Art by Joe Simon, Chapter 13, Wrap Up

When I started this serial post on Joe Simon’s art, I outlined for myself what topics I was going to cover. Initially my plan was to end about the time of the Simon and Kirby breakup. I wanted to avoid the final part of Joe’s career as a comic artist because frankly I do not have a very good handle on all of it. But in the end I have decided to discuss what little I know and admit my ignorance. Joe writes about this part of his career in his book “The Comic Book Makers”. But if you are not careful, it is easy to come away from a reading of what he says with the idea that this was an unimportant part of his career. The fact is the covers Joe drew after the breakup of Simon and Kirby outnumbers what he did earlier.

Young Romance v14 n5
Young Romance v14 n5 (August 1961) by Joe Simon (signed)

With the exception of one publication (Sick), most of what Joe did after S&K was unsigned and for low budget titles. Outside of Sick, the above Young Romance cover is the only signed late work by Joe Simon that I am aware of. Joe was the editor for some of the Prize comics (Young Love, Young Romance and Black Magic) towards the end of those titles. In Chapter 9 of “The End of Simon and Kirby” I had included an image of another of Joe’s Prize work Young Love #77 (August 1960). As I said in the beginning of this post I do not have a very good handle of Joe’s style, that is particularly true with these romances. I believe there are other Young Love and Young Romance covers by Joe. Although I have not located a convincing example yet, I strongly suspect that Joe also did some covers for the relaunched Black Magic series.

Young Hearts #17
Young Hearts In Love #17 (from proof) by Joe Simon

Joe Simon also did cover work for Super Comics. That publisher would buy art from failed comic books and reprint the material with new covers. In his book Joe describes selling them some of the S&K Mainline comics. Super Comics had a lot of different titles but were probably not big sellers and I do not have access to very many of them. The above image of Young Hearts #17 is from a proof in Joe’s collection. Notice the similarity of the title lettering to that originally used for Young Love and Young Romance. Joe also did the cover for Young Hearts #18.

Daring Adventures #15
Daring Adventure #15 (1964) by Joe Simon

But Joe not only did romance covers for Super Comics, he also did some superheroes. I believe he did the covers for Daring Adventures #10 to #17 (1963 and 1964). For these Joe used the rather simple style we saw before in Alarming Tales #4. But notice on DA #15 the Kirby-ish leaping figure. Also note the use of the oversized figure, in this case of the villain, that we have seen Simon use all the way back on his work on Blue Beetle for Fox Comics. Joe also did the cover for The Spirit #12 (1964) where unexpectedly the Spirit is attacking a foe with the villain’s own robot.

Jigsaw #3
Jigsaw #3 (unpublished, from original art) by Joe Simon

From 1965 until 1967 Joe did some editorial work for Harvey Comics on some, mostly superhero, titles. I do not believe he did any of the stories, but Joe did supply some of the covers. Perhaps because they were done for his long time friend’s company, I feel Joe put more effort into them then he did on the Super Comics covers. Although Simon still mostly worked in the simpler drawing and inking style, in the cover for Jigsaw #3 he returned to a bold inking not much removed from the old S&K shop style. Joe commented to me that he thought he had copied the Jigsaw figure from the splash page of the story. But I am unable to confirm that since Jigsaw #3 was never published.

Dick Tracy #129
Dick Tracy #129 (from proof) by Joe Simon

But the late 60’s covers were not the only ones Joe did for Harvey. Earlier he also did some Dick Tracy covers. Determining which ones is a bit of a problem. Joe was essentially ghosting on these covers, adopting the rather simple and stylized drawing of the original newspaper strips. To make it even more difficult Al Avison was also doing some of these covers at about the same time. The above proof is from Joe’s collection so we can be pretty certain it was done by him.

Harvey Hits
Harvey Hits Magazine (from proof) by Joe Simon

Simon also did some Phantom covers for Harvey. Here he did not have to copy another’s style. To me they seem like standard Simon art for after the S&K breakup and do not at all suggest work by Jack Kirby. But apparently there must be something in them to suggest Jack, because dealers often credit Kirby for these covers.

Sick #69
Sick #69 (August 1969) by Joe Simon

However it is the covers to Sick Magazine that comprises most of the art work Joe did after Simon and Kirby. Joe was editor for this Mad imitation for a number of years (1960 to 1968) during which he did many of the covers but even afterwards he continued to supply cover art. In this work Joe let loose his visual humor and he obviously put much effort into these covers.

