Walt Simonson

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Walt Simonson
WalterSimonson6.13.09ByLuigiNovi1.jpg
Walter Simonson at the Big Apple Summer Sizzler, June 13, 2009.
Born Walter Simonson
(1946-09-02) September 2, 1946 (age 68)
Knoxville, Tennessee, U.S.A.
Nationality American
Area(s) Writer, Artist
Pseudonym(s) Walt Simonson
Notable works
Fantastic Four
Detective Comics (Manhunter)
Metal Men
Star Slammers
Orion
Star Wars
Thor
X-Factor
Awards

Shazam Award:

  • Outstanding New Talent (1973)
  • Best Individual Short Story (Dramatic) (1973, with Archie Goodwin)
  • Best Individual Short Story (Dramatic) (1974, with Archie Goodwin)
  • Best Individual Story (Dramatic) (1974)
Signature
Signature of Walt Simonson

Walter "Walt" Simonson is an American comic book writer and artist, best known for run as writer/artist on Marvel Comics' Thor from 1983 - 1987, during which he created the character Beta Ray Bill. He is also known for his creator-owned work, Star Slammers, which he first published as his Rhode Island School of Design thesis project. He has also worked on other Marvel titles such as X-Factor and Fantastic Four, on DC Comics books including Detective Comics, Manhunter, Metal Men and Orion, and on licensed properties such as Star Wars, Alien, Battlestar Galactica and Robocop vs. Terminator.

Simonson has won numerous awards for his work, and has influenced artists such as Arthur Adams and Bryan Hitch.

He is married to comics writer Louise Simonson (née Alexander, née Jones), with whom he collaborated on X-Factor from 1988 to 1989, and with whom he made a cameo appearance in the 2011 Thor feature film.

Early life[edit]

Walter Simonson was born September 2, 1946 in Knoxville, Tennessee, living there for two and a half years. When his father, who worked for the United States Department of Agriculture, received a promotion at work that required him to relocate to Washington, DC, Simonson, his younger brother and his parents moved to Maryland, where Simonson's parents still lived as of 1989.[1] Simonson first read comics as a child, through the subscriptions to Walt Disney's Comics and Stories that his brother had. By the age of ten he was an avid fan of the work of Carl Barks,[2] Little Lulu, Little Iodine, and Alex Toth's work on The Land Unknown.[1] He also enjoyed drawing from a very young age.[2] Although Simonson was embarrassed to be seen by girls buying comics while in high school, he discovered Russ Manning's work on Magnus Robot Fighter right before he started college, and submitted a drawing that was printed in issue #10 in May, 1965, in the publication's fan page, "Robot Gallery." This was his first published work in comics.[1]

Simonson studied geology at Amherst College, with the intent of becoming an expert on dinosaurs.[2] In 1964 or 1965, Simonson discovered Marvel Comics, in particular that company's version of Thor, a title he read for four years.[1][2] From this he realized that drawing comics was more fun, and more feasible as a career than working outdoors in hot weather as a geologist or paleontologist, despite harboring a love for the latter that continued the rest of his life.[2][3][4] Simonson came to be heavily influenced by the artists who worked for Marvel, such as Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Gil Kane and Jim Holdaway, as well as European artists such as Moebius, Jean-Claude Mézières, Antonio Hernandez Palacios and Sergio Toppi.[2]

After graduating from Amherst with a degree in Geology,[2] Simonson took a year off, and then enrolled as an art major at the Rhode Island School of Design, graduating in 1972. His thesis project there was the 50-page black and white book The Star Slammers, which took him two years to write, pencil, letter and ink himself, and was published a sort of ashcan promotional comic book for the 1974 World Science Fiction Convention in Washington, D.C. (DisCon II). Simonson would later revisit Star Slammers throughout his career, publishing it through various publishers over the decades.[1][2]

Career[edit]

Star Slammers graphic novel (1983).

