Underrated: Creators Of Yesteryear I
This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Creators Of Yesteryear I.
This week I wanted to take a step away from sales numbers, movies, and comics (for the most part), and instead look at some of the creators who had a huge hand in shaping the industry as we know it today. These are names that, hopefully, you already know, but to the average non-comics fan these names may be met with a bit of a shrug or a blank face. The word underrated isn’t a strong enough word for the recognition that these creators should receive from the wider world, but that’s the name of this column… so there we go.
Before I start, one disclaimer: this is in no way shape or form a complete list, hence the Roman numeral at the end of the title. There will be multiple parts to this list in the future in unscheduled installments. Do not expect extensive biographies here, this is just enough to (hopefully) encourage you to do a bit of extra reading yourself.
Shall we get to it?
I bet you weren’t expecting to see this name here, were you? Jack Kirby is one of the more famous names within the comic book industry, and his contributions to the medium we know and love are legendary. His influence can be felt in just about every issue, so why have I included him on this list? Because if you ask the general public who created the X-Men they’d only answer one name, and Jack Kirby deserves to be as revered, if not more so, than Stan Lee.
You’ve heard of Captain America, right? Who hasn’t, really. Well as I’m sure you know he’s the product of Simon and Kirby. The team also created the romance comics genre, and contributed killer runs on some of Marvel and DC’s biggest comics during the middle of the last century. Joe Simon’s comics resume may not be as extensive as his frequent collaborator, but Simon is also the founder of Sick a Mad magazine competitor. He also worked
extensively in advertising, serving as the art director for Burstein, Phillips and Newman from 1964 to 1967. There’s an excellent coffee table book featuring the work of the Simon Kirby Studio that I can’t recommend highly enough to you.
I swear to the gods if you don’t know who this man is, and what he’s done, then I will happily sit down and tell you all about it – but not here. Suffice it to say Bill Finger gave the world almost everything we know about Batman… and only recently received credit for his work in co-creating Batman. There’s a fantastic documentary on Hulu if you’re interested in learning more about this man.
So who created Spider-Man? Not just Stan Lee. Steve Ditko is the co-creator of Marvel’s most bankable star, but there’s a good chance your non comics people wouldn’t know that. The artist also created or co-created a good number of other characters for Marvel and DC including Doctor Strange, The Question, the Creeper, and a revamp of Blue Beetle. Ditko has famously refused almost all interview requests since the 60’s, allowing his work to speak for itself. His Wikipedia entry is full of interesting tidbits.
The co-creator of Robin and the Joker (Bill Finger was the other half of the writer/artist duo), Jerry Robinson, along with Neal Adams, was also instrumental in the fight for creators rights in the 70’s, but his proudest body of work wasn’t in a traditional comic, accoding to an interview with the Daily Telegraph: “I did 32 years of political cartoons, one every day for six days a week. That body of work is the one I’m proudest of. While my time on Batman was important and exciting and notable considering the characters that came out of it, it was really just the start of my life.”
Like I said above, there is no way that this is an inclusive list. This is merely a column that will hopefully get you, dear reader, talking about thee creators to non comics people.
In the meantime, I’ll see you next week.
All images were found via Google search and snipped from the image results.