Category Archives: S&K Superheroes

“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      Cover Stuntman #3 (unpublished) 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        “Stuntman Battles A New Menace on Terror Island” (unpublished splash) 
        “Stuntman Brings to Justice the Evil Sons of M. LeBlanc” (unpublished splash) 
        “Stuntman Crowns a Jungle Lord” (unpublished) 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        “Trapped on Wax” (unpublished) 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.

“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).