Joe Simon co-created Captain America, gave Stan Lee his first job in comics and had a hand in inventing entire genres like the romance comic. Now, Simon’s family, led by his son Jim, is making 50 years’ worth of original art from the recently passed legend available at auction starting with Heritage’s Nov. 16-17 Vintage Comics & Comic Art Signature® Auction.
“Joe Simon was an artist, an editor, an innovator and a true American success story,” said Ed Jaster, Vice President of Heritage. “He was the son of an immigrant tailor who entered the fledgling comic industry as it was just getting started, while, at the same time, giving innumerable other artists and writers their start in the business. He had an incredible and lasting impact on the business.”
Heritage will be selling Simon’s entire comic art archives over the course of several auctions. Next week’s inaugural auction features pieces from the mid-1940s through the 1990s, many of which are collaborations with Jack Kirby. The Simon and Kirby, or “S&K” team, were among the first creators to have their names appear in comics and acquired a loyal following from the time they burst onto the scene in 1940.
Simon was a shrewd businessman, in addition to his creative side, and was quick to take his services – and those of his “shop” of artists – from publisher to publisher when conditions warranted doing so. The result was that he kept much of his original art at a time when most of the original art from comics was going into the trash once it was printed.
“(Joe) had his own way of working with publishers,” said Jim Simon. “Comics were not just art or entertainment, but a business. He recognized that, and he would approach publishers as a business person, making deals with publishers in which he had ownership or participation. This is how he was able to keep much of the art and (intellectual property) rights.”
Simon and Kirby, though just two of the many Jewish comic creators, were also the first to use Adolf Hitler as a cover villain, on Captain America Comics #1.
“There had never been a truly believable villain in comics,” Simon wrote in his autobiography. “But Adolf was live, hated by more than half the world… All that was left to do was to devise a long underwear hero to stand up to him.”
Among the more notable lots are a large double-page splash by Simon and Kirby featuring their creation Stuntman, his full-color re-creations of classic covers like Adventure Comics #74 featuring the Sandman and Sandy, characters he and Kirby didn’t create but completely revitalized, and Simon’s personal copies of Captain America Comics #1-10, the only issues he and Kirby worked on.
“After my father passed, the family talked quite a bit about what we should do with the art and what the art meant, not just to us but in a broad context as well,” said Simon. “The comic book art – by him and by the talented artists from the Golden and Silver Ages of comic books who worked with or for him – we made available to comic fans because my father would have wanted it this way.”
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