Category Archives: Fighting American

A Simon and Kirby Swipe


Fighting American #5 (December 1954) “Invisible Irving”

In a previous serial post on Fighting American (Fighting American, Chapter 3, Jumping the Shark) I discussed the story “Deadly Doolittle” (Fighting American #6, February 1955). That story was a rewrite of a Manhunter story from Adventure Comics #75 (June 1945). In the comments Ger Apeldoorn remarked that the “Invisible Irving” from the previous issue looked like it was reused art as well. Sometime later Lucas pointed out that “Invisible Irving” was based of the Starman story from Adventure Comics #77.

Adventure #77
Adventure #77 (August 1942) Starman, art by Jack Burnley

A quick check of the Jack Kirby Checklist showed this fact was reported there as well. It was, however, news to me so I thought a comparison of the two stories might be of interest. The first thing that can be noticed right from the splash pages is that the text “Invisible Irving” was not lifted from the Starman story. The text was re-written for the Simon and Kirby piece. While what was said by the characters may be very similar the actual words were by no means identical.

However the plots were pretty much the same. Both start with a prison break aided by the use of invisible paint. The escape villain starts up a criminal gang that uses use planted valuables that unsuspecting passersby find and keep. T “lost” valuables then hypnotize the victims into committing crimes for the gang. The gang attacks one lady who instead of keeping the “lost” object intends to take it to the police. Fortunately she is rescued by the hero who removes the effect of the invisible paint the gang was using. However the main villain escapes only to be pursued by the hero. The hero catches up to the criminal mastermind at a windmill. Initially the villain captures the hero only to have the table turned on him in the end. The only reason I have summarized the plot here is to show how similar the two stories are. This summary applies equally well to either story.

Fighting American #5
Fighting American #5 (December 1954) “Invisible Irving” page 4 panel 6

There are some small differences between the two stories. Many of the differences are due disparity between the lengths of the two pieces. Much had to be eliminated to bring the 11 page Starman story down to 6 page length for use in Fighting American. Other changes had to be made because while Starman could fly, that ability was not possessed by Fighting American. Starman also had a star-ray that could remove the effects of the invisibility solution while Fighting American had to rely on paint remover instead. Other differences have to do with the use of humor by Simon and Kirby. After the initial issues of Fighting American, Joe and Jack began to poke fun at their own creation. Scenes like the one above showing Fighting American being kicked in the seat of his pants are absent from the Starman story (or as far as I know of, from any other superhero comic book).

Adventure #77 Fighting American #5
Adventure #77 (August 1942) Starman page 2 panel 1, art by Jack Burnley
Fighting American #5 (December 1954) “Invisible Irving” page 2 panel 1

Could the writer have been responsible for swiping the plot from the Starman story? After all one of the writers that Simon and Kirby used was Jack Oleck and he was known to do that sort of thing. However some of the art is so similar between the two stories that there can be no doubt that the artist was swiping from the Starman story.

Adventure #77 Fighting American #5
Adventure #77 (August 1942) Starman page 3 panel 7, art by Jack Burnley
Fighting American #5 (December 1954) “Invisible Irving” page 3 panel 6

While the artist for Fighting American was clearly swiping from the Starman he was not drawing close copies. None of the figures would be mistaken for tracings. Poses were often adjusted and while the panels might portray the same events they are completely redrawn. It is the story that the artist is interested in, not help in drawing the figures.

Adventure #77 Fighting American #5
Adventure #77 (August 1942) Starman page 10 panels 3 and 4, art by Jack Burnley
Fighting American #5 (December 1954) “Invisible Irving” page 5 panels 4 and 5

Readers may have noted that I have not said who the artist was that provided the “Invisible Irving” story. I do not remember anyone that previously credited this story to an artist other than Jack Kirby. However prior experience indicates that once it has been shown that some Simon and Kirby piece was swiped it will then be attributed to Joe Simon (Jack Kirby, Fanboy). There are many who just do not like to admit that Jack Kirby would sometimes swipe, despite all the contrary evidence that have been unearthed. If the reader chooses to now attribute “Invisible Irving” to Joe Simon, he must also credit Joe for being extremely adept at mimicking Kirby. So good that he has fooled the experts. But then again, Simon and done that before.

