Joe Simon was one of the most important artists of the Golden Age of American Comic Books. He was born Joseph Henry Simon into a Jewish family of partially British descent in Rochester, New York. Young Hymie Simon (as he was called by then) had his first jobs as art director of the Benjamin Franklin High School college newspaper and as an assistant with the Rochester Journal-American.
By 1934, Joe Simon worked as a sports illustrator and cartoonist with the Syracuse Journal in Syracuse, New York. Simon moved to New York City at the age of 23, where he did freelance work for Paramount Pictures and Macfadden Publications. He did his first comic book art through comics packager Funnies Inc., creating characters like 'Fiery Mask' for Timely's Daring Mystery Comics and 'Blue Bolt' for Novelty Press in 1940.
His star started to rise when he teamed up with Jack Kirby, with whom he created many classic characters during a period of about 15 years. It is said that they brought anatomy back into comic books, drawing explosive panels with magically stretched muscles and dynamic action. Their best known creation is 'Captain America', Timely's real American hero who was fighting nazi's even before the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Simon was one of the earliest editors with Timely, but eventually left the company. Simon and Kirby produced the first issue of 'Captain Marvel Adventures' for Fawcett in 1941 before joining National Periodicals (the future DC Comics). They revamped 'The Sandman' and created new characters like 'Manhunter'. They also created features like 'Boy Commandos' in the eponymous title and 'Newsboy Legion' in Star-Spangled Comics.
Joe Simon was with the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II and while in service, he created a true-life Coast Guard comic, that was published by DC and syndicated to Sunday papers under the title 'True Comics'. After the War, Simon and Kirby launched their own Prize Comics imprint with Crestwood Publications. They set up new titles like 'Boys' Ranch', and did early attempts at horror ('Black Magic') and romance comics ('Young Romance').
Between 1953 and 1955 the duo had their own Mainline studios, through which they published titles like 'Police Trap', 'Bullseye: Western Scout', 'Fox Hole' and 'Young Love'. By the mid 1950s, Simon and Kirby split up as good friends. Joe Simon started to focus on advertising art, scriptwriting and editorial work. He created new superheros like 'The Shield' and 'The Fly' for Archie Comics in the late 1950s.
Joe Simon was mainly busy with producing promotional comics for the advertising agency Burstein and Newman during the 1960s. He also founded the satirical magazine Sick in 1960. Simon was also involved in the launch of Harvey Comics' original superhero line, and even worked with Jack Kirby again. In the 2000s, Simon turned to painting and marketing reproductions of his early comic book covers. After a long and illustrious career, Joe Simon passed away after a brief illness on 14 December 2011.