On the day after the passing of Joe Simon, comics professionals and fans remember the man who brought them Captain America. Here are the kind words, thoughts, and memories that have been shared with us over the past day:
³Joe Simon was a true legend in the comic book industry. So much of what we
are today is owed to him and his amazing creativity. In addition to one of
the great writers of the Golden Age, he was also an editor at DC Comics. We
appreciate all of his contributions to DC Comics and the industry as a
whole, both on the page and behind the scenes.² Dan DiDio, Co-Publisher,
³We lost another of the Titans this week. A creative virtuoso, Joe Simon
will be best known for co-creating Captain America with legendary artist
Jack Kirby but his many contributions to DC Comics, both as a writer and an
editor, are legion and will continue to be cherished by longtime fans, this
one included. Our sympathies go out to his family, friends and many, many
fans.² Jim Lee, Co-Publisher, DC Entertainment
Steve Saffel (with Titan Publishing) put together the following statement:
"Joseph H. Simon, the co-creator of Captain America and the first editor at the company that would become Marvel Comics, passed away from natural causes in his home on Wednesday, December 14, 2011. He was 98 years old, and was surrounded by his family. Simon was one of the giants of the comic book industry, and much of his career he worked with the legendary Jack Kirby, producing stories in every genre. Their approach to Captain America, which sold a million copies with its first issue (released in late 1940), revolutionized the approach the medium took to storytelling. During his tenure at Timely Comics, the precursor to Marvel, he hired a teenage assistant named Stan Lee. They continued their success with other bestselling series like Boy Commandos, a war title for DC Comics, and Young Romance at Prize Comics--the first romance comic book ever published. With each new project Simon showed a unique instinct for every aspect of the medium, where over the years he filled the roles of publisher, editor, writer, penciler, inker, letterer, and colorist.
Simon was born in Rochester, NY, on October 11, 1913, to Harry and Rose Simon, and took to art at an early age. Immediately out of high school he worked for the Rochester and Syracuse newspapers as a photo retoucher, illustrator, and writer, specializing in sports, during which time he dealt with such historical figures as Damon Runyon and Max Baer. Then he relocated to New York City in 1939, where he quickly became involved in the infant comic book industry, first producing stories for Lloyd Jacquet at Funnnies, Inc. Simon single-handedly wrote and illustrated his earliest stories before teaming up with Jack Kirby in 1940. For twenty years they produced work for almost every comic book publisher in America, including their own Mainline Publications.
During World War II Simon served on the home front in the United States Coast Guard. Following the war he met Harriet Feldman, whom he married in 1945, and together they had five children: Jon, Jim, Melissa, Gail, and Lori. In addition to his work with Jack Kirby, Simon created the satire magazine Sick, did extensive advertising work, and worked for the Nelson Rockefeller gubernatorial organization. He continued to produce projects for DC Comics, Marvel Comics, and self-published his first autobiographical work, The Comic Book Makers, co-authored with his son, Jim Simon. More recently he released Joe Simon: My Life in Comics for his current publisher, Titan Books, and in November he became a New York Times bestselling creator with The Simon and Kirby Library: Crime, collecting the duo's work from the 1940s and 1950s.
Simon lived his final years in an apartment in midtown Manhattan, and from his window he could see the McGraw-Hill building, the location of the Timely Comics offices in which he had served as their first editor. In July he attended an advance screening of Captain America, for which he and Kirby were listed on-screen as the character's co-creators. His last convention appearance was for a panel and signing at the New York Comic Con this past October, just two days after his 98th birthday. Joe Simon is survived by his five children and eight grandchildren, and an industry that owes him an eternal debt of gratitude."
We also would like to share with you the following piece by our own lifelong Captain America fan - Bicentennial Dan:
"Thoughts on the Passing of Joe Simon"
I had the privilege of hearing the great Joe Simon speak at the New York Comic-Con this past year. And now, in the wake of his passing, I have a few things I would like to say. Some thoughts I've had about Mr. Simon, about memory, and about heroes.
Though I didnt even know his name until much later in life, I owe Joe Simon a lot. He set the template for Captain America, and in doing that, set in motion a character who would teach me what the American Dream really meant. It was in the pages of the Captain America comics of my youth that I learned I can love my country with all my being, and that would be different than blindly agreeing with decisions the government made. His creation helped me form my political identity when I was growing up. Thank you, Mr. Simon.
His death affects us all, even in subtle ways. During his panel at NYCC, he told a story of the first time he thought of the term "Great American Hero", which I will try and paraphrase here.
Joe Simon was a young man in school, and a Civil War soldier came to his class to speak. At the end of his lecture, during which he had the kids join him singing songs, saluting the flag, and generally whooping it up, this old soldier walked down each row of desks to shake hands with the students. "Shake the hand that shook the hand of President Abraham Lincoln!" he shouted, and they shook hands with him.
I find this story so fascinating, and Mr. Simon's death so greatly affects me in part because of stories like this. The very nature of living memory, and the passing of the man behind that story, means whatever details he hadn't told about that story, little things he found insignificant, are gone forever. We now say goodbye to one of the few remaining people who were there, creating our heroes during the Golden Age of comics. Let's treasure what he left us.
And to anyone lucky enough to have shaken his hand, congratulations. You shook the hand, that shook the hand, that shook the hand of President Lincoln. Be sure to keep that going.
Rest Well, Mr. Simon. You will be dearly missed.