Category Archives: Publications

The Jack Kirby Omnibus Volume 1

DC’s latest Kirby archive has been out for a couple weeks but I have only just recently received my copy from Amazon. I thought I would provide some comments about what I consider a very important book. Before I do that I first must avoid legal prosecution and say that I was involved with this book although in a marginal capacity. I am credited in the book for providing some restorations and scans. Technically that is correct but the only restoration I did was the cover of Real Fact #1 which I had already restored for personal use and was provided to DC with the raw scan for their use if they so desired. I did provide some scans but only for a handful of covers. So my involvement in the book is even less than some previously issued Simon and Kirby archives.

Much of this book has never been reprinted before, or at least in this country. There are a few pieces that Simon and Kirby did for Real Fact Comics upon their return from military service. Regrettably “Pirate Or Patriot?” was not included in this archive. This is surprising since the cover and another story from the same issue were reprinted. The largest part of the book is devoted to work that Jack Kirby did during his second period of working for DC from 1957 to 1959. Among this are reprints from titles like House of Secrets, House of Mystery and My Greatest Adventure. I usually refer to them as horror genre but of course this was done during the Comic Code period so perhaps mystery, fantasy or in some cases science fiction would be better descriptions. The only superhero genre included are some Green Arrow stories and there is also a single western story.

During his first period of working for DC with Joe Simon, Kirby had a lot freedom in plotting and rewriting scripts. Unfortunately during his return to DC that was not the case. Still Jack did manage at times to have some creative input into the writing most notably in the Green Arrow stories which were unlike any other superhero stories published by DC at that time.

Artistically the work Kirby did reprinted in this archive was just fantastic but that can be said about the art from any part of his long career. What really sets the work in this archive apart is the inking. Fans often argue about who was the best inker of Kirby’s pencils. Personally I feel they almost always get it wrong. There was no better inker of Kirby art than Jack Kirby himself. Kirby was a master of the brush and of course he knew better than anyone what he was trying to achieve in his pencils. During his partnership with Joe Simon Kirby would often ink his own work but usually in collaboration with other inkers. In later years Jack’s work was generally limited to pencils with the inking assigned to others. But during the late 50’s Kirby did a lot of his own inking either alone or with some help from his wife Rosalind. The inking of the higher profile Challengers of the Unknown art was normally done by other artists but the horror and Green Arrow art was largely inked by Kirby himself so this volume has a lot of Kirby inking Kirby. Kirby inked it in a style that is just beautiful. I love this inking style so much I once wrote a serial post ten chapters long on it (Jack Kirby’s Austere Inking) with a chapter devoted to the material now covered in this omnibus (Chapter 7, DC).

Example page from The Jack Kirby Omnibus Volume 1

Of course many fans do not need to be convinced of Jack Kirby’s talent. For them what is important is how well done is the reprint. There is a lot of disagreement on how restoration should be handled on material from older comic books. Reprinting from the original comics is fraught with difficulties with results that are almost guaranteed not to please everyone. I am happy to say that is not an issue that needs to be addressed here. Most of the line art in this volume was taken from the original film. You just cannot get better than that and it shows. The work had to be recolored but that was all done in a manner faithful to the original comics. It is hard to believe anyone will be dissatisfied with the results. The only negative comment that can be made about this volume is the size of the book which requires that the art be reduced somewhat in size. Of course had the original size been maintained the volume’s cost would have had to been higher.

To sum up; interesting stories, great Kirby art, Kirby inking Kirby, reproduced from the original film. As far as I am concerned this is a must have book.

It’s Off to Titan

By now it is no secret that the next entree in the Simon and Kirby Library is Crime. I original assumed that since Titan was releasing “Joe Simon: My Life In Comics” in time for the San Diego show that the Crime book would be come out the following year. I provided Titan with a schedule that showed my restoration work would conclude by the end of August. There must have been some sort of slip up because Titan did not inform me until some months later that they hoped to release S&K Crime in time for the New York Comic Con. With restorations finished in August there was no way the book would be available for the show in October. Fortunately by the time I found out about Titan’s plans my restoration work had been going amazingly well and I was already about a month ahead of schedule. Titan provided a drop dead date that seemed possible but by no means certain. So I buckled under and worked even harder. I was unclear whether Titan’s drop dead date was for the restorations or for putting the entire book together, but in any case I have managed to beat it by a couple of weeks. Now my work is done and it is off to Titan.

