Joe Simon’s Turn At Imitating

All the Harvey content with introduction stories that I have posted on so far have been drawn by Jack Kirby with Joe Simon’s involvement limited to supplying a splash panel. But that was not the only formula used for creating Harvey content pages.

Hi-School Romance #56
Hi-School Romance #56 (October 1956) “Rage of Night” page 1, art by Bob Powell

Jean’s parents did not approve of her boyfriend Biff. Biff convinces Jean to have a party at her house. Her parents will not be home and would not permit a party that included Biff without their supervision. Jean tells Biff that he cannot come to the party. Nick was a friend who went away to college but is back in town. Biff arrives at the party despite not being invited. Trouble begins which Nick helps to stop. Jean then realizes her true feeling for Nick.

Generally when I discuss Harvey romance stories I write about Bill Draut or John Prentice. After all these two artists did a lot of work for Simon and Kirby and that in turn is the subject of this blog. The truth of the matter is that most of the Harvey romance artists are not worth writing much about anyway. However Bob Powell does not deserve the same neglect. Bob was a talented artist with, at least during his earlier career, his own unique style. Unfortunately I believe he was one of the artists whose stay at Marvel had deleterious affect. Stan Lee asked his artists to use Kirby as a model of what Marvel wanted. These were not young artists just starting their careers. Rather they, like Bob Powell, had a proven track record and their own style. In trying to please Stan, Powell and others ended up surrendering too much of their own uniqueness while not gaining sufficiently from their attempts to apply Kirby’s methods.

Hi-School Romance #56
Hi-School Romance #56 (October 1956) content page, art by Joe Simon

Often it is not easy to make attributions for the Harvey content pages. That is with the exception that it is pretty easy to see that that the artist for the feature story did not do the introduction story. This introduction has a number of layouts very similar to Kirby’s. In particular the second panel with Jean and Biff in the foreground and Nick forlornly looking on in the background. But the drawing itself just does not seem Kirby to me. Now why that is may be hard to explain. It requires you to mentally delete traits that are imitations of Bob Powell. When I do this what I am left with does not look as much as Kirby’s work then the examples I previously provided for Harvey contents. What I see, once I look past the Powell imitations, remind me of Joe Simon. In this particular case there really is no reason to expect that Joe was trying to copy Kirby since Powell was really the artist to imitate. But I suspect that Simon had so often imitated or inked Jack that he just adopted some of Jack’s mannerisms. I believe the Kirby layouts we see in this contents are all second hand via Joe Simon.

Hi-School Romance #56
Hi-School Romance #56 (October 1956) “Rage of Night” panel 7 of page 3, art by Bob Powell

But not all the layouts look like Kirby’s. The last panel in particular would be unusual for Jack, or Joe for that matter. Jean is shown in a close profile with her chin and the back of her head cut off by the panel border. Despite Biff being behind Jean he is still brought forward. The pair of heads take up almost all of the panel. I do not think I have ever seen Jack or Joe do anything like this. But a search through the rest of Powell’s story shows that it was clearly swiped from panel 7 of page 3. Now we have already seen a Kirby swipe in a Harvey introduction story, still this sort of thing is more characteristic of Joe.