Walt Simonson
Simonson at the Big Apple Summer Sizzler, June 13, 2009
BornWalter Simonson
(1946-09-02) September 2, 1946 (age 77)
Knoxville, Tennessee, U.S.
Area(s)Writer, Artist
Notable works
Fantastic Four
Detective Comics (Manhunter)
Metal Men
Star Slammers
Star Wars
AwardsShazam 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)

Inkwell Awards All-in-One Award (2022)[1][2]
Signature of Walt Simonson

Walter Simonson (born September 2, 1946) is an American comic book writer and artist, best known for a run on Marvel Comics' Thor from 1983 to 1987, during which he created the character Beta Ray Bill. He is also known for the creator-owned work Star Slammers, which he inaugurated in 1972 as a Rhode Island School of Design thesis. He has also worked on other Marvel titles such as X-Factor and Fantastic Four, on DC Comics books including Detective Comics, Manhunter, Metal Men and Orion, and on licensed properties such as Star Wars, Alien, Battlestar Galactica and Robocop vs. Terminator.

Simonson has won numerous awards for his work and has influenced artists such as Arthur Adams and Todd McFarlane.

He is married to comics writer Louise Simonson, with whom he collaborated as penciller on X-Factor from 1986 to 1989.

Early life

Walter Simonson was born September 2, 1946, in Knoxville, Tennessee, and lived there for two and a half years. When his father, who worked for the United States Department of Agriculture, received a promotion at work that required him to relocate to Washington, D.C., Simonson, his younger brother and his parents moved to Maryland, where Simonson's parents still lived as of 1989.[3] Simonson first read comics as a child, through the subscriptions to Walt Disney's Comics and Stories that his brother had. By the age of ten he was an avid fan of the work of Carl Barks,[4] Little Lulu, Little Iodine, and Alex Toth's work on The Land Unknown.[3] He also enjoyed drawing from a very young age.[4] Although Simonson was embarrassed to be seen by girls buying comics while in high school, he discovered Russ Manning's work on Magnus Robot Fighter right before he started college, and submitted a drawing that was printed in issue #10 in May, 1965, in the publication's fan page, "Robot Gallery." This was his first published work in comics.[3]

Simonson studied geology at Amherst College, with the intent of becoming an expert on dinosaurs.[4] In 1964 or 1965, Simonson discovered Marvel Comics, in particular that company's version of Thor.[3][4] Having already developed an interest in Norse mythology prior to discovering Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's take on the hammer-wielding deity,[5] it became Simonson's favorite title, one that he read for four years.[3][4] From this he realized that drawing comics was more fun, and more feasible as a career than working outdoors in hot weather as a geologist or paleontologist, despite harboring a love for the latter that continued the rest of his life.[4][6][7] Simonson came to be heavily influenced by the artists who worked for Marvel, such as Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and Gil Kane, as well as British artist Jim Holdaway and European artists such as Moebius, Jean-Claude Mézières, Antonio Hernández Palacios and Sergio Toppi.[4] In 1967, while in college, Simonson began writing his own epic story starring Lee and Kirby's version of the character, featuring Surtur and the Odinsword. In later years he would be given the opportunity to publish this story, as the writer on that title.[5]

After graduating from Amherst with a degree in geology,[4] Simonson took a year off, and then enrolled as an art major at the Rhode Island School of Design, graduating in 1972. His thesis project there was the 50-page black and white book The Star Slammers, which took him two years to write, pencil, letter and ink himself, and was initially published as a series of ashcan promotional 5.5" x 8.5" b&w chapter booklets from 1971–1973 to promote the 1974 World Science Fiction Convention in Washington, D.C. (DisCon II). Simonson would later revisit Star Slammers throughout his career, publishing it through various publishers over the decades.[3][4]


Star Slammers graphic novel (1983)


In August 1972, Simonson traveled to New York with his Star Slammers portfolio, and met with Gerry Boudreau, a friend who worked for DC Comics, where, as Simonson recalls, many young artists had begun working in the 1970s, in contrast to Marvel, which Simonson perceived as more stagnant. Boudreau arranged a meeting between Simonson and editor Archie Goodwin. After meeting with Goodwin, Simonson went to DC's coffee room, where he saw Howard Chaykin, Michael Kaluta, Berni Wrightson and Alan Weiss sitting together. Simonson struck up a conversation with the artists, who looked at his portfolio. Kaluta showed Simonson's work to Assistant Production Manager Jack Adler, who in turn showed it to DC Publisher Carmine Infantino, who after being shown the portfolio, summoned Simonson into his office. After speaking to Simonson for about ten minutes, he had Goodwin and his fellow editors Julius Schwartz and Joe Orlando give Simonson work. Simonson walked out of Infantino's office with jobs from each one of them.[3]

