365 T-shirts - the reasoning

This blog should be sub-titled: a journal of my life in geek.

I get my geek on with things about which I am geeky: comic books, Baseball, Ultimate, science fiction, my favorite bands, books I have read and loved, and Jungian psychology to name some of the most frequently traversed subjects.

I began this project simply as a way to count my T-shirts. I own a lot of T-shirts. But how many do I have? Do I have 365? We shall find out.

When I started this blog, I thought about how each T-shirt means something to me. I bought it for a reason, after all. I set myself the task to post an entry about a new T-shirt every day as a way to simply write something every day, a warm up for writing fiction, which is my passion. Writing is like exercise. Warm ups are good for exercise. But after completing a month of blogging about T-shirts, I have learned that this blog serves as a journal; it documents my life in geek, sort of a tour of my interests in pop culture. The blog serves as a tool for self-inventory, for assessment and analysis of self and the origins of self, for stepping through the process of individuation in catalogues, lists, and ranks.

The blog also made me aware that I have some serious gaps in my T-shirt ownership, and I am in the process of collecting some new T-shirts for several of the great popular culture icons that I truly love. Stay tuned.

I was also a bit surprised that people checked out my blog and continue to check it, read it, and even comment on it. I am very appreciative of this readership. Please feel free to share your thoughts in my comments section. I will respond.

Also, please note that I have moved the original introductory text to the side bar. And now, I present to you the most recent entry of 365 T-shirts: a journal of my life in geek. Thank you for reading.
(Second Update - 1310.24. First Update - 1306.05 Originally Posted - 1304.25.)

Friday, July 5, 2013

T-shirt #106 - Captain America

T-shirt #106 - Captain America, Jack Kirby, and KUDL costume night

As promised, I present Captain America. If only I could find the shirt, which may be packed away at my parents' house. On today's blog, you will see pictures of me wearing the shirt in 2007 at the Kalamazoo Ultimate Disc League (KUDL) costume night.

The subject of KUDL costume night (which this season will be observed on July 15th) would be enough for an entry, especially with these wacky pictures. However, I am dressed as Captain America (at least with just the shirt), and so today's subject will be devoted to the most patriotic of heroes, though I promise to keep it relatively short as I went a bit nuts with yesterday's entry.

In terms of page length, this one is going to be long, but there's more pictures and links than text.


I think I have only worn the Captain America shirt three times: once around the house after I bought it and twice playing Ultimate, once at costume night in 2007.
Dan Lipson and me - KUDL Costume Night 2007

Me with Andrew "Little" Hamilton - KUDL Costume Night 2007
... I have no idea what we're doing...


I can't really say that Captain America has been one of my favorite heroes or even one of my favorite Marvel heroes. As cool as he is, and though the throwing shield thing is very cool, he would not make my top five in either category. After all, as I have established on this blog already--and will continue to establish--I am quite a bit more fond of those heroes that are not the flagship characters, such as--at Marvel--Silver Surfer, Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Iron Fist, and the Son of Satan.

Though Captain America has not always been a favorite, I have not avoided him; I have read issues of Captain America avidly for most of my life.

The Marvel Comics Wikia Database: Captain America continues to be a great resource for information about comics and the history.

Captain America #100
My first issue featuring Captain America was Tales of Suspense #96 from December of 1967, featuring an Iron Man story by Stan Lee and Gene Colan (an artist who is in my top five faves of the 1960s), and the Captain America story "To Be Reborn" by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, in which Steve Rogers is drawn out of retirement and back into uniform as Captain America.

I did not have any Avengers comics before Tales of Suspense #96 came out. My first comic of the Mighty Avengers was #63 from April of 1969. I bought Avengers Special #3, which retold Cap's origin and return to the then present of the Marvel universe and joining the Avengers when it came out in July of 1969.

I might own Captain America #100, the first issue of his own title after the cancellation of  Tales of Suspense, but I do not have access to my comics here. (NOTE: Another reason to update the blog someday.) I know I have read the issue in reprint.

My next issue was Captain America #119, after Steranko's short run, and once again a story featuring the awesome GENE COLAN.

Art by John Cassady
Cap gave up his uniform again and fought for justice as Nomad in 1974. I was getting nearly every issue up to Jack Kirby's return to the book after his years at DC Comics starting with issue #193 (January 1976). Though I skipped out in the later 1970s, I read sporadically and started tuning in for every issue when John Byrne took on the title. I loved the mid-1980s run by J.M. DeMatteis and Mike Zeck. Though many fans criticized Mark Gruenwald, I enjoyed his tenure on the book from 1985-1995. He logged the most consecutive issues by any single author in the character's history. Gruenwald epitomized what comics are in essence: a business. It's not easy to create earth-shattering, creatively-rich, and innovative stories monthly for ten years. Gruenwald's stories may not have broken new ground, but he kept the character's story coming month after month for 137 issues. I loved Mark Gruenwald as a writer and a person, as I had the chance to know him during my brief time in the Marvel offices in 1985. Gruenwald died in 1996 of a heart attack at the age of 43.

