Written by Bryan Stroud
Joseph Henry "Joe" Simon (born Hymie Simon on October 11, 1913) was an American comic book writer, artist, editor, and publisher. He created or co-created many important characters in the 1930s–1940s (the Golden Age) and served as the first editor of Timely Comics, the company that would evolve into Marvel Comics.
With his partner (artist Jack Kirby) he co-created Captain America, one of comics' most enduring superheroes. The team worked extensively on such features at DC Comics as the 1940s Sandman and Sandy the Golden Boy, and co-created the Newsboy Legion, the Boy Commandos, and Manhunter. Simon and Kirby creations for other comics publishers include Boys' Ranch, Fighting American and the Fly. In the late 1940s, the duo created the field of romance comics, and were among the earliest pioneers of horror comics. Joe, who went on to work in advertising and commercial art, also founded the satirical magazine Sick in 1960 - remaining with it for a decade. Mr. Simon was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1999.
He died in New York City on December 14, 2011, at the age of 98.
It may have been the fact that Jerry Robinson mentioned Joe Simon that I decided to try and contact him. I struggled a little with things to ask because my interests lie with DC Comics and while Joe did a little for them, it was precious little. I even got the two issues of Brother Power the Geek to try and get a feel for his DC work, but honestly it left me kind of cold. Still, if you can get another founder on the phone (even though he always insisted on referring to their partnership as SIMON and Kirby) you should do it, even if the results weren't quite what you were hoping.
A faulty tape recorder prevented the transcription of the very beginning of the discussion.
This interview originally took place over the phone on June 11, 2007.
Joe Simon: A big part of the culture now. Dick and I did The Fly and The Shield for Archie Comics.
Stroud: Yeah, one of their few adventure stories.
JS: Yeah, uh-huh. And I think the Fighting American. Were they the Silver Age? That was about 1962 I think, wasn’t it?
Stroud: That would have been right in there.
JS: That’s about my experience with the Silver Age.
Stroud: Well, you did a little tiny bit later with Brother Power, The Geek.
JS: Oh, yeah, yeah. That was about ’73 I think, wasn’t it?
Stroud: ’69, I think.
JS: ’69. Okay. Oh, yeah, that was with Carmine.
JS: Yeah, we did some very nice things there. The Prez. I loved that one.
Stroud: The Green Team.
JS: But, that whole period there was not financially successful for practically anybody in the business.
Stroud: No, sadly enough.
JS: And that wasn’t very encouraging. That’s about my whole experience in the Silver Age. It was quite a bit, I guess.
Stroud: Well, yeah, you were right in there. Of course, the bulk of your work was beforehand and some afterward.
Stroud: You know one thing I was kind of surprised about when I was researching some of your work in the Grand Comic Book Database, they have all of the work you and Jack did on the early Adventure Comics with Manhunter and Sandman and so forth…
JS: Yeah, is that Harry Mandrake’s site?
Stroud: No, I don’t think so. When you tap it in you just go to comics.org. They’re trying to index every single comic book ever published.
Stroud: Anyway, it kind of amused me. It had Jack down on scripts and pencils on a lot of them and then had your name with a question mark behind it for inks. Apparently they can’t confirm that you inked a lot of those. I presume you did.
JS: I’m not going to worry about that now.
Stroud: I understand. You don’t have anything to prove at this point. (Chuckle.)
JS: They didn’t ask me. Of course, I inked most all of it.
Stroud: I kind of figured. I didn’t realize how you had worn nearly every single hat, Mr. Simon, from editor, to scripter to letterer to penciler. You did it all.
JS: (coughing.) Too many cigars.
Stroud: Would it be easier if I e-mailed my questions?
JS: I think so, but so many questions come up over and over and over again. I’ll do my best. I respect your efforts. You said you spoke to Carmine recently?
Stroud: I sure did.
JS: How’s he doing?
Stroud: He sounded good. Of course, he just turned 82.
Stroud: Yeah. Still kind of a youngster to you, I suppose.
JS: (Chuckle.) I’m 93.
Stroud: You’re doing well, then.
JS: It’s all right. At least it beats the other. (chuckle.)
As this interview was quite short, we are also including a gallery showcasing just a portion of the many comic book covers that Mr. Simon helped to create.