At one point Simonson lived in the same Queens apartment building as artists Allen Milgrom, Howard Chaykin and Bernie Wrightson. Simonson recalls, "We'd get together at 3 a.m. They'd come up and we'd have popcorn and sit around and talk about whatever a 26, 27 and 20-year-old guys talk about. Our art, TV, you name it. I pretty much knew at the time, 'These are the good ole days.'"[8]

Simonson's first professional published comic book work was illustrating writer Len Wein's story "Cyrano's Army", which appeared in DC's Weird War Tales #10,[3][9] which was cover-dated January 1973. Such short back-up war stories comprised most of Simonson's early published work.[10] He also did a number of illustrations for the Harry N. Abrams, Inc. edition of The Hobbit, and at least one unrelated print of a samurai warrior that 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 Goodwin, which cemented Simonson's professional reputation.[3][11][12] In a 2000 interview, Simonson recalled, "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."[13] Simonson then drew other DC series such as Metal Men and Hercules Unbound[14] and co-created Doctor Phosphorus with Steve Englehart.[15] Batman #300 (June 1978) featured a story by Simonson and writer David Vern Reed.[16][17] In 1979 Simonson and Goodwin collaborated on an adaptation of the movie Alien, published by Heavy Metal. It was that book that Simonson began his long working relationship with letterer John Workman, who would go on to letter most of Simonson's work.[18][19]

Starting in January 1977, Simonson was the original artist on The Rampaging Hulk, a black-and-white magazine published by Marvel's Curtis Magazines line.[20] Simonson also had his first run on Thor at this time, working only as the series' artist alongside writer Len Wein.[14] In late 1978,[21] 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.[22]

In 1979 Simonson did writing and art on a book for the first time with his run on Marvel's licensed Battlestar Galactica series,[4] penciling 12 sporadic issues from issues #4 to 23 with writer Roger McKenzie. Simonson began co-writing the series with McKenzie with issue #11, co-wrote some issues with Bob Layton and Steven Grant after McKenzie left the title, began writing the book himself with issue #19, staying on until issue #23.[14]


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.[23][24]

Simonson is best known for his work on Marvel Comics' Thor which he began writing and drawing with issue #337 (Nov. 1983).[25] During his run as writer/artist, Simonson used the epic story that he first began writing in college in 1967,[5] 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.[26][27] He left the book as artist with issue #367 (May 1986), after which Sal Buscema took over. Simonson continued to write the book until issue #382 (Aug. 1987).[14] Buscema described Simonson's stories as "very stimulating. It was a pleasure working on his plots, because they were a lot of fun to illustrate. He had a lot of great ideas, and he took Thor in a totally new direction."[28] In late 1986 he dropped several of his assignments, including Thor, remarking that "I had a very busy season over the past six to eight months, and I'd like to take some time off, to take time maybe to take stock and refuel a bit."[29]

Simonson was to have drawn a Daredevil story written by Frank Miller but it was never completed and remains unpublished.[30] Simonson joined his wife Louise on the X-Factor series with issue #10. In #25, the creators gave the character the Angel blue skin and metal wings in a process which would lead to his being renamed as "Archangel". Their run on X-Factor included the story arcs "Mutant Massacre", "Fall of the Mutants," and "Inferno".[14]

In 1983, he returned to Star Slammers with another version of the story that Marvel published in Marvel Graphic Novel No. 6.[4]

Simonson left Upstart Associates in late 1986.[31]


Simonson became writer of the Fantastic Four with issue #334 (Dec. 1989), and three issues later began penciling and inking as well (#337). For issues #347–349, he collaborated with Arthur Adams, introducing the "New Fantastic Four" consisting of Wolverine, Spider-Man, Ghost Rider and the Hulk.[32][33][34] In issue #345 he depicted dinosaurs with feathers, two decades before this idea gained mainstream acceptance among paleontologists. Simonson's decision to depict the dinosaurs in this manner was inspired by Gregory S. Paul's then-controversial book, Predatory Dinosaurs of the World, in which Paul theorized that dinosaurs had feathers. Because this idea was met with skepticism from the scientific community at the time, Simonson decided to compromise by depicting the dinosaurs with a small amount of feathers, rather than covered with them.[35] Simonson left the Fantastic Four with issue #354 (July 1991). In 1992, he wrote and illustrated the one-shot Superman Special #1 for DC. 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.[14]

In 1994 Simonson continued the adventures of the Star Slammers in a limited series as one of the founders of Malibu Comics' short-lived Bravura label.[4]


Simonson with a Thor cosplayer at the 2012 New York Comic Con

In the 2000s, Simonson mostly worked for DC Comics. From 2000 to 2002 he wrote and illustrated Orion.[36] After that series ended, he wrote six issues of Wonder Woman (vol. 2) drawn by Jerry Ordway.[14] 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.[37]