Fighting American, Chapter 4, The End Game

Fighting American #7
Fighting American #7 (April 1955) “Sneak Of Araby”, art by Jack Kirby

The lead story for issue #7 has Fighting American fighting the commies in Arabia over oil (of course). A clever splash but one with a frequently used theme of villains trying to avoid detection but clueless as to their impending encounter with Fighting American and Speedboy.

Fighting American #7
Fighting American #7 (April 1955) “Sneak Of Araby” page 4, art by unidentified artist

The Jack Kirby Checklists assigns 4 pages of this 8 page story to Kirby but other then the splash page none of it looks like his work to me and I do not think they are his layouts either. Panel 5 of page 4 looks to me like Kirby’s pencils and inking but that panel is the only convincing work by Kirby in the story. I suspect this particular case was Kirby acting as art editor and fixing up a poorly done panel. So far I have not been able to identify the artist.

Fighting American #7
Fighting American #7 (April 1955) “Three Coins In The Pushcart”, art by John Prentice

For “Three Coins In The Pushcart” the Jack Kirby Checklist only credits the splash to Jack. Frankly I do not see Kirby in any part of the story including the splash and again not even the layouts.

Fighting American #7
Fighting American #7 (April 1955) “Three Coins In The Pushcart” page 4, art by John Prentice

There a clues on the splash page that John Prentice is the correct artist to attribute this story to but it can best be seen with page 4. As far as I know Prentice did no other superhero work so there is nothing to compare this story to. However John’s women are usually quite distinctive and the lady in the second panel was clearly done by him. Comparison of this work to four pages of “Super Khakalovitch” from Issue #6 convinces me that John Prentice was also the artist for part of that work as well. This may not have been his finest work but he handles both the action and humor surprisingly well considering both are elements not normally associated with Prentice.

Fighting American #7
Fighting American #7 (April 1955) “Space-Face”, pencils by Jack Kirby and inks by Mort Meskin

What a delightful set of characters in the splash panel for “Space-Face” each with their own distinctive features and emotions. The inking for this splash is has a characteristic simplicity particularly in the eyebrows that identifies Mort Meskin as the inker. One striking feature of the splash is the way the bottom edge cuts off the lower part of two faces. While I am not going to say Kirby never does this, it certainly is not typical for Jack but it was a frequently used device by Meskin particularly in the Vigilante work Mort did for DC during the war (link). Because of this I briefly entertained the notion that the splash was actually drawn by Mort but the faces are so typical of Kirby that I just as quickly rejected the idea. In particular note the one guy to our left of Speedboy; take away the cigarette and he looks just like Scrapper from the Newsboy Legion.

Fighting American #7
Fighting American #7 (April 1955) “Space-Face” page 4, pencils by Jack Kirby and inks by Mort Meskin

Because of the splash panel I paid close attention to the story pages to check if they were done by Kirby or Meskin. Well the layouts generally look like Jack’s and page 4 is especially convincing. The way the figures run in the top panels is typical for Kirby. Note how the sole of the foot of the running boy in panel 3 turns to the viewer. This device was frequently used by Kirby (also by Joe Simon) but I have never seen Mort do it. So while I believe Mort Meskin did the inks, I am convinced Jack Kirby did the actual pencils. Fighting American #7 was the last issue published by Prize Comics. Occasionally you will come across a claim that Fighting American was cancelled because of the Comic Code. However the evidence does not support that view. It is true that the earlier issues had art that would have been unacceptable under the Comic Code, but issue #7 was published with the Comic Code stamp without any apparent problems. Further the art work had been completed for issue #8 and would be published years later again without any difficulties with the Comic Code. Because Fighting American is today viewed by many as one of Simon and Kirby’s greatest creations it would have been nice to blame its failure on the Comic Code but the correct explanation is simply that it did not sell well enough. That it was a tough time for comics in general and superheroes in particular probably did not help.

