Out now from Titan Books, Joe Simon: My Life Comics is a fantastic opportunity to hear the voice of one of the oldest still-living-creators of comics. In this autobiography (yes it’s a book and not a graphic novel or comic) Joe Simon chronicles his life in the comics industry.
Joe starts out talking to us about being raised and growing into a young man in upstate New York in Rochester and Syracuse, and at first talks about his many jobs at newspapers and how it developed his skills as an artist. He then soon goes into his start in comics and the book rides from there. The amazing thing is Simon entered the industry shortly after its birth, and so he talks about all sorts of interesting things for any comic book fan, from Marvel before it was Marvel, issues as DC became a champion with Superman and so forth, witnessing all of them first hand. His real magical moment is when he meets Jack Kirby and then creates Captain America. From there we get his fondness and a history on his work with Kirby over the years on numerous projects from many publishers, their families, and what he went on to do. Through the tale he also jumps back and forth, speaking a lot about creators rights and law suits with Marvel to get the rights back to Captain America (which for those who didn’t know was settled with Simon getting an unknown to the public payment, and Marvel getting to keep Captain America in the Marvel Universe).
The book is a great read, and Simon’s voice feels like you’re just sitting down at the table with him as your friend, telling you stories of the good old days. He also isn’t too bashful with what he felt about certain people or how he saw certain creators or publishers at the time, writing in such a great honest voice. His fondness for Kirby and his family really show through, and the moments he captured in comic history, such as all the artists getting shipped off in World War II or the US Senate committee’s brief persecution of comic books led by Dr. Fredric Wertham, are intriguing and a gem to view through Simon’s own eye. Throughout the autobiography are plenty examples of Simon’s work in comics in every chapter helping paint the picture of his career, as well as showcase some great art.
I highly recommend Joe Simon: My Life In Comics for any fan or historian of comic books. Bound in a nice hardcover, these 246 pages of coolness give us a unique perspective from a man who not just lived though it all, but whose impact on the industry likely won’t ever be rivaled in the future.
[Editor’s note: This book will be available at Titan’s booth at San Diego Comic Con 2011 with a signed bookplate.]