I am sure I will write about the S&K Crime volume in greater detail as the release date approaches. A decision has not yet been made on what the next book in the S&K Library will be. But in all honesty I would not say even if the decision had been made. I do not like to leak out information before Titan makes their public announcements. I suggest the reader keep an eye on The Jack Kirby Comics Weblog where Bob keeps track on all the latest Kirby publications and consistently scoops me out.

It’s Here, “Joe Simon: My Life In Comics”

Last week I got a surprise package, some advance copies of “Joe Simon: My Life In Comics”. Advanced? Well those lucky enough to go to Heroes Con had the opportunity to pick up copies of Titan’s newest book. Amazon says they will release the title on June 21. But now I have seen on the Internet that people have already received their copies and my comic book shop had one as well. So I guess advance is not an accurate term for the copies I received. “Joe Simon: My Life In Comics” if finally out.

There are always some who will disagree, but I like this book cover. Joe’s name stands out, there is a famous piece of comic book art and my favorite photograph of Joe. There is he is talking on the phone while working on some art and of course smoking his cigar. And what could be timelier than Captain America who will be appearing in movie theaters in the near future? The spine (not shown in the above image) has a figure of Fighting American.

Generally speaking, biographies or autobiographies of artists can be divided into two categories, those that are primarily about the art and those mainly about the biography. This book falls into the second group. The book is the more standard sized book and not the large size usually used for art books. There are black and white illustrations distributed throughout the book and a small section of colored plates. These are good aids to the story Joe presents but I doubt that anyone would pick up this book just for the art. One of the advantages of being primarily a biography is that Titan can keep the price way down. The book lists as $24.95 for 256 pages. Amazon is selling it for $14.67. Hey in my neighbor a movie and some popcorn will come to much more than that!

Now I have heard on the Internet some remarks from some people about why some would not be buying this book. I have no problem with people being careful about what books they buy. Especially now when we still have not recovered from the Great Recession. But allow me to clarify some facts about this book so that the reader can make an informed decision. The most common statement I have heard is that some already have “The Comic Book Makers” so there is no reason to pick up “My Life In Comics”. Simply put “My Life In Comics” is not “The Comic Book Makers” warmed over. Joe is a natural story teller and while both books cover the same life, he tells different stories in each book. So if you want to hear all Joe’s stories you have to read both books. Further “My Life In Comics” covers the years that follow “The Comic Book Makers”. Among other things Simon has some interesting things to say about his second legal battle over Captain America.

Another explanation I have heard about why some are not planning to purchase Joe’s latest book is that their interests lie in comics not in Joe’s life. However the title is “My Life In Comics” which should suggest that actually comics are the subject of this book. Yes there is some information about Simon’s life outside of comics but it is minimal and often has bearing on his career in comic books. Most of the founders of the comic book industry are now gone. Fortunately some of the important artists had been interviewed over the years but not nearly enough. A book written by a golden age artist is nothing short of a treasure for anyone interested in the history of comics. I am sure people will be discussing and arguing about “My Life In Comics” for years to come.

Some Comments About Restoration for Comic Book Reprints

The Comic Journal has recently reviewed Titan’s new trade-back “Fighting American” (Preview: Fighting American). I understand some have already obtained copies of the book but I have yet to see any in the comic book store I use. I do not have a copy but I have had a chance to briefly look at one belonging to Joe Simon. The material included in this trade-back is the same found in the previously released “The Simon and Kirby Superheroes”. So if you already have the Superheroes book you may not feel the need to pick up the “Fighting American” trade-back.

But TCJ’s article is not just a review, it is a preview as well. With Titan’s permission they provide the complete story “Home-Coming Year 3000”). So if you do not have either the Superheroes or the new “Fighting American” books you can see what you are missing.

There is an interesting comment that someone has made to The Comic Journal article. The commenter claims that the art has been touched up and in particular the some of the line art in the book was thicker than in the original comics. I will discuss his claim later in this post but I thought I would use this as an opportunity to discuss a little bit about the restoration of line art that I do for Titan’s Simon and Kirby books.

