have not scanned any of it yet. Instead I will use some copies Joe made of some of the ad layouts. The original art is all nicely colored but these particular layouts were done in black and white.
The Mechanics National art all uses the same character. Occasionally Joe refers to him as Forester Bill, but most commonly as Hector Protector. The name comes from a nursery rhyme:
Hector Protector was dressed all in green;
Hector Protector was sent to the Queen.
The Queen did not like him,
Nor more did the King;
So Hector Protector was sent back again.
The humor found in these Hector Protector pieces is obviously related to that found in Sick. There is, however, a greater emphasis on the odd juxtaposition of imagery; here a ship caption with his anchor, fishing rod and parrot atop of a camel in the desert.