Topic: Comic Book History
TODAY'S FEATURE - Blog #3530:
I just finished reading this hardcover book (HC) that was first published in 2009. Before I go into 'My Take' on this book, I want to post what the promotional info on the book shows what the book is about:
"In 1942, legendary creators Joe Simon and Jack Kirby began a series of incredible stories for DC Comics - not least of which was "The Sandman"! Taking their inspiration from the previous Sandman character, but replacing his fedora and gas mask with a brightly-coloured costume, Simon and Kirby's "Sandman" was a masked adventurer, protecting the big city from crime with his sidekick, Sandy the Golden Boy. With menaces drawn straight from the worlds of dreams and myth, these comics are as thrilling today as they were in 1942! Written by Joe Simon, who went on to create "Captain America", with art by Jack Kirby, later creator of "Fantastic Four", these are classic comics at their very best."
Of course I probably don't have to go into who the authors were for long time readers of this Blog... But for those of you that are new here, I want to add a few lines about the authors:
"Joe Simon and Jack Kirby created one of the most enduring American heroes in 1940 with the first issue of Captain America Comics from Timely Comics - the company that became Marvel Comics. Simon proved to be a brilliant editor, writer, penciller, inker, and businessman, serving as an editor for Archie, Harvey, Fox, Crestwood, and Mainline Publications - Simon and Kirby's own company. Jack Kirby is one of the most famous illustrators in comic book history. Having begun in the Fox Comics Bullpen in 1939, he teamed with Joe Simon on such seminal series as Blue Bolt and Captain Marvel Adventures."
Okay... So now that we are all on the same page... What's 'My Take' on this book?
First, although I am a 'Kirby Fan', and 'old'... I'm not that old to remember this original series as a kid. I grew up reading comics in the late 1950's and was 'there' for the start of the 'Marvel Age of Comics'.
Indeed, my first reading of Joe Simon & Jack Kirby's Captain America stories were in the reprint series of 'Fantasy Masterpieces' from Marvel Comics. Great stuff for nostalgia, but the story and art was what I thought was a little 'primitive' during the mid 1960s, when I was much younger. Indeed, I was a little surprised after viewing a cover of the series with a Captain America figure penciled by Jack Kirby & inked by Frank Giacoia to see a vastly different stylized Captain America story inside!
Yes, I did realize that the story was from 'The Golden Age of Marvel', but it was so different from what Stan & Jack were producing in October of 1966, when this issue #5 was cover dated!
Anyways, I found this HC book to be similar in presentation. However, the editor of the book had the good sense to use a cover from Adventure Comics on the front cover of the book, instead of a new rendition of the character with his sidekick Sandy. Nowadays a book on Simon & Kirby has a core 'market' that publishers can sell to, without having to resort to new material for the cover.
I show a CGC graded copy of the issue that this HC's cover is from in the top left of the blog post for comparison purposes. It was the first issue that Simon & Kirby's 'The Sandman' feature was used on the front cover of the Adventure Comics title after they started working on it.
Since this 'The Sandman' feature was the first thing that was published from the creative team, Simon & Kirby, after they left Timely Comics (pre-Marvel Comics), of course their work would look similar to the 'Captain America' feature they had started at Marvel Comics.
Quite honestly, I believe you have to develope a taste for this style of story & art presentation. Really... As the storyline, dialogue, and artwork is from 'another time'. I may be 'Old School', but this presentation style is even 'older'.
Yet I found myself enjoying the ten page stories in this HC. Why? Because the publisher had the good sense to use the original front cover to the issue that each story came from, and print it on paper that made me feel like I was 'reading' the original story. None of that fancy glossy paper here!
Very good job in presentation for someone picking up the HC book and browsing through it at a bookstore!
Including the Table of Contents (TOC)! Each story was documented as to where it was first published, and the cover date. The two page TOC laid out precisely what the HC was going to present.
The 'Introduction' by John Morrow was a good choice. That's because John is the publisher of The Jack Kirby Collector, and knows his stuff!
The interior pages collects World's Finest (Summer & Fall of 1942) #6-7, Adventure Comics (March of 1942 - Apr/May of 1945 & then Oct/Nov of 1945 - Dec 45 / Jan 1946) #72-97, and #100-102, and Sandman ( Winter of 1974) #1 from DC Comics.
Jack Kirby had just stopped his 'Fourth World' titles by that time, and this one-shot that he did with his old partner, Joe Simon, was a collaboration along with his then current primary inker, Mike Royer.
I found that I enjoyed reading this series that I had never really read, except for when some stories had been included in the 25cent editions of 'The Forever People' when DC had gone from 15cents to 25cents and included reprint stories by Jack, during the issues #4 - 9 back in the Aug/Sept 1971 - June/July 1972 period. However, the distribution of those 'The Forever People' issues were kind of 'spotty' at best, and with Marvel Comics quickly reverting to 20cents, I stayed with Marvel Comics, instead of continuing with Jack's new works at DC.
Anyways... This HC book is a fine representation of the Simon & Kirby work during this time period of 1942 - 1946. Add to it the inclusion of the one-shot by Simon & Kirby of The Sandman #1 from 1974... This is a good book for someone that enjoys the Simon & Kirby team's works. The cost of obtaining the back issues, especially ones CGC'd as shown in the top of this blog post make this HC book's cover price of $39.99 a bargain!
My comic book grade for this HC book is a VERY FINE PLUS (VF+) 8.5 out of a possible 10.0 comic book grading scale. Although the presentation of the HC is great... The book's contents are more than likely limited to those that have an appreciation of the Simon & Kirby output during those war years. As I said above, it does take an appreciation of the storytelling & art style to really 'get' this book.
Talking about 'getting' this HC book... Here is where I suggest you purchase it online, usually at a discounted price: The Sandman By Jack Kirby and Joe Simon! It would make a fine 'holiday gift' for those friends of yours that are into 'Simon & Kirby' works.
Here's the publishing info with the ISBN numbers if you prefer to buy it somewhere else:
Hardcover: 304 pages
My thanks to DC Comics for collecting & publishing this book. A fine addition to those who have a library of Simon & Kirby books in their collection!
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