Readers of my previous posts on the subject of restoration should know that I do not recreate line art (a process that Marvel still continues to use for their reprints of golden age material). However the end result of my restorations is by no means just a scan. I have no problems with describing what I do as “touch ups” only not in the manner that the TCJ commenter uses the term. Frankly the original printing used in these comics was pretty poor. Now as far as I am concerned reprints of just scans is far superior to art recreation however I prefer to try to correct some of the printing flaws.

Close Up of Flaws in the Original Printing

The above image gives an example of the types of printing flaws typically found in gold and silver age comics. Note that the area of solid black is not actually solid or black. Instead there are spots that the ink did not cover at all and even where the black ink is applied it is so thin that the underlying magenta ink can be seen*. Also note how the in the upper right there appears to be two closely spaced horizontal lines. Actually there really was only supposed to be one horizontal line but the printing left ink only on the edges of the original line and failed to reach the center of the line.

When selecting an image for this post I debated with myself whether to use the original scan or after it had been processed with Photoshop to enhance the colors. There appears to be no yellow in the area shown but actually almost all of it had yellow. If the reader looks at the very top of the image and compares it to the left edge you should be able to see the very faint yellow remains. With Photoshop I can bring out the colors better which allows for more accurate color restoration.

Close Up of the Restored Art

Above shows an image of the same area after restoration. The solid black is now truly solid, the center of the horizontal line are filled and similar flaws throughout are corrected. But I am not recreating the line art just doing touch ups.

Some may find the restored version rather glaring. The blacks may now seem a bit too much black. However I am not doing restorations for viewing on a computer monitor. The final product is a printed book and things will look different. The image presented is blown up and in the printed version occupies only a very small area of the page. Further the black will not look quite so black when printed.

Close up from the Original Comic Version of “Home-Coming Year 3000”

As mentioned earlier, a TCJ commenter claimed that the art lines had been thickened in the restoration. Unfortunately he did not give an specific examples nor have I been able to find any in the story previewed by the Comics Journal. so I can have provided a close-up from the original scan only this time showing it in black and white. Simon and Kirby did not use very fine lines but I selected an area where the lines are as fine as they get in the story.

Close up of the Restored Version  of “Home-Coming Year 3000”

Above is the same area after restoration. Note that small flakes of black can be seen attached or nearby the line art. These are printing flaws in the original printing. They maybe a little hard to see in the scan of the original comic because they are obscured by the colored inks that come out as black dots in the unprocessed original scan but look at the area without such dots on the right and you can see the flaws there as well. I do not try to remove every printing flaw only the ones the more serious ones.

Close up of the Restoration Overlaid of the Original Version  of “Home-Coming Year 3000”

In the above image I have changed the restored version from black to magenta and overlaid it over the original scan. The restoration was so precise that all that magenta of the restored version could not be seen. Had the lines really been thickened in the restoration the blacks would have been ringed with magenta. To bring out how perfectly it is aligned I purposely erased a strip from the original scan so that the magenta version of the restoration could be seen.

So why did the TCJ commenter claim the lines were thicker in the restored versions? I suspect it is all a matter of perception. The blacks are blacker in the restoration than in the original comic book printing. Blacker lines could give the impression of thicker lines. But I believe the most important reason for the TCJ commenter’s error was due to his comparison of Internet images with the original printing. My restorations are based on scans done at 600 dots per inch. Generally everything from 400 dpi and above have fine enough resolution that the human eye can not detect that the image is actually composed of small dots. Actually most people have trouble seeing it at 300 dpi but at lower resolutions the deterioration of the image quality is easily detected. Computer monitors have very low resolution. Monitors differ in size and resolution but for example my monitor has approximately 85 dots per inch. The resolution is so low that the color in “Home-Coming Year 3000” looks solid when in the original comic the dots used for the coloring are clearly visible. You simply cannot make a good judgment on the thickness of lines based on an Internet image of a full page. Which is why I used close-ups to make the comparison.

To see how inaccurate the restorations was in the previous Fighting American reprint see my post “Simon and Kirby Superheroes”, A Must Buy. For further observations about my restoratios see my Newsarama interview.


* Although the magenta plate has shifted toward the left that is not why there is colored ink under the black. This was done on purpose to help mask such registration problems. Had the magenta plate shifted to the right the nearby area would still be color correctly but without the overlap a white band would have appeared bordering black. The extending of colored inks under areas meant for black is called trapping. Today trapping is usually created by computer software but before that photographic processes were often used. However when trapping was done for comic books it was done by hand.

