EXPIRED: 12/14/11 – Joe Simon, 98, was born as Hymie Simon, part of a poor Jewish family in Rochester, NY. His first job was to create cartoon illustrations for editorials in the Rochester Journal-American and later the Syracuse Herald.
Later he moved to NYC and got a job with Paramount Pictures, retouching the movie studio’s publicity photos. Through that connection he received his first comics assignment, creating a rip-off of the Human Torch named the Fiery Mask. It wasn’t until he teamed up with Jack Kirby, a collaboration that lasted decades, that he struck gold.
That’s when – a year before the bombing of Pearl Harbor – they invented Captain America.
Simon & Kirby created other characters like the Sandman, Manhunter, Boy Commandos and the Fly but eventually parted ways in 1955 as superhero comics were seeing a slump in sales. In 1960, he founded the satirical magazine Sick, a competitor of Mad magazine, and worked there for a decade.
By 2000, Simon turned to painting but he never forgot his old love, Captain America. When Marvel Comics’ announced the death of Captain America in 2007, Simon was quoted as saying, “It’s a hell of a time for him to go. We really need him now.”