Simonson at the Big Apple Summer Sizzler, June 13, 2009
September 2, 1946
Knoxville, Tennessee, U.S.
Detective Comics (Manhunter)
Walter "Walt" Simonson (born September 2, 1946) is an American comic book writer and artist, best known for a run on Marvel Comics' Thor from 1983 to 1987, during which he created the character Beta Ray Bill. He is also known for the creator-owned work Star Slammers, which he inaugurated in 1972 as a Rhode Island School of Design thesis. 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.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Career
- 3 Awards
- 4 Signature
- 5 Technique and materials
- 6 Influence
- 7 Personal life
- 8 Bibliography
- 8.1 CrossGen
- 8.2 Dark Horse
- 8.3 DC Comics
- 8.4 Gold Key Comics
- 8.5 HM Communications, Inc.
- 8.6 Marvel Comics
- 8.7 Marvel Comics and DC Comics
- 8.8 Star*Reach
- 8.9 Topps Comics
- 8.10 Warren Publishing
- 8.11 Books and compilations
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Walter Simonson was born September 2, 1946 in Knoxville, Tennessee, and lived 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, D.C., Simonson, his younger brother and his parents moved to Maryland, where Simonson's parents still lived as of 1989. 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, Little Lulu, Little Iodine, and Alex Toth's work on The Land Unknown. He also enjoyed drawing from a very young age. 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.
Simonson studied geology at Amherst College, with the intent of becoming an expert on dinosaurs. In 1964 or 1965, Simonson discovered Marvel Comics, in particular that company's version of Thor, a title he read for four years. 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. Simonson came to be heavily influenced by the artists who worked for Marvel, such as Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and Gil Kane, as well as British artist Jim Holdaway and European artists such as Moebius, Jean-Claude Mézières, Antonio Hernandez Palacios and Sergio Toppi.
After graduating from Amherst with a degree in Geology, 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.
In August 1972, Simonson traveled to New York with his Star Slammers portfolio, and met with Gerry 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.
At one point Simonson lived in the same Queens apartment building as artists Allen Milgrom, Howard Chaykin and Bernie Wrightson. Simonson recalls, "We'd get together at 3 a.m. They'd come up and we'd have popcorn and sit around and talk about whatever a 26, 27 and 20-year-old guys talk about. Our art, TV, you name it. I pretty much knew at the time, 'These are the good ole days.'"
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, 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. 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." Simonson then drew other DC series such as Metal Men and Hercules Unbound and co-created Doctor Phosphorus with Steve Englehart. Batman #300 (June 1978) featured a story by Simonson and writer David Vern Reed. 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. Simonson also had his first run on Thor at this time, working only as the series' artist alongside writer Len Wein. In late 1978, 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.
In 1979 Simonson did writing and art on a book for the first time with his run on Marvel's licensed Battlestar Galactica series, 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.
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. Simonson is best known for his work on Marvel Comics' Thor which he began writing and drawing with issue #337 (Nov. 1983). 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. 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." 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." Simonson was to have drawn a Daredevil story written by Frank Miller but it was never completed and remains unpublished. 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".
Simonson left Upstart Associates in late 1986.
Simonson became writer of the Fantastic Four with issue #334 (Dec. 1989), and three issues later began penciling and inking as well (#337). For issues #347-349, he collaborated with Arthur Adams, introducing the "New Fantastic Four" consisting of Wolverine, Spider-Man, Ghost Rider and the Hulk. In issue #345 he depicted dinosaurs with feathers, two decades before this idea gained mainstream acceptance among paleontologists. Simonson's decision to depict the dinosaurs in this manner was inspired by Arthur Paul's then-controversial book, Predator Dinosaurs of the World, in which Paul theorized that dinosaurs had feathers. Because this idea was met with skepticism from the scientific community at the time, Simonson decided to compromise by depicting the dinosaurs with a small amount of feathers, rather than covered with them. 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 the 2000s, Simonson mostly worked for DC Comics. From 2000 to 2002 he wrote and illustrated Orion. 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. The Warcraft series ran 25 issues and was co-written with his wife, Louise Simonson. He wrote the Demon and Catwoman serial in Wednesday Comics in 2009.
