Captain America Month

Joe Simon: Father of the First Avenger

A few words and pictures with Captain America’s co-creator, the legendary Joe Simon!

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We’re celebrating the July 22 premiere of “Captain America: The First Avenger” with Captain America Month! Enjoy daily doses of new Cap goodness including interviews with the film’s cast and crew as well as some of the biggest creators in the Sentinel of Liberty’s history, retrospectives on our hero’s most memorable Marvel comics and surprises galore! Come back to Marvel.com every day for new Cap Month coverage, and mark your calendars for July 22 to see the Star-Spangled Avenger in action!

By Jim Beard

“Creating a patriotic hero was a natural thing to do,” says Joe Simon of the inauguration of one of comics’ first star-spangled crusaders, Captain America, in 1941. “And the villain came first. Hitler was the perfect bad guy - better than any we could have invented. Captain America was created to be his ultimate foil.

Captain America Comics #1

“Even then, he wasn’t meant to be a one-trick-pony, with nothing but patriotic stories. Many of his early adventures were mysteries and horror stories, putting him up against mobsters and monsters. We even had zombies before they became as popular as they are today.”

That “we” Simon speaks of is himself and, of course, his long-time partner in comics, the late Jack Kirby. Together, the two young men crafted a hero who, in those early days of the largest global conflict ever, leaped into battle and has never stopped running since. You might say Cap’s become a symbol that transcends time.

“Jack Kirby and I both knew we had a great comic book character, but I don’t think we thought comic books were going to last this long, much less any one hero,” he notes.

“Back then we had the Nazis coming after us for what we did to their Fuhrer, but the world is an even more dangerous place today, with the weapons out there and the threat of terrorism. So Cap is more important than ever, and the readers need him more than ever. They need a hero they can count on to do the right thing.”

Perhaps nothing truly cements the poster boy for patriotism’s place in the hearts and minds of his fans than the release of the big-screen “Captain America: The First Avenger” film on July 22. Joe Simon looks forward to his creation’s newest leap - right into theatres across the globe.

“I’ve seen the trailers and the posters, and everything looks great,” he says. “Stephen Broussard, the co-producer of the movie, has been keeping me up to date, and I really appreciate everything he’s done. It’s a real thrill to see the character looking so good on screen.

“Jack actually came back to the character years later, first with Stan Lee and then on his own, so I think he would have been especially thrilled, and so happy to see that they’re crediting us with what we did in creating the character and producing his origin.”

For Simon, his excitement over the film is further fueled by the release of his adventurous memoirs, "Joe Simon: A Life in Comics," now available from Titan Books. The tome contains what the creator proudly calls “almost a century of stories.”

"My Life in Comics" by Joe Simon

“I got into the business about a year after the business started, and stayed in it ever since, so there’s no one else who could cover so much ground,” he reports. “Jack and I had more than one million-selling title over the years, and our share of flops, too. So I was able to talk about the industry from every angle. 'My Life in Comics' actually goes all the way back to my childhood, to the things that inspired me and the jobs that allowed me to develop the skills needed to produce comic books. And there are stories I had that no one else could tell.

“I loved the days when I was writing and illustrating for the newspapers, because it was such exciting work and I met so many amazing people, from writers like Damon Runyon to champion fighters like Max Baer. But I’m also proud of the things I accomplished in comic books, breaking sales records, producing stories in all of the genres, and even developing a new genre [with romance comics].”

When he’s asked as to whom the memoir might appeal most, Simon’s hope includes multiple targets.

“Partly it’s for the wonderful writers and artists I worked with over the years, many of whom are included in the stories I tell,” he explains. “Partly it’s for today’s comic book fans, many of whom have no idea how exciting it was to work in the medium just as it was getting started, and to be part of it over the decades. It’s for people who like to go back in time, to see what it was like to live in New York at a very magical time.

“But most of all, it’s probably for my family, beginning with my parents and continuing with my wife, Harriet, who I met at the Harvey Comics offices right after the war, and our wonderful children and grandchildren.”

"Captain America: The First Avenger" will focus on the early days of the Marvel Universe when Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) volunteers to participate in an experimental program that turns him into the Super Soldier known as Captain America.  As Captain America, Rogers joins forces with Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) to wage war on the evil HYDRA organization, led by the villainous Red Skull (Hugo Weaving).

Check out the official "Captain America: The First Avenger" teaser site as well as its hub page right here on Marvel.com for the latest on Cap's big screen adventure hitting theaters July 22!


In addition to "Captain America: The First Avenger," Marvel Studios will release a slate of films based on the Marvel characters including "Marvel's The Avengers" on May 4, 2012, and "Iron Man 3" on May 3, 2013.

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2 comments
Gharyz
Gharyz

I sincerely hope that Mr. Simon will be given the full red carpet treatment at one of the premieres. He deserves it.

neocap
neocap

Thank you Joe Simon and Jack Kirby for one of many great creations to the industry.