Tag Archives: Joe Simon

Behind the Badge Again

Fake Comic Cover for Red Hot Comics #17, with Big Bang Comics' the Badge and His RookiesI explained last time how, when Big Bang Comics did a cou­ple issues focused on the fic­ti­tious his­to­ry of the com­pa­ny (mim­ic­k­ing Ster­anko’s His­to­ry of Comics vol­umes), they need­ed a whole bunch of fake cov­ers to pull it off and make it all feel believ­able. Here’s anoth­er one from the bunch I generated.

I drew this back then, inked (I believe) by Jeff Mey­er. And now for the first time, appear­ing in col­or! It’s fun to final­ly see this real­ized in this form, after hav­ing it exist only in black and white for all these years.

I’m not exact­ly sure where the idea for this cov­er came from. Per­haps I was think­ing about Simon & Kir­by’s kick-off run of Cap­tain Amer­i­ca, which seemed to draw a lot of inspi­ra­tion from the “weird men­ace” genre of pulps (an ingre­di­ent I’m sur­prised that most peo­ple don’t seem to pick up on). I kin­da wish I could read “The Vam­pire of Var­ney Street!”

I had fun doing this. Hope you enjoy it!

Behind the Badge

Fake Comic Cover Red Hot Comics #14, with Big Bang Comics' the Badge and His RookiesLong­time vis­i­tors to my site might know that back in the ’90s, I was a con­trib­u­tor to Gary Carl­son and Chris Eck­er’s Big Bang Comics. The first issue had­n’t quite come out through Cal­iber yet when I came onboard, I  think, but some mate­r­i­al was already done.

When I met him, Gary was look­ing for some­one to draw a Simon & Kir­by type Gold­en Age char­ac­ter he had in mind called the Badge, and he’d been point­ed my way. I got to have a pret­ty good hand in devel­op­ing the char­ac­ter, his look and that of side­kicks Troop­er and Bob­bie, even mak­ing some sug­ges­tions about the char­ac­ters’ back sto­ries. So I have to admit to feel­ing a bit of pro­pri­etary inter­est in the Badge.

We even­tu­al­ly did a cou­ple issues of Big Bang sub­ti­tled “The Big Bang His­to­ry of Comics,” in imi­ta­tion of the Ster­anko His­to­ry of Comics vol­umes (not real­ly par­o­dy except in the most lov­ing and respect­ful way, because we all had a lot of affec­tion for those books, as they were a gate­way into a life­long inter­est in comics his­to­ry for many of us).

The His­to­ry issues end­ed up being Big Bang Comics #24 and #27. If you’ve seen the Ster­anko books, imi­tat­ing those meant we need­ed a whole bunch of fake cov­ers! So I and a num­ber of oth­er artists set about to gen­er­ate them. I recent­ly made a list, and was shocked to see just how many I did, while simul­ta­ne­ous­ly hold­ing down my day job in animation!

Any­way, to what you’re see­ing here: this was one of the ear­li­est fake cov­ers I gen­er­at­ed for Big Bang. If my mem­o­ry’s right, I think it might even have appeared as far back as the Cal­iber minis­eries. I recall it appear­ing in col­or, but small, like part of a back cov­er ad. Recent­ly, I thought it would be fun to go back and revis­it a num­ber of those old fake cov­ers I did, and give them the full col­or treat­ment they always called out for. Most have nev­er been seen in col­or at all!

The char­ac­ters along the left side were ones I just made up on the spot, but most of them end­ed up appear­ing in Big Bang sto­ries at one point or anoth­er. I sort of thought of Big Bang as “comics his­to­ry through a fun­house mir­ror,” and to that end when I was draw­ing up this cov­er, I just made up char­ac­ters that felt like they were play­ing with some of those famil­iar old Gold­en Age arche­types, but hope­ful­ly also feel­ing like you had­n’t entire­ly seen them before.

Pen­cils, let­ter­ing (and now col­or­ing) are mine; inks were by Jeff Mey­er (I believe), who inked sev­er­al of my fake cov­ers for the His­to­ry issues, and did a nice job of giv­ing them the cor­rect fin­ished look and feel. You can check out anoth­er of our fake cov­er col­lab­o­ra­tions here.

I still have oth­er cov­ers in the pipeline that I might post too, but I had­n’t put any­thing up here in awhile, and thought this might be fun. Hope you enjoy!

