Joe Simon and Jack Kirby not only created great art, they produced great comics. They would hire writers to make scripts and artists to illustrate them. Joe and Jack would deliver to a publisher a complete comic ready for the printing. During the process of working on these comics they would improved both the scripts and the art. In the end they were Simon and Kirby comics even when other artist did most of the art for the stories.
I thought I would share some examples of Joe and Jack as editors of other artists. The first is from a “The Case of the Hapless Hackie” a Calamity Jane story by Bill Draut from Boy Explorers #1. Bill was a regular of the S&K studio and I am sure I will talk about him often. The original art, still in Joe Simon’s collection, was done on illustration board. These boards are thick (about 1/8 inch) and were the staple of work done for S&K productions. But the art on the bottom of the splash page of this story was done on bristol that was taped to the illustration board. With the bristol removed you can see the art as it was done by Draut.
As you can see Bill did a good job and the notes by the editor and the artists was a clever idea. However the notes and the title clutter up the page and leave only a thin strip for the art. I believe for this reason and to modernize the effect, Joe did the overlay showing the editor and artist talking by phone. This is the version that was actually printed.
I say Joe did the editing in this case because the art was done in his style. Bill did a good job, but Joe made it much better. That was not the only change done on this page. The story title was done on paper pasted over the illustration board. The paste still holds the paper down tight so I have no idea what change was made. A similar paste job was done on the third panel on page three, but this time the glue has failed and the scan below shows Draut’s (left) and the final (right) version. Frankly this time I do not see the final version as that much of an improvement on Bill’s take.
The Boy Explorers and Stuntman comics did not last long as they were victims of the comic glut and resulting crash at that time. Boy Explorers #2 and Stuntman #3 never reached the news stands. But small (1/4 sized), reduced length, black and white versions were mailed to subscribers. I borrowed Joe’s personal copies for scanning and found this on the top of page 18, the third page of “In This Corner Kid Adonis” by Joe Simon.
I think that is Simon’s handwriting, so it seems he was not satisfied with the face on the person on the right in the first panel. This particular story was reprinted in Green Hornet #37. This time the person has a very different nose. It seems Joe was not above editing himself.
One casualty of the comic crash was a Vagabond Prince story “Trapped In Wax” by Joe Simon that had been scheduled for the Boy Explorers #2. This particular story did not make it into the small comic sent to subscribers. Perhaps because there were still a few places where the inking had not been completed. In fact this story was never printed until Greg Theakson included it in Stuntman reprint. Below I include a close up of the first panel of page 7 of the story from a xerox in the Joe Simon collection.
Notice there still remains a ghost of the pointing hand. The final hand was redone in a style that is unmistakenly that of Jack Kirby. The man’s right shoulder has also been adjusted. So here we have Jack stepping in as art editor. Careful examination of Simon & Kirby productions show that it was not unusual for Jack to make this sort of corrections.