What They Shoulda Done,…”

FCA Captain Marvel Adventures #23 Cover Re-creationThis is a re-cre­ation/re-inter­pre­ta­tion of the cov­er of Cap­tain Mar­vel Adven­tures #23, done in col­lab­o­ra­tion with my friend and ani­ma­tion biz men­tor, Lar­ry Hous­ton. You’ll note there are some sig­nif­i­cant changes, if you com­pare this cov­er to the orig­i­nal.

This re-cre­ation came about because of an upcom­ing issue of FCA (the Faw­cett Col­lec­tors of Amer­i­ca), with an arti­cle dis­cussing minor­i­ty rep­re­sen­ta­tion in Gold­en Age comics. Since the article’s appear­ing in FCA, the pri­ma­ry focus was to be on Steam­boat, an African-Amer­i­can char­ac­ter who appeared for a while in the ear­ly Cap­tain Mar­vel strips.

Now, fea­tur­ing Steam­boat pre­sent­ed a prob­lem. He was always depict­ed in that stereo­typ­i­cal and racist way that most African-Amer­i­can char­ac­ters were por­trayed in comics at the time. So what were we to do about a cov­er for this issue?

Nei­ther FCA Edi­tor P.C. Hamer­linck nor myself thought it was a good idea to use images of Steam­boat from the orig­i­nal comics on the cov­er, and for the same rea­sons, I didn’t feel right in ask­ing an artist to gen­er­ate new art depict­ing him as he appeared back then.

Anoth­er thought was to do a new draw­ing depict­ing Steam­boat in a non-racist way. But then that raised the ques­tion of how peo­ple would even be able to rec­og­nize who he was sup­posed to be, since it would be so far afield from his orig­i­nal appearance.

P.C. came up with the idea of doing a re-cre­ation of Cap­tain Mar­vel Adven­tures #23, only done in a sort of “what if there weren’t the racial stereo­types in old comics?” kind of way. Look­ing over the orig­i­nal cov­er and its ele­ments, I real­ized this was the way to go. We could make this idea work. Even though Steam­boat would look dif­fer­ent from how he’d been por­trayed in the Gold­en Age, read­ers would still be able to iden­ti­fy him because there was a con­text for it.

I’d also been think­ing of try­ing to get some new and dif­fer­ent voic­es involved in some of these FCA cov­ers. Though Lar­ry Hous­ton is prob­a­bly best known for his ani­ma­tion work, he’s always had a deep love for comics too. And I knew that pos­i­tive por­tray­als of African-Amer­i­can char­ac­ters in car­toons and comics has always been a sub­ject Lar­ry cared a great deal about. So I thought maybe this cov­er could be a great oppor­tu­ni­ty for me to team up with Lar­ry. I asked him if he’d be inter­est­ed, and he agreed to do it.

Lar­ry pro­vid­ed me with a good, tight lay­out, which I took the rest of the way, even adding dot pat­terns and aging.

You get to see it here as the com­ic cov­er alone, sans the FCA copy. This issue of FCA (#203) will be appear­ing in the pages of Roy Thomas’ Alter Ego #144, out in Decem­ber from Twomorrows.

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One Response to What They Shoulda Done,…”

  1. John G. Pierce says:

    Well stat­ed, Mark, and well done on the visu­al. As Dick Lupoff not­ed in his “the Big Red Cheese” arti­cle years ago, these por­tray­als were sel­dom intend­ed to be vicious. It was as if there was some sort of stereo­typ­i­cal minor­i­ty char­ac­ter, and most mem­bers of that group were reflec­tions of that stereo­type to one degree or anoth­er. Still sad, of course, but rarely mali­cious in intent.

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