About THAT Captain America pic…

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Yes, I made it. I have to say, it’s gone out into the world in ways I never thought it would. The experience has been amazing and ever so slightly unnerving. But a few thoughts about it, which I originally shared on social and have tweaked/expanded on a bit for this journal. First, in case you haven’t seen it, here’s the original pic:

A note about this image: I’ve added a watermark to this one just to try to prevent people from slapping it on T-shirts and cups and things. This is a work of homage, I do not own Captain America, the imagery in the header, and make no claim of doing so. 🙂
Yesterday the floodgates kind of opened on people sharing the Captain America pic. Seeing people share this has really brightened my week. It’s great when my name is attached, sure. But even when it’s not it still makes me feel better. Like so many of you, I’ve felt so utterly helpless so many times these last four years. I had a lot of frustration, rage, and sadness and this was my outlet. As a human being, I appreciate shades of grey. I appreciate the world is a complex place. One reason I find social media frustrating—and one of the reasons I started this journal in earnest when I made this new site—is that I believe in thoughtful nuance, examining issues from different sides, and empathizing with different points of view. For instance, my thoughts about my own country are complex, to say the least.

I almost didn’t finish it…

But there are times when I think a sense of moral clarity is appropriate. Obvious lines in the sand. Comics, at their best, can help crystalize those moments. Just making this image was helpful to me. Ironically, I got about halfway through drawing it and I gave up on it. I just wasn’t sure I had it in me to finish it. I’d drawn enough of it. I wasn’t sure I needed to finish it and color it and share it. I’m glad I did now. Seeing people rally around it has made this past week easier to weather as so may GOP lawmakers try to muddy the waters yet again. It’s sickening. It’s saddening. It’s an absolute betrayal of our country. The fact that politicians like Jordan or Gaetz (just to name a few) refused to draw those lines or even repeated the same misinformation/lies that led to the attempted coup in the first place… my heart was heavy.

Symbols and meaning

It’s been wild, in the week since I drew that image, to see that some people in the attempted coup actually WORE Captain America imagery. The appropriation by some of these groups of symbols from comic books is also maddening. Actually, they’re also appropriating things like runes, pagan symbols, Viking symbols… all for ahistorical reasons… but I won’t get into how annoying that is now. Let’s just talk comic books. It’s bad enough they’ve taken on the Punisher symbol. But Captain America? No, you don’t get to have that. Symbols are powerful things. They can be dangerous things. Our flag, Cap’s shield… in and of themselves are they are JUST things. WE give them meaning. We impart them with the best of us or the worst of us. We make them rallying cries of justice or rallying cries of hate.
That so many of you have liked and shared this little piece of fan art gives me hope. Joe Simon and Jack Kirby meant for Cap to be the best of us. So even when we fail as a country to live up to that ideal, it gives me hope that so many still believe in it.
A comparison between the original comic book cover and my homage:

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