Mark Waid's run on the book followed Gruenwald, and then there was Rob Liefeld, who did what is known as Captain America Volume 2. Not much to say about that. Waid returned with Ron Garney for Volume Three in 1998, which ran fifty issues with the wrap-up by Dan Jurgens and Bob Layton in 2002. The thirty-two issue run of Volume Four began in June of 2002 with some of the most definitive work on Captain America to date by John Ney Rieber and John Cassady. Though a great creative team like that cannot produce thirty-two issues and Volume Four concludes in 2004 with a team of The Walking Dead's Robert Kirkman and Scot Eaton. This is what comics is all about. It's manufacturing. It's production month after month after month, and few can keep it up like Kirby or Gruenwald.
Art by Sreve Epting

Volume Five began the era many praise today as the character's finest (next to classics by Kirby) with 50 issues by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting. In this arc, Brubaker introduced the Winter Soldier, Cap's old sidekick Bucky, whom Cap thought had died in their final battle against the Nazis in World War II, but who survived and had been brainwashed and stored cyrogenically, thawed for assassinations when needed. These years also featured the assassination of Captain America with Bucky taking on the role of his departed comrade. In the end, Steve Rogers was not dead and he ultimately returned to the role of Captain America. The sixth volume consisted of nineteen issues; Brubaker continued as the writer, the initial issues were drawn by Steve McNiven and later by Alan Davis, Patrick Zircher, and others.

There are tons of great stories in these volumes, but I want to focus on Jack Kirby's legacy and on the recent set of issues (Volume Seven), which is an extended love letter to Jack Kirby and his ingenious contributions to the saga of his first and greatest creation:

Captain America (though credit must be given to co-creator Joe Simon, also).

From the Bicentennial issue? I will include this
in full size at the end.

I have created a category for Jack Kirby in the blog because he is the master and a subject I plan to return to over and over again.

I have written about Jack Kirby four times already (counting today). Most notably, I provided the basics of how badly he and his estate has been cheated in T-shirt #83: The X-Men Logo to the tune of over SEVEN billion dollars and counting. I also wrote about Jack Kirby in T-shirt #53: Agent of Shield, and T-shirt #104: Silver Surfer etc.

Two of the first comics I ever owned were drawn by Jack Kirby: Tales of Suspense #96 and Fantastic Four #69 (both published in December of 1967). I became an avid Jack Kirby fan from those very earliest days. I read Jack Kirby Fantastic Four, I read Jack Kirby Thor, I read Jack Kirby Captain America, and the Uncanny X-Men, and the Avengers, etc.

When Kirby left Marvel in 1971, I started reading his DC Comics, such as OMAC (which recently had a Kirby love letter of its own), The New Gods, Mister Miracle, Kamandi, and the most awesome Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen.

When Kirby returned to Marvel, I was in full comic-buying mode and spent my money faithfully on Captain America, The Black Panther (a Kirby themed shirt will be featured in the near future in this blog), 2001: A Space Odyssey, Machine Man, Devil Dinosaur, and my personal favorite--one of my all-time most favorite comic books: The Eternals.

Kirby's late 1970s Marvel period began in January 1976 with Captain America #193 - "The Madbomb, Screamer in the Brain." I have featured art from this first and other issues later in today's blog entry. The Eternals debuted in July of 1976, and Kirby's The Black Panther started in January of 1977, by which time Kirby was cranking  out 60-80 pages of art per month, including covers and maintaining (as writer, artist, and editor) four ongoing, regular titles. To use "Marvel-esque" words, this kind of output is ASTOUNDING and ASTONISHING, even UNCANNY and FANTASTIC!

This is the most fertile and amazingly creative period of Jack Kirby's career in comics. Though many "comic fans" criticize this period (some feel Kirby cannot write realistic-sounding dialogue), most comic book fans and readers will be quick to agree that this period is one of the most rich and innovative in Marvel Comics history.


I own a nifty coffee table style book by Mark Evanier on Kirby called Kirby: King of Comics, which won the Eisner for best comic related boom in 2009.

Kirby: King of Comics Wiki

Kirby: King of Comics Amazon

TwoMorrows Publishing - You Can't Go Home Again - Kirby Collector Twentyninth Issue

Buying Kirby Collector magazine: at TwoMorrows

Jack Kirby | Ridiculously Awesome

Jack Kirby Interview | The Comics Journal

IO9: The true story of life at Marvel Comics in the glory days of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee

The Jack Kirby Chronology: 1970-1979

The 7 Most Awesome Moments From Jack Kirby’s ‘Captain America’

Diversions of the Groovy Kind: Making a Splash: "Madbomb"--Jack Kirby's Return to Captain America and Marvel

Author of the blog at the next link, Scott Edelman worked at Marvel Comics in the 1970s during the time Kirby returned after his years at DC. Kirby was abused by the staffers during that time, and things got so bad that Stan Lee had to intercede. These anecdotes are explained in the "You Can't Go Home Again" article
linked above.