In 2011, Simonson had a cameo role in the live-action Thor film, appearing as one of the guests at a large Asgardian banquet. The sequel, Thor: The Dark World, featured Simonson's character Malekith the Accursed.
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 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.
A collection of Simonson's Thor comics shot from the original art, published as part of IDW's Artist's Edition series, took the 2012 Eisner Award for "Best Archival Collection/Project: Comic Books" and two Harvey Awards for "Best Domestic Reprint Project and a Special Award for Excellence in Presentation".
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."
Technique and materials
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."
Gold Key Comics
HM Communications, Inc.
Marvel Comics and DC Comics
Books and compilations
- 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
- Fantastic Four Visionaries: Walter Simonson trade paperbacks
- 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
- Walter Simonson's The Mighty Thor: Artist's Edition collects Thor #337-340 and 360-362, 176 pages, July 2011, ISBN 1613770383
- Alien - The Illustrated Story (Original Art Edition), 2012, ISBN 9781781161302
|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|
- May, Peggie (Editor) (June 1989). "People at Work". Direct Currents #18. DC Comics. p. 7
- McKenzie, Marc (August 16, 2000). "Walt Simonson". The Slush Factory: The World’s Coolest Comics Magazine. Archived from the original on February 21, 2015.
- "Cartoonist Behind Thor Donates Time and Talent to Alma Mater". Amherst, Massachusetts: Amherst College. n.d. Archived from the original on August 23, 2015. Retrieved May 13, 2014.
- Bell, Josh (2011). "A Thousand Pages of Thor: Thor by Walter Simonson Omnibus, by Walter Simonson ’68 (Marvel Comics)". Amherst College.
- Warner, Meredith (March 25, 2017). "How Bernie Wrightson uncovered the soul of the monster in his work". Los Angeles Times.
- Cooke, Jon B. (October 2000). "Simonson Says The Man of Two Gods Recalls His 25+ Years in Comics". Comic Book Artist. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (10): 18.
- McAvennie, Michael; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1970s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. London, United Kingdom: 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.
- Boney, Alex (May 2013). "Hunting the Hunters: Manhunter and the Most Dangerous Game". Back Issue!. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (64): 44–50.
- Cooke, Jon B. (October 2000). Comic Book Artist #10 p. 20
- Walt Simonson at the Grand Comics Database and Walter Simonson at the Grand Comics Database
- Manning, Matthew K.; Dougall, Alastair, ed. (2014). "1970s". Batman: A Visual History. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 125. ISBN 978-1465424563.
Engelhart and Simonson introduced readers to Dr. Phosphorus, who earned a spot in Batman's Rogues Gallery.
- Trumbull, John (December 2013). "A New Beginning...And a Probable End Batman #300 and #400". Back Issue!. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (69): 49–53.
- Manning "1970s" in Dougall, p. 128: "Crafted by writer David V. Reed and penciller Walter Simonson, this special 34-page issue imagined a possible future where Gotham City had become the hub of Magalopolis-East."
- Sanderson, Peter; Gilbert, Laura, ed. (2008). "1970s". Marvel Chronicle A Year by Year History. London, United Kingdom: 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.
- Cooke (2000) p. 25
- Nolen-Weathington, Eric (2006). Modern Masters, Volume 8: Walter Simonson. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 34. ISBN 1-893905-64-0. Retrieved January 29, 2012.
- 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."
- Brown, Jonathan (August 2013). "The Uncanny X-Men and The New Teen Titans: The Breakfast Club of the Comics Crossover". Back Issue!. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (66): 65–68.
- 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)."
- Singer, Matt (July 10, 2001). "Review: Thor Visionaries: Walter Simonson". PopImage. Archived from the original on October 16, 2013.
- Kelley, Cary (August 21, 2006). "Merely This and Nothing More: Defining Our Heroes". Silverbulletcomics.com. Archived from the original on October 26, 2006.