1970s[edit]

In August 1972, Simonson traveled to New York with his Star Slammers portfolio, and met with Jerry Boudreau, a friend who worked for DC Comics, where, as Simonson recalls, many young artists had begun working in the 1970s, in contrast to Marvel, which Simonson perceived as more stagnant. Boudreau arranged a meeting between Simonson and editor Archie Goodwin. After meeting with Goodwin, Simonson went to DC's coffee room, where he saw Howard Chaykin, Michael Kaluta, Berni Wrightson and Alan Weiss sitting together. Simonson struck up a conversation with the artists, who looked at his portfolio. Kaluta showed Simonson's work to Assistant Production Manager Jack Adler, who in turn showed it to DC Publisher Carmine Infantino, who after being shown the portfolio, summoned Simonson into his office. After speaking to Simonson for about ten minutes, he had Goodwin and his fellow editors Julius Schwartz and Joe Orlando give Simonson work. Simonson walked out of Infantino's office with jobs from each one of them.[1]

Simonson's first professional published comic book work was illustrating writer Len Wein's story, "Cyrano's Army", which appeared in DC's Weird War Tales #10,[1][5] which was covered dated January 1973. He also did a number of illustrations for the Harry N. Abrams, Inc. edition of The Hobbit, and at least one unrelated print of a samurai warrior that was purchased by Harvard University's Fogg Museum, and included in its annual undergraduate-use loan program. Simonson's breakthrough illustration job was "Manhunter", a backup feature in DC's Detective Comics written by Goodwin, which cemented Simonson's professional reputation.[1][6][7] In a 2000 interview, Simonson recalled, "What 'Manhunter' did was to establish me professionally. Before 'Manhunter,' I was one more guy doing comics; after 'Manhunter,' people in the field knew who I was. It'd won a bunch of awards the year that it ran, and after that, I really had no trouble finding work."[8] Simonson went on to draw other DC series such as Metal Men and Hercules Unbound. In 1979 Simonson and Goodwin collaborated on an adaptation of the movie Alien, published by Heavy Metal. It was on Alien that Simonson's long working relationship with letterer John Workman began. Workman has lettered most of Simonson's work since.

Starting in January 1977, Simonson was the original artist on The Rampaging Hulk, a black-and-white magazine published by Marvel's Curtis Magazines line.[9] In late 1978,[10] Simonson, Howard Chaykin, Val Mayerik, and Jim Starlin formed Upstart Associates, a shared studio space on West 29th Street in New York City. The membership of the studio changed over time.[11]

In 1979 Simonson did writing and art on a book for the first time with his run on Marvel's licensed Battlestar Galactica series,[2] penciling 12 sporadic issues from issues 4 to 23 with writer Roger McKenzie. Simonson began co-writing the series with McKenzie with issue 11, co-wrote some issues with Bob Layton and Steven Grant after McKenzie left the title, wrote began writing the book himself with issue 19, staying on until issue 23.

1980s[edit]

Interior page from The Mighty Thor #346, story and art by Walter Simonson (1984).

In 1982, Simonson and writer Chris Claremont produced The Uncanny X-Men and The New Teen Titans intercompany crossover between the top-selling Marvel and DC titles.[12][13] Simonson is best known for his work on Marvel Comics' Thor which he began writing and drawing with issue #337 (Nov. 1983).[14] Simonson took nearly complete control of Thor, during which he transformed Thor into a frog for three issues and introduced the supporting character Beta Ray Bill, an alien warrior who unexpectedly proved worthy to wield Thor's hammer, Mjolnir.[15][16] He started as writer and artist with issue #337 (Nov. 1983) and continued until #367 (May 1986). Sal Buscema became the artist on the title with #368 but Simonson continued to write the book until issue #382 (Aug. 1987). Buscema described Simonson's stories as "very stimulating. It was a pleasure working on his plots, because they were a lot of fun to illustrate. He had a lot of great ideas, and he took Thor in a totally new direction."[17] In late 1986 he dropped several of his assignments, including Thor, remarking that "I had a very busy season over the past six to eight months, and I'd like to take some time off, to take time maybe to take stock and refuel a bit."[18] Simonson was to have drawn a Daredevil story written by Frank Miller but it was never completed and remains unpublished.[19] Simonson joined his wife Louise on the X-Factor series with issue #10. In #25, the creators gave the character the Angel blue skin and metal wings in a process which would lead to his being renamed as "Archangel". Their run on X-Factor included the story arcs "Mutant Massacre", "Fall of the Mutants," and "Inferno".

