Walt Simonson Explained

Walt Simonson
Birth Name:Walter Simonson
Birth Date:2 September 1946
Nationality:American
Area:Writer, Artist
Alias: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)
Influenced:Arthur Adams[1] [2]
Bryan Hitch

Walter "Walt" Simonson (born September 2, 1946) is an American comic book writer and artist. After studying geology at Amherst College,[3] [4] he transferred to the Rhode Island School of Design, graduating in 1972. His thesis project there was The Star Slammers, which was published as a black and white promotional comic book for the 1974 World Science Fiction Convention in Washington, D.C. (DisCon II). In 1983, he produced another version of the story in graphic novel form for Marvel Comics. Simonson continued the adventures of the Star Slammers in a limited series in the mid-1990s as one of the founders of Malibu Comics' short-lived Bravura label. Simonson has won numerous awards for his work, and has influenced artists such as Arthur Adams and Bryan Hitch.

Career

1970s

Simonson's first professional published comic book work was Weird War Tales #10[5] (Jan. 1973) for DC Comics. He also did a number of illustrations for the Harry N. Abrams, Inc. edition of The Hobbit, and at least one unrelated print (a Samurai warrior) 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 Archie Goodwin.[6] In a 2000 interview, Simonson recalled that "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."[7] 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.

Simonson met his future wife Louise Jones in 1973. The couple started dating in August 1974[8] and were married in 1980.

In Fall 1978,[9] 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.[10]

1980s

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.[11] Simonson is best known for his work on Marvel Comics' The Mighty Thor and X-Factor (the latter being a collaboration with his wife Louise Simonson). 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.[12] [13] 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).

Simonson left Upstart Associates in late 1986.[14]

1990s

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.[15] 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.

2000s

In the 2000s Simonson has mostly worked for DC Comics. From 2000 to 2002 he wrote and illustrated Orion.[16] 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 , 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.[17] [18] The Warcraft series ran 25 issues and was co-written with his wife, Louise Simonson. In 2011, he had a cameo role in the live-action Thor film, appearing as one of the guests at a large Asgardian banquet.[19] Simonson serves on the Disbursement Committee of the comic-book industry charity The Hero Initiative.[20]

Awards

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.[21] [22]

Signature

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."[23] [24]

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."[25]

Bibliography

Comic book interior art (except where noted) includes:

DC

The Making of a Sorcerer, miniseries, #1-4 (2006)

Marvel

The Jungle Adventure (writer)

Marvel/DC

Dark Horse

Other publishers

The Illustrated Story movie adaptation (artist) (Heavy Metal)

Books and compilations

External links

Notes and References

  1. George Khoury and Eric Nolen-Weathington. Modern Masters Volume Six: Arthur Adams, 2006, TwoMorrows Publishing.
  2. Cooke, Jon B. "The Art of Arthur Adams", Reprinted from Comic Book Artist #17, November 15, 2001
  3. http://www.amherst.edu/~geology/alumni/majors/ AC Geology Alumni: Past Majors
  4. http://www.slushfactory.com/features/interviews/walts.shtml The Slush Factory: The World’s Coolest Comics Magazine
  5. Cooke, Jon B. "Simonson Says The Man of Two Gods Recalls His 25+ Years in Comics" Comic Book Artist #10 (Oct. 2000) TwoMorrows Publishing p. 18
  6. Book: McAvennie, Michael. Dolan. Hannah, ed.. 1970s. DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. 2010. 978-0-7566-6742-9. 157. 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. Cooke Comic Book Artist #10 (Oct. 2000) p. 20
  8. Cooke Comic Book Artist #10 (Oct. 2000) p. 23
  9. Cooke Comic Book Artist #10 (Oct. 2000) p. 25
  10. Book: Nolen-Weathington. Eric. Modern Masters, Volume 8: Walter Simonson. January 29, 2012. 2006. TwoMorrows Publishing. 1893905640. 34.
  11. 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."
  12. http://www.popimage.com/reviews/071001thorsimonsonrev.html Review of a trade paperback collecting some of Simonson's run at PopImage.com
  13. http://www.silverbulletcomics.com/news/story.php?a=2189 Essay on what makes certain stories definitive at Silver bullet Comics.
  14. Cooke Comic Book Artist #10 (Oct. 2000) p. 26
  15. Nolen-Weathington Modern Masters Volume Eight Walter Simonson p. 67
  16. 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."
  17. http://www.dccomics.com/dcunlimited/wow/?action=the_comic DC Comics World of Warcraft page
  18. http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=134207 Walter Simonson: Into The World Of Warcraft
  19. [Johnston, Rich]
  20. http://www.heroinitiative.org/spage.asp?p=73&ti=Board+Members The Hero Initiative Disbursement Committee
  21. Fishman, Marc Alan."2010 Harvey Awards Announced!" ComicMix; August 29, 2010
  22. Ash, Roger. Roger’s Comic Ramblings: Baltimore Comic-Con 2010 report Westfield Comics. Retrieved September 23, 2010.
  23. Nolen-Weathington Modern Masters Volume Eight Walter Simonson p. 8
  24. [Ostrander, John]
  25. [Hitch, Bryan]