This is the second week I have been unable to blog. My telephone and Internet connection are out and I am told they will be so for another week or two. I will return to my regular weekly posting once I have unfettered Internet access.
There he is, front and center, Chris Evans as Captain America on the cover of Entertainment Weekly. Even with brown hair instead of blonde and a different uniform, this is clearly Captain America. But what is with those humongous shoulder straps? Does any of that matter? Not if the movie is any good. Cap has been on the silver screen before, more than once actually, with less than spectacular results (and that is putting it mildly). The article mentions twice that Captain America was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby (calling them the “fabled comic-book creative team” in one place). Kudo’s for the article’s writer, Jeff “Doc” Jensen for doing his research.
Joe Simon was thrilled to see Cap on this cover. He was invited to tour the film lot but at his age I doubt he will be traveling to England.
Also here is an interview Joe did at the New York Comic Con presented on You Tube by Silver Cheese Productions and Media.
I previously briefly discussed Joe Simon’s appearance at the New York Comic Con but unfortunately at the time I was without my camera. Now thanks to the kindness of Olga Rosario I can share some photographs taken at this special event.
During his visit, Jerry Robinson signed a copy of the Brick. There is nothing by Jerry is in “The Simon and Kirby Superheroes” but there is one fan with a very unique copy of the book (it is not me but I know who it is).
The plan is for Joe Simon to make an appearance at the Titan Books booth (#2322) at the New York Comic Con on Saturday about 5:00 to celebrate the recent release of “The Simon and Kirby Superheroes”. Not only that but Joe will be 97 on Monday. Joe does not make many appearances so if you’re at the Con on Saturday be sure to stop by.
Comic artist and historian Jim Amash has written that Jerry Grandenetti has passed away (Jerry Grandenetti RIP). Actually it was not recently either, he left us last February. While pretty much ignored by today’s fans, Grandenetti had a long history as a comic book artist. Much of that was for publishers like DC but more pertinent for this blog is his efforts with Joe Simon. Jerry worked for Joe Simon for Sick and some short lived titles produced for DC in the 70s (Green Team, the Outsiders, Prez and Champion Sports). Simon feels the work that Grandenetti did on those DC titles with Greig Flessel supplying the inks were spectacular but that fans did not seem to agree.
I have not written much about Jerry in this blog. There was an artist who signed some works with the initials JG and Jerry was one of the candidates for that attribution (Little Shop of Horrors, Chapter 4). Joe does not remember Grandenetti working for him then but with so many artists working for Simon and Kirby at that time he could easily have forgotten. I always meant to send Jerry some copies of that work to see he thought but unfortunately never got around to it. Grandenetti played an important part on a couple of posts about the cover for the Simon and Kirby 1971 version of the Sandman (Jerry Grandenetti and Sandman and Sandman Revisited). Jerry’s rough proposal for the Sandman cover was obviously the basis for Kirby’s published version.
To be honest I originally did not hold a high opinion about Grandenetti’s art. This was largely the result of my review of the covers that he did reworking what was originally done by Jack Kirby (Black Magic at DC). I am always the first to say how unfair it is to compare Jack Kirby with any other comic book artist. However even when recognizing the dangers of such a comparison, it is still all too easy to fall into that trap. My earlier negative evaluation was greatly changed when I recently had the occasion to scan some of the original art for Prez and the Green Team as well as an unpublished horror story. I now have come to realize the high quality of that work. It is rather unfortunate that Jerry Grandenetti has become another of the forgotten comic book artists.
(August 1952 – October 1952: Young Romance #48 – #50, Young Love #36 – #38, Young Brides #1)
Number of Romance Titles 1947 – 1954 (the period covered in this chapter is shaded in blue)
Simon and Kirby not only created the romance genre of comics, they also made quite a bit of money from it quite well. Their agreement with Prize Comics gave Joe and Jack a share in profits but it also required them to cover all the costs of producing the art. If sales for the love comics were not sufficient, Simon and Kirby could actually loose money. However there are two indications from the period covered in this chapter that indicate that the Prize romance titles were doing quite well. One is that Young Romance reached its 50th issue. Of course there is nothing really special about the number 50 (as compared to 49 or 51) but it does make a convenient benchmark for how successful the title Young Romance was. Most of the titles created and produced by Simon and Kirby did not last past 7 issues. Young Romance, Young Love and Black Magic are among the exceptions. Justice Traps the Guilty was another title created by Joe and Jack but they did not actual produce it over most of the title’s run.
