Tag Archives: joe simon

Titan Comics’ Fighting American Gets a Trailer

April 17 sees the release of Fighting American Volume 1: Brave New World – the return of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby‘s (creators of Captain America) legendary two-fisted superhero, originally created back in 1954! Join Fighting American and Speedboy in this brand-new graphic novel collection as they navigate the dangers and wonders of the modern world.

Described by Superman’s Jerry Ordway as “fun!”, this graphic novel is a direct continuation of Simon & Kirby’s All-American classic! Written by Gordon Rennie, with artwork by Duke Mighten, PC De La Fuente, and colors by Tracey Bailey.

Fighting American, the ultimate icon of truth, justice and the American Way, and his young teenage sidekick, Speedboy, have found themselves marooned in the 21st Century whilst on the trail of a gang of villains plucked from their past by a mysterious villainess known only as Lady Chaos… Now, there’s nothing left for them to do but to bring some much-needed two-fisted justice and home-spun 1950s grit to a modern, media-obsessed, cynical world.

To celebrate this hotly anticipated graphic novel, Titan has released a brand-new trailer!

Underrated: Books On The History Of Comics.

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:  Books On The History Of Comics.



Last week we looked at why comic book history was Underrated. This week, we’ll look at some books that, should you be interested, will help shed some light on the stories behind the stories.

Marvel Comics: The Untold Story by Sean Howe was published in 2012. Howe decided to write the book because the stories comic creators told in fanzine interview always seemed different from the official narrative. Starting with the comics published during the golden age, and the characters created by Jack Kirby, Joe Simon and Stan Lee, the book follows the publisher’s story to the new millennium up until the creation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with upwards of 150 interviews conducted by the author.  GQ’s Joshua Rivera described the book as “one of the most comprehensive and well-researched accounts” of Marvel.

Bill The Boy Wonder written by Marc Tyler Nobleman with art by Ty Templeton. Presented as a childrens book, Bill The Boy Wonder tells the untold tale of Batman’s creation. By shining a light on who Bill Finger was, Nobleman’s extensive research led to Finger finally getting a byline credit whenever Batman appears. The book’s presentation is designed to allow as many people, of any age, to learn about Bill Finger – and it works.

Superheroes!: Capes, Cowls, and the Creation of Comic Book Culture by Laurence Maslon and Michael Kantor.  Assembled as a companion piece to the three part PBS documentary series Superheroes, this volume chronicles the effect of superheroes on American culture through the various mediums they appear in, and conversely the effect of America culture on superheroes. Featuring more than 500 full-color comic book panels, covers, sketches, photographs of both essential and rare artwork, Superheroes is an in-depth look at this powerful presence in pop culture.

Super Boys: The Amazing Adventures of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster – the Creators of Superman by Brad Ricca. Published in time for the 75th anniversary of the Man of Steel, comes the first comprehensive literary biography of Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel, the co-creators of Superman Brad Ricca’s Super Boys is the first ever full biography about Superman’s creators, and with more than ten years of research he made some interesting discoveries; the book reveals the first stories and pictures ever published by the Siegel and Shuster, where the first Superman story really came from, the template for Superman’s costume, and more than will be listed in this blurb

The Art of the Simon and Kirby Studio by Joe Simon, Mark Evanier, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. At nearly four hundred pages, this historical look at the art produced by the Simon and Kirby studio is a must for any fan of either artist. The reproduced comics allow you to actually see the corrections done to the artwork such as drawings over areas of white-out, the faint lines used as reference for writing the text, portions of the panels being pasted over with bigger pieces of paper with bigger corrected drawings, the yellowing clear tape… The look into the creative process of these men is captivating.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Visual History by Andrew Farago. Detailing the story of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from their humble beginnings in black-and-white comics to where they stand now as four of the most recognizable in animation and comics, this book features interviews with the characters creators and other key figures in the Turtle’s ascendancy. With reproduction artifacts from the Turtle’s history, including their debut, this hardcover book is worth looking into for any fan of the pizza loving teenagers.

 

This is by no means a definitive list of books to look up, but merely a selection to get you started, and there are obviously many, many more great books out there to delve into; far more than I have listed here (you’ll find a few purely from Amazon’s suggested list after looking these up). But that doesn’t mean we should stop learning about the medium’s history, eh?


Next week’s Underrated will look at some other aspect of the comic book world.

