It's Sunday, 26 March 2006, a bit after 1 PM. Joe Simon is ninety-two years old, but any fears I may have had about the man's health or the stength of his faculties were swept away by hearing him talk. He's in better physical shape than some people I've known who were twenty years younger, his speech is clear, and his memory has only the minimal amount of vagueness you'd have to allow for anyone with over nine decades of stuff to remember.
A group of us are gathered around Joe in the corridor outside the conference room where he's just given a brief talk, forming an entourage to escort him onto the convention floor where he's scheduled to sign autographs now that his talk has ended.
Comics journalist Adam McGovern says to Joe Simon, "I was wondering something about the revival of The Sandman you and Kirby did in the Seventies. How did that happen, with the two of you being on different coasts by that time?"
Joe replies, "Oh, we got together for that. We spent the night together in a hotel room."
"Oh ho," says Adam, "really?"
"Sure. Then Kirby took his teeth out, put them in a glass, and went to sleep."
"Hey!" I exclaim in mock offense. "That doesn't sound very romantic!"
"Yeah," Joe laughs. "It wasn't romantic at all!"
I had worked out a whole speech in case I had the chance to speak to Joe Simon. It was going to be a lot of stuff about how much I'd loved his work since I was ten years old...especially the "Newsboy Legion" series in Star-Spangled Comics from the early Forties. My parents were of the same generation as those kids and came from similar lower-class immigrant New York backgrounds, and reading those stories at an early age helped put me in touch with the world of my parents' childhood. I was ready to thank Joe Simon for helping me feel closer to my own mother and father.
But this was better. I'd rather make someone laugh than give him a speech any day.