Well that wraps up my serial post on the Art of Joe Simon. I have added a checklist but like all my checklists it is a work in progress. Joe was a talented artist, better them most people give him credit for. Unfortunately that talent, particularly his talent for adopting different styles, has led many experts and scholars to attribute some of his works to other artists. Over and over again I get the uncomfortable feeling that critics have used quality of the work as a means of distinguishing between artists; if a page is good Kirby must have done it, otherwise it was done by Simon. I feel this is a flawed technique and the proper way to determine artistic credit is to examine a piece of work for the traits of the individual artists. It is also to keep in mind that when one artists tries to mimic another that some traits are easy to copy and should not be relied upon. Other features are more unique to one artists and are harder for another artist to duplicate; these are the ones useful for attributions. I did not do this serial post with the idea of convincing everyone of the correctness of the work I credit to Simon. But it would be great if I could help move the problem of attributions toward a discussion of the evidence from the art itself and away from the simple credit declarations that the experts are so fond of.

Art by Joe Simon, Chapter 12, Covering the Fly

Art by Joe Simon, Appendix 2, Daring Adventures #12

12 thoughts on “Art by Joe Simon, Chapter 13, Wrap Up

  1. Stan Taylor

    Hi Harry,

    Good stuff. One little observation. On the Phantom covers that Joe did for Harvey Hits, there’s a good reason that many have mistaken these for Kirby. The cover for HH#1 is a swipe from a Kirby Bulls-Eye page from issue #5. The Phantom figure on HH #6 is a reverse swipe from the Manhunter cover on Adventure #73 While not a Kirby swipe, the cover showing the Phantom flipping a villain over his head was probably inspired/swiped from the Phantom cover on Harvey Comics Hits #56.

    The underwater splashpage you show for the Phantom story is also a S/K swipe, (not the figures) but I can’t track it down just now. I will, and I’ll send you a scan. (Black Magic comes to mind, or Strange World of Your Dreams)

    The Daring Adventures cover looks like a Boys Ranch swipe, possibly a Dandy panel, but my copy isn’t handy, so I’ll doublecheck later.

    The Jigsaw cover is gorgeous, but it evokes an earlier S/K flair that seems sort of out of place for Jor in the 60’s. but I can’t find any earlier reference so he gets the props.

    Any way that your Joe Simon history will be edited and published in a magazine like Alter Ego, or JKC? Or self published?


  2. nick caputo

    I echo Stan’s call for publication in print, it deserves a larger audience.

    BTW, I notice that Heritage is advertising Speed Comics 23 as Kirby. Have you been in contact with them?

  3. nick caputo

    I just noticed that you have not attributed Speed 23 as Simon yet, although you noted you suspect it may be by him. For a change, I’m attributing Simon before you! (I do have to take a closer look, but my initial reaction was this is more Simon than Kirby. Perhaps your continuing studies of Simon’s art is paying off).

  4. Harry Post author


    Thanks for the info for the Simon Harvey Hit swipes, all spot on. But I find it ironic that you say HH #56 was not swiped from Kirby and yet it is the most commonly HH to be attribute to Jack.

    Obviously we have different viewpoints about swiping. You only give approval for Jigsaw #3 after determining it was not a swipe. I on the other hand am not at all bothered by swiping provided that the swipe is used in an original manner (that is the swipe is not of the entire source image), that the end result is well integrated, that the final image is effective (tells the story), and that the artist adds his personal touch. All the HH swipes you provided meet those criteria.

  5. Harry Post author


    I think you have not read my comments about Speed #23 carefully enough. I have always considered as most likely done by Joe. But the evidence for that attribution is not as good as Champ #19 or Speed #19. I will present why I think it is by Simon when I have restoerd the cover.

    And no I have not contacted Heritage. Frankly I have never known a case of them responding to corrections in their attributions. And let’s face it a Kirby piece will sell for a higher price then a Simon work.

  6. Harry Post author

    Nick and Stan,

    Although I have not ruled it out, I have no plans for hard copy publication. And I am not convinced that would necessarily be a larger audience.

  7. nick caputo

    Hi Harry,

    You are likely correct re:Heritage. They have made a change or two when I’ve notified them of errors, but they were by artists that did not command the same prices as Kirby. I recently emailed them about a cover attributed to Sal Buscema that looks like the work of Ron Wilson. I don’t know if they’ll make a change there, as I assume Sal B. would bring in more money than Ron Wilson.