In 1983, he returned to Star Slammers with another version of the story that Marvel published in Marvel Graphic Novel No. 6.[2]

Simonson left Upstart Associates in late 1986.[20]

1990s[edit]

Simonson became writer of the Fantastic Four with issue #334 (Dec. 1989), and three issues later began penciling and inking as well (#337, coincidentally the same issue number he started as writer and artist of Thor). He had a popular three issue collaboration with Arthur Adams in which he introduced the "New Fantastic Four" consisting of Wolverine, Spider-Man, Ghost Rider and the Hulk.[21][22][23] Simonson left the Fantastic Four with issue #354 (July 1991). His other Marvel credits in the decade included co-plotting/writing the Iron Man 2020 one-shot (June 1994) and writing the Heroes Reborn version of the Avengers.

In 1994 Simonson continued the adventures of the Star Slammers in a limited series as one of the founders of Malibu Comics' short-lived Bravura label.[2]

2000s[edit]

Simonson with a Thor cosplayer at the 2012 New York Comic Con.

In the 2000s, Simonson mostly worked for DC Comics. From 2000 to 2002 he wrote and illustrated Orion.[24] After that series ended, he wrote six issues of Wonder Woman (vol. 2) drawn by Jerry Ordway. In 2002, he contributed an interview to Panel Discussions, a nonfiction book about the developing movement in sequential art and narrative literature, along with Durwin Talon, Will Eisner, Mike Mignola and Mark Schultz.

From 2003 to 2006, he drew the four issue prestige mini-series Elric: The Making of a Sorcerer, written by Elric's creator, Michael Moorcock. This series was collected as a 192 page graphic novel in 2007 by DC. He continued to work for DC in 2006 writing Hawkgirl, with pencillers Howard Chaykin, Joe Bennett, and Renato Arlem.

His other work includes cover artwork for a Bat Lash mini-series and the ongoing series Vigilante, as well as writing a Wildstorm comic book series based on the online role-playing game World of Warcraft.[25][26] The Warcraft series ran 25 issues and was co-written with his wife, Louise Simonson.

2010s[edit]

In 2011, Simonson had a cameo role in the live-action Thor film, appearing as one of the guests at a large Asgardian banquet.[27] The sequel, Thor: The Dark World, featured Simonson's character Malekith the Accursed.

Simonson serves on the Disbursement Committee of the comic-book industry charity The Hero Initiative.[28]

Other work in the 2010s includes drawing six issues of The Avengers vol. 4 in 2012 and providing the artwork for three issues of The Indestructible Hulk which guest starred Thor. Simonson collaborated with his wife for a short story in Rocketeer Adventures vol. 2 #4 and drew covers for several Rocketeer comics during this period.

In 2012 DC Comics published The Judas Coin, a graphic novel written and drawn by Simonson. The book shows how one silver coin paid to Judas to betray Jesus affects various characters down the centuries including Batman.

Simonson's creator-owned series Ragnarök published by IDW Publishing features a version of Thor unrelated to the Marvel character. The first issue was published in July 2014.

Awards[edit]

Simonson's awards include Shazam Awards for Outstanding New Talent in 1973, for Best Individual Short Story (Dramatic) in 1973 for "The Himalayan Incident" in Detective Comics #437 (with Archie Goodwin), and the same award in 1974 for "Cathedral Perilous" in Detective Comics #441 (again with Archie Goodwin). Simonson and Goodwin also won the Shazam Award for Best Individual Story (Dramatic) in 1974 for "Götterdämmerung" in Detective Comics #443. All three winning stories were a part of the Manhunter saga.

