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Jesse Simon, Grandson of Captain America’s Co-Creator, Bringing A New Shield-Slinging Superhero To Life

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Jesse Simon, the grandson of Captain America co-creator Joe Simon, is bringing his own shield-slinging superhero to comics. Last month, Simon took Shieldmaster to Kickstarter, introducing a character that he designed and conceived in concert with his father and grandfather, bring a generational element to an all-new, star-spangled hero. Created by Jim Simon, ShieldMaster’s initial prototype was first drawn by Joe, under Jim’s supervision — and one of the things fans can see in the Kickstarter-funded comic is a cover featuring one of Joe Simon’s final sketches, putting his own mark on the character.

In Shieldmaster, according to its official synopsis at the crowdfunding page, Jess Stevens and his friends explore an abandoned U.S. military base on Montauk, just off the eastern end of Long Island. The group wanders onto the decommissioned military base and are soon drawn to mysterious shield-like alien objects hidden in one of the base’s underground tunnels. The strange objects transform the four friends into incarnations of powerful warriors that once protected another world in another dimension, with Jess taking on the leading role of ShieldMaster.

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(Photo: Jim Simon)

“This was a concept created by my father, Jim Simon,” Jesse Simon told ComicBook.com. “He grew up around Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, and all of these other guys that are considered legends. So often, I hear people saying that they wish that they were a fly on the wall in the studio, seeing Joe and Jack create everything that they did and all these other guys. My father, he was that fly on the wall. He was that kid that sat there and would watch these two guys work, and he saw the pages come alive. Jack was always around. It wasn’t like, ‘Oh my God, that’s Jack Kirby.’ That’s just Jack. And as he grew up, he thought about getting into comics, but my grandfather said, ‘Don’t do it. It’s not a good business.’”

Still, it’s hard to resist the calling of a family legacy like being the guys who created Captain America. Jim Simon teamed with his father to write The Comic Book Makers, an autobiographical look back at the Simon & Kirby studio and other aspects of the Golden Age of comics. 

“That came about because Joe was telling stories to my father, as a father does with his son, and just regular stories,” Simon explained. “My father went to school for writing, got a degree in writing, and he started writing down these stories because he told Joe that, ‘Hey, these are some really entertaining stories. Why don’t you write a book?’ And my grandfather said, ‘No, nobody will want it. It’s not good enough.’ So my father ended up just writing it down for the hell of it. And one day presented it to my grandfather and there was really something there. So they wrote The Comic Book Makers together, and that book was revolutionary. It was the first time somebody from the Golden Age was telling stories of the creators of Captain America, of Jack Kirby, how the business was like, of Siegel and Shuster.”

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ShieldMaster was actually created, as a character, in 1998. Jim Simon showed his father the concept, and there are documented interviews in which Joe Simon discussed the character and his hopes for it. But it took years to get it off the ground, in large part becasue Jim Simon took his father’s advice, and has always had work outside of comics. It wasn’t until Jesse started to show an interest in comics art that an actual project started to come together for the character.

“I’ve really taken it over,” Simon explained. “The first two issues are written by my father, which I did some rewrites on, but being the son of an editor, he’s not easily persuaded. This whole, family — Joe Simon, Jim Simon, Jesse Simon — all very stubborn when it comes to how they like their comics. And so this one’s mainly my father. The only thing I was responsible really for it, the covers, those were, I got the artists to do them. A lot of them are good friends of mine. And I worked very closely with the artists, some with and others. I really left Bob Layton alone, and Bob came out with that beautiful cover….And I worked very closely with Steven Butler, with Romeo Tanghal. Romeo did that iconic run with George Perez on The New Teen Titans.” 

Are you excited to see what comes of ShieldMaster? Sound off in the comments below, or check the project out on Kickstarter at the link above.

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