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Cartoonist Behind Thor Donates Time and Talent to Alma Mater
Simonson’s illustration for the Annual Fund
For almost 40 years, Walter “Walt” Simonson ’68 has been one of the artists and writers behind some of the most recognizable comic book heroes, from the Avengers and the Fantastic Four to Wonder Woman and Thor. This spring, Simonson generously donated his time and talent to his alma mater by creating an Amherst-themed superhero for the June Annual Fund appeal. At Amherst, Simonson studied geology, and his interest in the sciences is still evident in his signature, which resembles a distorted brontosaurus.
Simonson’s work on Thor is legendary in the comic world, and with the May release of the film version, the accomplished artist is finally receiving a wider audience. During the mid-1980s, Simonson took nearly complete control of the storyline as both writer and artist. Although he did not create the title character, his time on the story saw a revival of Thor’s popularity as he introduced major new characters and plot twists. Earlier this year, Marvel published a complete hardcover collection of Simonson’s editions of Thor with newly colored artwork by Steve Oliff, an award-winning colorist in the comic book world who also generously donated his time and talent to Amherst in partnership with Simonson.
“Working on Thor was one of the highlights of my career and I am happy the character found a new audience in the recent film,” said Simonson. “In comics, there’s a creative freedom and an independence rarely found in other media. And I love the complexities of the job. You get to draw pictures in which you mold compositions, design characters, create landscapes, build cities, solve perspectives, forge weaponry, meld lettering and type with art, and fuse it all together into a story by playing with time and space. I haven’t found that sort of challenge anywhere else.”
Simonson has received multiple Shazam Awards, including recognitions for Best New Talent and Best Individual Short Story, and in 2010 he received the Hero Initiative Lifetime Achievement Award.
Simonson isn’t the only famous artist to contribute artwork to Amherst’s Annual Fund. FoxTrot artist Bill Amend ’84 lent Quincy, the strip’s iconic iguana, and Peter Fox’s Amherst cap to the 2009 fund drive.