Farewell to the Masters: RIP Joe Simon and Jerry Robinson

They’re all gone.

On Saturday, Mike Vassallo, a comic book historian and author of 12 introductions to 12 Atlas Marvel Masterworks, said that in ten years all the greats of the Golden Age of comics will all be gone. But they are all gone now: The Pioneers of Comics, our Founding Fathers.

There to me have been just a few great eras of comics. The most important one, the Golden Age, gave us the characters, the structure and the appearance that is still the foundation of the industry. They invented the costumes, the formulas, the super-powers, everything.

If you look at the DC section of the latest comic book store, you’ll see that at least 75% of what is still out there was introduced in one form or another, from this era. And that section contains Captain Marvel and the Spirit, Golden Age creations but not originally DC. Marvel is a bit less so, with most of their characters coming from the 1960s, but the Human Torch was one of the sparks that lit the Marvel Age, along with the Sub-Mariner, Captain America and dozens of redone characters like the Black Widow, Jack Frost and the Angel.

The passing of both Joe Simon and Jerry Robinson, so close together, was overwhelming to me. It’s funny, they both had their autobiographies released this year and saw their greatest creations, Captain America and The Joker recently brought to the screen. And there is a strong connection between their creations because Cap was strongly influenced by Batman. That is, Bucky was Cap’s Robin, who was a Robinson creation. Yes, there are still a few artists around from that era, but they were not the originators, the Founding Fathers. Even Stan Lee started then, developed in the 1950s, but came into his own in the 1960s. So many great creators of later eras, including Roy Thomas, were influenced by these men. Heck, we would not have had the second costume of the new Captain Marvel if Roy had not seen Robinson’s Atoman. But the Pioneers, the men who started all this, the Golden Age Kings of Imagination, have left us and we are the less for it.

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