In late 1941, just months after the successful launch of Captain America Comics #1, Joe Simon & Jack Kirby parted ways with Marvel over issues with Captain America royalties. According to Simon in his autobiography Joe Simon: My Life In Comics, Marvel’s accountant had told him, “I’m sorry about these royalties. You’re getting twenty-five percent, but only after they deduct all the fees and salaries for the whole company.”
So Simon reached out to Marvel rival DC Comics, where publisher Jack Liebowitz immediately responded, “Simon and Kirby should be at DC Comics.”
Simon and Kirby went to work on a number of DC Comics characters and titles, such as Sandman in Adventure Comics, and Star Spangled Comics where they introduced the Guardian and the Newsboy Legion. The debut of those characters in Star Spangled Comics #7 also features a Simon & Kirby cover which ties as their first DC cover work, but Simon recalls this Adventure Comics #73 cover — featuring the debut of their superhero Manhunter character (the previous Adventure Comics run of “Paul Kirk, Manhunter” is related in name only) — as a particularly noteworthy moment:
That first appearance of Manhunter, in the April 1942 issue of Adventure, marked another milestone for Kirby and me. That was the first comic that featured the “Simon and Kirby” byline on the cover.
Jack and I had become a brand.
This piece of original art comes from the collection of another comics legend — Jerry Robinson. We’ve discussed Robinson’s incredible collection of original comics art here before, most recently with word of the upcoming auction of his cover to Detective Comics #67. This Adventure Comics #73 cover is going on the block in the same auction — Heritage’s November 15-17 Signature Auction.
We talk about a lot of original art here at BC, and I’ve mentioned before that much of the focus in the Kirby art market is on his Silver Age Marvel work. But this piece pushes every single one of my art collecting buttons. Golden Age Simon & Kirby, the cover of a key and historically important Golden Age comic, and a flat-out spectacular piece of work. I can’t think of too many (100% confirmed to still exist) pieces of Kirby original art that I like more.
Jack Kirby and Joe Simon Adventure Comics #73 Manhunter Cover Original Art (DC, 1942). Adventure Comics #73 is tied with Star Spangled Comics #7 as the first Simon & Kirby cover for DC. Noted as one of Overstreet’s 100 most valuable Golden Age books, this is one of the absolute highlights of our original art selection! It’s an amazing piece of comic art, and one of the most memorable images from the entire history of the medium. Manhunter is the cover feature, and this issue featured the origin and the first appearance of the Simon and Kirby character. Yes, we did say first appearance — issues #58-72 had an unrelated “Paul Kirk, Manhunter” character, and then this new hero (civilian identity: Rick Nelson) was somewhat confusingly renamed Paul Kirk starting with #74. Simon and Kirby had just made their DC premieres in the previous issue of this title, and they delivered a fantastic cover here — it’s one of only three cover appearances of the character in this series. This cover may make you a little dizzy — it’s a wild perspective view of the Manhunter looming over two tall buildings, as he gives chase to a gang of terrified, gun-wielding bad guys. This is the legendary Joe Simon and Jack Kirby at their Golden Age best. Illustrated on a sheet of 15″ x 20″ illustration board, the art has an image area of 12.5″ x 17″. The logo and titles are the original stats. There is some heavy edge and corner wear, some overall aging and some paper surface loss at the lower right. It’s a very beautiful piece, one that is sure to be the highlight of some lucky bidder’s collection. From the Robinson Collection.
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