Review: "My Captain America: A Granddaughter’s Memoir of a Legendary Comic Book Artist”

Captain America’s Shield as the family Coat of Arms

Megan Margulies

My Captain America: A Granddaughter's Memoir of a Legendary Comic Book Artist is author Megan Margulies coming of age story, woven with the tale of her close relationship with her grandfather, artist and Captain America co-creator Joe Simon.

It is not a comprehensive history of Simon’s work in comics, but then again, it isn’t meant to be. For that, the author herself would point you to Simon’s own very entertaining autobiography Joe Simon: My Life in Comics. (Click here for an interview with Margulies.)

Rather, this is a very personal story. Readers get a glimpse into the real latter day life of the legendary artist, who Margulies affectionately calls “Daddy Joe.” She grew up 40 blocks north of him in midtown Manhattan. Visiting him was a refuge from her hectic home life in a small crowded apartment.

The narrative switches back and forth between Simon’s life journey and her own. The New York City of her youth was drastically different from when Simon was young, and Margulies draws a vivid picture of growing up in the city in the 1980s.

Margulies’s affection for her grandfather and pride in his legacy—both now and when she was a child—is apparent throughout the book. She describes Cap’s shield as “the family coat of arms,” and named her teddy bear Bucky. She sometimes traveled to events with him, including a visit to San Diego for Comic Con in 1998 where he received an Inkpot Award. On one such trip, her affection for Daddy Joe turned to a sense of protectiveness, and the one time she met Stan Lee she gave him the cold shoulder, feeling her grandfather should have gotten some of the glory heaped on Lee. (Simon himself held no such grudge and spent the evening reminiscing about the old days with his friend.)

For fans of comic book history, there’s a lot of interesting tidbits in the book. “My Captain America” brings Simon to life as a wise, spry and funny man, who loved his family and his art. Readers are treated to an affectionate portrait of a man who never tired of drawing sketches for fans or talking about the iconic characters he created. You feel for him as he gets older and fears of losing his independence, and cheer that he lives to see the opening triumph of “Captain America: The First Avenger.”

Margulies’ own story is compelling as well. The book follows her from her first memories to the birth of her children, and she is brutally honest about times both good and bad with her family. Her relationship with “Daddy Joe” serves as kind of a true north throughout her life. If you're a fan, you start this book jealous that she grew up in the presence of a comic book legend. But you finish jealous of the close bond she had with her beloved grandfather.

“My Captain America: A Granddaughter's Memoir of a Legendary Comic Book Artist” (Pegasus Books) is out now.