Sorry for skipping last week guys. I was busy with training. Now that i’m done triyng to get smarter, I can get to what matters and that’s providing the Internet with fun factoids and drops of knowledge.

Because of that movie film thing that opened, this week we’re going to learn some of the history of one side of this conflict, Captain America. Next week i’ll cover Iron Man

Joe Simon came up with the character in 1940 and made a sketch of the character in costume[1]. He said he wrote the name “Super American” on the bottom of the page but then reconsidered it.

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“No, it didn’t work. There were too many “Supers” around. “Captain America” had a good sound to it. There weren’t a lot of captains in comics. It was as easy as that. The boy companion was simply named Bucky, after my friend Bucky Pierson, a star on our high school basketball team”.[2]

Timely Comics publisher Martin Goodman gave the go-ahead to publish a Captain America solo book series as soon as possible. Joe Simon wasn’t sure if his regular creative partner Jack Kirby could hand the workload alone.

“I didn’t have a lot of objections to putting a crew on the first issue ... There were two young artists fromConnecticut that had made a strong impression on me.Al Avison and Al Gabriele often worked together and were quite successful in adapting their individual styles to each other. Actually, their work was not too far from [that of] Kirby’s. If they worked on it, and if one inker tied the three styles together, I believed the final product would emerge as quite uniform. The two Als were eager to join in on the new Captain America book, but Jack Kirby was visibly upset. “You’re still number one, Jack,” I assured him. “It’s just a matter of a quick deadline for the first issue.”

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“I’ll make the deadline,” Jack promised. “I’ll pencil it [all] myself and make the deadline.” I hadn’t expected this kind of reaction ... but I acceded to Kirby’s wishes and, it turned out, was lucky that I did. There might have been two Als, but there was only one Jack Kirby ... I wrote the first Captain America book with penciled lettering right on the drawing boards, with very rough sketches for figures and backgrounds. Kirby did his thing, building the muscular anatomy, adding ideas and pepping up the action as only he could. Then he tightened up the penciled drawings, adding detailed backgrounds, faces and figures.”[2]

Captain America was always meant to be a political creation. He and Jack Kirby were morally repulsed by the actions of Nazi Germany in their rise to power leading to the outbreak of World War 2. “The opponents to the war were all quite well organized. We wanted to have our say too.”[3]

Captain America Comics #1 was cover dated March of 1941 and on sale in December of 1940, a year before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. This issue had the now famous cover with Cap punching Hitler IN THE FACE! It solds nearly one million copies. [4]. While support was mostly positive, Simon recalled that no everyone was on board, “When the first issue came out we got a lot of ... threatening letters and hate mail. Some people really opposed what Cap stood for.”[3]. The offices received threats, including menacing groups loitering outside of the offices. It got so serious that police protection was posted with New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia contacting Simon and Kirby to give them his support. [5]

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In 1966 Joe Simon sued the owners of Marvel Comics, claiming that he and not Marvel was legally entitles to renew the copyright upon the expiration of the original 28 year term. This was settled out of court with Simon agreeing to a statement that the character was created under terms of employment by the publisher and was work for hire owned by Marvel[6]. Joe Simon tried to claim the copyright again in 1999. This time he argued that a provision to the Copyright Act of 1976 which allowed the original creators to reclaim them after the original 56 year copyright term (but not the longer term enacted by the new legislation) had expired. Marvel argued that the settlement of the 1966 suit made the character ineligible for termination of the copyright transfer. Marvel and Joe Simon settled out of court in 2003, in a deal that paid Simon royalties for licensing use and merchandise of Captain America[6][7].

Resources

1. 74 Comic Art Convention program, cover

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2. Simon, Joe; Simon, Jim (1990). The Comic Book Makers. Crestwood/II. p. 50. ISBN 978-1-887591-35-5.Reissued by Vanguard Productions in 2003.

3. Wright, Bradford W. (2001). Comic Book Nation: The Transformation of Youth Culture in America. Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 36. ISBN 978-0-8018-7450-5.

4. Fromm, Keif (June 2005). “The Privacy Act Of Carl Burgos”. Alter Ego (TwoMorrows Publishing) 3 (49): 4.

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5. Cronin, Brian (2009). Was Superman a Spy?: And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed. Plume. pp. 135–136. ISBN 978-0-452-29532-2.

6. Lovitz, Michael. “The Struggle for Captain America”.The Philadelphia Lawyer. Philadelphia Bar Association. Archived from the original on December 2, 2013. Retrieved August 6, 2013.

7. Gustines, George Gene (April 16, 2008). “Joe Simon, a Creator of Captain America, Fighting On”. The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 3, 2016. Retrieved August 6, 2013.