Simon and Kirby Collector Items

Comic Heroes #4

Comic Heroes #4 includes three pieces of promotion for the Titan’s “Simon and Kirby Superheroes”. In the package are three postcards using Simon and Kirby covers (the restorations of which were done by yours truly). It is a really clever use of comic book covers and they are sure to be come a collector’s item. Below I show the images used (I am too lazy to scan the actual cards but take my word they look just as good).

Adventures of the Fly #2

Fighting American #5

Stuntman #1

“The Boy Commandos by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby” by DC

I do not believe it is out yet, but last weekend Joe Simon gave me a copy of “The Boy Commandos by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby” volume 1. The current law requires that I admit to any financial benefit that I received when blogging about published books. I am not kidding, bloggers have been prosecuted for failure report that that the publisher gave them the review copy for free. In my case I supplied some of the scans used in this book and I believe the restorations for the covers. With that out of the way, the best way to describe this volume is that if you liked DC’s Newsboy Legion archive than you will like this book, perhaps even more so. It is very much the same approach. The reprints are based on scans with the yellow page color replaced by white. The dimensions of the book required that the scans be reduced in size. Some have criticized DC’s approach to these archives and I even wished they had decided to published a larger volume so that scans could have been printed full size. However I am a big believer in the use of scans in reprints rather than the reprehensible sanitized recreations that Marvel continues to put out. The DC archive includes one story (“Satan Wears A Swastika” that I restored for “The Best of Simon and Kirby”. The version from TBoSK was enlarged so it has a distinct advantage over the one in the DC archive. Personally I prefer my version (a completely biased opinion) but I do not think the reader would be able to find any true discrepancies between the two.

The Boy Commandos were Simon and Kirby’s biggest hit for DC. While Sandman and the Newsboy Legion were prominently featured in the titles they appeared in, the Boy Commandos was the only Simon and Kirby comic to get its own title. Since the feature also appeared in Detective Comics and World’s Finest there are a lot of Boy Commandos stories. The first volume of the DC Boy Commandos archives only makes it as far as Boy Commandos #2 and Detective Comics #72 (they started in issue #64). Potentially there are a number of volumes of this archive to come. For those only interested in Simon and Kirby drawn work (and I fully understand) this is the only archive that DC has so far published that is nothing but Simon and Kirby.

There are other reasons that the Boy Commandos are special. Of all the creations that Simon and Kirby did for DC, the Boy Commandos were the only one that actually fought the Axis Powers. The war was the biggest event of the time and yet most superheroes stayed on the home front (and that included Sandman). While the Newsboy Legion did paper and metal drives, they remained residents of Suicide Slums. But in story after story the Boy Commandos confronted the greatest evil of the day. The American spirit versus the tyrannical evil in its purist form. Now some readers may find it a bit unrealistic for youngsters to fight in the war and of course they are right. But if the reader is willing to suspend their disbelief to read superheroes comics they should have no problem in doing so for boy warriors. Especially today when it some parts of the world it has become a sad fact of life. And the rewards are worth it. This is Simon and Kirby at their best. Imaginative stories full of action and humor. Something not to be missed.

“Simon and Kirby Superheroes”, A Must Buy

Well Titan’s “Simon and Kirby Superheroes” is finally out and people have begun to take notice:

Mike Gold on ComicMix:
Pound for pound, you’re unlikely to find a better superhero collection than Titan Books’ “The Simon and Kirby Superheroes”

Charles R. Rutledge on Singular Points:
The great thing about the book is the sheer amount of gorgeous Simon and Kirby art. Figures leap and stretch across the pages, often seeming to threaten to break free of the panel borders

Jack Kirby and Joe Simon rewrote the rules for comic book art with their explosive action and cinematic techniques

Los Angeles Times:
They stitched together stories of the fantastic that jumped off the pages of comic books in the golden age of the medium

Falcata Times:
Simon and Kirby, it has to be said were the first to amalgamate the worlds of serious storytelling with the action panels that brought the fans to the fold in the first place, setting themselves as the standard for others to follow becoming the archetype that has held sway ever since

This book contains all of Simon and Kirby’s superhero work outside of Marvel and DC, a then some. For those readers who want to know specifically what that means here is the table of contents:

