Art by Joe Simon, Chapter 11, The Party Is Over

After “48 Famous Americans” S&K entered a period of abundant work mainly producing crime, horror and romance genre comics. As far as I can tell, Joe did not pencil anything during this period. I say that rather hesitantly. While working on my serial post “The End of Simon and Kirby” I reexamined a lot of S&K material. Suddenly I realize one story that I always thought as drawn by Kirby and was listed in the Jack Kirby Checklist had actually been done by Joe Simon. It seemed pretty obvious and I was quite surprised that I did not notice it before. I will discuss this story below but the point is if I had missed that work by Simon I might have missed others.

Adventure #75
Adventure #75 (June 1942) “Beware of Mr. Meek” by Jack Kirby

Fighting American #6
Fighting American #6 February 1955) “Deadly Doolittle” by Joe Simon

When we approach the end of the Simon and Kirby collaboration, work penciled by Joe reappears. However in some cases saying Joe is the artist depends on you think what makes someone the creator of a piece. In his book “The Comic Book Makers” Joe describes an incident where S&K got caught by Prize for reusing old romance art with new scripting. So far I have not found the stories that Joe is talking about. But in Fighting American #6 (February 1955) there is a story “Deadly Doolittle” that clearly was redone from “Beware of Mr. Meek” a Manhunter story from Adventure #75 (June 1942). But the FA story was not made by reworking stats from the older comic to change the uniforms, rather the entire story was redrawn. Much of this was done to remove some older layout techniques that Simon and Kirby no longer used. Early in their collaboration parts of figures would frequently extend well beyond the panel edges entering other panels. The FA story was redrawn so that things remained in their panels. But this was not done by just eliminating the parts outside of the original panels but by recomposing the panel instead. I find Simon’s touch in all of this work. It is particularly interesting to see Joe redo some of Jack’s classic socko punches. Joe tries valiantly but does not quite succeed in capturing Jack’s effect. I find a lot of Simon touch in this story and all the Kirby effects seem to be transmitted through Joe’s sensibilities.

Cockeyed #4
Cockeyed #4 (April 1956) “Guys and Dolls” by Joe Simon
Enlarged view

The last piece of worked signed jointly as Simon and Kirby is the unusual “Guys and Dolls” that appeared in the Mad-takeoff Cockeyed #4 (April 1956). This is included in the Jack Kirby Checklist, although I really cannot say why. The art looks much closer to cover work that Joe would do later for Sick then anything I have seen Jack do. Further the visual humor looks like Joe’s and does not seem to match Jack’s humor work. For me the most convincing evidence is that this works appears to have been done with an air brush. Joe Simon was a master with this tool having learned it while working for a newspaper at the beginning of his career. He would return to using it for not only the Sick covers but also for some of his advertisement work. I have seen nothing that indicates Jack had done any air brush art.

Alarming Tales #1
Alarming Tales #1 (September 1957) by Joe Simon

I doubt many would say that the figure in the flying chair and the background from the cover of Alarming Tales #1 (September 1957) were done by Jack Kirby. I clearly see Joe’s touch and believe he did this cover. But I can see why many see Kirby’s presence in the bottom part of the cover. I feel Joe did this portion also but he is swiping or mimicking Jack for parts of it. I presented a color image in a chapter of the “End of Simon and Kirby”. But the coloring makes it difficult to clearly see the figures, so above I provide a restoration of the line art. To me the lady on the left and the man looking out of his car seem to a have Kirby look to them. But the man pointing (third from right) and the man on the far right look more like the work of Simon.

Black Cat #60
Black Cat Mystic #60 (November 1957) by Joe Simon

Not long after Alarming Tales #1, Joe did a cover for Black Cat Mystic #60 (November 1957). Notice the similarity of the man with the two from the AT #1 cover.

Black Cat #60
Black Cat Mystic #60 (November 1957) “The Woman Who Discovered America 67 Years Before Columbus” by Joe Simon

Black Cat Mystic #60 has the story drawn by Joe Simon that I mentioned at the beginning of this post. This short (2 pages) story is listed in the Jack Kirby Checklist, but as I said I now disagree with that attribution. We have in this work Joe mimicking Jack quite successfully. The men have a Kirby-ish look but a careful examination of the eyebrows reveal the more simple form that Simon preferred. The woman also comes from a Kirby source, such as some of the unused covers for Black Magic #1. But the woman’s eyes give away the fact that this was Joe’s pencil work. The hand of the woman in the splash panel is not drawn the way that Kirby would have done it. I am sure some will say that some panels of the second page of the Mayans were done by Jack. But I suspect even this includes subjects that were drawn from art history sources that both Joe and Jack used.

Alarming Tales #4
Alarming Tales #4 (March 1958) by Joe Simon

Covers begin to appear at this time where Joe seems to abandon any attempt of mimicking Kirby. I provide an image of Alarming Tales #4 (March 1958) as an example. Here we find a simpler style of drawing and inking that Joe will often use from here on. Once again Joe has adopts a new style.

Art by Joe Simon, Chapter 10, A History Lesson

Art by Joe Simon, Chapter 12, Covering the Fly

4 thoughts on “Art by Joe Simon, Chapter 11, The Party Is Over

  1. nick caputo


    I would disagree with the Cockeyed art not having any Kirby touches. Having recently bought the book I’ve had occasion to examine it closely, and many of the figures and postures (for instance the showgirls in the background)remind me of the humor work he did later at Marvel in Not Brand Echh.

    Is it not possible that Kirby did some of the penciling and Simon inked and airbrushed to complete the art?

  2. nick caputo


    The cover to Black Cat Mystic 60 appears, to my eye, to have elements of Kirby, The design of the background elements in particular (the lamp, chair and clock). As regards the story, the only figure that is “possible” Kirby to me is the figure in the splash page; the hand touching the face is a Kirby signature, I believe, although I admit this could be a Simon swipe.

  3. Harry Post author


    I don’t see any Kirby touches. I looked at a couple of Kirby issues of Not Brand Echh and find nothing similar to Cockeyed. If you really think there is something similar there please be specific.

    To me the bird chewing on Sinatra’s hat is pure Joe. Sinatra’s cloths are also typical Simon. I could go on and
    on I see Joe all over this work. I see no evidence to bring Jack into this work.

  4. Harry Post author


    The theme for this serial post is that Joe did swipes, he could adopt another artist style pretty successfully, and he had plenty of opportunity and motive to study Kirby’s style. Yes the cover has furniture similar to what Kirby used, but hey it was period furniture and Simon inked it plenty of times. The guy with the hand may look like a Kirby gesture but the hand is not drawn like Jack would but is like Joe would. If you look for things easily swiped Joe is going to fool you all the time.

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