Tag Archives: The Best of Simon and Kirby

“The Best of Simon and Kirby” Nominated for an Eisner Award

The Eisner Award nominations have been announced and they include:

Best Archival Collection/Project — Comic Books

  • The Best of Simon & Kirby, by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, edited by Steve Saffel (Titan Books)
  • Blazing Combat, by Archie Goodwin et al., edited by Gary Groth (Fantagraphics)
  • Humbug, by Harvey Kurtzman et al., edited by Gary Groth (Fantagraphics)
  • The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures deluxe edition, by Dave Stevens, edited by Scott Dunbier (IDW)
  • The TOON Treasury of Classic Children’s Comics, edited by Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly (Abrams ComicArts/Toon)

What a pleasant surprise but what strong competition. I have heard of Humbug and The TOON Treasury but have never had the chance to examine them. But my collection includes Blazing Combat and The Rocketeer and they are both incredibly beautiful and important books. So I am not holding expectations that The Best of Simon and Kirby will actually win. It is just great to have played a part on a book that has received the recognition that such a nomination entails.

The Making of “The Best of Simon and Kirby”

As reported by The Jack Kirby Comics Weblog, Diamond has stated that “The Best of Simon and Kirby” will be out this week. I cannot verify that the book will truly be in stores so soon. Further Amazon is still listing a May 12th release. But in anticipation of its not too distant release I thought I would do a small post about how the art was prepared. Everything starts with a scan.

Stuntman #1 (April 1946) “Killer in the Bigtop”, original scan

Unfortunately the original comic book pages were not that well printed to begin with, the paper invariably has yellowed with age, and the colors faded to some extent. The original scan is not a pretty thing but more importantly it is not a good representation of Simon and Kirby’s original intent.

Stuntman #1 (April 1946) “Killer in the Bigtop”, color correction

Fortunately there is Photoshop, an application by Adobe made for manipulating images of all kinds. For “The Best of Simon and Kirby” each scan was optimally adjusted using Photoshop to remove the paper’s yellow color and correct the faded colors.

While these adjustments make the page look like new, they do nothing to correct the problems caused by the original poor printing. Problems like registration, where the different colors are shifted in relationship to one another. Or incomplete printing. While these defects were in the original comic they still are detrimental to appreciating Simon and Kirby’s efforts. Photoshop does provide tools for correcting these problems as well although not without much effort.

Stuntman #1 (April 1946) “Killer in the Bigtop”, fully restored

The final result looks much more attractive then the original scans. At their heart the images still remain scans. Flaws that did not distract from the art were left. Compare the before and after and you will see that original coloring was adhered to and most importantly the line art was unaltered. What you get is pure Simon and Kirby. You cannot get better then that.

I developed the Photoshop techniques that are so briefly outlined above by myself. Apparently others have figured them out as well. Lately a small number of books have been published using restored scans. Most notably the Sunday sections in the “Terry and the Pirates” (IDW Publishing), “I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets” (Fantagraphic Books) and “Supermen” (Fantagraphic Books). They share with “The Best of Simon and Kirby” a desire to present the original masters and not some recreation by a modern artist. It is a goal that was generally ignored in the past but that I hope will become increasingly prevalent in the future.

“The Best of Simon and Kirby” Gets Reviewed

I guess I was not the only one to get an advance copy of Titan’s soon to be released “The Best of Simon and Kirby”. There is already a short review on the web by Mike Rogers. . Among the many complements:

Dazzling from beginning to end, The Best of Simon and Kirby is a monumental piece of comics history

So what comic book web page was Mike Roger’s doing the review? None, the review appeared in LJXpress the Library Journal’s newsletter. While I believe fans will love this book, my biggest hope is that it will give Simon and Kirby exposure outside of comicdom.

Titan Announces Expanded Simon and Kirby Library

The following is a press release from Titan:


Titan to Collect the Works of Two Comic Book Legends

Titan Books Signs Exclusive Agreement to Publish Works by Comics’ Greatest Creative Team, with Full Involvement of Living Legend Joe Simon and the Jack Kirby Estate

Titan Books has expanded its publishing agreement with comic book pioneer Joe Simon, co-creator of Captain America, to launch The Official Simon and Kirby Library beginning in 2009. In addition to the previously announced volumes The Best of Simon and Kirby and The Simon and Kirby Superheroes, the library will include volumes collecting the greatest horror, detective, and romance stories ever produced by the legendary Dream Team of comics.

Joe Simon and Jack Kirby first joined forces on the superhero character Blue Bolt in 1940, and later that year created the seminal hero Captain America (soon to be featured in a major motion picture by Marvel Studios). “When Jack and I created Captain America, it sent a shock across the nation even before America had entered World War II,” Simon noted. “But that was only the beginning, and we followed it up with titles like Boy Commandos and Young Romance. They weren’t superhero books, but each one sold millions of copies.”

Beginning in summer 2009 with The Best of Simon and Kirby, Titan Books will release full-color hardcover editions featuring some of the greatest stories ever told in the graphic medium, painstakingly restored by Simon and Kirby historian Harry Mendryk. Simon himself will oversee the process, and will offer original insights and secrets from behind the scenes.

The volume will feature the team’s most famous characters, including Fighting American, Stuntman, and The Fly, as well as genre adventures from such legendary titles as Black Magic, Justice Traps the Guilty, and the industry’s first romance title, Young Romance. Through the generous support of Marvel Comics and DC Comics, The Best of Simon and Kirby will include stories featuring Captain America, The Vision, Sandman, and The Boy Commandos.

“It’s simply astonishing, the materials Joe has kept over the years,” Titan owner and publisher Nick Landau said. “It shows uncanny foresight that he retained so many rights, and preserved those wonderful stories so that today’s readers will be able to enjoy some of the finest comics ever produced.” Details on the contents and format of the books are still being determined, as Landau added, “We want to come up with editions that are as perfect as they can be.”

Simon will attend the February 2009 New York ComicCon to celebrate the launch of The Official Simon and Kirby Library, and will sign exclusive limited edition lithographs. Titan plans to release two books a year, and these will be the only editions authorized by both Joe Simon and the estate of Jack Kirby. In addition to The Official Simon and Kirby Library, Titan will publish the autobiography of Joe Simon in 2010.

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 Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd, Frank Miller and Will Eisner’s The Spirit, Watching the Watchmen by Dave Gibbons, plus 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.

I would like to emphasize of few points found in the release. The first is that I did not write this release and was surprised to find that I was mentioned in it. I am sure I will comment further on my contribution; most likely when the first book, “The Best of Simon and Kirby”, gets released this summer.

When Titan told me they wanted to include some stories from Marvel and DC in “The Best of Simon and Kirby” I must admit I was a bit skeptical. I have never been so pleased to have been proven wrong. The release describes DC Comics and Marvel Comics support as “generous” with which I heartedly agree.

I said this before, but it is worth repeating. Both Joe Simon and the Jack Kirby estate will financially benefit from these books.

Most immediately important is that the release mentions Joe Simon will be appearing at upcoming New York ComicCon. Joe does not make many appearances so this will be a special chance for fans to meet him. I will have further announcements in the near future when his schedule becomes firmed up.