Joe Simon, Some Comics from the Coast Guard

Simon and Kirby was a brand name that helped sell comics. So it comes to no surprise that although the Boys Commandos story (“Brooklyn Botches the Bakas”) from World’s Finest Comics #20 (Winter 1945) was signed Simon and Kirby they had nothing to do with it. All inventory that Joe and Jack provided DC before entering military service had since been used up. But that did not stop DC; they just added Simon and Kirby’s names to stories actually drawn by other artists. Like I said, Simon and Kirby’s names sold comics.

World's Finest #20
World’s Finest #20 (Winter 1945) “Foxhole Soldier”, art by Joe Simon

While neither creator contributed to the Boy Commandos story, the next story in World’s Finest #20 was penciled, and probably inked, by Joe Simon. There is no question that this piece was by Joe. It is in his distinctive style with no attempt at mimicking another artist (Joe’s imitations of Jack Kirby and Lou Fine have fooled experts). And if that were not enough it is even signed by Joe. Such a solo signature is unique during the period of the Simon and Kirby collaboration. Even the cover and short story that Joe did for Boy Commandos #12 (Fall 1945) were signed Simon and Kirby despite the fact that Jack was still in the army and certainly had nothing to do with them (Art by Joe Simon, Chapter 8, Off to War). For “Foxhole Soldier” I would guess that only used his signature to please his superiors since Simon was still in the Coast Guard when this story was created. Both the BC #12 and WF #20 pieces were clearly done as Coast Guard promotion.

The next issue of World’s Finest (#21, March 1946) featured a Boy Commandos story (“Brooklyn and Columbus Discover America”) actually drawn by the recently returned Jack Kirby. What a difference that made. However Joe was still in the Coast Guards and was not there to help. Very unfortunate because the inking to the Boy Commandos feature was atrocious.

World's Finest #21
World’s Finest #21 (March 1946) “Post War Casualty”, art by Joe Simon

While Joe was not on hand to help Jack with the Boy Commandos story, World’s Finest #21 had another story (“Post War Casualty”) penciled and inked by Simon. This story is unsigned but Joe’s style is easily detected. The job seems a little more rushed then “Foxhole Soldier”. The elderly lady shown in the first two story panels bears a remarkable resemblance to Apple Annie from the Duke of Broadway feature that Joe drew latter a couple months later (The Wide Angle Scream, American Royalty).

I had earlier reported about another short piece drawn by Simon, “Combat Photographer” from Real Fact #2, May 1946 (More Obscure Simon and Kirby). In that case there was no Coast Guard connection and the piece was published the same time Simon and Kirby’s Stuntman and Boy Explorers Comics. “Combat Photographer” indicates that Joe did some work for DC after returning from his stint in the Coast Guard.

I was unaware of Joe Simon’s two World’s Finest features until I recently saw them in a post on the Marvel Masterworks forum. In it Steven Utley remarked that Simon and Kirby’s Manhunter stories would make a rather thin archive volume if DC decided to publish them. Steven suggested that it thickened up a little bit more by including other assorted Simon and Kirby pieces. It could be fleshed out even a little bit more if DC were to include some pieces by Kirby alone, in particular his retro Manhunter from the 70’s. The complete list for such a volume would be:

Manhunter, Adventure Comics #s 73-80, 76 pages
“Coast Guard Reconnaissance,” Boy Commandos # 12, 3 pages
“Foxhole Sailor,” World’s Finest Comics #s 20, 3 pages
“Post War Casualty,” World’s Finest Comics # 21, 3 pages
“Pirate or Patriot,” Real Fact Comics # 1, 4 pages
Just Imagine, “The Rocket Lanes of Tomorrow,” Real Fact Comics # 1, 2 pages
Just Imagine, “A World of Thinking Machines,” Real Fact Comics # 2, 2 pages
Just Imagine, “Combat Photographer,” Real Fact Comics # 2, 4 pages
“Backseat Driver,” Real Fact Comics # 9, 4 pages
“Space Ships of the Past”, Showcase #15, 2 pages
Manhunter, First Issue Special #5, 19 pages

For a total of 122 pages. I think it is a great idea since some of these pieces would probably not otherwise be reprinted.