Daniel Best is at it again, this time with the decades-spanning story of Joe Simons’s stolen artwork and a subsequent investigation by the FBI:
In 1997 an art dealer contacted Joe with an inventory list of 300 pages of his original art that another dealer was openly selling. When asked how the dealer had come into possession of the art, the response was that Joe had ‘gifted’ the pages to the dealers father, a claim Joe denied; as the art had never been returned to him by DC, he could not have possibly gifted it to anyone. DC Comics then drafted a letter asking for the return of the art and also refuting the story of how the dealer came to own the art. Once again the reply was that the art would not be returned, so Joe Simon simply turned to the F.B.I. and requested their involvement and here’s where the story got very interesting.
This story touches on one of the great mysteries of the Bronze Age, the theft of thousands of pages of artwork from both Marvel and DC in the 70s, including much by Jack Kirby that was the cause of the movement to give him back his art in the 80s. The Simon case is less well known. Comments and links give some hints of other events and tantalizing hints of possible culprits.
Also interesting about this story, is that a 1974 fanzine—Inside Comics by Joey Brancatelli—was actually doing investigative journalism about the inside working of the comics biz! In 1974!!! Could such a thing happen today? More likely, as with this very story, some creator would write an angry blog post about it, someone else would comment, a blogger would link to both and add some other reference, and there it would lie to be chewed over on Twitter. Guilty as charged, ma’am.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.