The Wide Angle Scream, Captain America #8

Captain America #8
Captain America #8 (November 1941) “Case of the Black Witch”
Enlarged view

Working with a double page allowed Simon and Kirby to do things that just were not feasible with a single page. In the previous two issues of Captain America, the artists were able to construct the splash using three components. Two of the components were common to both Cap #6 and #7; the scene or enactment and the panels for the start of the story. Cap #6 presented the caste of characters as the third component while Cap #7 presented a story title design that included floating heads. Even with the double page such a three part design was only possible because the enactment portion need only show a limited set of characters; Captain America, Bucky, the villain and the victim. Were any more required something would have to give.

Apparently for Cap #8, Simon and Kirby wanted a lot more from the enactment portion. So they abandoned the three component design. There is no presentation of the story’s characters and the story title is simple and placed off in the corner. The Captain America emblem is combined with some eerie heads but it too is restricted to one edge. S&K kept the story introduction, but limited it to a single panel placed with the title on the side. This allowed the staging to include a host of goblins, demons, ghosts and serpents. But even with the extra weird figures all is not chaos. A flame and smoke from a candle rise from the bottom and divide the stage in half. On the right Bucky supports the fallen victim while Cap prepares to defend them. On the other side are all the evil opponents, Cap is certainly up against overwhelming odds. The divide is only crossed twice. Once at the bottom with a crossing by a long serpent like beast (a dragon?), and the other cross at the top by the grasping hand of an oversized witch. Oversized figures was a device not used on any of the Captain America covers but was not all that unusual for the splashes.

The Captain America emblem for this splash has been given an unusual placement, along the bottom instead of the normal location at the top. This emblem appears to always have provided a difficulty. On one hand it was desirous that the emblem stand out on the page. On the other hand it should not intrude on or take over the rest of the art on the splash. These conflicting goals were not completely reconciled in the previous double splashes but appear to have been here. By placing the emblem at the bottom, S&K could take advantage of the long serpent to separate it from the rest of the art. By adding the eerie heads and the small, sometimes humorous, art along the bottom edge the artists have effectively framed the emblem off into its own area.

This is another great composition and probably the best example among the Cap double splashes for a large group in a single depiction. So far each double splash seems to present unique designs as Simon and Kirby explore new territory. Like I said at the start, they may not have been the first to do two pages splashes, but I cannot think of anyone else at that time making such innovative use of this large area.