The Art of the Simon and Kirby Studio

BOOK REVIEW

Simon and Kirby Cover

Publisher: Abrams Comicarts

ISBN: 978-1-4197-1160-2

Type: Hardcover

Pages: 382

Date: 2014

Price: $60.00 US / $69.00 CAN

Simon and Kirby Back Cover

I have followed the work of Jack Kirby for years and thought of him only in terms of his career with Marvel Comics, and somewhat with his brief work for DC Comics. But I never realized that those times weren’t the beginning of his story. Enter Joe Simon and the Simon and Kirby Studio.

Simon and Kirby Portrait

I’ll leave the details of how these two creative geniuses met for when you read the book, but safe to say it is one of those ‘meant-to-be’ stories! They started out in the 1930’s and definitely left their mark.

The Simon and Kirby Studio was prolific, employing many artists as needed, and covering such material as:

Simon and Kirby Space

Space Epics

Simon and Kirby Love

Love Stories

Simon and Kirby Crime

Crime Stories

Simon and Kirby Western

Westerns

Simon and Kirby Superhero

Superheroes (The Fly, pictured above)

I learned that Simon would go out and get jobs for the studio by promising any kind of story that was needed to fill publications at the time. They were primarily a studio-for-hire at this point. Then Kirby would burn the midnight oil to churn out the images. Although Simon was more of a writer and business man, he also did artwork and other duties. In fact, everyone at the studio was expected to do whatever it took to meet a deadline!

Simon and Kirby Sandman

The Sandman

Superheroes are probably what most readers buying this book will know Jack Kirby for. Perhaps thinking of Captain America or the later characters co-created by Stan Lee, like The Mighty Thor, among others. But in the early days it was The Sandman, Fighting American, and The Fly.

This book is mostly a reprinting of classic Simon and Kirby stories, in part or in their entirety. The book starts with a brief introduction by Mark Evanier and concludes with an even briefer afterward by Jim Simon.

COOL FACTOR: 3.5/5

I was expecting more of an in-depth look at the men and the studio they created, but instead got over 300 pages of comic strip panels. The artwork was amazing (if you appreciate the drawing style of Jack Kirby, as I do) but most of the stories were very dated. I didn’t know most of the characters, as they came from the 30’s and 40’s, so this too was a bit disappointing.

The Cool Factor will be much higher for diehard Kirby fans, and completests, but for the average comic book fan, it may not be what is expected.

For more on Jack Kirby, check out this blog entitled the Jack Kirby Museum. The curator has stopped posting new material, but it is still filled with many posts that delve into Kirby’s life and art.

Or if you want to stay right here (which I would certainly appreciate!), please check out my book reviews on Stan Lee’s Marvelous Memoir and Color Sundays of Mickey Mouse and The Art of the Disney Golden Books. For another related review, check out Toy Wars, depicting the battle between Mattel and Hasbro for toy supremacy. You haven’t lived until you’ve experienced a grudge match between Barbie and G.I. Joe!

Incredible Powers for Jack-Jack

In honor of the announcement (at the D23 Expo) about the Incredibles 2 movie, I thought it was time to answer the burning question that has been on the minds of Pixar fans since the thrilling conclusion of the first Incredibles movie: What are Jack-Jack’s powers?

 Jack Jack

So fair enough, Jack-Jack did exhibit many powers in the first movie, including levitation, fire, hyper-weight, and whatever that red monster thing was attacking Syndrome! But if he only had one power, what should it be?

Well, here is my Top 5 List of the most incredible powers for a superhero to have, from the best on down:

Power One: INVULNERABILITY

Invulnerability

“It’s like hitting a brick wall!”

Let’s face it, being a superhero is dangerous work! Villains throw everything at you in an attempt, not to hurt you, but to kill you. What’s the point of being super smart or super big if all it takes is a bullet to end you? Being invulnerable is essential if you want to earn Hero of the Year. Just ask Mr. Incredible. Or Superman. Or the Incredible Hulk.

OK, being able to stand in one spot and take anything a villain can dish out may not be the flashiest way to win the day, but it does give you time to come up with a plan! Or wear your opponent down. And at the end of the day, out of all the heroes on your team, you’ll probably be the last one standing!

Power Two: Flight

Flight

“Up! Up! And Away!”

So you can lift a car. So you can build a gizmo that will win the day. What good is all that if you can’t get to the scene of the latest alien invasion? And let’s face it, the Batmobile can run of gas, but you won’t, if you have the power of flight!

And if MegaKong throws you off the Empire State Building, again (after all, he is your arch-enemy and this isn’t your first meeting), you can just float to a safe distance and give the situation some more thought before swooping in to actually save the day. This time.

Power Three: Intelligence

Intelligence

E=Victory

Brawn and flashy powers are great, but sometimes brute force and ignorance just can’t win the day. After all, how many times can dropping a building on someone actually be the perfect solution to a bank robbery? And that solution can get expensive.

Out-thinking the enemy is always a satisfying way to end a conflict. You may not get the media credit or glory that your teammates in spandex get, but you will never be the one responsible for thousands of dollars in property damage!

Power Four: Invisibility

Invisibility

“Can you see me now?”

This power is great for both offensive and defensive play. In the offensive category, as an invisible hero you can sneak up on a bad guy and take him out before he even knows you’re there. You are also very useful for advance scouting of enemy evil lairs. And let’s not forget the ability to prank your teammates between world disasters!

In the defensive category, Blobzilla can’t ooze what she can’t see! So stay invisible and let your teammates take all of the sticky fire while you wait for your opportunity to strike the winning blow. Or run away, whatever works for you.

Power Five: Power Beams

Power Beams

“Yeah. You may want to stand back.”

Shooting out of your eyes, out of your hands, or out the ol’ wazoo (although that could be painful and potentially embarrassing), you just can’t beat your own built-in death ray! Who needs a gun that can be dropped or that can run out of power just when you need it?

And being the gal who gives real meaning to the saying ‘If looks could kill’ would just be so cool!

Honorable Mention: Super Speed

Speed

“Rooma-Zoom-Zoom!”

There’s nothing worse than traveling for hours in your SuperJet 5000 only to find the crime has been completed and the culprits are long gone by the time you arrive!

There’s a lot to be said for being the first on the scene. By the time the rest of your team arrives, you may just have the Martians defeated, giving you the sole victory!

Conclusion

There are other powers that are pretty cool, and Jack-Jack probably has them all! Little show off. But if he could only have one, which one do you think he should have?

And if you know the best super power, the one you’d love to have, leave it in a comment below!