DC’s New Book, The Sandman by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby

The Sandman by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby

Joe Simon gave me a copy of DC’s new book “The Sandman by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby”. Amazon lists the release date as August 18, but it may be in comic books stores sooner then that. Simon and Kirby worked on Sandman (along with Manhunter, the Newsboy Legion, and Boy Commandos) just after leaving their highly successful run of Captain America at Timely. It was with Captain America that Simon and Kirby achieved fame but it was at DC that their unique collaboration really took root. This book provides all the Simon and Kirby Sandman stories that appeared in Adventure and World Finest Comics. That means the book contains all the independent Sandman stories that Joe and Jack did but excludes Sandman’s appearance in All Star Comics as part of the Justice Society of America. The Sandman also excludes some Sandman stories done by other artists while Simon and Kirby were doing their military service during the war. Included also is Simon and Kirby’s last comic book collaboration, a remade Sandman from 1974. Only the first issue of the 70’s Sandman is here since Joe and Jack once again went their separate ways. With 290 pages of art that is a lot of Simon and Kirby and at $39.99 a real steal. At that price you could not even buy a single issue of the original comic let alone the entire run.

There are two basic philosophies about how to reprint old comic book art. One approach is to recreate, or as Marvel calls terms it reconstruct, the art. The other approach is to use cleaned up scans. Recreated reprints can look superficially attractive but the reader is actually getting a modern artist interpretation of the original work. Depending on the artist doing the recreation this may or may not be very accurate. Reprints using scans are accurate but not always pretty because of the primitive printing of the original comics and the deteriorations that they have suffered with age. I prefer reprints that use scans and I am happy to say that is the approach that DC has adopted for this volume.

The Sandman by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby

In all honesty there are some problems with The Sandman. The book is 7 by 10.5 inches in size. This is a common dimension for books of this nature but it meant that the art had to be reduced in size. However it is not much smaller then the original and reading is not really impaired. I would have preferred the original size but that would have meant a larger book with a correspondingly higher sales price. It is not the height of the original comics that caused the difficulty but rather the width. DC was obviously trying to limit the amount of size reduction and so the margins and gutters are rather narrow. The image above shows the resulting page format. The narrow gutter does not really affect the reading but as can be seen it does make scanning difficult.

There is a nice introduction by John Morrow, publisher of The Jack Kirby Collector. Morrow provides some much needed background for those not steeped into the history of Simon and Kirby. However there is a secret rule that says that every volume reprinting Jack Kirby material must include an essay by Mark Evanier, in this case it is an afterword. Of course I am being a little bit facetious about there being such a rule, but only a little bit. Evanier not only knows more about Jack Kirby then anyone else but he is also a marvelous writer. His presence in The Sandman, or any other Kirby volume, is always much appreciated.

What can I say, this is after all the Simon and Kirby Blog and this book is prime Simon and Kirby. Buy this book to find out how a second rate backup feature became the star of Adventure Comics. Buy this book to see how exciting Simon and Kirby could be. But buy this book.

7 thoughts on “DC’s New Book, The Sandman by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby

  1. pat ford

    Looks great Harry, So were you impressed by the scans? I agree the format is odd with all that dead space at the top and bottom, and the art squeezed into the gutter, but you can’t argue with that price.
    I’m pretty excited that it looks like scans have won out, not because you and I prefer them, but because they are more economical. When something is cheaper, and better how can you stop it?

  2. Harry Post author

    What can I say, they are scans. DC at that time probably had the best printing of any publisher, even so there was variation in quality from story to story. Impressed by the scans? It is not possible for me to give a completely unbiased judgement, I am after all a restorer of old comics. But I would not put them in the same catagory of say the Fletcher Hanks book (“I Will Destroy all the Civilized Planets”) but it is way better then say the color sections of the “Manmoth Book of …”. I think the scan I provided gives a pretty good idea of the quality.

  3. pat ford

    Thanks Harry, I forgot to ask is the paper matte or glossy?
    Also your scan from the book is at around the middle of the book. Can it be assumed the art retreating into the gutter is at about it’s worst on the page you show?
    Pat Ford

  4. Harry Post author

    Yeah I should have mentioned in my review, the paper is matte. The gutter is quite small and perhaps they should have sacrificed some more margin, but you can see the art throughout the book.

  5. John S.


    Actually, I think the page you’ve shown from the book looks excellent in terms of reproduction quality. The dimensions of the book itself may not be the best, but that shouldn’t stop people from picking it up. It’s a shame DC can’t get over the fannish idea that eveything must be made to fit into a tall, narrow, rectangular format. That aside, this volume should make an excellent addition to any S&K book collection.

    On a somewhat different note, I have to offer a small bit of criticism regarding your otherwise excellent Simon and Kirby blog: You need to learn the difference between the words “then” and “than”. Throughout this blog you repeatedly use the word “then” when you should be using the word “than”. This may seem like a small matter, but it is such an elementary grammatical error that when it’s repeated over and over again (as it is in your columns) it gives an unfortunate impression of amateurishness to the work. I don’t mean to be a nit-picker here, but if you would correct this one nagging flaw in your writing, these columns would be just about perfect.

  6. Campbell Martin

    I just bought the Sandman book yesterday, but I was somewhat disappointed to find that not all the S+K Sandman stories are included. Sure, all the stories from Adventure and World’s Finest are there, but aren’t there more in All Star Comics? Can anyone out there provide a list of the missing stories, and are they available as reprints anywhere?
    Still, it’s a great book, with better reproduction than the Sandman stories reprinted in Forever People. I hope DC brings out more S+K books, like Boy Commandos, Manhunter and Newsboy Legion!

  7. Harry Post author

    I believe All Stars #14 – #17 and #19 have S&K Sandman. DC has already printed them as part of their All Stars Archives.

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