Early Jack Kirby, Chapter 4, Enter Joe Simon

Blue Bolt #3
Blue Bolt #3 (August 1940) page 1

Jack Kirby met Joe Simon when the latter became art editor for Fox Comics. I find it interesting that Jack started doing actual comic book work (as opposed to syndication strips) at the same time as Joe’s first cover for Fox (May 1940). Perhaps it is just coincidence or perhaps Joe gave Jack some Fox features and may even had help Jack get work outside Fox (Crash Comics, see previous chapter). In any case it is clear that Joe quickly recognized Jack’s talent. Previously Joe had submitted a feature called Blue Bolt to Funnies Incorporated, a shop run by Lloyd Jaquet. Initially it was not used but later became the basis for a new comic title. Blue Bolt #1 came out with a cover date of June 1940. Joe did all the art for the first Blue Bolt story since it actually was done prior to his starting work at Fox. But for new issues of the comic, Joe got Jack to give him a hand. The feature in issues #2 and #3 are signed by just Joe Simon. However the art was done by both Joe and Jack, working on different pages. Jacks contribution for these issues was rather limited. For BB #2 Jack did pages 1 (except for the splash), 2, 4 and 5 while Joe did the rest of the 10 page story. For BB #3 Jack would do pages 1, 2 and 7. He may also have done page 5 but I am not sure of that.

Blue Bolt #5
Blue Bolt #5 (October 1940) page 1

By issue #4 Jack was doing all the penciling as he would do for all the remaining issues. With issue #5 for the first time we find credits as “Joe Simon and Jack Kirby”. It is only fair that Joe’s name comes first, after all he created the feature. Although Joe and Jack were now working together, I think it would be a mistake to consider them at this stage as equals. Simon was art editor at Fox and after that would have the same title at Timely. People were starting to recognize Kirby’s talent but Jack had yet to have a hit. In any case once established, Simon and Kirby would be the credit order for the rest of their time together.

Blue Bolt #7
Blue Bolt #7 (December 1940) by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon

One surprising thing about the Blue Bolt title was how few of the covers were done by Joe or Jack. Joe alone did the cover for Blue Bolt #3. The cover for BB #7 was a joint Simon and Kirby effort. The figure of the Blue Bolt was clearly done by Jack. But the flying ships and the earth do not look like Kirby’s work. Similar blimp-like ships (without the wings) can be found on Simon’s pages from Blue Bolt #2. So I believe Joe is responsible for the background art on this cover.

Blue Bolt #10
Blue Bolt #10 (March 1941)

Blue Bolt was a monthly so it provides excellant examples of Kirby’s art as it rapidly improves. It is fortunate that issues #2 to #10 have been reprinted by Verotik Publishing. The book is out of print but can be found on eBay from time to time at a resonable price. Early in the series Kirby’s fight scenes were as awkward as it was in the Blue Beetle syndication. But by Blue Bolt #10 Jack was providing exciting action. The last Simon and Kirby Blue Bolt, issue #10, came out in March, the same month as the first Captain America. But S&K could not have known about how successful Captain America would be when then stopped working on Blue Bolt. Rather I suspect that Joe and Jack were just getting better page rates at that time. Since Blue Bolt was still being handled by Funnies Inc. that shop would get their cut, leaving a lower page rate for S&K.

Champion Comics #9
Champion #9 (July 1940)

While at Fox Jack and Joe also collaborated on some covers for Champion Comics. Joe had previously done the cover for Champion #8. The cover for Champion #9 along with Blue Bolt #2 were the first Simon and Kirby joint efforts (cover dated August 1940). Champion #9 was also Jack’s first comic book cover. It was a good start, Jack’s depiction was already rather unique for the time. Still you can still see some of Joe Simon’s touch in the face of the hero. With the cover for Champion #10 we get all Kirby. Lots of action and exaggerated perspective.

Champion Comics #10
Champion #10 (August 1940)