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Book Review: Joe Simon: My Life in Comics
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Week of Geek: Captain America: The First Avenger

Joe Simon My Life in ComicsJoe Simon: My Life in Comics
The Illustrated Autobiography of Joe Simon
Written by Joe Simon
Hardcover
Titan Books
Release date: June 21, 2011

I am a big fan of books that cover comic book history, particularly the golden age of comics. Joe Simon: My Life in Comics takes a look at that period through the eyes of the man who helped create Captain America, and I was looking forward to reading it. My Life in Comics turned out to be almost everything I had hoped for, but came up a little short. There are a lot of good anecdotes to be found in this book, I just wish certain events in Joe Simon’s life had been looked at a little longer.

Joe Simon is perhaps most famous for joining with Jack Kirby to create the Captain America character in 1941, but he was responsible for much more than that. Before there was Jack and Stan Lee, there was Simon and Kirby, creating thousands of pages worth of entertainment and hundreds of characters that live on to this day. My Life in Comics looks at Simon’s life, from his childhood days, through his prolific career, into his twilight years. Simon tells the story of how he and Kirby jumped from publisher to publisher as different ideas were created. The autobiography spends most of its time dealing with the partnership and friendship between Simon and Kirby.

My Life in Comics is written in a very causal style. Simon jumps around time and it is sometimes hard to keep track of when events he is talking about take place. This is not the worst thing to do in a historical account, but it can lead to confusion if not handled correctly, which it is not here. There are times in the book when Simon spends a long time on what may seem trivial, and then breezes past events that I would have liked to know about more about. As a collection of stories about the early days, it is a fascinating read, but I wouldn’t count it among the great histories of the comic book industry. Reading this book is like listening in on a conversation, but lacks a consistent timeline for it to be considered a true historical record.

This is a decent book for those who are interested in the early days of comic books, but there are better accounts out there that could be read first. If you’re looking for good starting points, you can pick up Men of Tomorrow by Gerard Jones, Tales to Astonish by Ronin Ro, or Simon’s own Comic Book Makers. Joe Simon: My Life in Comics will be good reading for those who have read all the other histories before, but are still looking for a different perspective. I wouldn’t call it a must-read, but it not a waste of time either. I’m giving it a 3 out of 5.

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