It seems the world can’t catch a break this week. First we reported that Jerry Robinson had died – it is now our unhappy task to tell you that Joe Simon, the co-creator of Captain America and a leading figure during the golden age of comic books, has also died. He passed from this world to the next last Wednesday night at the age of 98 in New York following a brief illness.
Hymie Simon was born in Rochester, New York in 1913, and grew up in a small apartment above his father’s tailor shop. He moved to New York City at 23 and was hired as an editor of Fox Comics. That’s where he met one of the most influential illustrators ever to work in comics, Jack Kirby. They worked together for 25 years exploring what comics could be and setting the standard for the generations that followed.
Timely Comics was was a new rising star in the comics publishing world, and when Simon went there as their new editor in chief, he brought Kirby with him as director. That’s where the pair created Captain America. The cover of the first issue, printed in March of 1941, showed Cap punching Hitler in the jaw almost a full year before the attack on Pearl Harbor. It was a deliberately political move on the part of Simon and Kirby, and the first edition sold an unpresidented million copies.
World War II took both of them out of the comics business for a while. Kirby was shipped overseas and Simon went with the Coast Guard. Reunited in the late 1940’s, they went on to create comics, romance horror and satire comics. It was during this time that the pair were able to negotiate rights to half of the stuff they’d created over the years. Captain America, though, stayed with Timely Comics – a firm which eventually became Marvel Comics in the 1960’s.
Simon and Kirby also created the Newsboy Legion, Boy Commandos and others for what is now DC Comics.
Simon leaves behind two sons, three daughters and eight grandchildren.
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