From 2003 to 2006, he drew the four issue prestige mini-series Elric: The Making of a Sorcerer, 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.[14]

His other work includes cover artwork for a Bat Lash mini-series and the ongoing series Vigilante,[14] as well as writing a Wildstorm comic book series based on the online role-playing game World of Warcraft.[38] The Warcraft series ran 25 issues and was from #15 on co-written with his wife, Louise Simonson. He wrote the Demon and Catwoman serial in Wednesday Comics in 2009.[39]


In 2011, Simonson had a cameo role in the live-action Thor film, appearing as one of the guests at a large Asgardian banquet.[40] The sequel, Thor: The Dark World, featured Simonson's character Malekith the Accursed.[41]

Simonson serves on the Disbursement Committee of the comic-book industry charity The Hero Initiative.[42]

Other work in the 2010s includes drawing six issues of The Avengers vol. 4 in 2012 and providing the artwork for three issues of The Indestructible Hulk which guest starred Thor. Simonson collaborated with his wife for a short story in Rocketeer Adventures vol. 2 #4 and drew covers for several Rocketeer comics during this period.[14]

In 2012 DC Comics published The Judas Coin,[14] a graphic novel written and drawn by Simonson. The book shows how one silver coin paid to Judas to betray Jesus affects various characters down the centuries including Batman.[43]

In July 2014 IDW Publishing published the first issue of Simonson's creator-owned series Ragnarök, which depicts a version of Thor unrelated to the Marvel version of the deity.[44] It ran for twelve issues until 2017 and was followed by the six-issue mini-series Ragnarök: The Breaking of Helheim in 2019, also written and drawn by Simonson.


In 2021, Walt Simonson revisited his run as an artist on X-Factor by providing covers and artwork for a two-issue X-Factor story in X-Men Legends, written by his wife Louise Simonson who had also scripted his issues for the original series.[45]

In April 2022, Simonson and his wife Louise were reported among the more than three dozen comics creators who contributed to Operation USA's benefit anthology book, Comics for Ukraine: Sunflower Seeds, a project spearheaded by IDW Publishing Special Projects Editor Scott Dunbier, whose profits would be donated to relief efforts for Ukrainian refugees resulting from the February 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.[46][47] Simonson's contribution was a story featuring the Star Slammers, his first time returning to that property since the 1990s.[48]

Awards and honors


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."[58][59]

Creative process

Simonson creates using the Marvel method, plotting out his storylines on a grid and then doing detailed plots for each issue. After thumbnailing the story, he writes a full script, from which he moves to full-size layouts, and then finished art.[60]

Simonson inked his own work with a Hunt 102 crow quill pen.[61][62] 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 Simonson's brushwork "as typically good and powerful as his other work."[62] He has used Pelikan drawing ink for most of his career.[63]


Comics creators who have been influenced by Simonson's work include Arthur Adams[64][65] and Todd McFarlane.[66]

Personal life

Simonson met his future wife Louise Jones in 1973. The couple started dating in August 1974[67] and were married in 1980.[68]




Dark Horse Comics

DC Comics

First Comics

Gold Key Comics

IDW Publishing

Image Comics

Image Comics / Marvel Comics

HM Communications, Inc.

Malibu Comics

Marvel Comics

Marvel Comics / DC Comics


Topps Comics

TwoMorrows Publishing

Warren Publishing

Books and compilations

DC Comics

Marvel Comics

  • Fantastic Four Visionaries: Walter Simonson trade paperbacks
    • Volume 1 collects Fantastic Four #334–341, 200 pages, May 2007, ISBN 0785127585
    • Volume 2 collects Fantastic Four #342–346, 120 pages, September 2008, ISBN 0785131302
    • Volume 3 collects Fantastic Four #347–350 and 352–354, 192 pages, November 2009, ISBN 0785137513
  • Thor Visionaries: Walter Simonson trade paperbacks
    • Volume 1 collects Thor #337–348, 288 pages, May 2001, ISBN 0785107584
    • Volume 2 collects Thor #349–355 and 357–359, 240 pages, September 2003, ISBN 0785110461
    • Volume 3 collects Thor #360–369, 232 pages, March 2004, ISBN 078511047X
    • Volume 4 collects Thor #371–374 and Balder the Brave #1–4, 192 pages, September 2007, ISBN 0785127119
    • Volume 5 collects Thor #375–382 208 pages, February 2008, ISBN 0785127372
  • Thor by Walter Simonson Omnibus collects Thor #337–355, 357–369, 371–382 and Balder the Brave #1–4, 1192 pages, April 2011, ISBN 0785146334
  • Marvel Platinum: The Definitive Thor 2 an anthology with Lee, Kirby, et al., 2013, ISBN 1846535522
  • Thor: The Last Viking (Ultimate Marvel Graphic Novel Collection issue 38) collects Thor #337–343
  • Thor by Walter Simonson - Volume 1, 2013, collects Thor #337–?, remastered, ISBN 0785184600