Fighting American #1 (Harvey)
Fighting American #1 (October 1966) “Round Robin”, art by Jack Kirby

In 1966 Harvey published a Fighting American comic that was a combination of reprint material and previously unpublished stories. The cover and the “new” art were all done by Jack Kirby and were inked in a manner typical of the original Simon and Kirby productions. Fighting American #7 had 20 pages of Fighting American stories and that is exactly the same number of pages for the new stories found in the Harvey’s Fighting American #1. There is little doubt that this material was originally meant for issue #8 of Prize’s Fighting American but went unused when that comic was cancelled. The biggest difference between FA #7 and what would have been FA #8 was that Kirby contributed all the art for the cancelled Fighting American stories while he did not do all the art for FA #7.

The lead story for the Harvey FA comic was “Round Robin”. The shortness of this story (only 5 pages) is not obvious because it is broken up by the inclusion of a reprint of the Fighting American origin story. The splash seems to have been modified specifically for the Harvey comic. I believe the “the original one and only” text in the title as well as the small Fighting American and flying figures were late additions. Also the Simon and Kirby signature is in Joe Simon’s handwriting and does not match the original style and was added later.
There was a lot of variation in the costumes in the original Fighting American series. The most glaring was perhaps the way Speedboy would usually have blue trunks and red leggings but sometimes red trunks and blue leggings. But for the Harvey comic invariably both the trunks and leggings of Speedboy are red, a combination not seen previously.

Fighting American #1 (Harvey)
Fighting American #1 (October 1966) “Roman Scoundrels”, art by Jack Kirby

The splash for “Roman Scoundrels” has the car touche that reads “produced by Simon and Kirby”. Comics put together by the Simon and Kirby studio almost always had this car touche on the lead story. Thus this is another indication that the new art in the Harvey comic was original intended as issue #8 of the Prize title and that “Roman Scoundrels” was meant to have been the lead story for that cancelled issue.

In “Roman Scoundrels” the heroes take part in the filming of a Hollywood movie where the villain replaces harmless stunts with ones meant for lethal consequences. I am sure that Simon and Kirby had used this plot before, but at this moment I do not remember where.

Fighting American #1 (Harvey)
Fighting American #1 (October 1966) “Yafata’s Moustache”, art by Jack Kirby

I may feel that Simon and Kirby jumped the shark in “Super Khakalovitch” from FA #6, however all the stories for the defunct issue #8 are actually quite good. My favor ate is “Yafata’s Moustache” a story that perfectly balances the action and humor the two elements that made Fighting American such a unique superhero.

Superheroes were once again a big thing in 1966 and at least a second issue of Fighting American was initially planned by Harvey. It was to be a combination of reprint and new material like the previous issue. However there was no more unpublished Fighting American art left over from the Prize series so Joe Simon created a new cover and had George Tuska create the art for two new stories (“The Beef Box” and “The Mad Inker”). Unfortunately Harvey’s Fighting American #2 was cancelled. “The Beef Box” would eventually be included in the Fighting American reprint book published by Marvel in 1986. “The Mad Inker” has never been published probably because the splash page was already missing from Joe Simon’s collection by 1986.

Fighting American, Chapter 3, Jumping the Shark

Joe Simon and Jack Kirby had launched their own publishing company, Mainline, starting with Bullseye #1 (cover date August 1954). In an uncharacteristic move, Simon and Kirby did not advertise their involvement in the Mainline titles (Bullseye, Foxhole, In Love and Police Trap). This unusual reticent was undoubtedly due to a desire to avoid conflicts, at least initially, with Prize Comics for whom Joe and Jack continued to produce comics including Fighting American. The extra work Simon and Kirby had taken on was not without consequences as there was a drop in the quantity and quality of the work drawn by Kirby. The art for the earlier issues of Fighting American was top notch but in my opinion most of the art for the issues covered in this chapter were relatively inferior (but an inferior Jack Kirby was still better then the best of most other comic book artists).


Fighting American #5 (December 1954) “Jiseppi, The Jungle Boy” page 3, art by Jack Kirby

The decline in art quality that I mentioned above does not seem to have occurred in “Jiseppi, The Jungle Boy”. This is a delightfully nonsensical tale about a jungle boy in India that speaks English with a distinct Italian accent. Actually in the end it turns out there is a perfectly logical explanation for this incongruity (okay maybe only as logical as can be expected in a comic book). As seen in the previous chapter, Simon and Kirby’s humor includes making fun of the comic’s heroes. Above we see Fighting American trying to track Jiseppi through the jungle completely oblivious to all the dangers that his quarry saves him from. I love the way that the jungle boy’s tiger speaks in stick figures.


