Created by comics artist Robyn Kenealy, American Captain a uniquely downbeat take on Steve Rogers, the alter ego of Marvel’s Captain America.
On a superficial level, Captain America is a classic square-jawed superhero, a staunchly moral and patriotic wartime icon who slowly evolved into the Hollywoodized Chris Evans character we know from movies like The Avengers.
Frozen and then reawoken in the present day, in many ways Steve Rogers is one of the most tragic superheroes around: a man trying to find his way in an alien environment, where all his friends are dead or dying of old age. American Captain borrows the diary comic style of indie artists like Robert Crumb and Alison Bechdel to explore how he deals (or doesn’t deal) with adjusting to life in the 21st century.
What made you decide to go this route with Captain America, of all characters? American Captain explores some pretty dark and downbeat topics that most people wouldn’t really associate with a hero that’s often perceived as being very wholesome.
Robyn Kenealey: Honestly I have some skeptical looks for anybody who thinks it’s normal to want to be a superhero. I don’t think it’s normal. I don’t think it’s normal to start fights with people in alleys (defending yourself is one thing. Actively starting fights? You may have some anger issues, son). I don’t think it’s normal to actively let the military put weird stuff in your body. Also, I’m not a fan of the historical consistency with which the military scoops up young men from shitty socio-economic situations and sends them to war.
The other thing I think a lot about in writing Steve’s character is that he’s a baby. He is (given the birthdate in the comics, not the movies), what, 23 when he’s frozen? He’s so, so young to be in the situation that he is. And that’s not unusual, but it is important, because it is so often invisible. So, so often, when you watch movies about WWII, something like Saving Private Ryan or Band of Brothers, or the Cap movies, in that Chris Evans is like 32 or something, you see actors who look like fully grown adults playing all of these these roles that in real life would have been staffed by very young men.