There is a second indication on how successful the Prize romance comics were. Simon and Kirby titles were typically started as bimonthlies. You can tell if a title was doing well because either it would become a monthly or a spin-off title would be made. Apparently the S&K love comics were doing well but Young Romance and Young Love were both monthly so the only option was to introduce another title, Young Brides. Young Brides would also follow Simon and Kirby’s modus operandi and begin as a bimonthly. As far as I can tell there was no difference between the contents of any of the three love comics except that Kirby would appear more often in the flagship title, Young Romance (although during the period covered in this chapter Kirby would not appear in Young Romance at all). By the way, Young Brides is another of those successful titles that would last well beyond 7 issues.
As the reader can see on the chart shown above, the new title Young Brides was released at a relative peak in the number of romance titles published. I use the tracking of the number of romance titles over time as a means of deducing the popularity of romance comics and even as an indicator for comics in general (The Real Reason for the Decline of Comics). I still do not have an adequate explanation for this relative peak and the decline that followed. Was it similar to the romance glut where publishers grew overconfident and ended up with more romance titles than the market could bear? Or was there some external factor such as the rise in criticism of comic books in some sectors of the public? Like I said, I really do not know but it does not appear that starting a new love title at this time was a poor business decision because Young Brides would go monthly a year later which is a sure sign that sales where very good even with three romance titles.
Surprisingly the most prolific artist for these seven issues was Bill Draut (59 pages). Bill is a consistent presence in Simon and Kirby productions but he is generally overshadowed by either Jack Kirby or Mort Meskin in terms of quantity. Meskin was still prolific supplying 51 pages. Other artist provided significantly less; John Prentice (29 pages), Al Eadeh(?) (24 pages), and a surprising fifth place for Jack Kirby (23 pages). Other artists (Bill Walton, Bob McCarty(?) and George Roussos would supply only single stories.
Young Love #36 (August 1952) “Two-Faced Woman”, pencils by Jack Kirby
Another indication about the more reduced roll that Jack Kirby has been taking in the romance titles is that he only did one of the seven lead stories. The lead story typically starts with a confessional splash; one where one of the characters introduces the story to the reader and their speech balloon becomes the title. The confessional splash was very effective and it seems strange that Kirby did not go with it for the splash used in “Two-Faced Woman”. Frankly this splash while technically well executed just does not have much impact. The verbal exchange just does not seem to match the splash well. However the inking was by Kirby and is quite superb.
Young Brides #1 (September 1952) “Surprise, Surprise” page 5, pencils by Jack Kirby
More than any of the other studio artists, Kirby always liked to add a little action to his romances. Slaps did not play a big part in Simon and Kirby productions but check out that last panel. In movies the man slapped would often hardly flinch, but this lady certainly put some muscle behind it.
Young Romance #48 (August 1952) “Love Is Poison”, art by Bill Draut
Kirby may not have used the confessional splash but it would appear with other artists. Bill Draut made some particularly good use of that splash format. In “Love is Poison” even without reading her speech we can tell she is a bitter woman. The star on the door behind her shows she is an actress but the peeling paint above her indicates that she is not appearing in a big time movie or Broadway show. Draut was second only to Kirby among the studio artists in providing such emotional portrayals.
Young Romance #50 (October 1952) “Money, Money, Money”, art by Bill Draut
Draut did four of the seven lead stories and some of his splashes are so good that I wanted to include another example. The splash for “Money, Money, Money” may not have quite the impact of “Love Is Poison” but I love his portrayal of the grocery boy waiting to be paid (somehow I do not think he will get much of a tip). The inking of the upper part of the page is rather unusual for Bill.
Young Love #36 (August 1952) “Mister Fix-It”, art by Mort Meskin
Mort Meskin may not have drawn splashes with the emotional impact found in those by Kirby or Draut, but he was great at humor. The gas station attendant feels that he is calm and collected while he unknowingly misses the gas cap and pours the fuel on the ground. Mort did these humorous splashes so well it is small wonder that he seem to do more of them than any other studio artist.
