Q&A: Joe Simon's Granddaughter on “Her" Captain America

Author Megan Margulies isn't exactly a hardcore fangirl, but she has quite the comic book pedigree. Her grandmother Harriet Feldman was a secretary at Harvey Comics, and her grandfather was legendary comics creator Joe Simon, who together with Jack Kirby created Captain America.

Megan Margulies

She weaves together the story of her own coming of age with that of her relationship with her grandfather in the new book “My Captain America: A Granddaughter’s Memoir of a Legendary Comic Book Artist.” She used his own memoir “Joe Simon: My Life in Comics” as background to make sure she got all the historical details right.

“I wanted the book to be a personal look at my relationship with him and his presence in the world, but ‘My Life in Comics’ was like my text book,” she says.

We recently talked with Megan—who refers to Cap's shield as her “family coat of arms”— about her relationship with her grandfather (“Daddy Joe,” as she fondly called him), and her thoughts about his enduring legacy.

Beth Negus Viveiros: Was part of the inspiration for “My Captain America” to introduce a wider audience to your grandfather’s place in comic book history?

Megan Margulies: Yes. I would stop grown ups in the supermarket who were wearing Captain America shirts and say “I like your shirt, do you know who created him?” Most would say “Stan Lee.” As his granddaughter, who is so proud of him, that was upsetting, so I felt I had to do something. I wanted everyone to know who Joe Simon was—he created one of the most famous comic book characters of all time, but not many people know his name.

Beth: In the book, you write that your grandfather joked about “making Stan Lee the man he is today.” How did your grandfather feel about Stan?

Megan: Stan worked for my father at Timely, and he introduced him to the world of comic books. There weren't any hard feelings. But on my part [as Joe’s granddaughter], there was, because of all the fame and fortune Stan got. But he loved Stan, he was a big part of his early career. I think they were just two very different people. My grandfather was very good with the business end of things, but he was more an artist and writer, and didn't have as much of a desire to be in the limelight.

Megan Margulies and Joe Simon

Beth: Were you always aware of his place in comics history growing up?

Megan: Oh, definitely. He came to grandparent’s day at my grade school. Everyone brought in their grandparents and said why they were special—and I came in with the creator of Captain America. I think I won that day. *laughs* I was always very aware, I went to some conventions with him when I was younger. He was a larger than life presence.

Beth: What are your kids’ understanding of the family legacy? You mention in the book that when your daughter was younger, she thought Captain America was her great-grandfather.

Megan: My older daughter is 5 and she's starting to understand that they're two different people. When we see Captain America on a t-shirt, she knows [the character] is part of her family and who she is. My youngest is only 18 months, so she’s not there yet, but we’ll get her on board.

Beth: What does your family think about the book?

Megan: They're waiting until it is published to read it, but they’re very excited. It must be strange for my parents, because I do talk about what it was like to be a teenager in our small apartment, and how I ran to my grandfather for a sense of serenity. But they gave me everything I needed—I got a great education and had food on the table and was always supported. I hope my daughter doesn't write about me one day. *laughs*

Beth: Are you a comics fan yourself?

Megan: I’m by no means a comic book expert. I wasn't super into them. My grandfather used to get boxes of free comic books, and this might sound terrible, but I'd fish through them and take out the Archie comics and ignore the others.

Beth: As your grandfather got older, was he interested in pop culture?

Megan: He loved “The Simpsons.” I don't know how much of the [modern] comic book world he followed, but he was still drawing and creating characters up to the day he died. It was in his blood. I remember visiting him and him showing me new ideas. It was there up until the end.

Beth: How did he feel about the lasting legacy of Captain America?

Megan: He saw the first Captain America movie and he was blown away by it. As an artist, it must have been an amazing feeling. The longevity of it and how popular it became—I was so happy he saw that Captain America was here to stay.

Click back tomorrow for a review of “My Captain America: A Granddaughter’s Memoir of a Legendary Comic Book Artist,” out now from Pegasus Books.