And thanks always, Gary, for let­ting me have a lot of fun on the Big Bang play­ground! Those inter­est­ed can check out more recent Big Bang issues over on Indy Plan­et.

One More for the Road!

Recent vis­i­tors to my site in August will know that I was doing the online Jack Kir­by Trib­ute every day, the brain­child of Howard Simp­son. it was a blast par­tic­i­pat­ing, refresh­ing my appre­ci­a­tion all over again for all the great work Kir­by did over the years.

I stuck to a very spe­cif­ic for­mat with all of these: por­traits in a small square, col­ored with the lim­it­ed palette used in the old comics most of these char­ac­ters orig­i­nal­ly appeared in, even down to the dot pat­terns. And I had in mind that the end goal was to be able to assem­ble them all into one com­pos­ite image. I was­n’t sure how that would work out, but here’s how it did!

This was kind of just a per­son­al challenge/exercise in tak­ing the Trib­ute a step fur­ther. Not sure what hap­pens with it beyond this point.

Hope you enjoyed the ride!

Cap and Bucky

It’s Day 26 of the Kir­by Art Trib­ute, suggested/sponsored by Howard Simp­son. You can find the work of those par­tic­i­pat­ing on your social media plat­form of choice by using the hash­tag #Kir­b­yArt­Trib­ut­es.

Today’s prompt is Cap­tain Amer­i­ca and Bucky. Cre­at­ed by Joe Simon and Jack Kir­by for Time­ly (Mar­vel) back in the Gold­en Age, they had a huge hit on their hands. While Cap­tain Amer­i­ca and Bucky are most­ly thought of as being patri­ot­ic heroes who fought the Axis, I dis­cov­ered some­thing inter­est­ing on re-read­ing their ear­ly tales: with all the mon­sters etc. they went up against, Cap and Buck­y’s sto­ries seem to be very much inspired by the “weird men­ace” pulp genre. If you think about it, the Red Skull and how they wrote him at that point would’ve fit in very well in a “weird men­ace” pulp sto­ry. Which is why I opt­ed to make this a night scene.

Joe and Jack only did the first ten issues of Cap­tain Amer­i­ca Comics, after which they left Time­ly. They believed that pub­lish­er Mar­tin Good­man was not liv­ing up to their prof­it-shar­ing agree­ment, so they jumped over to DC where they cre­at­ed a slew of char­ac­ters like Guardian and the News­boy Legion, the Boy Com­man­dos, and their ver­sions of Man­hunter and Sand­man.

Jack had two oth­er runs with Cap­tain Amer­i­ca. The sec­ond one was in the ’60s, after Time­ly had turned into Mar­vel and “Stanand­Jack” was often treat­ed as if it was one word. That run had some­thing of a James Bond/secret agent feel, hav­ing Cap work­ing close­ly with Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. Jack­’s third run was when he returned to Mar­vel in the mid-’70s, and that was him work­ing solo that time.

An aside: Cap­tain Amer­i­ca was­n’t Joe and Jack­’s only shot at a patri­ot­ic hero. In the ’50s, they also did Fight­ing Amer­i­can and his side­kick, Speed­boy. An inter­est­ing aspect of that strip is that it start­ed off as a straight anti-com­mu­nist super­hero adven­ture, but then piv­ot­ed fair­ly rapid­ly into a very fun­ny super­hero satire, pre-dat­ing the camp craze of the ’60s.

That’s it for today. Feel free to pop by again tomorrow!

Mr. Sandman…Again

It’s now Day 23 of Howard Simp­son’s month-long Jack Kir­by Trib­ute. Any cre­atives are free to play along, and you can find their posts on your favorite social media plat­forms with the hash­tag #Kir­b­yArt­Trib­ut­es.

Today’s prompt is “Draw a char­ac­ter or scene from Jack Kir­by’s Sand­man series. (Gar­rett San­ford).” That last part threw me slight­ly. So far as I knew, the char­ac­ter nev­er had a name. But I dis­cov­ered it was some­thing added by oth­ers lat­er on.

Once I got past my slight con­fu­sion over the oth­er name, I knew which Sand­man was being talked about. Jack and Joe Simon had done their take on Sand­man for DC ear­li­er, in the Gold­en Age (I drew him ear­li­er here). Late in Jack­’s time at DC in the ’70s, the con­cept was revis­it­ed and rein­vent­ed from the ground up. The script for the first issue was by Joe Simon, which (unless I’m mis­tak­en) was the first time Joe and Jack had been teamed togeth­er on a com­ic since they dis­solved their part­ner­ship back in the ’50s.

