The Best of Simon and Kirby
When I first opened this coffee table book, I expected more text, fewer comics, but it’s not that kind of retrospective. Instead, The Best of Simon and Kirby is a sampler of the many types of work Joe Simon and Jack Kirby produced over their long career in comics, with over two dozen comic stories reprinted.
Grouped by genre — heroes, science fiction, war and adventure, romance, crime, western, horror, and sick humor — each section has an introductory essay by Kirby expert Mark Evanier. The book’s introduction is by Joe Simon himself, breezily covering the team’s history and many firsts.
The oversized hardcover is a pleasure to read due to the excellent reproduction and coloring on thick matte paper. Some of the work is rough — panel layouts that require arrows to show what to read next, dialogue balloons in the wrong order, bizarrely misshapen heads — but the energy and imagination and fast-paced action are there from the beginning.
Aside from reprints of stories from such titles as Captain America #1, Adventure Comics #75 (the Sandman vs. the Norse god Thor), Fighting American #2, and Blue Bolt #4, there’s also the debut of Stuntman, a promising title with circus and Hollywood settings killed by lack of distribution and too much competition. The stories date from 1940 to 1960, a wide-ranging overview. Most interesting to me were the lesser-seen war and romance ones. The book kept my interest all the way through, and this is perhaps the first time I’ve truly appreciated the skill of Kirby’s artwork.
Here’s some preview pages. This is promised to be only the first volume in The Official Simon and Kirby Library. Future volumes will be genre-specific: romance, horror, crime, and superheroes. (A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the publisher.)