In the 1990s, Megan Margulies’s Upper West Side neighborhood was filled with strife, and the small one-bedroom apartment she shared with her parents and two younger siblings was hardly a respite. Salvation arrived in the form of Megan’s spirited grandfather, whose midtown studio became a second home. His living room was dominated by the drawing table, notes, and doodles that marked him as Joe Simon the cartoonist. But for Megan, he was always Daddy Joe.
That was all it took for me to want to read My Captain America: A Granddaughter’s Memoir of a Legendary Comic Artist; it checked all the boxes of my interest – comic book history and the chance to learn more about a legend, Joe Simon. I’ll be honest in saying I can count on one hand the number of memoirs I’ve read (aside from graphic novel memoirs, I could probably use two fingers to count), because ultimately memoirs aren’t typically my thing. Megan Margulies book recounting her relationship with her grandfather, however, was a book that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Although Joe Simon, or Daddy Joe, features prominently in the book, My Captain America… is as much Margulies’ story as it is about Joe Simon.
We follow Marqulies story growing up in the upper west side of New York City in a one bedroom apartment, through the expansion of her family and her rebellious teenage years. Through it all, there’s Joe Simon He is the refuge in a tumultuous young life, the island of calm as the author’s life spirals through familial squabbles and the New York of the late 90’s.
This isn’t a historical record of everything Joe Simon did in his storied comic book career and Marqulies never presents it as such, only bringing up moments that are relevant to the events unfolding on the page. By doing this, she is able to give you an insight into who Joe Simon was, and the impact he had one those around him. Her tidbits also have the effect of being told from a very unique perspective; – and yes, there are certainly aspects of the comic legend that many will be learning about for the first time from this memoir.
You will read about the behind the scenes of Simon’s interviews, snippets of his reactions to events within comics, and even hear about his experience watching Captain America: The First Avenger.
For any fan of Captain America, this book is a must read.
Joe Simon passed away at 98 years old in December 2011. Even knowing that date is coming when reading this book, you can’t help but feel heartbroken when Marqulies peels back the layers of time. The grief we feel as readers is only a fraction of what his family felt, and I’m not ashamed to say that my eyes were more than misty reading those pages. Marqulies pulls on every heart string you have, and some you didn’t know about.
What I was expecting to be an exploration of a comic book legend from a perspective that we’ve never seen before quickly became an intimate look at the relationship between a grandfather and his granddaughter that it was an honor to share.
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