Happy 2012! I am back (for good or ill) after a brief hiatus for the holidays. I do hope all of you had a wonderful and HEALTHY holiday season, and that Santa stuffed your stockings with all sorts of comic book goodness.
I was looking back on the last part of 2011 and two pieces of news arose that call for a moment of our time. In December lost two of the most influential comics creators in the history of the medium.
Joe Simon and Jerry Robinson.
When I say these gentlemen were two of the most influential creators in the history of comics, I am not engaging in hyperbole. These men were right there with the likes of Siegel and Shuster, Kirby and Lee, Bob Kane…any of them.
Joe Simon, passed away on 12/14 at the age of 98 from natural causes. His name is almost always spoken in conjunction with his long time partner, the King Of Comics, Jack Kirby. Together, they created one of the most iconic characters in comics history…Captain America. At a time of great uncertainty in our country and around the world Simon helped create a symbol of America that endures to this day. Most recently in a film and two monthly titles. Cap has been in print almost without exception since 1941. There was a brief hiatus but he was back in Avengers #4and has been going strong ever since.
If that was Simon’s ONLY contribution to the history of comics it would have been a great legacy. But he did so much more. As an artist, along with Kirby, Joe redefined page layout, often exploding action through panel borders creating a story telling language still being used to this day.
Joe was also the first editor of Timely Comics, which would eventually become Marvel.
A couple of years ago, I stood in line for over an hour just to meet him at NY Comic Con. I am not an autograph hunter or one given to waiting in lines, but for Joe, it was a privilege.
Joe Simon. He will be missed of course, but as long as Cap is still slinging his shield, Joe will be remembered and celebrated.
Jerry Robinson. What a sharp guy he was! I saw him speak at Comic Con in 2010 and he told some great stories. At the then age of 87, he looked in great shape and was having a ball with the fans and adulation that was so late in coming his way. For decades Jerry (along with Bill Finger) was one of the unacknowledged creators of Batman. While Bob Kane through contract and editorial policy was the credited creator of the Dark Knight, Batman was created by committee.
Jerry was instrumental in the creation of Robin The Boy Wonder and The Joker, as well as much of the Batman mythos. In recent years he received acknowledgement for his contribution and the accolades so long overdue.
Like Joe, Jerry was more than a one shot wonder. He was a prolific creator for many years. However his greatest contribution to comics was as an advocate for creator’s rights. During the mid 70’s Jerry was one of the key figures in championing the case of Siegel and Shuster in their decades long struggle with DC over their creation of Superman. Along with Neal Adams, Jerry helped win, not only financial compensation for the pair but creative credit for both Siegel and Shuster in all broadcast and published works containing the Superman character.
In 1978, he founded Cartoonists & Writers Syndicate/CartoonArts International which as of 2010 has more than 550 artists from over 75 countries.
They once asked Mickey mantle how he would want to be remembered. His answer was not to be remembered so much as a great player but as a great team mate. That is how, I think, Jerry Robinson will be remembered. That is a fine legacy for anyone.
Jerry passed away on December 7th, right here on Staten Island.
Joe…Jerry. Thanks for everything. We’ll miss you both.