The Sandman #1 (Winter 1974) by Jack Kirby
This is my last post about Simon and Kirby covers selected as their favorite by participants of my recent contest. I saved this particular one for last because it was, at least for me, the most unexpected. When I think about the Simon and Kirby collaboration I think about the period from when they first teamed up in 1940 until the work they did for the Adventures of the Fly in 1959. There were some S&K work published later like Blast Off and Harvey’s Fighting American. However this was not new truly new work but earlier work that just had not been published before. From 1960 on Joe and Jack had gone their separate ways, that is until Sandman #1 in 1974.
In 1970 Kirby, dissatisfied with his treatment by Marvel, had signed up to work for DC. Here he started to create his New Gods opus. But Jack wanted more then just to draw these comics. He desired to initiate new titles and then hand them over to other artists. What Jack wanted was to produce these comics. In effect to return to the type of business arrangement he had during his collaboration with Joe Simon, but to do this by himself. However Jack was not successful in this endeavor. He never managed to pass the drawing chore to anyone else and worse yet some of his titles were cancelled. Jack continued to work for DC but the arrangement was not the same. Although he still was more then just another artist, he started to receive direction from DC’s Carmine Infantino. It must have been a bitter disappointment for Jack. Even more so when Joe Simon started to also work for DC in an arrangement very much like the one Jack had failed to development. Joe was more then just an editor, he was producing his comics for DC.
With both Joe and Jack now working for DC, it must have been an obvious idea to Carmine to have them team up once again. After all Simon and Kirby had a number of great successes in the past, why not see if they could re-create their old magic? Of course with Jack living in California and Joe in New York, there was no question of the same type of collaboration that they had previously. I have been told that there is a cover proposal for the Sandman drawn by Jerry Grandenetti. If that is true it would suggest that originally Sandman was Joe Simon’s idea as Jerry was one of the artists doing work for Joe. (I have seen another Sandman cover reported to be by Joe Simon, but that is clearly a misattribution because it is not in Joe’s style.) The credits for the comic give Joe as the scripter and Jack as editor and drawer. You can see that the cover for Sandman #1 has a job number, SK-2. The same job number was used on the first page. Well the SK obviously stands for Simon and Kirby. But if that is true why the ‘2’? Does that suggest there was a previous piece of artwork given the job number SK-1?
The Sandman #1, unpublished cover by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon
There is another version of this cover that was actually inked by Joe Simon. Joe has said that this the original cover that was rejected by DC because of all the “hay” (crosshatching). That may very well be true, but I also wonder if perhaps Jack was unhappy with some of the liberties that Joe took. For instance Jack’s square finger tips were rounded off in Joe’s inking?
With the type of distribution at the time it is hard to be absolutely sure how well comic books really sold. But it appeared, at least to Carmine, that The Sandman had been a big success. However issue #2 had a cover date of April 1975. This suggest that the original was planned as a one shot but that with its success more were published. However succeeding Sandman issues were not Simon and Kirby collaborations. After a brief revival for one issue, the Simon and Kirby team had again ended and would not produce any further comics.