  • Introduction by Neil Gaiman
  • The 1940s: War and Peace by Jim Simon
  • The Black Owl
        “The Whistler”
        “The Return of the Whistler”
        “The Menace of Madame Mystery”
  • Stuntman
      Cover Stuntman #1
      Cover Stuntman #2
        “Killer In The Bigtop” 
        “The Crime On Cauliflower Row” 
        “Stuntman Enters the House Of Madness” 
        “Curtain Call For Death” 
        “The Rescue Of Robin Hood”
      Cover Stuntman #3 (unpublished) 
        “Stuntman Smashes Rest Camp For Criminals” 
        “Stuntman Battles The Diamond Curse” 
        “Stuntman Battles A New Menace on Terror Island” (unpublished splash) 
        “Stuntman Brings to Justice the Evil Sons of M. LeBlanc” (unpublished splash) 
        “Stuntman Crowns a Jungle Lord” (unpublished) 
  • The Vagabond Prince
        “Trapped on Wax” (unpublished) 
        “The Madness Of Doctor Altu” 
        “Death-Trap De Luxe” 
  • The 1950s: Fighting Americans by Jim Simon
  • Captain 3-D
        “The Man From The World Of D” 
        “The Menace Of The Living Dolls” 
        “Iron Hat McGinty And His Destruction Gang” 
  • Fighting American
      Cover Fighting American #1
        “First Assignment: Break The Spy-Ring”
        “Second Assignment: Track Down The Baby Buzz Bombs”
        “Duel To The Finish Line”
      Cover Fighting American #2
        “Assignment: Expose The League Of The Handsome Devils”
        “Assignment: Find the King of the Crime Syndicate”
        “Assignment: Investigate the City of Ghouls”
      Cover Fighting American #3
        “The Man Who Sold Out Liberty” 
        “Stranger From Paradise” 
        “Poison Ivan” 
      Cover Fighting American #4
        “Tokyo Runaround”
        “Homecoming: Year 3000”
        “Operation Wolf”
      Cover Fighting American #5
        “Follow the Dangerous Trail of Jiseppi, The Jungle Boy” 
        “The Year Bender” 
        “Track Down Invisible Irving” 
      Cover Fighting American #6
        “Deadly Doolittle” 
        “Super Khakalovitch”
      Cover Fighting American #7
        “Sneak Of Araby”
        “Three Coins In The Pushcart”
      Cover Fighting American [Vol. 2] #1
        “Round Robin” 
        “Roman Scoundrels” 
        “The Secret of Yafata’s Moustache” 
        “Beef Box” 
      Cover Fighting American [Vol. 2] #2 (unpublished)
        “The Mad Inker” (unpublished) 
  • Double Life of Private Strong
      Cover Double Life of Private Strong #1
        “Meet Lancelot Strong” 
        “The Double Life Of Private Strong” 
        “Spawn Of The X World” 
        “Private Strong Sneak Attack” 
        “Mystery Of The Vanished Wreckage” 
        “The Menace Of The Micro-Men”
        “Loveable Lou: The Toy Master 
        “The Ultra-Sonic Spies” 
  • The Adventures of the Fly
      Cover The Adventures of the Fly #1
        “The Strange New World Of The Fly” 
        “The Fly Strikes” 
        “The Fly Discovers His Buzz Gun” 
        “Come Into My Parlor” 
      Cover The Adventures of the Fly #2
        “Marco’s Eyes” 
        “The Fly: The Hide-Out”
        “Tim O’Casey’s Wrecking Crew!”
  • Bonus Gallery
        Cover Double Life of Private Strong #2
        Introduction to “The Duke of Broadway”
        Unused alternate cover to Stuntman #2
        Unused cover to Thrills of Tomorrow #22

This is a big volume with 475 pages of comic art all of it published in the same size that they were original printed (with the exception of the Bonus Gallery were there are four images on the single page). Some have noticed that not everything in this volume was drawn by Simon and Kirby. There were a number of reasons for this. Mainly it was decided that all of Fighting American should be presented. In a couple of cases a story was included because it was the one featured on a Simon and Kirby cover. But really there is not that much that was not done by other artists, “Simon and Kirby Superheroes” contains 448 pages of Simon and Kirby created art. That is a lot of Simon and Kirby.