Fighting American #5 (December 1954) “The Year Bender” page 4, art by Jack Kirby

Simon and Kirby would throw in some science fiction-fantasy into their humor as well as seen in “The Year Bender”. They travel in time is said to be about 3000 years in the past. It looks like Rome but that could not be since at 1000 BC Rome was just one of many small Italian cities and the arena games presented here would not be held for many years from then. But historical accuracy was never an important criteria for Simon and Kirby particularly if it got in the way of a good story. Check out the fun Jack had in drawing the ancient helmets; I do not believe any two head gear were drawn the same throughout the story.

As delightful a tale as this is, the decline in art quality that I mentioned is pretty obvious. It would be easy to blame the inker but Jack had some pretty poor inkers in the past but Simon and Kirby would usually rescue it by doing the final touchups.

The final panel reads:

AND THAT NEXT TRIP INTO THE PAST MAY BE COMING UP SOONER THAN SPEEDBOY SUSPECTS! YOU’LL SEE WHAT WE MEAN WHEN YOU GET THE NEXT BIG ISSUE OF FIGHTING AMERICAN!

Despite what they promised issue #6 had no time travel tale.


Fighting American #5 (December 1954) “Invisible Irving”, art by Jack Kirby

The villain for “Invisible Irving” makes use of invisible paint although oddly enough often comes off just part of his body leaving him looking like a flying head.

The tale ends with a caption:

FIGHTING AMERICAN AND SPEEDBOY HAVE A SPECIAL TREAT FOR YOU IN THE NEXT ISSUE. COME ALONG WITH THEM AS THEY UNCOVER A LOST CIVILIZATION IN “CITY BENEATH THE SEA”

Perhaps this refers to the same story mentioned at the end of “The Year Bender”. Even so “City Beneath the Sea” is a story that would never appear and as far as is known was never drawn.

Fighting American #6
Fighting American #6 (February 1955) “Deadly Doolittle” page 4, art by Joe Simon

The art for “Deadly Doolittle” is generally attributed to Jack Kirby, and with good reason since many Kirby mannerisms can be found in the story. However as I have previously pointed out (Art of Joe Simon, Chapter 11) this story is actually a rewrite of a Manhunter story (Adventure Comics #75, June 1942, “Beware Of Mr. Meek”). In “The Comic Book Makers” Joe Simon describes how he and Jack got into hot water with Prize Comics for using re-scripted old romance art. While I have never been able to trace down the specific romance work in question (not that surprising considering the thousands of romance pages that Simon and Kirby produced) this recycling of an old Manhunter story occurred about the same time and was a similar cost saving measure. Attributing the actual pencils for “Deadly Doolittle” to Joe Simon is not based on the use of swipes. Some use the false swiping criteria (non-swipe = Kirby, swipe = Simon) but it has been amply shown that Jack would swipe as well. Rather I credit Simon for this particular story because of the art, especially the woman in the last panel of page 4. Similar women can even be found in the reworked Black Magic that Joe did for DC many years later (Black Magic at DC).


Fighting American #6 (February 1955) “The Making of Fighting American”, art by Jack Kirby

Four pages of issue #6 are used for the retelling of the origin of Fighting American and Speedboy. This was all art selected from the first issue except for the splash panel. Not that the splash was new, it was originally meant as the cover for Fighting American #4.


Fighting American #6 (February 1955) “Super Khakalovitch”, art by Jack Kirby

For me “Super Khakalovitch” is where Simon and Kirby had finally jumped the shark in Fighting American. It may be just me, but I find the humor forced and the story dull. Further the story is not helped by the fact that not all the art was drawn by Jack Kirby. I judge that Jack did pages 1, 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7.


Fighting American #6 (February 1955) “Super Khakalovitch” page 8, art by unidentified artist

The other pages (3, 8, 9 and 10) were done by an artist that I have not been able to identify; he does not look like any of the artists working for Simon and Kirby at the time.

