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'The Simon & Kirby Library: Science Fiction' - Hardcover Review

 

Simon and Kirby Sci-FiIf you read comics, you have undoubtedly heard the names Jack Kirby and Joe Simon. Maybe you know that Jack Kirby worked closely with Stan Lee to develop most of the better known Marvel Characters, including Iron Man, The X-Men, The Fantastic Four, and The Hulk to name a few. You might even have heard at some point (though you can’t remember where or find any confirmation online) that Kirby actually drew many of the panels for the early Marvel books before Stan Lee went through and filled in dialogue. If so, then you are like me, and while you understand that Jack Kirby was a prolific and influential creator during the Golden Age of comics, you aren’t really sure why, or how Joe Simon enters into it. The short answer is that Joe Simon and Jack Kirby were a creative team who made comics across many genres, for every major comic company at the time, over a span of three decades, and they have left an enduring legacy that has touched nearly every working comic professional since. The long answer is Titan Books’ The Simon & Kirby Library, consisting of several vivid hardback comic anthologies collecting their genre work such as Superhero comics and Crime comics, with introductions by comic luminaries such as Dave Gibbons (Watchmen) and Neil Gaiman (Sandman, Coraline), and throwing in a few rare, unpublished, and incomplete works for good measure. The result is nothing less than an education on early genre comics by masters of the medium.


I read the Science Fiction collection, and the book was simply amazing. From the colorful cover depicting an astronaut startled mid-spacewalk by some fantastic, fiery space goblin, you instantly understand the genius of Jack Kirby. The sheer amount of information and energy imbued in the image is incredible, and you immediately know you’re embarking on an extraordinary adventure. [Editor’s note: Sorry about that last sentence. Sometimes when Sam gets going, he just can’t stop himself.] When you crack open the book, there’s a sense of history and weight (and not just metaphorical weight. This book is HEAVY!) almost as if you are one of the explorers depicted in this collection traveling through time and space to experience a strange and beautiful, new world. Introduced by comic legend Dave Gibbons, this edition contains comics so imaginative and exciting that you might hardly guess that they were written fifty, sixty, some even more than seventy years ago! Though some of the stories have twist endings that are less than remarkable, and many had a pulpy quality that might alienate some (though I personally loved it!), each one felt almost cutting edge in the efficiency of their storytelling and the ideas and concepts being explored.

The collection is organized in chapters by decade, starting with the 1940s, so you get to see the growth of the creators over the course of the years. Each chapter is also introduced by comic critic and historian Peter Sanderson, so you have a context for the pages to follow. If you have ever found yourself wanting to learn more about Jack Kirby and Joe Simon and why they have come to be revered as pioneers in the comic industry, Titan’s The Simon & Kirby Library: Science Fiction is a great place to start!      

 

 

Last modified on Tuesday, 25 December 2018 00:22

Sam Rhodes

Favorite MovieYojimbo
Favorite Game:  The newest version of Halo
Favorite Beverage:  Ballast Point's Big Eye IPA

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