Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Thoughts and Thanks by Rick.

Before we get too far along, there are two BIG posts left in the series after this one. Friend, collaborator and filmmaker Ben Alpi will have some space of his own to say thank you and then we will have a double trouble film review of Captain America: First Avenger. Do not miss these upcoming posts!

I would like first of all to thank God for his many blessings. Without His love and guidance none of this would have been possible. Ben Alpi deserves a huge round of applause here as well. For more than four years, he worked tirelessly, patiently and helped provide an environment where my constant questioning and tinkering were acceptable. My brother, Doug Arthur, also an artist, filmmaker and musician constantly supported my efforts with his own wild brand of enthusiasm which has been of tremendous help to me through the years. My parents, who have watched me go through a lot of different phases, have always told me to get a real job but supported my decisions when I didn't. Simon and Kirby who created Cap at the right time and the right place. Wife Lynn whom I love most of all for putting up with my extremely late nights, especially this past year. Thank you one and all.

Captain America! Redefining Modern Myth did not start out as a blog at all. Ben and I simply traded emails back and forth for three years, then collected them, then made posts out of that. Our original intent was simply to have fun and explore what Cap might be like if we were going to make a two hour movie. I have told Ben many times that the best part of the blog was the conversational tone. He gave me a lot of leeway to run with plot or character points that were off the beaten path. Taken as a whole, the blog paints a rich picture of not only Steve Rogers and Captain America but the time in which both exist.

We discovered many things along the way. First that the Super Soldier serum was in the works since the end of World War I and The Flu Epidemic of 1918. This is important to the story because Steve Rogers will not be a random recipient of the serum. Rather, he has been in the testing pool since birth and has been very sick his whole life. Next we see that Captain America is used as both a symbol and a target, to inspire hope in the troops and draw fire from the Nazis. Lastly, Red Skull is painted in the darkest possible light, evil to the core.  His plans for power stem from his complete feeling of superiority. In the end, Cap defeats the Red Skull only to be frozen in ice himself. The serum in his veins being the only thing that saves him until he is rescued in the modern era by the Avengers.

I like a lot of the details we were able to create and how even with the inclusion of real world facts, the Cap myth can easily be adapted. His journey follows the course laid out for mythic heroes. He travels to a foreign land in order to defeat an unbeatable foe. He is victorious but is hampered in returning to celebrate his victory. 

I ask the question often in the beginning, "How do you write a character with seventy years worth of background for a two hour modern film?" With respect to all that we have written before this, the answer has got to be that staying faithful to the comics is impossible. Each comic writer puts their own stamp on Cap and details are very often contradictory. Writing the character and capturing the spirit of the material is a much better bet. It makes more sense from both a writing perspective and as a practical matter for writing a screenplay. So having undertaken this project, it is more apparent to me than ever why film does not faithfully follow the comics they adapt.

This has been a tremendous experience. I have learned a great deal working with Ben on this project. The amount of writing, research and creative thinking required leads me to the conclusion that preparation for the characters in a script can not be too exhaustive. It was only after delving into Cap's childhood and building his background scene by scene that I was able to understand Cap/Steve Rogers as a person. I know this is the first time I have ever constructed a character in this fashion or worked on a collaboration of this depth. In the end Steve Rogers became a real person as a boy, a young man and as Captain America. We built him from the ground up. At this point the exercise of creating Cap, which could be used to develop any character, is what would have allowed me to write a draft of a screenplay. Alas, this challenge will have to stand for now. The amount of brain power and time required to pound out even the roughest of drafts is enormous. Personally I can not justify doing so on a piece of spec - especially a property owned by someone else and already being developed into multiple properties.

I would have loved to have done this too. The fleshing out of the script using the version of Cap we had just made would have been fantastic. I think between Ben and I, we could have written a decent first draft... Writing an actual script would have taken quite a while longer and chewed up all my "free" time. I understand that profoundly. I have several projects that have been waiting quietly, patiently for me to finish this one. If I started a script it could be several more months or a year or more (combined with time already spent) and I can't be away from illustration and comics projects for that long. I am heartened by the fact that my combination of creativity and visual storytelling would suit me well writing in a screenplay environment.

I want to thank all the readers who have found this blog. Sharing our little gold mine of Cap information was made more enjoyable by support from dedicated readers. Those who followed us went on a journey of discovering in which they were treated to real discussions about character, place, plot, theory, practical writing and filmmaking. I am happy to have been involved and was able to contribute to the degree that I could.

I also recommend going back to the beginning and rereading the posts. It is one of the first things I will do when this is concluded. I particularly like the scenes we drafted but I also find myself drawn into the discussions as well. I think Ben and I are planning to leave this blog up for a while. It will be monitored and tweaked regularly, comments will be posted and art added from time to time. The same way in which our original emails were not intended for a blog, this content too may find itself reshaped. It seems wasteful to let such intense examinations sit idle. No promises but while we conclude... I don't think we are exactly finished with young Steve Rogers.

Again, I thank you all.

12:25pm, Thursday, June 23rd, 2011
Central NY, U.S.A.

My talented brother Doug has a few links:

Official Tales from the Dougside Fan Club Facebook page

Tales From The Dougside - Doug's gallery of comics. Great stuff!

The Flaming Schwarzkopf Experience Official Facebook page - Doug creates music!!


Enjoy Ben's ReCap and our finishing big double
Captain America: First Avenger Movie Review!
Don't miss them!!

There are three movies that I am exceptionally proud of in my life, and I rarely commit to a list of films that I like, that I've made, ... but these are the three films that I was passionately connected to. The first was ET, the second Schindler's List, and third is Saving Private Ryan.
-Steven Spielberg

The more successful the villain, the more successful the picture.
-Alfred Hitchcock


  1. Awwwww. C'mon now, you're making me cry....


  2. Are the links accurate? Would people be interested in a description of each site? Write in.