The Fighting American Returns With a Jerry Ordway Cover!

Titan Comics has announced a brand-new creative team, and a fresh new adventure for Fighting American: The Ties That Bind #1, coming in March 2018.

Fighting American first appeared in 1954, created by the minds behind Captain America Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. In their original Fighting American series, Simon and Kirby introduced readers to Nelson Flagg who took part in an experimental US Military procedure that saw his mind transferred into the enhanced and revitalized body of his dead brother, Johnny Flagg, to become America’s first and only super hero, Fighting American.

Titan Comics’ direct continuation of the original series takes place 63 years later, with Fighting American and his sidekick Speedboy marooned in the 21st Century. Fighting American: The Ties That Bind will see the original Fighting American faced with new and classic enemies, and some old Flagg family secrets are revealed that could break our heroes’ All-American spirit!

Written by returning series writer Gordon Rennie with art by new series illustrator Andie TongFighting American: The Ties That Bind will debut with a stunning cover by the iconic Superman comic book artist, Jerry Ordway! The comic also features covers with art by Jack Kirby, and Andie Tong.

Fighting American: The Ties That Bind #1 will go on sale in comic book stores on March 2018. This exciting new series will be available to order from the January 2018 Edition of Diamond PREVIEWS Catalogue.

Review: Manhunter Special #1

Of all the “King 100” specials that DC announced to celebrate Jack Kirby‘s centenary, this one probably had the biggest number of question marks swirling around it — the Paul Kirk iteration of this character is not one of the most fondly-remembered of the Golden Age, after all, and successive re-boots over the years have pretty much done away with the idea of a wealthy former big-game hunter with no super-powers to speak of putting a steel mask on his face and beating the shit out of criminals in favor of international, and now inter-galactic, “Manhunter” organizations that are increasingly further afield (conceptually and location-wise) from what Kirby and Joe Simon originally put to paper — and now that Manunter Special #1 is here, I’ve gotta say that most of those question marks remain, chief among them : why bring back this character when so many other, and frankly better, Kirby creations (one of which features in a back-up strip in this very comic) continue to gather dust?

The main story, featuring plot (to the extent one can be said to exist) and layouts by Keith Giffen, dialogue by DC “suit” Dan DiDio, and finished art by Mark Buckingham at least looks good — Buckingham’s illustrations pay homage to The King without sinking to the level of pastiche or, even worse, parody, and the fight scenes (in other words, the entire feature) are dynamic, impactful, and “pop” off the page. Unfortunately, that’s about all we can put in the “plus” ledger here.

Nearing the end of a brutal beat-down of some mid-level (at best) gangster-types operating on his Empire City turf, our “hero” is interrupted by the Golden Age version of The Sandman (in his Simon/Kirby duds — sorry, fans of the original gas-mask look) and his youthful sidekick, Sandy, who dispense a much-needed morality lecture in Manhunter’s direction while engaging in fisticuffs with him. The dialogue is flat, lifeless, and predictable in the extreme, and doesn’t seem so much intentionally reminiscent of days gone by as it does just plain bad, and the overall feeling one gets from this wholly pointless scrape is that this is a battle/debate that has happened before, will happen again, and hey, no one will ever change — and wouldn’t you know, the last page drives that exact message home, as Manhunter plunges head-first into danger one more time, aching to dish out some punishment for nothing other than the sheer and perverse thrill of it, no lessons having been learned from his more-ethical (and, who are we kidding, nicer) fellow costumed vigilantes. Good luck stifling your urge to yawn.

Slightly (I guess) more successful is the second story, featuring Etrigan, The Demon — the script by Sam Humphries is thoroughly uninspired, but it at least makes thematic sense and offers a decent representation in microcosm of what we already know about Jason Blood and his hell-spawn alter ego. Yes, it’s by-the-numbers, but at least those numbers fit together in a way that keeps you involved in the proceedings, which is more than you can say about the main feature. Best of all, though, is the gorgeous art by Steve Rude, who actually stepped in at the last minute following the departure of originally-announced artist Klaus Janson. The Dude and The King don’t have much in common stylistically, but Rude has always ha — and continues to have, as his recent issue of Kamandi Challenge demonstrates — an intuitive understanding of Kirby dynamics and pacing, and manages to successfully translate them into his own wholly unique (and always awesome) visual language. This Demon strip can’t be said to be anything more than “competent” (and only just,at that) in terms of plot and dialogue, but it looks like a million bucks — even if its brief length can’t justify the five that this comic (which I paid for out of pocket, just for the record) costs.