Years later, Edelman is taking more cheap shots at Kirby by criticizing this panel from Captain America #207.

Not that I consider Kirby some saint but is this kind of criticism really necessary? Seems to me that Edelman has an axe to grind and is pulling out some obscure and forgotten panel to make the point that Jack Kirby needed Stan Lee, even though many agree that Jack's solo work is some of the most brilliant comic book work ever created. Granted his dialogue, external, or internal as seen here, is often stilted, but Kirby was not trying for "realism," which is often what comics strive for anyway (lack of realism), especially in the late 1970s.  I say, shame on you, Scott Edelman.

Read Edelman's comments here: Failing Better - Shame on you, Captain America!


The current run of Captain America is part of the Marvel Now line issues #1 (January 2013) through issue #8 (August 2013) with one issue (#9) left in the story, which is being called "Captain America in Dimension Z." (Note dates are two months in advance as per the norm in comics.)

Written by Rick Remender
Pencils by John Romita Jr.
Inks by Klaus Janson
Colors by Dean White

SPOILER ALERT! Do not read on if you want to avoid spoilers.

This current run of Captain America comics is truly brilliant. Remender and Romita JR with Janson and Knight have synthesized what makes Kirby so great and given it all a modern look.

Like the 1970s Kirby issues, Remender chops Cap out of the current continuity, placing him in "Dimension Z," which is run by his old foe (and a Kirby creation) Arnim Zola. Cap spends TWELVE YEARS (yeah, not sure how Remender plans to deal with this plot element but he has claimed that Cap will be "forever changed" by this story line) in Dimension Z, avoiding Zola and raising Ian, a clone of Zola, who he rescued from Zola's headquarters.

Flashbacks to the childhood of Steve Rogers provide further (and new) back story for the character as present day Cap fights through the horrors of Zola's nightmare dimension with all sorts of Kirby-esque tropes, such as the costuming of Zola's daughter Jet Black, the kindly Phrox with whom Cap and Ian take refuge, and the growing Zola virus embedded in his chest (as revealed at the end of issue #3).

Issue #4 begins with a page that reads simply: "ELEVEN YEARS LATER," and at the end issue #5, after Ian has been taken by Jet Black, to be returned to Zola, Cap cuts out of his chest this growing techno-organic presence before he sets out to get his son back.

The reviews and articles do a good job explaining why Captain America Volume Seven is so great. Check them out as well as the Marvel AR videos.


Review - Weekly Comic Book reviews - Captain America #5

Review - Figureheads.ov.pop - Captain America #6

Review - Comicosity - Captain America #6

Reviews of Remender's work - collected on Comic Hype

USATODAY: Remender gives a pulp SF edge to Captain America

NEWSARAMA: Captain America Won't be the same post-Zola War, Remender Says

Remender's "Captain America" Fights for Freedom & Family - Comic Book Resources

Rick Remender on ‘Captain America,’ ‘Devolution’ and the Desecration of Charles Xavier [Interview]

Marvel AR

I always had trouble with the Marvel Augmented Reality, so I finally deleted the APPs from my phone and tablet, but I was very disappointed because I wanted to access this content. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Marvel is posting the AR videos to You Tube. How much do I love social media? A LOT.

Here's three videos from the AR app: two with artist John Romita Jr and one with writer Rick Remender about recent issues of the Captain America series.

Captain America #7: Rick Remender - Marvel AR

Captain America #7: John Romita JR talks - Marvel AR

Captain America #5 - John Romita Jr. - Marvel AR


I must give a nod to the recent movie Captain America: First Avenger (2011), which I thought was quite good and far superior to the two CBS live action films from 1979. (SIDE NOTE: The first Cap TV movie premiered on my birthday in 1979, which I thought was quite a treat until I watched it.)

As a fan of the Winter Soldier story in the comics, I am quite excited about the next film Captain America: the Winter Soldier (2014), especially because Robert Redford has been cast.

Captain America By Jack Kirby

An art gallery of various images from Kirby's 1970s work on Captain America. The blog closes with a Captain America painting by Alex Ross.

From the Bicentennial issue?

Captain America #197 - pg. 10

Captain America # 199 pg.2

Captain America 193 - 02

Captain America 193 - 03

Captain America 199 - 04

Captain America 196 - 05

Captain America 208
Captain America 214

Captain America Bicentennial?
Some of my favorite (though not all)
of my Kirby Captain America covers follow.

art by Alex Ross
Okay, this entry took way longer than I had planned. If you actually made it to this point, THANK YOU!

- chris tower - 1307.05 - 13:25