Simon and Kirby may have jumped the shark but they produced enough art for two more issues although one would not be published for years later.

Fighting American, Chapter 2, Fighting With Humor

Fighting American, Chapter 2, Fighting With Humor

For two of the patriotic heroes created by Simon and Kirby the alter ego was a soldier (Captain America and the Shield) but for Fighting American it was as a television commentator. These two career choices are not as dissimilar as might be assumed because both provide the alter ego with a patriotic background. The patriotism of soldiers is self evident while as a commentator Johnny Flag can show his patriotism by denouncing Communist supporters. This probably seemed a good choice at first, but not as events progressed in America politics. As mentioned in the last chapter of this serial post, Joseph McCarthy had obtained great popularity in his crusade against Communist and their sympathizers that he declared were imbedded in the government and many American institutions. McCarthy was not without critics and his popularity began to plummet following a television show with Edward Murrow, called See It Now, which aired on March 9, 1954. Afterwards Johnny Flag denouncing Communists seem much too close to McCarthy’s tactics. Further the Red Menace no longer looked as threatening as the Nazi’s during WWII. Apparently Atlas either ignored the shift in American politics or did not know how to respond to it as the Captain America stories they published went unchanged. However Simon and Kirby both saw and knew that something had to be modified if Fighting America would have any chance of becoming popular.


Fighting American #3 (August 1954) “The Man Who Sold out Liberty”, art by Jack Kirby

Joe Simon admits that they changed the type of stories for Fighting American because of McCarthy’s political downfall (as told in “The Comic Book Makers”). The timeline supports his statement as well. The creation of a comic book would start 5 months earlier then the final cover date (1 month to create the art, 1 month to print it, 1 month to distribute and cover dates were 2 months after the comic was actually released). Murrow’s television show on McCarthy was early March so the first Fighting American issue to reflect the impact of the show should be cover dated August which was the cover date for issue #3. In fact the first story for FA #3, “The Man Who Sold Out Liberty”, would have been quite at home in either of the first two issues; criminals and spies, lots of action and no particular emphasis on humor. The only thing that sets this story apart from earlier Fighting American issues is the villain “Square Hair Malloy” who seems like someone out of Dick Tracy.


Fighting American #3 (August 1954) “Poison Ivan”, art by Jack Kirby

Enemy spies appear in another story in issue #3 but how serious could any reader take Hotsky Trotski and Poison Ivan? It wasn’t just the names that were funny, Simon and Kirby poked fun at them as well. Poison Ivan is shown corrupting a small group of boys with outlandish propaganda:

All the great sports were invented by communists heroes… basketball, football, gin rummy – hide and seek – and bingo.

In one scene Poison Ivan is shown poking his little finger into his ear. While humor was also an element found in even their most serious work, Simon and Kirby has taken Fighting American to a whole new level. Comedy would now be an essential part of almost all the stories.


Fighting American #3 (August 1954) “Poison Ivan” page 7, art by Jack Kirby

Poison Ivan may have been portrayed as a fool throughout the story but when it came time for a confrontation with the Fighting American he suddenly became a worthy opponent. Jack Kirby drops into a 3 X 3 panel arrangement and has each panel focus on only the fighters. The result is a fast moving, action filled, fight sequence of the kind that Kirby did better then anyone else. Fighting American may have become a predominately humor comic but Jack never seem willing to completely abandon action in any genre.


Fighting American #3 (August 1954) “Stranger from Paradise”, art by Jack Kirby

One of the oddest stories in issue #3, or perhaps in the entire Fighting American series, is “Stranger from Paradise”. It is a modest 2 pages long with a almost strict 3 X 2 panel grid and a splash panel that is little different from the rest of the story panels. The Fighting American only appears in two panels and is easy to overlook in one of them. Speedboy plays a bigger roll but the true hero of the story is young boy from Russia. It is unusually wordy story for a Simon and Kirby production and perhaps the only one they did where the art takes a backseat to the text. That is not to say the art isn’t great just that so much of the humor is found in the script.


