Art by Joe Simon, Chapter 8, Off to War

Star Spangled #21
Star Spangled #21 (June 1943) by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon

Joe Simon and Jack Kirby seemed to have been very successful working for DC. But there was a war on and they knew that sooner or later they would be drafted. They responded by going into hyper drive, producing stories and covers that could be published while they were in the service. Art produced during this time varied widely in quality. It would also appear that a variety of inkers were used. Most of this work seemed to have been penciled by Jack Kirby. However I suspect that some of it was penciled by someone else, perhaps Simon. Maybe the best example is from the cover to Star Spangled #21 (June 1943). The main image of the Newsboy Legion has a number of touches that look very much like the work of Kirby. But the floating head of the Guardian seems to have been done by Simon, particularly with his square jaw. Unfortunately the best examples to compare it with come from after the war. As for the rest of the examples I consider of questionable attribution, with the rush job that S&K were doing and the different inkers used, perhaps it would be unwise to try to resolve these credits right now.

Boy Commandos #12
Boy Commandos #12 (Fall 1945) by Joe Simon

What is really needed is some reference material that can be attributed to Joe based on independent evidence. Unfortunately while Joe and Jack collaborated neither one signed their efforts except at times jointly as Simon and Kirby. The next best thing to a signature appears to be found in Boy Commandos #12 (Fall 1945). During the war there were lots of comic covers and stories that depict the Navy or the Army Air Force, but the Coast Guard got little attention. Yet for BC #12 both the cover and an inside story highlighted the Coast Guard. Joe Simon’s war time service was done in the U.S. Coast Guard. There can be little doubt that these were created when Joe was in service. Since Jack was in the Army in Europe at that time, Joe must have done the penciling. When I presented Joe with a number of Boy Commandos cover restorations, he singled out BC #12 as one he did while serving in Washington DC. Joe said he did not ink it, which is easy to believe given its odd inking, particularly in the tree stump. Even so you can get an idea about how close Joe’s Boy Commandos could be to Jack’s efforts. Still there are differences between the two, particularly in the eyebrows. Note that Joe signed this cover as done by Simon and Kirby. Joe said he knew Jack would understand. Later when returning to work from the service before Joe, Jack would return the favor.

Boy Commandos #12
Boy Commandos #12 (Fall 1945) “Coast Guard Reconnaissance” by Joe Simon

The interior feature “Coast Guard Reconnaissance” provides interesting examples of Simon’s work. Since it is not a Boy Commandos story, Joe had no reason to try to mimic Kirby.

Adventure Is My Career
Adventure Is My Career (1945) page 15 by Joe Simon

But Boys Commando #12 is not the only comic work Simon did about the Coast Guard. Joe created an entire comic book for the U.S. Coast Guard called Adventure Is My Career. Here we are on even firmer ground because Joe gets a credit line and again Jack could not have been involved. No attempt is made here to copy Kirby, and no reason that such an effort should have been made. Even so some Kirby traits show up. On page 15 Joe draws a running figure with his sole turned toward the viewer. This is a device that Jack often used, we saw it before on the cover to Champion #9. Adventure Is My Career is a comic that is rarely seen. But it gives a good idea of what Joe could do when he was away from Jack. So let me close with another page.

Adventure Is My Career
Adventure Is My Career (1945) page 7 by Joe Simon

Art by Joe Simon, Appendix 1, Champ 22 Confirmed

Art by Joe Simon, Chapter 9, American Royalty

2 thoughts on “Art by Joe Simon, Chapter 8, Off to War

  1. nick caputo

    Boy Commandos 12 does have a very odd inking job; it reminds me of current artist Mike Allred’s work!

    Keep ’em coming! I’n getting a firmer grip on the art style of Joe Simon.

  2. Harry Post author

    I never thought about the Mike Allred comparison before, but you are right. I can’t say I am much of a fan for Allred’s writing, but I love his art.

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