Young Love #38 (October 1952) “Take Care of My Sweetheart”, pencils by Mort Meskin, inks by George Roussos?
Although I generally do not make a point of it, Mort Meskin did his own inking while working for Simon and Kirby. I say this based on an examination of the work itself and it was verified recently by a comment that Joe Simon made to me. Meskin was very productive and sometimes I feel that some of his worked suffered because of that. However some of the work in this period seems particularly poorly inked, as for example “Take Care of My Sweetheart”. This is unfortunate because the composition for the splash is rather nice. But the inking does seem rushed and the end results rather crude.
Young Romance #49 (September 1952) “The Way They Met”, pencils by Mort Meskin, inks by George Roussos?
“The Way They Met” from YR #49 is another example of uncharacteristically poor inking on a work penciled by Mort. Normally the cloth folds made from a series of narrow parallel lines are an indication that Meskin did the inking so I might attribute it all to a particularly rushed job. However while the faces have Meskin’s classic grin they also have a resemblance to those drawn by George Roussos. So I suspect what is going on is that Roussos is helping with the inking. Unlike Kirby, Meskin at least sometimes indicated the spotting in his pencils (The Eleventh Commandment) which may explain why Roussos adopted some inking techniques not found when inking his own pencils.
Young Romance #49 (September 1952) “Witch Girl”, art by John Prentice
The two lead features not drawn by either Draut or Kirby were done by Prentice. This is a clear sign that Simon and Kirby valued his contribution and I think with good reason. While I like the art that Kirby, Draut and Meskin were providing I think Prentice was just what was needed to provide the titles with a healthy mix of styles. “Witch Girl” uses the almost standard confessional format (John’s other lead feature, “Jay’s Protege”, does not). While Prentice might not quite have Kirby’s or Draut’s talent for the portraying of emotions, he certainly could draw beautiful women. Prentice was greatly influenced by Alex Raymond and the male character looks like Rip Kirby. This is ironic because Prentice would take over the strip after Raymond’s untimely death in 1956.
Young Love #37 (September 1952) “Helpmate”, art by Bill Walton
There is a single story, “Helpmate” signed with just initials. Even if the art style was not clue enough, a comparison of those initials with Bill Walton’s signature in stories like “Say the Magic Words” (Black Magic #12, Chapter 5 of the Little Shop of Horrors) show them to be identical. Walton did work for a number of different comic publishers at the same time. He would not play a big part in Simon and Kirby productions but he would appear on and off for a couple of years.
Young Romance #48 (August 1952) “Everything but Love”, art by Al Eadeh(?)
I provide another example of work that I questionably attribute to Al Eadeh. The way the artists draws eyes, particularly for women, is so distinctive that it should be relatively easy to determine if this work really was done by Eadeh once I have managed to compare it with signed work for another publisher from this period.
Young Romance #49 (September 1952) “You’ll Wish You’d Never Met Me”, art by Bob McCarty(?)
My problem with resolving the attribution of this work to Bob McCarty (or not) is different than with the case of Al Eadeh(?). There is some work for Foxhole that can safely be attributed to McCarty. It is just a matter of seeing whether traits that make this work like distinct from the Foxhole work change with time or remain constant. The most distinctive difference is the large eyes used in these earlier pieces as can be seen in the above page.