This book is a bit of an odd one. It had no con­nec­tion to any of the oth­er titles Jack was doing for DC then, and was tonal­ly dif­fer­ent from all of them, seem­ing to skew more towards younger read­ers. Though that first issue man­aged some creepy scenes with the Werblink dolls.

I recall read­ing Carmine Infan­ti­no say­ing that Sand­man sold real­ly well for DC. I guess they were caught off-guard, because there’s a gap of a year between issue #1 and #2! And while Kir­by did all the cov­ers, he was­n’t back doing the inte­ri­ors until issue #4. They only got six issues out total. Issue #6 had Wal­ly Wood inking!

Any­way, in addi­tion to Sand­man him­self, I drew his side­kicks Brute and Glob. I kind of wavered on the silli­ness of hav­ing Glob give him rab­bit ears, but felt ulti­mate­ly like it would be right for that book and these char­ac­ters, tonally.

Hope you like it, and please feel free to tune back in tomorrow!

Isn’t It Romantic?

We’re now on Day 8 of Howard Simp­son’s month-long Jack Kir­by cel­e­bra­tion! Open to all cre­atives, you should be able to find the work of par­tic­i­pants on your favorite social media plat­forms by the hash­tag #Kir­b­yArt­Tribute.

Today’s prompt is less spe­cif­ic than those we’ve had thus far. It’s “Romance Comics.” If you don’t already know it, you may be sur­prised to hear that the genre of romance comics was cre­at­ed and pio­neered by none oth­er than Joe Simon and Jack Kir­by! So it’s no head-scratch­er that Howard chose this as a prompt. S&K came up with the very first romance com­ic, Young Romance, and sold the con­cept to Crest­wood Pub­li­ca­tions. The com­ic was a huge hit on news­stands, sell­ing 92% of its print run! Of course, sales suc­cess like that breeds imi­ta­tors, which soon fol­lowed from the oth­er pub­lish­ers. But the orig­i­nal S&K sto­ries had a lot more sub­stance going for them, the imi­ta­tors most­ly pale and infe­ri­or in comparison.

My choice to rep­re­sent romance comics was to depict the one char­ac­ter S&K told more than one sto­ry about. Toni Ben­son first appeared in Young Romance #1, in the sto­ry “I Was a Pick-up.” Appar­ent­ly they liked her char­ac­ter well enough that they thought it was worth revis­it­ing her in a sec­ond tale, “The Town and Toni Ben­son,” in Young Romance #10.

I hope you enjoy, and stay tuned!

On the Hunt

It’s now Day 7 of Howard Simp­son’s month-long online Kir­by Cel­e­bra­tion! It’s open to all cre­atives. You should be able to find the work on your favorite social media plat­forms by the hash­tag #Kir­b­yArt­Tribute.

Today’s prompt is comics’ orig­i­nal Man­hunter! Cre­at­ed by Joe Simon and Jack Kir­by for DC Comics back in the Gold­en Age. Though DC had Paul Kirk as a non-cos­tumed char­ac­ter pre­vi­ous­ly, Simon and Kir­by rein­vent­ed him as a super­hero. They had the char­ac­ter put his pre­vi­ous skills as a game hunter to work now hunt­ing crim­i­nals (many of which were cre­ative­ly ani­mal-themed). Start­ing in Adven­ture Comics #73 in 1942, S&K did a total of eight install­ments. It was pop­u­lar enough that it con­tin­ued beyond that in oth­er hands for quite awhile, but it was­n’t the same.

Kir­by took a shot at a revived ver­sion of Man­hunter when he returned to DC in the ear­ly ’70s, in a First Issue Spe­cial (Kir­by did a few of those, debut­ing new con­cepts that unfor­tu­nate­ly did­n’t go any further).

DC appar­ent­ly liked the Man­hunter name, because peri­od­i­cal­ly they dust­ed it off and did oth­er things with it. One of the more notable of them tied into Simon and Kir­by’s Paul Kirk Man­hunter: a strip cre­at­ed by Archie Good­win and Walt Simon­son (his first work that put him on the map with most fans). It ran as a back­up sto­ry in Detec­tive Comics, which Good­win was edit­ing at the time. Well worth check­ing out, it’s been col­lect­ed a num­ber of times if you haven’t seen it.