Fighting American #4 (October 1954) “Tokyo Runaround”, art by Jack Kirby

“Tokyo Runaround” is a great story full of action and humor. But check out the splash, what a masterpiece! The design works well with the story’s theme and of course no one could make such effective use of the oddly placed running figures as Kirby.


Fighting American #4 (October 1954) “Operation Wolf” page 4 panel 3, art by Jack Kirby

The Communists were not the only ones to be made fun of by Simon and Kirby; even Fighting American could be on the receiving end. The annoyed gun bearer was Rhode Island Red.


Fighting American #4 (October 1954) “Homecoming: Year 3000″ page 4, art by Jack Kirby

While the Fighting American title now combined humor and action, “Homecoming: Year 3000″ from issue #4 was pure science fiction. Even more oddly the Fighting American never even makes an appearance and his alter ego, Johnny Flag, only shows up at the very beginning and ending of the story (the story is presented as Johnny Flag’s dream). The simple explanation for this anomaly is provided by the name of the story’s hero, Starman Zero. Starman Zero was the protagonist for syndication strip that Simon and Kirby created called Tiger 21. Tiger 21 was never picked up, actually all the original art for the strip never got past the lettering stage with all the strip art remaining as uninked pencils. Thus “Homecoming: Year 3000″ was Simon and Kirby recycling unused material. Starman Zero does share a special connection with Fighting American; they both have an origin where a machine is used to transfer the mind of one individual into another body.

Fighting American, Chapter 1, Captain America Returns

Fighting American, Chapter 3, Jumping the Shark

Fighting American, Chapter 1, Captain America Returns

When comic book enthusiasts discuss the golden age of comics they generally are referring to superhero comics from before and during World War II. While it is not clear, at least to me, whether there was a real connection between the war and the popularity of superheroes, there is little doubt of the relationship of the patriotic heroes and the war. Simon and Kirby did not create the first patriotic hero (that honors went to Irving Novick’s Shield) but their Captain America was such a mega-hit that it spawned a multitude of imitations. Joe and Jack only did ten issues of Captain America but what they did was so dynamic and imaginative that superhero comics were never the same. Simon and Kirby’s issues of Captain America were all done before America had entered the war but with Adolf Hitler on the covers of the first two issues there was little doubt as to who the enemy truly was. While most other superheroes had been battling criminals Captain America fought against spies and saboteurs.

After the war ended superheroes declined in popularity as other genres (in particular crime, horror and romance) became the big sellers. America was officially at peace but it was not long before tensions developed with our previous ally Russia. Tensions that became so serious that it was to be called the Cold War. The chill became particularly deep when America lost China to the Communists. Never mind that China was never America’s to lose or that the side America backed was corrupt while the Communists were popular among the Chinese population. Those explanations were considered inadequate by many Americans who felt someone was to blame. It was an all too small step from placing the blame on incompetence to declaring it was deliberate. Joe McCarthy would lead a crusade against all the communists that he said had infiltrated the U.S. government.

Captain America #76
Captain America #76 (May 1954)

It would not have been hard to draw the parallels between America prior to WWII and that in the midst of the Cold War. If superheroes were popular then maybe the time had come to reintroduce them. Perhaps this was the logic behind the Atlas re-launched of the Human Torch, Sub-Mariner and Captain America in Young Men #24 (December 1953).

Fighting American #1
Fighting American #1 (April 1954) pencils by Jack Kirby

Did Simon and Kirby make the same comparison between the Axis and the Communist treats? Or did they notice the return of Captain America to the comic book racks? The timing is just possible as it takes three to four months to produce a comic and so the earliest cover date following YM #24 appearance would be March or April 1954. April is exactly the date that appears on the cover of Fighting American #1. Even if Simon and Kirby were not aware of the Atlas superhero revival they were well aware that nobody did Captain America better then they did and they would use the Fighting American to prove it.


