Since romance comics had gone out of style well before I was born, I had no idea just how popular and prolific the genre had been. I had always assumed it was some kind of short-lived craze that fizzled out like other comic fads, but then I started noticing how high the issue numbers were on so many of the covers I selected. Turns out romance comics enjoyed an incredibly successful three-decade run from the late 1940s to the late 1970s. I also learned that the comic that launched the genre, 1947’s Young Romance, was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby! You know, the guys that created Captain America a few years earlier.
This was without question the easiest one of these galleries I’ve ever had to pull together, because almost every single cover I came across was a home run. They’re all just amazing! There was no sorting and sifting and really trying to get through all the underwhelming garbage to get to the good stuff. It’s all good stuff.
Comics have always mirrored American culture back at the American reader, but no single character in comics seems to reflect back as much as Captain America. Created to fight the Nazis, and draped in the colors of the flag, the iconic figure carries an extra significance in his portrayal no matter what the political climate, and he has frequently been a source of controversy. Even in his debut, on December 20, 1940, Captain America was showing Americans something not everyone wanted to see.
If I were to tell you that I was reading up on the Outsiders, there's a good chance that you'd assume I was talking about the team of misfits that Batman put together when he got fed up with Superman's two-bit Justice League and their cowardly refusal to commit international crimes in the name of justice. Heck, if you really wanted to go obscure with it, you might even suggest that I was going all the way back to 1964 and that time that Alfred was killed off and resurrected as a weird gangster Frankenstein called the Outsider. Both are solid guesses, but both are wrong.
No, this week's selection is the other other Outsiders, the presumably heroic gang of weirdos who appeared in exactly one issue of 1st Issue Special, and then drifted off into obscurity before half of them even got an origin.
On this day in 1913, one of the most influential creators in the history of the comic book industry was born. Joe Simon --- best known as the co-creator of Captain America alongside Jack Kirby --- helped establish superhero comics as one of the most exciting and dynamic storytelling forms of the 20th century, and created a host of iconic characters alongside Cap.
This year is the seventy-fifth anniversary of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby’s Captain America Comics #1 and to honor one of the nation’s greatest fictional heroes, a bronze statue is being erected in Captain America's honor. The statue will make its debut at San Diego Comic Con later this month, before finding a permanent residence in Steve Rogers’ native Brooklyn at Prospect Park.
Q: Aside from laying groundwork, most Golden Age stuff I've read is not very good. Are there any must-reads from the era? -- @TheKize
A: Listen, if you're having trouble getting into Golden Age books, I do not blame you. I've read my fair share of them over the years, and while I definitely think it's worth tracking down some of those early superhero comics if you're looking to broaden your horizons a little bit, I'll be the first to tell you that they can be hard to get into for a variety of reasons --- and as you said, chief among them is the fact that a lot of those old comics are just not very good.
Of course, you could say that about pretty much any era of comics and you wouldn't be far off from the truth. More than that, though, I think there's a big barrier that keeps the average reader from getting into those comics, and it has a lot to do with when, how, and why those comics were being made.
Captain America: Sam Wilson #1, by Nick Spencer and Daniel Acuna, has caused a stir since its release last week. The second launch for former Falcon Sam Wilson in his role as the current thrower of the mighty shield sees him taking on the Sons of the Serpent, who are abducting Mexicans attempting to cross the border into the US. The same issue also sees Cap making a public call for national unity, which gets him branded as a partisan, anti-American, and a socialist.
Conservatives on social media are riled up, with some petitioning for writer Nick Spencer's 'resignation'. Political advocacy group The MacIver Insitute was apparently the first to claim the Sons of the Serpent as its ideological peers in a YouTube video objecting to the storyline, while Saturday morning's Fox And Friends TV talk show saw co-host Clayton Henry pine for for the days when Cap was "punching Hitler" and fighting typical Captain America villains, rather than "going up against conservatives."
I know I'm starting to sound like a broken record every time I say this, but this week's DC Comixology sale has some really fantastic comics in it. The Justin Gray/Jimmy Palmiotti/Amanda Conner run on Power Girl is an absolute hoot, and John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake's Martian Manhunter has a lot of really fantastic stuff if you're into seeing how the pieces of the DC Universe can fit together.
But if you're tapped out from all the deals they've been throwing at you for the past few weeks and you can only get one comic in this week's sale, if all you have is one thin dollar bill to spend on comics, then you need to get Prez #1. It might just be the weirdest thing you can buy.
Ravage 2099 and Stripperella co-creator Stan Lee has been channeling Andy Rooney in a series of videos on World of Heroes called "Stan's Rants." Like those missives of the late American broadcaster, these clips are mostly benign "cranky old man" bits. His newest one is about how he hates being on hold, for example.
But the video above, which is from last week, is a knife in the guts of less famous comics creators -- which is to say, nearly all of them. In the video, Lee complains about having to sit through long credits at the end of movies, including superhero movies.
"Nobody knows who [these people] are, nobody can read them and nobody cares," he says, astonishingly.
But here's the problem: Those credits are usually where the names of comics creators who wrote and drew the characters the movies are based on actually get seen.
The following was authored by Megan Margulies, granddaughter of the late Captain America co-creator Joe Simon.
Today Marvel Studios releases Captain America: The Winter Soldier. These movies are not only a cause for celebration by comic book fans, but also for the artists who created the superhero decades ago. In 1941, Jack Kirby and my grandfather, Joe Simon, dreamt of Captain America in an attempt to keep their heads above the turbulent waters of the comic book industry. Much to their surprise and joy, the character went on to receive worldwide fame.
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