John Cassaday: Captain America is a reminder of who we are

March 23, 2011 | 2:02 p.m.

Captain America by John Cassaday (Marvel Comics)

It was 70 years ago this month that Captain America, the greatest of all the patriotic-themed superheroes, first hit newsstands with a red, white and blue shield gripped in his gloved hand. He also gets his own feature film this summer, “Captain America: The First Avenger,” and to mark the moment,  we’ll be talking to writers, artists, actors, directors and musicians about the star-spangled icon’s legacy and future. Today: John Cassaday.

There’s no artist on the scene today who captures the stolid but sentimental mien of Captain America with more feeling than John Cassaday, whose work has the feel of vintage homefront poster art and a romanticized version of a truly heroic reality. We asked Cassaday to write a bit about his feelings regarding a character that might (and often does) look like a walking flag in the hands of lesser artists.

“Captain America is among the truest of superheroes,” the 39-year-old Texas native said. “He was born out of something very real and immediate. We were on the cusp of entering World War II and he stood as an answer to the fears of many American children. Captain America was the pure antithesis of the Nazi threat, created to be the hero in a comic in which they’d first cast the villain — none other than Adolf Hitler. Very rarely can you look back and see a hero as ‘necessary,’ but looking back, Cap can be seen as an exception. Beyond that is the matter of the present day. He stands out in a way no other hero of his genre can. Not only a man out of his time, dealing with his own impressions of where we’ve gone as a nation, but as a strong reminder of where we came from. There’s no truer example of a comic book super hero of what’s been labeled the ‘greatest generation.’”

– Geoff Boucher

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