On a side note, one reviewer wrote that Captain 3-D was drawn by Mort Meskin and Inked by Steve Ditko. I regret to say he was wrong, all the Captain 3-D presented was drawn by Jack Kirby with the inking done by an assembly of artists including Mort Meskin, Joe Simon, Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby himself and at least one unidentified individual (Captain 3D).

The table of contents shows a number of pieces as unpublished. Title cancellations often meant that there was artwork that was created but would go unused. Some, like the splash pages for “Terror Island” and “The Evils Sons of M. LeBlanc”) have been included in volumes such as Joe and Jim Simon’s “The Comic Book Makers”. But the Vagabond Prince origin story (“Trapped on Wax”) has never been published in its complete form. Not only was “Jungle Lord” never published in its entirety, its artwork was scattered to various private collections. Bringing it back together was quite an accomplishment (with much thanks to John Morrows). The splash page for “The Mad Inker” is missing but the rest of the story is complete and none of it has ever been published before.

Fighting American #1 (April 1954) “Break The Spy-Ring” page 8, pencils by Jack Kirby (un-restored scan)

Now is the time that I have to fess up and admit that this is not an unbiased review. I was the art restorer of “Simon and Kirby Superheroes” as I was for “The Best of Simon and Kirby”. This was a lot of art to restore for this book and the work done to a difficult schedule. But I am quite happy with the results and feel they are even superior to the work I did for “The Best of Simon and Kirby”. I discussed restoration philosophy and method previously in an interview for Newsarama (Re-Mastering the Masters) so I will not repeat myself here.

Fighting American #1 (April 1954) “Break The Spy-Ring” page 8, pencils by Jack Kirby (as restored for Titan)

When I worked on “The Best of Simon and Kirby” one of the pieces I was most happy with was the Captain America story. That was because I used flats, a proof made from the original art, that Joe Simon had saved. It meant extra work but the results were much superior to what could be done from scans of the comic book. Unfortunately the Cap story was also one of the last ones I worked on for that book. For “Simon and Kirby Superheroes” I was able in many cases to use either original art or flats for a number of stories:

  • The Vagabond Prince
        “Trapped on Wax” (unpublished) 
        “The Madness Of Doctor Altu” 
        “Death-Trap De Luxe” 
  • Double Life of Private Strong
        “The Double Life Of Private Strong” 
        “Spawn Of The X World” 
        “Private Strong Sneak Attack” 
        “Mystery Of The Vanished Wreckage” 
        “The Menace Of The Micro-Men”
  • The Adventures of the Fly
        “The Strange New World Of The Fly” 
        “The Fly Strikes” 
        “The Fly Discovers His Buzz Gun” 
        “Come Into My Parlor” 
        “Marco’s Eyes” 
        “The Fly: The Hide-Out”
        “Tim O’Casey’s Wrecking Crew!”

Fighting American #1 (April 1954) “Break The Spy-Ring” page 8, pencils by Jack Kirby (from the “Fighting American” reprint by Marvel)

Now I know there are some that are saying to themselves that they have the “Fighting American” book published by Marvel so perhaps they do not need “Simon and Kirby Superheroes”. Well they may have Marvel’s Fighting American but that does not mean they have Simon and Kirby’s Fighting American. Restoration technology and philosophy has changed greatly over the years. When Marvel did their book one of the techniques used was to place tracing paper over the comic book page and re-ink the art. The result was essentially re-created art whose accuracy depended on the talents of the inker. Compare the image I supply from the original or the Titan restoration and the reader will find them significantly different. The reader can use these links which will open a particular panel in another window which you should be able to maneuver near the other images to make the comparison easier (panel 1, panel 2, panel 3, panel 4, panel 5, panel 6, panel 7). While not every page in Marvel’s reprint was made using the tracing technique many were.

Comic book publishers have profited greatly, and are still profiting, from the work original done by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon. Titan’s books, “The Best of Simon and Kirby” and now “Simon and Kirby Superheroes” are the only books authorized by Joe Simon and the Jack Kirby Estate. Buy these books and not only do you get great comic book art but you also get a chance pay them back a little for all the wonderful work that they did.

“From Shadow to Light”, an Ode to Mort Meskin

I have previously posted an announcement for this book with a comment on how important a volume I believed it would be. Of course I had not yet seen the book at that time so now that I have the question now is did Steven Brower succeed in doing justice to a great artist like Mort Meskin? The answer is a resounding YES!

