Saturday, July 02, 2011

The First Bucky

Saturday Extra.

Today, I have been looking at the Syracuse Herald for more material by comic book legend Joe Simon. In his new autobiography, Simon tals about his start as a newspaper cartoonist. Although he doesn't give exact dates, he mentions that he was 20 when he joined the Syracuse Herald as a staff artist and that he had left by 1937. In that time he did everything; sports cartoons, editorial cartoons illustrations for serials and probably some photographng as well. Or at least photo retouching. As luck will have it, the Syracuse Herald is one of the papers on NewspaperArchive, so we can flip through them to find samples of Simon's work. In earlier posts I have shown several of his illustrations for stories (most of which, maybe all, were in the Sunday edition) as well as one Sports Cartoon (with a Joe Simon byline, which made it easier to find), but I had trouble finding anything else.

So today, on reading the biography, I returned to that quest and had the same problem. I looked around the dates where I had previously found a Joe Simon illustration and found nothing that could suggest his hand in the least. I did find one more illustration, but there too, I found no other staff illustration work for the whole week following that. Which strikes me as odd, for someone who is paid a weekly salary to provide art. There must be some samples there, at least. I can imagine Joe Simon misremembering the dates, but to find nothing in a period where he did at least one illustration... and that single sports cartoon is very odd, too. If you are doing a sports cartoon, why not do one with some regularity?

Anyway, the illustrated story in itself is a real find, which I am showing here seperately. Not that it is so special in itself. The illustration is well done, signed by Simon and very similar to the others I have shown. The remarkable thing here, is the story, which features a character called Bucky. In his autobiography, Simon mentions knowing a Bucky in his youth, which was the inspiration for the name of Captain America's sidekick. A very plausible and personal connection. But here we have the first Bucky Simon illustration.

I searched on for a bit and the Joe Simon fans are in luck. The Rochester Jorunal, the other paper he worked for before the Syracuse Herald, is collected on the Google Newspaper Archives. A quick search there showed at least one sports cartoon and a large run of sports columns written by Simon... running in to december 1935, so he may have joined the Syracuse Herald later than I thought and stayed there only a year.

I'll show some samples later.

This last photo and article is one Joe Simon mentions in the book.

In his autobio Joe Simon also mentions doing spot illustrations. But he doesn't mention doing them for such a long time. These are were done daily from January to April 1934 at least, but they started before that and went on for I don't know how long...

I kept on looking and the third paper Joe Simon worked on was on NewspaperArchive as well. From 1938 and The Syracuse Journal comes this sports cartoon.

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