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December 20: Captain America

December 20, 2015

220px-Captainamerica1The first issue of Captain America, a comic book written and drawn by Joe (Hymie) Simon, with illustration help from Jack Kirby (born Jacob Kurtzberg), hit the newsstands on this date in 1940 (the cover date was March, 1941). Published by Timely Comics under the leadership of Martin Goodman, Captain America was about a super-warrior bred by the U.S. military to fight Hitler and his allies. Al Liederman inked the premiere issue, and Howard Ferguson lettered it. The comic, which included a panel with Captain America punching Hitler in the face, sold a million copies. By 1950, however, the character was discontinued. He was briefly revived by Atlas Comics in 1953, and then came back strong in 1964, as part of Stan Lee’s Marvel Comics, although Joe Simon would eventually sue Marvel (settled out of court) for ownership of the copyright. The Captain’s best-known foes have included the Red Skull, Baron Zemo, Aleksander Lukin, Flag Smasher, and Hydra, enemies of democracy, all.

“When I and the other young artists were working in comics, our work carried with it a particularly American slant. After all, we were Americans drawing and writing about things that touched us. As it turned out, the early work was, you might say, a comic book version of Jazz.” —Joe Simon