At the 2010 Harvey Awards, which were held at the Baltimore Comic-Con on August 28, 2010, Simonson received the 2010 Hero Initiative Lifetime Achievement Award. It was presented to him by his wife, Louise Simonson.[29][30]

A collection of Simonson's Thor comics shot from the original art, published as part of IDW's Artist's Edition series, took one 2012 Eisner Award (Best Archival Collection/Project: Comic Books)[31] and two Harvey Awards (Best Domestic Reprint Project and a Special Award for Excellence in Presentation).[32]

Signature[edit]

Simonson's distinctive signature consists of his last name, distorted to resemble a Brontosaurus. Simonson's reason for this was explained in a 2006 interview. "My mom suggested a dinosaur since I was a big dinosaur fan."[33][34]

Technique and materials[edit]

Simonson inked his own work with a Hunt 102 Pro-quill pen. He switched to a brush during the mid-to-late 2000s, and despite the disparity between the two tools, Bryan Hitch, an admirer of Simonson's, stated that he could not tell the difference, calling Simonons's brush work "as typically good and powerful as his other work."[35]

Influence[edit]

Comics creators who have been influenced by Simonson's work include Arthur Adams[36][37] and Todd McFarlane.[38]

Personal life[edit]

Simonson met his future wife Louise Jones in 1973. The couple started dating in August 1974[39] and were married in 1980.[40]

Bibliography[edit]

DC[edit]

Marvel[edit]

Marvel/DC[edit]

Dark Horse[edit]

Other publishers[edit]

Books and compilations[edit]

DC[edit]

  • The Art of Walter Simonson collects stories from Detective Comics #450; 1st Issue Special #9; Unknown Soldier #254-256; Star Spangled War Stories #170 and 180; Hercules Unbound #11-12; and Metal Men #45-49, 208 pages, June 1989, ISBN 0930289412
  • Jack Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus Vol. 2 (introduction only), 396 pages, August 2007, ISBN 140121357X
  • Manhunter: The Special Edition collects stories from Detective Comics #437-443, 104 pages, June 1999, ISBN 1563893746

Marvel[edit]

  • Fantastic Four Visionaries: Walter Simonson trade paperbacks
    • Volume 1 collects Fantastic Four #334-341, 200 pages, May 2007, ISBN 0785127585
    • Volume 2 collects Fantastic Four #342-346, 120 pages, September 2008, ISBN 0785131302
    • Volume 3 collects Fantastic Four #347-350 and 352-354, 192 pages, November 2009, ISBN 0785137513
  • Thor Visionaries: Walter Simonson trade paperbacks
    • Volume 1 collects Thor #337-348, 288 pages, May 2001, ISBN 0785107584
    • Volume 2 collects Thor #349-355 and 357-359, 240 pages, September 2003, ISBN 0785110461
    • Volume 3 collects Thor #360-369, 232 pages, March 2004, ISBN 078511047X
    • Volume 4 collects Thor #371-374 and Balder the Brave #1-4, 192 pages, September 2007, ISBN 0785127119
    • Volume 5 collects Thor #375-382 208 pages, February 2008, ISBN 0785127372
  • Thor by Walter Simonson Omnibus collects Thor #337-355, 357-369, 371-382 and Balder the Brave #1-4, 1192 pages, April 2011, ISBN 0785146334
  • Marvel Platinum: The Definitive Thor 2 an anthology with Lee, Kirby, et al., 2013, ISBN 1846535522
  • Thor: The Last Viking (Ultimate Marvel Graphic Novel Collection issue 38) collects Thor #337-343
  • Thor by Walter Simonson - Volume 1, 2013, collects Thor #337-?, remastered, ISBN 0785184600

IDW[edit]

  • Walter Simonson's The Mighty Thor: Artist's Edition collects Thor #337-340 and 360-362, 176 pages, July 2011, ISBN 1613770383

Filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1992-94 Batman: The Animated Series (9 episodes) Character Rupert Thorne TV Series, uncredited
2003 Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman Character Rupert Thorne Video, uncredited
2009 Batman: Black and White (episode "Legend") Writer and artist TV series
2011 Thor Cameo as Asgardian
2013 Thor: The Dark World Special thanks, creator of villain Malekith the Accursed