- Amash, Jim; Nolen-Weathington,, Eric (2010). Sal Buscema: Comics' Fast & Furious Artist. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 72. ISBN 978-1605490212.
- Sanderson, Peter (October 1986). "Walt & Louise Simonson". Comics Interview (39). Fictioneer Books. pp. 42–57.
- 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.
- Cooke (2000) p. 26
- Nolen-Weathington Modern Masters Volume Eight Walter Simonson p. 67
- 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."
- Cowsill, Alan; Gilbert, Laura, ed. (2012). "1990s". Spider-Man Chronicle Celebrating 50 Years of Web-Slinging. London, United Kingdom: 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.
- Cronin, Brian (July 3, 2015). "Comic Book Legends Revealed #530". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on July 5, 2015.
This is because Simonson...decided to be as accurate as he possibly could in the depiction of the dinosaurs in the issue. He relied heavily on Gregory Paul's book, Predator Dinosaurs of the World, which was a controversial call at the time as Paul’s theories regarding dinosaurs having feathers was not yet proven and drew much skepticism from other scientists.
- 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."
- Brady, Matt (October 25, 2007). "Walter Simonson: Into The World Of Warcraft". Newsarama. Archived from the original on October 27, 2007.
- Manning "2000s" in Dougall, p. 305
- Johnston, Rich (May 6, 2011). "Stan, Joe, Walt And The Thunder God". Bleeding Cool. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016.
- "Hero Initiative Board Members Disburstment Committee". The Hero Initiative. 2013. Archived from the original on June 21, 2013.
- Sims, Chris (February 18, 2015). "Five Reasons To Read Simonson, Martin, And Workman's Ragnarok". ComicsAlliance. Archived from the original on March 17, 2015.
- "Inkpot Award Winners". Hahn Library Comic Book Awards Almanac. Archived from the original on July 9, 2012.
- Fishman, Marc Alan (August 29, 2010). "2010 Harvey Awards Announced!". ComicMix. Archived from the original on April 28, 2016.
- Ash, Roger (2010). "Roger's Comic Ramblings: Baltimore Comic-Con 2010 Report". Westfield Comics. Archived from the original on March 18, 2016.
- Spurgeon, Tom (July 14, 2012). "Your 2012 Eisner Award Winners". The Comics Reporter. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016.
- Tree, Brad (September 9, 2012). "Congratulations to the Harvey Award Recipients!". Harvey Awards. Archived from the original on March 17, 2016.
- Nolen-Weathington Modern Masters Volume Eight Walter Simonson p. 8
- Ostrander, John (August 7, 2011). "John Ostrander: Pro Advice – Hit By a Bus". ComicMix. Archived from the original on September 25, 2016.
- Hitch, Bryan (2010). Bryan Hitch's Ultimate Comics Studio. Impact Books
- Nolen-Weathington, Eric; Khoury, George (2006). Modern Masters Volume 6: Arthur Adams. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing. ISBN 978-1893905542.
- 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. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (17). Archived from the original on November 3, 2013.
- Parker, John R. (June 12, 2012). "ComicsAlliance Reviews Todd McFarlane's Spawn Year One, Part 1: Questions". ComicsAlliance. Archived from the original on May 2, 2016.
- Cooke (2000) p. 23
- Shooter, Jim. "Bullpen Bulletins", Marvel comics cover-dated July 1981.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Walter Simonson.|
- Walter Simonson at the Comic Book DB
- "DC Profiles #2: Walt Simonson" at the Grand Comics Database
- Walter Simonson at the Lambiek Comiclopedia
- Walter Simonson at Mike's Amazing World of Comics
- Walter Simonson at the Unofficial Handbook of Marvel Comics Creators
- on YouTube
- Walter Simonson at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- Walter Simonson at Library of Congress Authorities, with 24 catalog records
|Star Wars artist
|The Avengers writer
(as John Harkness)
|Fantastic Four writer
|Fantastic Four artist
Rob Liefeld and Jeph Loeb
|The Avengers writer
|Wonder Woman writer