Jim & Jesse Simon talk about the creation of SHIELDMASTER

Jim & Jesse Simon

In the 50s before the birth of the Marvel, age of comics, Joe Simon was hired by Archie Comics to re-create the Shield. In a second draft, the character was changed from Joe Higgins to Lancelot Strong and this on one of the most loved characters created in the early silver age.
Years later, The father and son team of Joe and Jim Simon, would present Shieldmaster on the pages of Comic Book Marketplace #62, August 1998. Shieldmaster was created by Jim Simon and drawn by Joe Simon.

Now, almost 25 years after his creation, Shieldmaster is returning to comics with the father-and-son team of Jim and Jesse Simon. Jim and Jesse were nice enough to stop by First Comics News to tell us all about the creation of Shieldmaster.

First Comics News: Who is Jess Stevens?

Jess Stevens is the main character in ShieldMaster. He along with his friends discovers these alien-like shields in an abandoned military base. With receiving these powers, they have to balance home/teen life with having superhero responsibilities.

1st: Shieldmaster was Joe Simon’s last character design. How much of the design was Joe and how much of the design was Jim?

Jim always had a vision with ShieldMaster, that’s why Joe respected it so much. Jim allowed Joe to do his famous Joe Simon thing with ShieldMaster but made sure it stayed his creation.

1st: How did Shieldmaster end up being published in French originally? How did Shieldmaster sell in France? Does that change some cultural references in the art?

Jim made a deal with Organix Comics to produce the interiors of ShieldMaster. Comics are a respected medium in France, different from how they are here. The interior art is more traditional to their style. There is a heavy Jack Kirby influence in the art.  ShieldMaster received high praise there with fans really enjoying its story and how it wasn’t just a superhero story. Students in an aviation high school even made a custom ShieldMaster shield out of aluminum. That was really cool.

1st: Over the last 25 years how has Shieldmaster changed and grown?

ShieldMaster and these first two issues were Jim’s vision. I would occasionally build on his ideas or alter some things. But now I have planned out a 10-issue saga. 8 issues after the two my father did, I’ll be taking over completely with writing, editorial, art director, layouts, and all the business. Just like Joe used to do. I am quite excited to reveal all my ideas for future issues to the fans as I am confident they’ll like them. Jim occasionally will have a brainstorming session with me where we will bounce and build ideas off of each other, just like Joe and Jim used to do a few years ago.

1st: Jim, originally when you created this character you were working with your father, now with the Kickstarter you will be working with your son. What’s it like for you to have three generations of your family work with you on your creation?

It is a very proud experience, one that is almost indescribable. To have my father work for me, a trailblazer in comics, and now my son, who has all these new ideas is just fantastic. There must be something in the water we’re drinking or just something in our blood, that’s the only way to explain it. Since I was a kid, I was filled with creative ideas and brainstorming with my father. Decades later, now that Joe isn’t here, I have become in Joe’s position, and Jesse is now in mine. We come to each other with our next new idea and then somehow the other person elevates it. It reminds me of when I would sit in the attic and watch Joe and Jack brainstorm as a kid. -Jim

1st: Jesse, you are the third generation of Simon to enter the Comic book market, how does that feel?

It is a nice feeling but to me, the comic book market is filled with large shadows. Everyone knows my grandfather and his creations. How he, with Jack Kirby, changed comic books forever with the invention of new genres and techniques of storytelling. But the shadow of my father still looms large. It was he who wrote the Comic Book Makers with Joe, a book that was revolutionary for its time. The Comic Book Makers shed light on past golden age creators from an insider’s experience, one that was never done before that. What a lot of people don’t see is just how closely my father worked with Joe. Their brainstorming sessions and writing movie treatments in getting comic material adapted for the screen. Jim was right next to Joe, advising him on all legal matters including the renewal of copyrights, the licensing of copyrights, and the Captain America settlement with Marvel. As Rob Liefeld detailed in his podcast, Robservations, my father was right there with Joe throughout. To be able to follow along in that lineup is fantastic. I am often by my father’s side giving him my perspective on legal matters, what I think the fans would like to see, and ideas for the future. It is a great bonding experience and just makes me feel closer than ever to my father and grandfather.

1st: As a third-generation Simon, do you think expectations are higher for you and more eyes are on your efforts?

It’s a double edge sword, I want the fans to be happy with my work, I understand expectations are high. How could they not be, with Joe’s legacy and name there is nobody that can match it, all I can do is try to come close. I had a great time being the art director on these covers, working closely with some of the artists, and getting the covers exactly how I wanted. A change in pose, or shrinking of a person/building. I’m truly happy with these covers and the result they produced. The interior of the first two issues is a product of my father and Reedman in France. For issues 3-10, I will be doing layouts and the writing, those books will truly be from me. If you like the covers for this launch, then stick around for the future as that is my vision/style.

Jim, Joe & Jesse Simon

1st: If people want to sign up to be notified about the launch of the Shieldmaster Kickstarter what is the URL?

I ask you to support this project so we can produce the rest of the ten issue saga! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/simonstudios/shieldmasterects/simonstudios/shieldmaster

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