As has been the case with all of these specials, though, it’s the reprint material at the tail end of the book that’s the best comic-booking on offer here — a thoroughly entertaining Simon/Kirby proto-EC 1940s horror tale entitled “The Face Behind The Mask” from Tales Of The Unexpected, and two overly-optimistic (but, hey, who knew at the time?) looks at the future, “The Rocket Lanes Of Tomorrow” and “A World Of Thinking Robots,” both of which originally ran in Real Fact Comics. All this stuff in tons of fun to read, and gorgeously illustrated.

As an entire package, though, Manhunter Special #1 comes up far short of even the amorphous and unquantifiable “expectations” I had for it going in. The art ranges from “plenty good” on the low end to “stunningly brilliant” on the high end, which means this comic ranks well above the travesty that was Shane Davis‘ New Gods Special #1, but the scripting in the main story is flat-out atrocious and in the backup only passable, so this is quite easily the “second-worst” of the “King 100” books, far beneath both The Sandman Special #1 and The Newsboy Legion And The Boy Commandos Special #1 in terms of its overall quality.

Story: Keith Giffen, Dan DiDio, and Sam Humphries
Art: Keith Giffen, Mark Buckingham, and Steve Rude
Story: 3.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 6.0 Recommendation: Pass

Review : The Newsboy Legion And The Boy Commandos Special #1

On paper, this sounded like an idea that was either really going to work — or miss the mark by a country mile.

Howard Chaykin‘s name has, of course, been synonymous with revamping “old-time” characters for decades now — he was the first to do it for The Shadow, and later took a crack at such venerable properties as BlackhawkBuck RogersDC‘s various Silver Age sci-fi stalwarts, and many others. Doing it one more time surely shouldn’t be too much of a challenge — but this is the first time he’s taken on a Jack Kirby creation front and center, and given the relative innocence and whimsy that are the heart and soul of both The Newsboy Legion and The Boy Commandos, well — let’s just say Chaykin doesn’t seem like a “natural fit” for either. And certainly his newly-minted status as very nearly a persona non grata among many fans isn’t going to help matters much in terms of sales here, but if we leave all the controversy aside and just examine this book on its own merits, I have to say — it’s not too shabby at all.

If you’re “off Chaykin,” fair enough — but if you’re not, there’s plenty to really like in the pages of The Newsboy Legion And The Boy Commandos Special  #1 (I’m getting the full title from the copyright indicia even though both “the”s, as well as the “and,” are omitted from the cover) : Chaykin’s typically-crowded and garish visuals are nicely evocative of the worldwide air of confusion and disorientation that no doubt prevailed anywhere and everywhere during WWII; he displays an immediate and easy understanding of his large and sprawling cast and makes them all seem like fairly unique individuals; letterer/effects artist par excellence Ken Bruzenak brings his “A” game and then some; colorist Wil Quintana (who seems to have replaced Jesus Aburto as Chaykin’s hues-man of choice) adds terrific depth, nuance, and vibrancy to every panel and page; the “team-up” of these classic “kid gangs” is achieved by means both logically sound and narratively seamless; the stand-alone story cleverly telegraphs its simple-yet-effective ending early on in a manner that will bring a smile to your face when you think about it later — honestly, this all reads like a very heartfelt and respectful tribute to The King Of Comics that isn’t so much stuck in the past but informed  and inspired by it. The only thing missing that I would have liked to see? That would be The Guardian — but hey, he at least turns up in the classic Joe Simon -scripted, Kirby-drawn Golden Age Newsboy Legion reprint story that’s included as a backup feature (and is, in fairness, the highlight of the book — but how could it not be?), and that serves to round off a nicely-done package that’s $4.99 (which I paid out of pocket) well spent.

There’s a fine line between respectful homage and slavish, uninspired rehash, of course, and these “King 100” specials are sure to have plenty of both (and, indeed, already have, as Shane Davis‘ lackluster New Gods Special #1 was definitely the latter), but it’s probably not fair, given their editorial remit, to expect any of them to be especially groundbreaking or innovative. Chaykin doesn’t strive for either with this book, but he successfully operates within the parameters he’s been given to craft a perfectly enjoyable story that even manages to incorporate some genuine historical material (specifically the attempts of domestic “fifth column” Nazi sympathizers in the US to stage a coup against their own government) that adds an air of intrigue and authenticity to the proceedings that goes well above and beyond what we as readers probably have any right to realistically expect from what could reasonably be assumed, going in, to be nothing more than a simple “throwaway” yarn.

