A moment of silence should be taken today as one of the great comic book pioneers has left us. Joe Simon, who co-created Captain America with Jack Kirby, passed away Wednesday night after a brief battle with illness according to family members.
Simon first got his start in the comic book world with Funnies Inc. in 1940. It was there he created his first superhero Fiery Mask (Marvel's answer to Green Lantern). The company would go on to publish the first Marvel comic, and the rest, as we know it, is history.
Of course Simon's main contribution to the history of comics is his invention of Captain America. In his autobiography, he recalls the story of when Captain America got the go ahead for a full issue series issue in Timely Comics. Read an excerpt below.
I didn't have a lot of objections to putting a crew on the first issue.... There were two young artists from Connecticut that had made a strong impression on me. Al Avison and Al Gabriele often worked together and were quite successful in adapting their individual styles to each other. Actually, their work was not too far from [that of] Kirby's. If they worked on it, and if one inker tied the three styles together, I believed the final product would emerge as quite uniform. The two Als were eager to join in on the new Captain America book, but Jack Kirby was visibly upset. 'You're still number one, Jack,' I assured him. 'It's just a matter of a quick deadline for the first issue.'
'I'll make the deadline,' Jack promised. 'I'll pencil it [all] myself and make the deadline.' I hadn't expected this kind of reaction ... but I acceded to Kirby's wishes and, it turned out, was lucky that I did. There might have been two Als, but there was only one Jack Kirby.
I wrote the first Captain America book with penciled lettering right on the drawing boards, with very rough sketches for figures and backgrounds. Kirby did his thing, building the muscular anatomy, adding ideas and pepping up the action as only he could. Then he tightened up the penciled drawings, adding detailed backgrounds, faces and figures.
Simon is responsible for the famous image of Captain America socking Hitler in the face, along with many other contributions to the world of Marvel comics. He will be missed to say the least. Check out some of his works from back in the golden age and a video interview with the legend about the popularity of Cap after 70 years below.