    My latest battle is with the GCD, as they continue to list Avengers Annual 1 as a Don Heck cover. Since this info has been copied from incorrect sources, it continues to go into print, including the recent Masterworks. I have studied the cover and it has all the touches of John Buscema, which I have pointed out. I’ve also contacted Roy Thomas to see if he can confirm my suspicions. I’ve id’ed or corrected hundreds of covers for the GCD, yet this one they do not want to make a correction to. An error, once firmly embeded and copied, is very hard to adjust.

  8. Stan Taylor

    Hi Harry,

    I don’t know how ironic it is that I don’t credit HH #12 to Kirby since I never made any attribution to Kirby in the first place. I am the first to say that many credits in Overstreet and the GCD are wrong.

    As for my views on swiping, I am in complete agreement with you, I have no problem with Joe swiping. I think it should be noted, but that’s only for reference reasons.

    As for the attribution on the Jigsaw #3 cover, since this is the first I have ever seen it, I start from the assumption that it is original. Yet when I see a style that is at odds with Joe’s current style, and I do know that Joe’s pattern on adventure covers was to borrow elements from other sources, than my radar goes up and I try to verify. Just because I haven’t found a source yet doesn’t mean that it wasn’t swiped from an earlier drawing, it may mean that I couldn’t locate it. It also might have been an unpublished piece that Joe refitted to the Jigsaw cover. The figural work certainly looks of a different style inking.

    Either way, it’s a beautiful piece of work.

    You skipped over Joe’s work on The Fly, and the Shield at Archie. Here his penchant for swiping reaches a high point since it’s not just on the covers, but well integrated into the interior work. The instances on the Fly with Jack Kirby are well known, but Joe even cut and pasted Kirby figures into stories drawn by other artists.


  9. Harry Post author


    I have to admit that I am always uncomfortable with using the GCD. I understand given the way that it is compiled that there will be a lot of mistakes. But I am not at all clear how they make the decision on what gets correctioned. At one time I considered giving them a hand but I never could get a satisfactory answer to that question.

    Actually I have the same problem with the Jack Kirby Checklist. I gave them a number of fixes when they were planning the update and I do not remember if any of them got into the JKC issue. They range from attributions (which people can differ on) to typos (such as some of the Harvey cover dates). But since I do not know the process used to decide what “corrections” to accept, I have no idea why my fixes were not used.

    But the nice thing about a blog is that I can address these issues. So look foward to posts about errors in the Checklist. I am already preparing one on some stories that were actually done by Mort Meskin.

  10. Harry Post author


    The irony is not in your spotting swipes. The irony is that HH #56 is the the HH cover that I see most often see attributed to Kirby by dealers yet unlike most of the Simon HH covers it does not seem to be based on a Kirby swipe. And I really think you are correct about that because the way the Phantom throws his opponent over his back just does not seem right for Kirby.

    As for Jigsaw #3 I guess it depends on what you find attractive about the cover. For me it is the inking. After the breakup of Simon & Kirby they both seem to quickly abandon the S&K shop style inking (although to be fair Jack pretty much abandoned inking totally). To me Jigsaw #3 inking is an example of Joe approaching that shop style. As for swipes like I said in the post, Joe himself offered that he swiped the figure from the splash of the story. I just cannot verify or falsify that statement since the comic was never published and I have not seen the story.

    Wow your right I totally forgot about the Fly covers! Look foward to an appendix to “The Art of Joe Simon”. But I beg to differ about your comments about Joe swiping in the stories. Particularly about “Joe even cut and pasted Kirby figures into stories drawn by other artists”. I have examined most of the original interior art for the first 4 issues of the Fly (the ones Joe produced) and I have seen no cases of that being done. I guess it is possible that an entire panel which included a swipe may have been pasted into a story otherwise by some other artist. Or it just may have been the artist (not Joe) doing the swiping. But inserting Kirby figures into other artists stories could not have been done much if at all.

  11. Bob Hughes

    If you send any corrections for the GCD directly to me, I will make sure they get put in. There is a huge backlog on the corrections list- and some editors are afraid to correct artist guesses. I’m not sure why. Nick Caputo sends in millions of corrections and maybe single handedly responsible for the backlog.

  12. Harry Post author

    Many thanks for the invite, but I am much too busy to compare my checklists to GCD entrees. Perhaps someday when my restoration projects come to an end.

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