25 November 2018

“I think he should have a kid buddy”

The Library of Congress has a new exhibit featuring a recent donation, Steve Geppi’s vast collection of American comics and pop culture.

George Gene Gustines reported on the display for the New York Times. Many of the items reflect the interplay of comics and other media. For example, there’s the sheet music of a song inspired by the Yellow Kid. There’s the first mockup of the G.I. Joe action figure alongside one of the G.I. Joe comic books. There’s the storyboard for a Mickey Mouse cartoon.

But for the theme of the weekly Robin, the most important item is Joe Simon’s first drawing of Captain America, even before the hero started using a circular shield ( reportedly under pressure from the publisher of an earlier patriotic crime- and Nazi-fighter, the Shield). Created for Timely Comics publisher Martin Goodman, it labels some traits of his costume and logo.

At the bottom of the paper is this note:
Simon created this art in 1940. It shows how the popularity and practicality of the “kid buddy” was already evident to the superhero comics industry, only months after the debut of Robin the Boy Wonder.  And Simon recognized the principal benefit of a sidekick: giving the hero someone to talk to.