The Austin Chronicle

Red, White and Forever

By Richard Whittaker, July 29, 2011, 11:45am, Picture in Picture

Mark Waid has written just about every superhero, from Superman to his current run on Marvel's Daredevil. But it is his mid-90s runs on Captain America, and his critically acclaimed 2010 return Captain America: Man out of Time that brings him to Austin tonight.

Waid will be talking all things Cap before the Gateway Theater's July 29 8pm screening of the character's latest live-action extravaganza, Captain America: The First Avenger (read our review here.)

Before tonight's chat, we asked him why the Sentinel of Liberty has withstood the test of time and why, after 70 years, he still speaks to writers and readers.

Mark Waid on Captain America's appeal to fans:
"The basics of his origin are very captivating to young comics readers. Because the idea that you can be a scrawny little kid with a heart as big as the United States, with a real passion against evil, and yet be a 98 pound weakling, I think that describes a huge number of comics fans."

On why writers love to write him
"Captain America is an interesting character because it makes you ask those questions in yourself as a writer. What do we want as a nation, what do we mean as a nation, what is our role in the world as a nation? What are our strengths and weaknesses as a country? That, to me, when I was writing Cap was the appeal, really using him as a fulcrum, as a magnifying glass with which we could examine our own sense of patriotism."

On Captain America as everyman
"The beauty of Captain America is that you didn't have to come from a distant planet, like Superman, or he didn't have to be born into a family of billionaires like Bruce Wayne. He happened to be in the right place at the right time and someone gave him a magic potion and he grew muscles and became a superhero. That's almost as good as Captain Marvel just having to say Shazam."

On that iconic red, white and blue uniform
"The costume design is brilliant, because it hasn't been substantially redesigned in the last 70 years. It works well in comics, it's vibrant, and everyone wants that shield. Everyone has picked up a trash can lid at one point in their life and flung it around."

On Captain America, patriotism, and national identity
"Cap is supposed to represent the American Dream, but I have no idea what the American Dream is these days, except maybe to get past the debt ceiling. Is it to own your own home? Is it to own your own business? Is it to be self-sufficient? I'm not entirely sure, and I'm not sure most people have a good handle on what the American dream is these days. As our country has diversified over the last 70 years, the clear-cut idea of what the American Dream has broadened."

A conversation with Mark Waid plus Captain America screening 8pm, Q&A starts at 7.30pm. Regal Gateway Theater, 9700 Stonelake. Waid will also be signing at Austin Books and Comics, 5002 N. Lamar, July 30, 4-7pm.

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