Somehow it seems appropriate to go retro-classic on Memorial Day weekend--and what could be more retro-classic, and classy, than Titan Books' just-released The Best of Simon and Kirby, a treasury of some of the greatest Golden Age comics from Captain America creators Joe Simon and Jacky Kirby?
Not to mention, this book is flat-out beautiful, with a wrap-around reproduction of pages from "Stuntman: The Rescue of Robin Hood" printed on the boards, in addition to the Captain America dustjacket. The end papers feature a wonderful bar fight panorama, rendered in a blue just light enough to make the scene fade into a kind of chaotic pattern appropriate for its decorative purpose, but also just dark enough to be enjoyed in its details, too. I collect a variety of first- and limited-edition books, and it takes a lot for me to be impressed, but The Best of Simon and Kirby just has that special something in the execution that makes my brain tingle.
As for the content, an introduction by Simon is followed by eight sections: The Heroes, Way Out Science Fiction, War and Adventure, The Birth of Romance, Crime Drama, The Great Western, Oh! The Horror, and Sick Humor. The selections are generous, the reproductions in fully-restored, glorious color, each panel seeming to leap off the page. Each section is prefaced by a short intro, and a Simon and Kirby Checklist ends the book, providing readers with the details of all comics created by the two men during the years of their collaboration.
Clearly, Titan Books has made this project a labor of love and dedication--an instantly collectible book that any comics enthusiast should consider for his or her library. I would be very surprised (and disappointed) if it doesn't appear on award ballots.
It seemed appropriate, then, to interview the book's editor, Stephen W. Saffel, who played a significant role in the creation of The Best of Simon and Kirby. Saffel's passion for Simon and Kirby's work comes through in his thoughtful answers, which he sent to me recently via email.