Chapter 1, A New Genre (YR #1 – #4)
Chapter 2, Early Artists (YR #1 – #4)
Chapter 3, The Field No Longer Their’s Alone (YR #5 – #8)
Chapter 4, An Explosion of Romance (YR #9 – #12, YL #1 – #4)
Chapter 5, New Talent (YR #9 – 12, YL #1 – #4)
Chapter 6, Love on the Range (RWR #1 – #7, WL #1 – #6)
Chapter 7, More Love on the Range (RWR #1 – #7, WL #1 – #6)
Chapter 8, Kirby on the Range? (RWR #1 – #7, WL #1 – #6)
Chapter 9, More Romance (YR #13 – #16, YL #5 – #6)
Chapter 10, The Peak of the Love Glut (YR #17 – #20, YL #7 – #8)
Chapter 11, After the Glut (YR #21 – #23, YL #9 – #10)
Chapter 12, A Smaller Studio (YR #24 – #26, YL #12 – #14)
Chapter 13, Romance Bottoms Out (YR #27 – #29, YL #15 – #17)
Chapter 14, The Third Suspect (YR #30 – #32, YL #18 – #20)
Chapter 15, The Action of Romance (YR #33 – #35, YL #21 – #23)
Chapter 16, Someone Old and Someone New (YR #36 – #38, YL #24 – #26)
Chapter 17, The Assistant (YR #39 – #41, YL #27 – #29)
Chapter 18, Meskin Takes Over (YR #42 – #44, YL #30 – #32)
Chapter 19, More Artists (YR #45 – #47, YL #33 – #35)
Chapter 20, Romance Still Matters (YR #48 – #50, YL #36 – #38, YB #1)
Chapter 21, Roussos Messes Up (YR #51 – #53, YL #39 – #41, YB #2 – 3)
Chapter 22, He’s the Man (YR #54 – #56, YL #42 – #44, YB #4)
Chapter 23, New Ways of Doing Things (YR #57 – #59, YL #45 – #47, YB #5 – #6)
Chapter 24, A New Artist (YR #60 – #62, YL #48 – #50, YB #7 – #8)
Chapter 25, More New Faces (YR #63 – #65, YLe #51 – #53, YB #9 – #11)
Chapter 26, Goodbye Jack (YR #66 – #68, YL #54 – #56, YB #12 – #14)
Chapter 27, The Return of Mort (YR #69 – #71, YL #57 – #59, YB #15 – #17)
Chapter 28, A Glut of Artists (YR #72 – #74, YL #60 – #62, YB #18 & #19, IL #1 & #2)
Chapter 29, Trouble Begins (YR #75 – #77, YL #63 – #65, YB #20 – #22, IL #3 – #5)
Chapter 30, Transition (YR #78 – #80, YL #66 – #68, YBs #23 – #25, IL #6, ILY #7)
Chapter 30, Appendix (YB #23)
Chapter 31, Kirby, Kirby and More Kirby (YR #81 – #82, YL #69 – #70, YB #26 – #27)
Chapter 32, The Kirby Beat Goes On (YR #83 – #84, YL #71 – #72, YB #28 – #29)
Chapter 33, End of an Era (YR #85 – #87, YL #73, YB #30, AFL #1)
Chapter 34, A New Prize Title (YR #88 – #91, AFL #2 – #5, PL #1 – #2)
Chapter 35, Settling In ( YR #92 – #94, AFL #6 – #8, PL #3 – #5)
Appendix, J.O. Is Joe Orlando
Chapter 36, More Kirby (YR #95 – #97, AFL #9 – #11, PL #6 – #8)
Chapter 37, Some Surprises (YR #98 – #100, AFL #12 – #14, PL #9 – #11)
Chapter 38, All Things Must End (YR #101 – #103, AFL #15 – #17, PL #12 – #14)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
San Diego Comic-Con International
July 22, 2009
THE SIMON & KIRBY SUPERHEROES
Massive Collection Scheduled for 2010
Titan Books to release comprehensive 480-page edition
of fully-restored – and – previously unpublished superhero stories
by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby
Following the success of The Best of Simon and Kirby, the first volume in The Official Simon and Kirby Library, Titan Books has announced that The Simon and Kirby Superheroes will be collected in an ambitious 480-page omnibus featuring all of the costumed hero adventures produced by the legendary team that created Captain America. “Aside from their work for Marvel and DC, this will be all of the superhero stories Joe and Jack wrote and illustrated together from 1940 through 1960,” noted Titan owner and publisher Nick Landau. “It’s a massive undertaking, but our team is ready to take it on.”
The Simon and Kirby Superheroes will be released in summer 2010 in the special 11″ x 7-1/2″ oversized format, making it possible to reproduce the comic book pages in their original printed size. “Comics were larger in the Golden Age of the medium,” explained series editor Steve Saffel, “and we wanted to be able to give readers the full experience of these brilliant stories.” As with The Best of Simon and Kirby, the stories will be fully restored by Kirby historian Harry Mendryk, presented on quality matte stock paper in vivid color.