Fighting American #1 (April 1954) “Break the Spy Ring” page 9, pencils by Jack Kirby

The origin story of Captain America seems little more then something for Simon and Kirby to get quickly past before going on to the stories they really wanted to tell. The origin of the Fighting American is told in only a couple of more pages but it is a much more interesting read. It is not the method that provides the two heroes with their powers is all that different it is the circumstances surrounding them. Before Captain America gets his powers we are shown suffer the humiliation of being a 4F. But that pales before what physical humiliation that the pre-Fighting American endures. The action in the Simon and Kirby Captain America may have been unlike anything seen in other comics in those days but by the time Fighting American came out Jack Kirby had taken action to a new, much higher, level. While in the origin story Captain America got to use his new powers against a single spy, the Fighting American takes on a roomful of armed opponents. I love the way Fighting American’s punches his opponent through the wall and leaves him hanging there!


Fighting American #1 (April 1954) “Baby Buzz Bombs” page 3, pencils by Jack Kirby

Even the patriotic hero’s sidekick got upgraded. Bucky became Cap’s partner by doing nothing more then discovering his secret identity at the end of the origin story. Simon and Kirby would devote an entire story, “Baby Buzz Bombs”, for the introduction of Speedboy. Yes Speedboy finds out the Fighting American’s alter ego but he also manages to save FA’s life more then once.


Fighting American #2 (June 1954) “The League of the Handsome Devils”, pencils by Jack Kirby

Communist spies were the villains for all three stories in the first issue of Fighting American, but with the second issue criminals were also fought. Was the shift from spies to criminals on purpose or were Simon and Kirby just trying to keep variety in the stories?


Fighting American #2 (June 1954) “Find the King of the Crime Syndicate”, pencils by Jack Kirby

Okay I do not have anything more to say about Fighting American confrontations with the criminal element. But I just love these two stories and wanted to include images of the great splash pages. All of the original art for “The League of the Handsome Devils” was included in Mark Evanier’s “Kirby: King of Comics”. A newly restored “Find the King of the Crime Syndicate” will be appearing in Titan’s “The Best of Simon and Kirby” which hopefully will be out in May.


Fighting American #2 (June 1954) “City of Ghouls” page 7, pencils by Jack Kirby

Even in the story from FA #2 with Communist spies as villains, Simon and Kirby would throw in a horde of ghouls. It is hard to escape the conclusion that in the end the Communists were not seen as quite the foes for the Fighting American that the Axis powers had been for Captain America.

Note the drawing of the Fighting American rising above the fight and just about to hurl an opponent. It is just one among many great panels but it would have a lasting impact. It would be swiped by Mort Meskin for a cover for Tom Corbett Space Cadet #2 (July 1955) the only example of Meskin lifting from Kirby that I am aware of. Years later Jim Steranko would use the design for a splash page in Captain America #113 (May 1969).

Simon and Kirby followed their standard modus operandi when producing the initial issues for Fighting American. That is Jack Kirby provided all the artwork for the Fighting American stories. New anthology comics might get some help from other studio artists but with titles for a new feature, like Fighting American or Boys’ Ranch, Kirby would invariably do all the important art in the first issues.

I consider the art from this period to be the best that Simon and Kirby did. I am not talking about the pencils because Jack Kirby never stopped pushing his art in new directions. Kirby fans invariably favor one period of Jack’s art but just as invariably they do not agree what period that was. What makes this particular period so appealing to me really is the inking. The Studio Style inking was at its peak and, with its combination of subtlety and boldness. It was the best inking ever applied to Kirby pencils (although Jack would later do some real nice work using the Austere Style). Some of the inking for these first two issues of Fighting American looks like it was done by Kirby himself. Kirby had been inked by some great inkers during his career but there is always something special when he inked his own pencils. But do not use the Marvel Fighting American reprint to judge. Some of it was restored from chemically bleached pages but alas some of it was done by inking on tracing paper. Hopefully Titan will be publishing a newly restored version of Fighting American in the not too distant future.

The first two issues of Fighting American were just spectacular. Nobody could do this type of action hero better then Simon and Kirby. Not only that, but their Fighting American was far in advance of what they had done years before on Captain America. Comparing these two issues of Fighting American with the contemporary version of Captain America being published by Atlas… well you just cannot compare them the Atlas Captain America seems so weak in story and art. It would appear that Simon and Kirby had set the tone for some exciting Fighting American issues to come. But wait, there at the bottom of the last page (see image above) “In the next issue – you’ll get goose pimples, when you meet POISON IVAN”. Could anyone take a villain named Poison Ivan seriously?

