People are astonished–and delighted–that Joe Simon, at age 95, has a seven-book deal with Titan Books. Joe has always been a pioneer, having been a member of the Funnies Inc. creative pool back in 1939, and the first editor at Timely (Marvel) Comics in 1940–the year he and Jack Kirby created Captain America. A few years back he decided he wanted to get back into the game. As graphic novels gained new prominence and new respect, he reached out to a number of publishers, and publishers reached back.
Ultimately landing at Titan Books, a London-based publisher with worldwide reach, he signed a deal to include “The Best of Simon and Kirby,” a book of S&K superheroes, and Joe’s definitive autobiography. The plans have since expanded to include the best of the Simon and Kirby detective stories, horror, and romance–a genre he and Jack did first for comic books.
“The Best of Simon and Kirby,” with a publication date of May 12, shows exactly how Joe and Jack conquered every genre. It begins with the superheroes, where they had their first blockbuster, and thanks to Marvel and DC there are stories starring Captain America, Sandman, and The Vision, But the book offers much, much more, with brilliant and explosive examples from all of the genres.
Often it’s the villains who are the real draw, as S&K proved by putting Adolf Hitler on the cover of Captain America Comics #1, and introducing the Red Skull in that same issue. Nowhere is this truer, though, than in the detective comics. Simon and Kirby had the pick of the crop–Al Capone (the real Scarface), Babyface Nelson, the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, “The Last Days of Public Enemy Number One.” These criminals cut a bloody swath across America, and provided bullet-ridden material for the comics. It’s been said that Ma Barker was one of Kirby’s favorites, and “Mother of Crime” lends truth to the rumor, with Barker telling her own story–from the pits of hell.
But it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Anyone who reads “The Best of Simon and Kirby” will know, first-hand, why Joe and Jack were–and still are–at the top of the game.
Stephen W. Saffel
Editor, “The Best of Simon and Kirby”