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h May, Peggie (Editor) (June 1989). "People at Work". Direct Currents #18. DC Comics. p. 7
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k McKenzie, Marc (August 16, 2000). "WALT SIMONSON". The Slush Factory: The World’s Coolest Comics Magazine.
  3. ^ "Cartoonist Behind Thor Donates Time and Talent to Alma Mater". Amherst College. Retrieved May 13, 2014.
  4. ^ Bell, Josh (2011). "A Thousand Pages of Thor Thor by Walter Simonson Omnibus, by Walter Simonson '68 (Marvel Comics)". Amherst College.
  5. ^ Cooke, Jon B. (October 2000). "Simonson Says The Man of Two Gods Recalls His 25+ Years in Comics". Comic Book Artist (TwoMorrows Publishing) (10): 18. 
  6. ^ McAvennie, Michael; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1970s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 157. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. Together with exciting new artist Walt Simonson, [Archie] Goodwin executed seven flawless tales that chronicled Paul Kirk's hunt for the world's deadliest game." " Manhunter's award-winning revival earned undying acclaim for its talented storytellers. 
  7. ^ Boney, Alex (May 2013). "Hunting the Hunters: Manhunter and the Most Dangerous Game". Back Issue! (TwoMorrows Publishing) (64): 44–50. 
  8. ^ Cooke, Jon B. (October 2000). Comic Book Artist #10 p. 20
  9. ^ Sanderson, Peter; Gilbert, Laura, ed. (2008). "1970s". Marvel Chronicle A Year by Year History. Dorling Kindersley. p. 178. ISBN 978-0756641238. In these stories, written by Doug Moench and drawn by Walter Simonson, the Hulk contended against an invading race of aliens called the Krylorians. 
  10. ^ Cooke (2000) p. 25
  11. ^ Nolen-Weathington, Eric (2006). Modern Masters, Volume 8: Walter Simonson. TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 34. ISBN 1-893905-64-0. Retrieved January 29, 2012. 
  12. ^ Manning, Matthew K. "1980s" in Dolan, p. 199: "The issue, written by longtime X-Men scribe Chris Claremont and drawn by Walter Simonson [was]...one of the most well-received crossovers of its time - or of any time for that matter - the team-up was a huge success."
  13. ^ Brown, Jonathan (August 2013). "The Uncanny X-Men and The New Teen Titans: The Breakfast Club of the Comics Crossover". Back Issue! (TwoMorrows Publishing) (66): 65–68. 
  14. ^ DeFalco, Tom "1980s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 213: "This issue began a highly acclaimed run by writer/artist Walt Simonson that would last for nearly four years and end with issue #382 (Aug. 1987)."
  15. ^ Singer, Matt (July 10, 2001). "Review: Thor Visionaries: Walter Simonson". PopImage. Archived from the original on October 16, 2013. 
  16. ^ Kelley, Cary (August 21, 2006). "Merely This and Nothing More: Defining Our Heroes". Silverbulletcomics.com. Archived from the original on October 26, 2006. 
  17. ^ Amash, Jim; Nolen-Weathington,, Eric (2010). Sal Buscema: Comics' Fast & Furious Artist. TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 72. ISBN 978-1605490212. 
  18. ^ Sanderson, Peter (October 1986). "Walt & Louise Simonson". Comics Interview (39) (Fictioneer Books). pp. 42–57. 
  19. ^ Mithra, Kuljit (August 1997). "Interview With Walt Simonson". ManWithoutFear.com. Archived from the original on March 13, 2013. Retrieved March 17, 2013. The gist of it is that by the time Marvel was interested in having us work on the story, Frank was off doing Dark Knight and I was off doing X-Factor. So it never happened. Too bad--it was a cool story too. 