Fighting American, Chapter 2, Fighting with Humor

Fighting American Checklist


Last update: 7/10/2009

Codes:
    r:  = reprint
    s:  = script
    l:  = layout
    p:  = pencils
    i:  = inks
  name  = signed
 <name> = signed with an alias
 {name} = signed as Simon & Kirby
 [name] = unsigned attribution



Fighting American (Prize)
  1 April 1954
    (cover) - p:[Kirby] i:[Kirby]
    "Break The Spy-Ring" 10pg - p:[Kirby] i:[Kirby]
    "Reuel Gridley" 1pg - (text)
    "Baby Buzz Bombs" 6pg - p:[Kirby] i:[Kirby]
    "Abracadabra" 1pg 
    "Eagle Trap" 1pg - (text)
    "Homer" 1pg 
    "Duel To The Finish Line" 7pg - p:[Kirby] i:[Kirby]
  2 June 1954
    (cover) - p:{Kirby} i:[Kirby]
    "The League Of The Handsome Devils" 9pg - p:[Kirby] i:[Kirby]
    "Gerard" 1pg 
    "The Champion" 1pg - (text)
    "Meet Doubleheader" 7pg - p:[Kirby] i:[Kirby]
    "A Blue Note" 1pg - (text)
    "Gerard" 1pg 
    "City of Ghouls" 7pg - p:[Kirby] i:[Kirby & Meskin]- (Kirby inks 1, 2, & 5, Meskin does rest)
  3 August 1954
    (cover) - p:{Kirby} 
    "The Man Who Sold Out Liberty" 6pg - p:[Kirby] 
    "Gerard" 1pg 
    "Stranger From Paradise" 2pg - p:[Kirby] 
    "Hunted" 1pg - (text)
    "Poison Ivan" 8pg - p:[Kirby] 
    "Fast Buck" 1pg - (text)
    "Gerard" 1pg 
    "Z-Food" 7pg - p:[Kirby] 
  4 October 1954
    (cover) - p:[Kirby] 
    (unpublished cover) - p:[Kirby] 
    "Tokyo Runaround" 8pg - p:[Kirby] i:[Kirby & Meskin?]- (pages 1, 2, 5, 6, 8 inked by Kirby)
    "I Am Ignorov" 1pg - p:Tomey 
    "Poor Richard" 1pg - p:Malm 
    "Homecoming: Year 3000" 9pg - p:[Kirby] i:[Kirby]
    "Poor Richard" 1pg - p:Malm 
    "Mission Accomplished" 2pg - (text, based on "The Man Who Sold Out Liberty")
    "Operation Wolf" 5pg - p:[Kirby] i:[Kirby]
  5 December 1954
    (cover) - p:[Kirby] 
    "Jiseppi, The Jungle Boy" 8pg - p:[Kirby] 
    "The Year Bender" 8pg - p:[Kirby] 
    "Invisible Irving" 6pg - p:[Kirby] 
  6 February 1955
    (cover) - p:[Kirby] 
    "Deadly Doolittle" 8pg - p:[Simon] 
    "The Making Of Fighting American" 3pg - p:[Kirby] - (reprint from FA #1)
    "Speedboy" 1pg - p:[Kirby] - (reprint from FA #1)
    "Super Khakalovitch" 10pg - p:[Kirby & Prentice] - (pg 1, 2, 4 - 7 by Kirby, 3, 8 - 10 by Prentice)
  7 April 1955
    (cover) - p:[Kirby] 
    "Sneak Of Araby" 8pg - p:[Kirby & ?] - (pg 1 by Kirby)
    "Three Coins In The Pushcart" 7pg - p:[Prentice] 
    "Space-Face" 5pg - p:[Kirby] i:[Meskin]

Fighting American (Harvey)
  1 October 1966
    (cover) - p:{Kirby} 
    "Round Robin" 5pg - p:[Kirby] 
    "Roman Scoundrels" 8pg - p:[Kirby] 
    "Yafata's Moustache" 7pg - p:[Kirby]