Joe Simon, One Half Of Captain America’s Creation, Dies at 98
Joe Simon was born Hymie Simon on October 11th, 1913 in New York, and became the co-creator of Captain America, along with another golden age icon, Jack Kirby. His career in art started when he was the art director for his high school newspaper, progressing afterwards to be an editorial cartoonist all over the state of New York, finally landing in New York City in the later part of the 1930’s.
His first comic industry creation was the superhero called “The Fiery Mask” that was published by Marvel Comics’ predecessor, Timely Comics. Soon after, Simon and Kirby crossed paths, and first collaborated together on “Blue Bolt” #2. Following that, in 1941, they created the iconic Marvel character, Captain America, Featuring their character’s heroic debut in “Captain America Comics” #1, where the cover depicted Captain America hitting Adolf Hitler in the face with quite a swing on Cap’s part.
Joe Simon and Jack Kirby’s works were recognized, and known for being dynamic and ingenious, which helped the industry begin to take advantage of comic books and their larger pages, forsaking the small newspaper comics, with numerous different strips jammed onto each page. However, they had to put their careers on the back burner for the service to their country during World War II.
Returning from the war working on titles in the late 40’s/early 50’s, they struggled to become publishers themselves, but never succeeded, being kept down by those that already had the money an means to print and publish. Tired of not getting what was felt to be their due, Joe Simon went after Marvel Comics in court to get his rights for the character he helped create, Captain America. The case was settled out of court in 1969, but Simon went after his character again in 1999, but eventually losing the battle as a result of the 1969 deal.
Simon stayed with his craft for many years, in positions such as editor in chief for his father in law’s comics company, to working for DC Comics.
The story of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby fighting for the rights to the character they created almost parallels that of Jerry Siegel, and Joe Shuster, the creators of Superman. Artist/writer/creator owned property was unheard of back then, and had no precedent to favor them, so a lot of the golden agers got a raw deal. However, the fights that Joe Simon and these men started paved the way for the comic industry to make sweeping changes in how things are done, with things like creator-owned property, and making money on public appearances, and signings. Joe Simon toured conventions with his son in the early 90’s with books that he wrote about his life in comics, and was seen as recent as comic cons in 2006, taking pictures with fans, and people dressed up as Captain America. Joe Simon lived to almost 100 years old, and in that time, he may not have won rights to the character he helped create, but he got to see the results of the groundwork him and his peers laid.