The edition will begin with the mysterious costumed hero The Black Owl from Prize Comics in 1940–the year Simon and Kirby first joined forces. It will include the big-top swashbuckler known as Stuntman, the Runyonesque adventurer The Vagabond Prince, the entire run of the cold-war patriot The Fighting American, and The Fly and Private Strong the final Simon and Kirby collaborations before Jack Kirby moved over to help launch the Marvel Universe.
“What’s more, we’ve got some amazing surprises in store,” Saffel added. Restoration wizard Harry Mendryk will take the groundbreaking 1953 adventures of Captain 3-D and convert them to their original line art. These classic stories also feature artwork by Mort Meskin and a young Steve Ditko–who went on to co-create The Amazing Spider-Man at Marvel–and will be published in full color for the first time.
“Plus, with a little help from our friends, we’ve located a bunch of never-before-published pages starring Stuntman,” Saffel revealed. “Many of the pages are in the hands of private collectors, with others coming directly from the Joe Simon archives. As a result, we’ll be able to pull together nearly the entire story, ‘Stuntman Crowns a Jungle Lord,” and offer up other exciting features for the readers.”
Details concerning The Simon and Kirby Superheroes are still being finalized and will be announced shortly. In addition, to support this volume and the entire Official Simon and Kirby Library, Titan will be launching a dedicated Simon and Kirby web site (http://www.titanbooks.com/simonandkirby) offering exclusive behind-the-scenes content, complete stories, and soon to feature video conversations with Joe Simon.
Joe Simon and Jack Kirby first joined forces on the science fiction character Blue Bolt in 1940, and later that year created the seminal hero Captain America (scheduled to be featured in a 2011 major motion picture by Marvel Studios). Simon became the first editor at Timely Comics, the company that later became Marvel, then he and Kirby moved over to DC Comics, the home of Superman and Batman. There they created the military title The Boy Commandos, which at its peak outsold Superman himself.
The Official Simon and Kirby Library features the only editions overseen by Joe Simon and fully authorized by Simon and the Estate of Jack Kirby. The next release will be Joe Simon’s definitive autobiography, followed by editions collecting the team’s extraordinary adventures of detective fiction, horror, and romance. “Every one of these books is a labor of love here at Titan Books,” Nick Landau noted. “Our partnership with Joe Simon is one of our most treasured relationships, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to bring these exciting adventures back into print, looking better than ever before.”
Titan Books is a leading publisher of licensed entertainment, the UK’s top publisher of graphic novels and world-renowned for television and film companions, including Watching the Watchmen by Dave Gibbons, and the official Watchmen and Terminator: Salvation movie tie-ins. Titan Books also publishes a series of high-end art books, and biographies such as the New York Times bestselling My Boring-Ass Life: The Uncomfortably Candid Diary of Kevin Smith.
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UK: Ellie Graham: 020 7803 1839 / firstname.lastname@example.org
The Official Simon and Kirby Library Joseph H. Simon
and Joseph H. Simon and The Estate of Jack Kirby.
A division of Titan Publishing Group Ltd
Titan Publishing Group Ltd is a company registered in England & Wales with company number 1599367. VAT number 607 9631 24.?Registered office: 144 Southwark St, London, SE1 0UP
(1) A splash page from the 1953 release Captain 3-D, taken from the 3-D page and restored to line art by Harry Mendryk. These stories will be presented in full color for the first time. (A color version of this page is available upon request.) Copyright 2009 Simon and Kirby. All rights reserved.
(2) A page from the never-before-published story “Stuntman Crowns a Jungle Lord.” The story was partly inked and fully lettered, and with the exception of one missing page, will be published in its entirely in The Simon and Kirby Superheroes. Copyright 2009 Simon and Kirby. All rights reserved.
There will be a special announcement Thursday (July 23) on this blog that I am sure will please all Simon and Kirby fans.
I normally I place a new post on the Simon and Kirby Blog every weekend. In fact I have never failed to do so. Except for last week and it was not because of the holiday. The Jack Kirby Museuem, the host for my blog, uses WordPress. Frankly I am not a big fan of WordPress, it is a little too buggy for my tastes. Every so often (fortunately not very often) it refuses to work for me. That happen last weekend only this time it took a while to set things right. What is worse is I am not sure what I did to fix it.
So I am sorry about not posting for so long and hopefully it will not happen again.