IDW Publishing

Titan Books


Year Title Role Notes
2009 Batman: Black and White (episode "Legend") Writer and artist TV series
2011 Thor Cameo as Asgardian
2013 Thor: The Dark World Special thanks, creator of villain Malekith the Accursed


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  9. ^ Cooke, Jon B. (October 2000). "Simonson Says The Man of Two Gods Recalls His 25+ Years in Comics". Comic Book Artist (10). Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing: 18.
  10. ^ Arndt, Richard J. (April 2018). ""Nice" Is the Word: A Few Words on Archie Goodwin". Back Issue! (103). Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing: 11.
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  16. ^ Trumbull, John (December 2013). "A New Beginning...And a Probable End Batman #300 and #400". Back Issue! (69). Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing: 49–53.
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  21. ^ Cooke (2000) p. 25
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  23. ^ 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."
  24. ^ Brown, Jonathan (August 2013). "The Uncanny X-Men and The New Teen Titans: The Breakfast Club of the Comics Crossover". Back Issue! (66). Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing: 65–68.
  25. ^ DeFalco, Tom "1980s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 213: "This issue began a highly acclaimed run by writer/artist Walt Simonson that would last for nearly four years and end with issue #382 (Aug. 1987)."
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  29. ^ Sanderson, Peter (October 1986). "Walt & Louise Simonson". Comics Interview. No. 39. Fictioneer Books. pp. 42–57.
  30. ^ Mithra, Kuljit (August 1997). "Interview With Walt Simonson". ManWithoutFear.com. Archived from the original on March 21, 2013. Retrieved March 17, 2013. The gist of it is that by the time Marvel was interested in having us work on the story, Frank was off doing Dark Knight and I was off doing X-Factor. So it never happened. Too bad--it was a cool story too.
  31. ^ Cooke (2000) p. 26
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  33. ^ Manning, Matthew K. "1990s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 252: "Spider-Man, the Hulk, Wolverine, and Ghost Rider were tricked into forming a new Fantastic Four...Written by Walter Simonson with art by Arthur Adams, this new FF found themselves locked in battle with the Mole Man."
  34. ^ Cowsill, Alan (2012). "1990s". In Gilbert, Laura (ed.). Spider-Man Chronicle Celebrating 50 Years of Web-Slinging. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 186. ISBN 978-0756692360. Take Spidey, Ghost Rider, Wolverine, and the Hulk, add a script by Walt Simonson and illustrations by Art Adams, and the result is one of the best Marvel comics of the decade.
  35. ^ Cronin, Brian (July 3, 2015). "Comic Book Legends Revealed #530". CBR.com. Archived from the original on July 5, 2015. This is because Simonson...decided to be as accurate as he possibly could in the depiction of the dinosaurs in the issue. He relied heavily on Gregory Paul's book, Predator Dinosaurs of the World, which was a controversial call at the time as Paul's theories regarding dinosaurs having feathers was not yet proven and drew much skepticism from other scientists.
  36. ^ 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."
  37. ^ Talon, Durwin S. (2007). Panel Discussions: Design in Sequential Art Storytelling. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 14. ISBN 978-1-893905-14-6.
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  62. ^ a b Hitch, Bryan (2010). Bryan Hitch's Ultimate Comics Studio. Impact Books
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  69. ^ Trumbull, John (April 2014). "221B at DC: Sherlock Holmes at DC Comics". Back Issue! (71). Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing: 38–39.


Preceded byJohn Buscema Thor artist 1977–1978 Succeeded byJohn Buscema Preceded byCarmine Infantino Star Wars artist 1981–1982 Succeeded byRon Frenz Preceded byHerb Trimpe Thor artist 1983–1986 Succeeded bySal Buscema Preceded byAlan Zelenetz Thor writer 1983–1987 Succeeded byTom DeFalco Preceded byRalph Macchio The Avengers writer 1988–1989 Succeeded byRalph Macchio Preceded bySteve Englehart(as John Harkness) Fantastic Four writer 1989–1991 Succeeded byTom DeFalco Preceded byRich Buckler Fantastic Four artist 1990–1991 Succeeded byPaul Ryan Preceded byRob Liefeld and Jeph Loeb The Avengers writer 1997 Succeeded byKurt Busiek Preceded byPhil Jimenez Wonder Woman writer 2003 Succeeded byGreg Rucka