All that being said, if you weren’t a fan of Chaykin’s signature — and frankly singular — style of storytelling prior to this comic, there’s pretty much zero chance that you’ll enjoy it here, either. Things are cluttered, frenetic, deliberately “messy,” and events occur in staggering, rapid-fire succession. He’s been doing this since American Flagg!, and he’s not going to change now. You’re either on-board with “Chaykin Comics,” or you’re not. I admit that I am, but do understand why many readers aren’t, as any number of consensus “Comic Book 101” basics are either bent into unrecognizable form, or ignored altogether in Chaykin’s works. So keep that in mind before you fork over your hard-earned cash for this book.

Final verdict, then : odds are you’ll know whether or not The Newsboy Legion And The Boy Commandos Special #1 is “your kind of comic” before you even give it a glance at your LCS. If it’s not, then it won’t be. If it is, then it will be — and may even exceed your expectations.

Story : Howard Chaykin  Art : Howard Chaykin

Story : 7.5  Art : 8.5  Overall : 8  Recommendation : Buy

 

Preview: The Newsboy Legion and the Boy Commandos Special #1

The Newsboy Legion and the Boy Commandos Special #1

(W) Howard Chaykin, Joe Simon (A) Jack Kirby (A/CA) Howard Chaykin
In Shops: Aug 09, 2017
SRP: $4.99

Jack Kirby’s two wartime kid gangs share their first adventure together in a novel-length tale written and illustrated by Howard Chaykin! When the Boy Commandos arrive in New York on the trail of a secret Axis agent, they’re greeted as turf invaders by the crime-fighting Newsboys! Can these kids put aside their rivalry and join forces to protect the home front? This issue also includes the story “Turn on the Heat,” starring the Newsboy Legion, from STAR SPANGLED COMICS #27, written and illustrated by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.

Check Out the Interior Art for Fighting American #1, Out October 11

Titan Comics has released a first look at the interior art from the Fighting American revival which hits stores on October 11 – co-creator Joe Simon’s birthday!

Joe Simon & Jack Kirby’s legendary Cold War hero is back in comics courtesy of writer Gordon Rennie and artist Duke Mighten.

As shown in the first look at interior pages by Duke Mighten, the duo of Fighting American and Speedboy are mysteriously transported to the modern world of 2017 – a far cry from the Cold War era they lived in.

How will they handle what society has become? And what new dangers will this bring?

The first issue features covers by Terry and Rachel Dodson, Art Baltazar, Jack Kirby, Duke Mighten, and a Blair Shedd Action Figure Variant.

Joe Simon & Jack Kirby’s Fighting American Travels To 2017 + Check Out Covers!

This October 11, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby‘s legendary Cold War hero, Fighting American, returns to comics!

Throughout their long partnership, Simon and Kirby helped revolutionize the comics industry from ground-breaking adventure comics to pioneering romance titles, westerns, crime comics and of course superheroes – a genre they helped to shape and define for generations to come.

With Fighting American, they brought a tongue-in-cheek irreverence to the world of two-fisted action and its mix of outlandish, satirical humor went on to establish Fighting American as a true American hero.

In Titan Comics’ new Fighting American series, written by Gordon Rennie with artwork by Duke Mighten, the story continues after Simon and Kirby’s legendary 1954 series…

When the 1950s heroes find themselves trapped in the modern world, how will they handle what society has become, and what dangers will they face?

With new villains to contend with and enemies from their past pursuing them, what daring adventures could Fighting American and Speedboy find themselves in now?

Titan Comics has released a look at the covers, Cover A by Terry and Rachel Dodson, Cover B by Art Baltazar, Cover C by Jack Kirby, Cover D by Duke Mighten, and Cover E a Blair Shedd Action Figure Variant.

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?

simon and kirby.jpg

Joe Simon and Jack Kirby

Jack Kirby
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. 

Joe Simon
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 SickMad magazine competitor. He also worked

bill finger

One of the rare photos of Bill Finger

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.

 Bill Finger
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.

steve ditko.PNG Steve Ditko
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.

 Jerry Robinson
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.”jerry robinson.jpg


 

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.

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