  20. ^ Cooke (2000) p. 26
  21. ^ Nolen-Weathington Modern Masters Volume Eight Walter Simonson p. 67
  22. ^ Manning, Matthew K. "1990s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 252: "Spider-Man, the Hulk, Wolverine, and Ghost Rider were tricked into forming a new Fantastic Four...Written by Walter Simonson with art by Arthur Adams, this new FF found themselves locked in battle with the Mole Man."
  23. ^ Cowsill, Alan; Gilbert, Laura, ed. (2012). "1990s". Spider-Man Chronicle Celebrating 50 Years of Web-Slinging. Dorling Kindersley. p. 186. ISBN 978-0756692360. Take Spidey, Ghost Rider, Wolverine, and the Hulk, add a script by Walt Simonson and illustrations by Art Adams, and the result is one of the best Marvel comics of the decade. 
  24. ^ Cowsill, Alan "2000s" in Dolan, p. 296 "Comic book legend Walt Simonson brought his unique vision to one of Jack Kirby's greatest heroes on Orion, the first ongoing series to feature the most prominent of the New Gods."
  25. ^ "DC Comics World of Warcraft page". Dccomics.com. Retrieved 2013-06-02. 
  26. ^ Walter Simonson: Into The World Of Warcraft, Newsarama, November 25, 2007
  27. ^ Johnston, Rich."Stan, Joe, Walt And The Thunder God", Bleeding Cool, May 6, 2011
  28. ^ "Hero Initiative Board Members Disburstment Committee". The Hero Initiative. 2013. Archived from the original on June 29, 2013. 
  29. ^ Fishman, Marc Alan."2010 Harvey Awards Announced!" ComicMix; August 29, 2010
  30. ^ Ash, Roger. Roger’s Comic Ramblings: Baltimore Comic-Con 2010 report Westfield Comics. Retrieved September 23, 2010.
  31. ^ Spurgeon, Tom (July 14, 2012). "Your 2012 Eisner Award Winners". The Comics Reporter.
  32. ^ Tree, Brad (September 9, 2012). "Congratulations to the Harvey Award Recipients!". The Harvey Awards.
  33. ^ Nolen-Weathington Modern Masters Volume Eight Walter Simonson p. 8
  34. ^ Ostrander, John. "John Ostrander: Pro Advice – Hit By a Bus". ComicMix. August 7, 2011
  35. ^ Hitch, Bryan (2010). Bryan Hitch's Ultimate Comics Studio. Impact Books
  36. ^ Nolen-Weathington, Eric; Khoury, George (2006). Modern Masters Volume 6: Arthur Adams. TwoMorrows Publishing. ISBN 978-1893905542. 
  37. ^ Cooke, Jon B. (January 2002). "The Art of Arthur Adams: A career-spanning chat with the celebrated artist/writer on his comics". Comic Book Artist (TwoMorrows Publishing) (17). Archived from the original on November 3, 2013. 
  38. ^ Parker, John (June 12, 2012). "ComicsAlliance Reviews Todd McFarlane's 'Spawn' Year One, Part 1: Questions". Comics Alliance.
  39. ^ Cooke (2000) p. 23
  40. ^ Shooter, Jim. "Bullpen Bulletins", Marvel comics cover-dated July 1981.

External links[edit]

Interviews[edit]

Preceded by
Carmine Infantino
Star Wars artist
1981–1982
Succeeded by
Ron Frenz
Preceded by
Herb Trimpe
Thor artist
1983–1986
Succeeded by
Sal Buscema
Preceded by
Alan Zelenetz
Thor writer
1983–1987
Succeeded by
Tom DeFalco
Preceded by
Ralph Macchio
The Avengers writer
1988–1989
Succeeded by
Ralph Macchio
Preceded by
Steve Englehart
(as John Harkness)
Fantastic Four writer
1989–1991
Succeeded by
Tom DeFalco
Preceded by
Rich Buckler
Fantastic Four artist
1990–1991
Succeeded by
Paul Ryan
Preceded by
Rob Liefeld and Jeph Loeb
The Avengers writer
1997
Succeeded by
Kurt Busiek
Preceded by
Phil Jimenez
Wonder Woman writer
2003
Succeeded by
Greg Rucka