The Art of the Simon And Kirby Studio

The names Joe Simon and Jack Kirby are synony­mous with comic books, and their partnership ush­ered in the Golden Age of comics starting in the 1940s. Together they created memorable characters such as Captain America and Sandman, invented romance com­ics, and raised the standard for the genres of western, crime, and horror comic books. Over the course of three decades they wrote and illustrated several hundred comics, many of which are reproduced in this oversized volume covering all aspects of their amazing career. Selected and with an introduction by Mark Evanier, the foremost authority on the work of Simon and Kirby, and an afterword by Jim Simon, son of Joe Simon, the book includes artwork photographed from the original art in Joe Simon’s private archive and showcases the seminal work of Simon and Kirby and their artistry as it has never been seen before.

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As with all AE format material (Artist’s Editions, Artifact Editions, Gallery Editions, Art Editions, Studio Editions, etc), this is a collection of classic comic material and I’ll be reviewing the book and not the story. For a complete list of all current and announced editions, with review links, please visit our Index. Also, see What is an Artist’s Edition and our Artist Index.

Forty-seven complete stories, plus a ridiculous number of pages, splashes, and covers. Many golden and silver age artists at play here, but most of us came for Simon and Kirby. This work runs the gamut, covering 1942 to 1959. Yes, it closes with a piece from 1974, but it doesn’t really fit.

This era of work is one that hasn’t gotten enough attention from original art books, and Evanier has given us everything but the kitchen sink.

Scans are clear, clean and without issue. For their age these pages look great; light tan to brown. Blacks show gradients. Extensive use of correction fluid throughout, but not many paste ins or replacements. Very few margin notes, just book and issue appearing on the top left of some pages. Looks like the page scans were cropped and sized.

The design fully embraces the original art, and enlargements without adornment are used. That’s the theme and it’s used to full effect. The introduction and afterword are shockingly white compared to the art pages, but the wide margins give plenty of space for covers and notes.

Excellent production. Thick matte paper stock in a sewn binding. Unfortunately that binding is too tight, and we suffer gutter loss at points. Hence all those glamour shots of my thumbs. It’s a thick book and the binding needs to account for that, but the amazing double page spreads really lose out. Dust jacket, while underneath one enlarged panel running the front cover, spine and back cover.

It’s the approach of art book thats makes this overall work shine. An extensive introduction and afterword, along with page numbers and a detailed credits section to provide that ancillary information fans crave.

A lot of love and attention to Kirby and his silver age work fills many a volume, and rightly so, but I’m so happy to get some Simon art in my hands. Couldn’t help but notice no Timely work contained: Harvey, Mainline, Prize, Charleton, Archie.

I was unfamiliar with Bill Draut but came to appreciate his work here, along with perusing those early Al Williamson pages.

For fans of the AE format this book makes you think about the material contained. This would be one 15″ x 22″ Artist’s Edition and one 15″ x 22″ Artifact Edition, at $150 each. Here we have it all in a greatly reduced size for $60, for a broader market. I love it as it is, but would still like the art at full size. The scans are already done, so how about a two volume slipcase Abrams?

Art of the Simon and Kirby Studio
from Things From Another World