Tomb Of Dracula Magazine #6, page 8, pencils GENE COLAN
Rampaging Hulk Magazine #27, page 10, pencils GENE COLAN
Tomb Of Dracula Magazine #5, page 15; pencils GENE COLAN
Dave Simons began his comic book career at Marvel Comics in the 1970s and it remains the one company with which he is most associated. Before he broke into comic books he had spent time with with Kenneth Landgraf and Armando Gil, working on various gag strips and illustrations for magazines. A chance encounter at a convention set Dave on his way. "I ran into Rick Marshall at a convention," Dave remembers, "and he was just starting Marvel’s black and white line. I ended up inking the first issue of Howard the Duck." It wasn't all plain sailing through. What Dave omits is that his first Marvel jobs were inking the likes of Gene Colan and Sal Buscema - a daunting task even for the more established and experienced inkers. He did have help though in the form of Gil.
"The first two black and white issues of Howard the Duck that came out under my name Armando inked most of the figures," recalls Dave. "Then I got assigned Howard the Duck number three. I was doing the grey tones on them all along, because that’s just something I could do easily and they came out looking pretty good. So with number three all of a sudden I had to match Armando’s inking so I went from there." From this point onwards Dave career path was set.
Dave learnt early that he had to be adaptable and working with Gene Colan helped that learning process. "Gene Colan was always my favorite penciler to work on," says Dave. "That was like a match made in heaven because a lot of people didn’t understand Gene’s shading. I thought ‘this is great, this is a great jumping on point if you’re gonna do black and white stuff’. I did more stuff over Gene Colan, Howard the Duck, Tomb Of Dracula and the Hulk magazine. I inked him on a Captain America annual." Dave also made the transition from inker to penciler while at Marvel. "When you really look at what you have to do as a penciler," says Dave, "if you really know what you’re doing and sometimes I think I didn’t quite know what I was doing, especially when I look back at the old stuff. Penciling, if you’re doing it right, is a much tougher gig than inking. Even though I usually liked to know what was going on, with inking you don’t necessarily have to be involved with the story. With penciling you have to be intimately involved with the story because you’re the one who’s bringing the writers work and intentions across to the readers, as to what he’s trying to communicate there. You have to think of the drama, the camera angles, and the composition, make sure you leave room for the word balloons, all those sorts of things. Added to that is that you have to make sure you draw it nicely too, there’s that element of draftsmanship, which I always thought was my weakest point. I started to see how my pencils would look inked by someone else. I penciled King Conan and Geoff Isherwood inked it. I did some work on Red Sonja and Vinnie Colletta inked me on that."
There were a lot of highlights for Dave at Marvel. Some of them, such as his Ghost Rider and Conan work, are covered elsewhere on this site, but there were others. "One thing I had a lot of fun doing was the one issue of Team America," remembers Dave. "I did one issue where I penciled and inked, it was Ghost Rider vs. Team America and that was pretty fun. I’m also the person who designed the infamous neck-tie costume for Red Sonja. It was never drawn the way I intended it because Mary Wilshire didn’t understand that it was leather and not fur on the top, and that it was a sash, it was supposed to be more like a pirate thing. At the time Adam Ant was very big so I was trying to get those pirate elements in there, and it never looked the way I intended it to look."
While at Marvel Dave worked with a variety of artists and forged friendships will still remain today. "There were the people who lived in the area that you’d see almost every week," remembers Dave. "Then there were the people who lived further away and they’d only come in once every couple of months, like John Buscema and Gene Colan. Most of the guys my age and close to it I’d see pretty much on a weekly basis, like Joe Rubenstein, Bob Wiacek, Bob Layton, just all those guys from that era." Dave still remains in touch with Gene Colan, and has fond memories of almost everyone he worked with.
Bizarre Adventures #33 page 13; Dave Simons pencils and inks
Howard The Duck Magazine #3, page 30, pencils GENE COLAN
What If? Volume II: Issue #53; What if Rick Jones remained the Hulk?; Dave Simons pencils and inks
Midnight Sons Unlimited #6; four page sequence: pencils GENE COLAN