But this is about the S&K Gold­en Age orig­i­nal! Hope you enjoy it. Stay tuned!

Mr. Sandman…

We’re at Day 6 of Howard Simp­son’s month-long Jack Kir­by cel­e­bra­tion online, in hon­or of Jack­’s birth­day. It’s open to all cre­atives, and you should be able to find any posts on your favorite social media plat­form via the hash­tag #Kir­b­yArt­Trib­ut­es.

Today’s prompt is Sand­man and Sandy. Sand­man was actu­al­ly not a Simon and Kir­by cre­ation! Orig­i­nal­ly cre­at­ed by writer Gard­ner Fox and artist Bert Christ­man for DC back in the Gold­en Age, he had more of a pulp char­ac­ter appear­ance, run­ning around in a suit and hat, wear­ing a gas mask and gassing crooks with his gas gun. He pre-dat­ed many oth­er super­heroes, first appear­ing in 1939 in Adven­ture Comics #40 and The New York World’s Fair Comics #1.

By 1941, it was appar­ent­ly felt he was out of step with what was going on with DC’s oth­er char­ac­ters, so Mort Weisinger and artist Paul Nor­ris gave him his new pur­ple and yel­low super­hero togs, and added Sandy as a side­kick. Simon and Kir­by picked up the baton from Weisinger and Nor­ris lat­er that year, most def­i­nite­ly putting their stamp on the char­ac­ter! They dumped the cape that Nor­ris had ini­tial­ly giv­en him (mak­ing him look more like an S&K cre­ation), and played around with sto­ries about sleep and dreaming.

Hope you liked my lit­tle trib­ute to the Simon and Kir­by ver­sion of Sand­man and Sandy, and tune in again tomorrow!

Don’t Try This at Home!

We’ve reached the fifth day of Howard Simp­son’s month-long cel­e­bra­tion of Jack Kir­by! Open to all cre­atives, you can find the work on your favorite social media plat­forms by the hash­tag #Kir­b­yArt­Trib­ut­es.

Today’s prompt is Simon and Kir­by’s Stunt­man. So far, all the char­ac­ters have been ones cre­at­ed for either DC or Time­ly (Mar­vel). S&K cre­at­ed Stunt­man for Har­vey Comics!

It was a fun con­cept. Along with Fred Drake as Stunt­man, you had looka­like actor Don Dar­ing, who fan­cied him­self some­thing of a detec­tive, but had a way of get­ting in over his head. He offered some com­ic relief in the strip. Mean­while, Fred Drake as Stunt­man han­dled all the real heavy lift­ing in solv­ing the cas­es. And then you also had a roman­tic tri­an­gle with Don Dar­ing’s costar, San­dra Syl­van, who did­n’t know Fred even existed.

The strip was qual­i­ty, like every­thing Simon and Kir­by tack­led, but it came out at a bad time. Post-WWII, there was appar­ent­ly less inter­est in super­heroes, and with all the paper rationing no longer in place, there was a glut of titles on the stands. So the sad thing was that they only got three issues out before the plug had to be pulled.

I tried an idea for my Stunt­man por­trait that I thought might be a lit­tle dif­fer­ent and inter­est­ing, depict­ing him in mid-stunt. Hope you enjoy, and see you again tomorrow!

Guarding the Legion

It’s now Day 4 of Howard Simp­son’s month-long cel­e­bra­tion of Jack Kir­by! Open to all cre­atives, you can find the work on all social media plat­forms hash­tagged #Kir­b­yArt­Trib­ut­es.

Today’s prompt is the Guardian and the News­boy Legion! They’re anoth­er Simon and Kir­by cre­ation which clicked with fans, run­ning from their debut in Star-Span­gled Comics #7, all the way through issue #64.

The News­boys were a group of orphans who lived in Sui­cide Slum. Offi­cer Jim Harp­er became their legal guardian. Frus­trat­ed with red tape, Harp­er also adopt­ed the iden­ti­ty of the Guardian to fight crime off-duty in more direct ways than he could while on-duty. You can’t see much of it here, but the Guardian had a shield shaped like a badge, which he made very effec­tive use of.

Clock­wise from the Guardian cen­tered at the top are Big Words (in the glass­es), Scrap­per (in the cap), Gab­by, and Tom­my Tompkins.

Hope you enjoy, and maybe we’ll see you again here tomorrow!