This is a large book, the paper size is 9 by 12 inches. In my opinion this is a perfect format for a project like this. Scans of printed comic books have been enlarged for better viewing and the size works nicely with the reproductions of original art. And there are a lot of both spanning Meskin’s entire career. It starts with some work that Mort did in high school. While not very exciting compared to what would follow, it still is great to see the initial efforts. I could detail all the reproductions that follow but I fear that such a list would prove too tedious while the actual art is certainly not that. But I cannot resist mentioning some of my personal favorites such as some great Vigilante splashes, amazing work for the Fighting Yank (working with Jerry Robinson), terrific Golden Lad covers and some truly beautiful romance covers for Prize Comics. While those are my favorites, what is presented is actually much fuller and thoroughly representative. It is not just isolated pages of art. While a marvelous artist, Mort Meskin was also a consummate graphic story teller. “From Shadow to Light” has a Golden Lad and a crime story; both complete and never before published.

Mort Meskin was an artist’s artist. Brower has brought together comments from some of the creators who acknowledge how important Meskin was to them personally. Artists such as Steve Ditko, Joe Kubert, Alex Toth and Mort’s sometime partner Jerry Robinson. These are not just your usual commentary, they provide discussions of Meskin’s actual working methods. I found these very revealing and they answered some questions that have been nagging me for years. Particularly the commentary by Robinson. Jerry was Mort’s collaborator on a lot of comic books. I have often wondered exactly how they worked with each other, what rolls each played. Well Robinson answers that directly. I have also wondered why so much of Meskin’s comic book art is still exists as un-inked pencils. Very surprising since at least some of it, such as a couple of pages from Treasure #12 that are reproduced in this book, had been published. Again Robinson provides the answer.

Anyone who has followed this blog should know I am a big Mort Meskin fan. He did a lot of work for Simon and Kirby and therefore appears frequently in my posts. I have even written about Mort’s prior career (Early Mort Meskin and Mort Meskin before Joining Simon and Kirby). But the Internet is not the best format for viewing Meskin’s art. You really need a book for that and Steven Brower’s “From Shadow to Light” is that book. You do not want to miss this book.

“Simon and Kirby Superheroes” a Big Hit at San Diego

I talked to Joe last night and he told me that Titan’s sold all their advance copies of “Simon and Kirby Superheroes” at San Diego. Friday was the first day of the convention so it seems the book was well received. Sounds to me that the Superhero book will be an even bigger success than “The Best of Simon and Kirby“. I guess this also means that there is now a select group of fortunate individuals that will be able lord it over the rest who have to wait for the official release in a few months. I keep hearing that will be October 12 (groan).

First Look at the “Simon and Kirby Superheroes” Book

Joe Simon has a very rare book. It is the only copy of the “Simon and Kirby Superheroes” in the Western Hemisphere. So it was my great pleasure to have a chance to leisurely examine it during my visit with Joe today. My impression can be summed up in one word.


Okay, perhaps I should expand a little on that. Beautiful printing, beautiful colors, beautiful layouts, beautiful binding, beautiful cover… it is just beautiful. If you have seen the “Best of Simon and Kirby” you know what to expect in terms of paper, printing and colors. The book uses the same high quality flat paper stock. The printing is good and clean with nice bright colors and rich blacks. In my completely biased opinion the restoration is even better than that for BoSK. BoSK is still special because of its size (and of course the wide range of genre) but “Simon and Kirby Superheroes” is no small book in either page count (480 pages) or size. I have heard a lot of complaints about the reduced size of some recent reprints but that is not a problem here. All the art is reproduced in its original dimensions. And it makes a world of difference.

This is the book I could only dream of ten years ago. This is the book all Simon and Kirby fans will want to have. More importantly this is the book that people who have not previously considered themselves Simon and Kirby fans will want. Wait until you see this book.

Fortunately Joe’s volume will not be rare for very long. Those lucky enough to go to San Diego will have a chance to buy a copy. Joe Simon will not be traveling out west to the convention but the books sold there will come with a bookplate signed by Joe with a surprise accompanying autograph. Regrettably the rest of us who cannot go will have to wait for October 12. (Okay I am hoping to get my copy before that).