Comics and Cosplay
Meet Super-American, The Captain America Rip-Off From The Future

Ross Lincoln | 18 Apr 2014 20:25
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Super American is obviously a case study in the dangers of difference-splitting. A weird mashup of Superman and Captain America, he lacks anything close to the personality of either. In a more sarcastic time, he would have been given a name like The Golden Mean. Perhaps that's why he did not take off. He would only appear in 3 further 8-page stories in Fight Comics before being retired and, ultimately, disappearing into the public domain.

But while the concept is weak and the writing positively terrible, the art itself is a remarkable example of how dynamic comics can be. That shouldn't be too surprising, as Fight Comics as a whole featured some rather cool early work by people who would go on to revolutionize comics, including the great Wil Eisner. But even so, there are pages in this otherwise unremarkable story that should be framed and hung in a museum.

Super-American was created by golden age penciller Dan Zolnerowich, who would later go on to draw T-Man for Quality Comics (featuring the adventures of a US Treasury Agent battling communism!). The comics golden age was a time when everything was on a budget, including space within a comics issue, and Zolnerowich managed to use those limitations to his advantage. His characters spill out over panel borders, he had an eye for drawing your attention to key moments, and he managed to give his pages a kind of trippy, dreamy quality I'm personally more used to seeing in comics from the 1960s onward.

I hated reading this, but his art was kind of amazing, and it's a shame that Zolnerowich faded into obscurity after the 1950s. As of right now, it's difficult to determine when he even died. But if we can't know the man better, we can at least marvel at his work. Even if we also have to stop ourselves from snickering while we do it.

NOTE: slightly edited after publication.

Found thanks to Saladin Ahmed on Twitter.

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