It’s Captain Action Month at First Comics News and we have been talking to a number of the creators on the Captain Action team as they have stopped by to tell us about their involvement in the Captain Action Universe. Today we take a road trip to Credo, West Virginia to spend some time at the Flying Fist Ranch. We have just cracked open a cold one and ready to hear the tales of international intrigue and espionage from the last real man in comics, Beau Smith.
First Comics News: As a kid did you have a Captain Action?
Beau Smith: Yep! From the very first time I saw the Captain Action ad on TV, I had to have one. In fact, I still have my very first Captain Action complete with his uniform and accessories. I also have the original Aquaman and Sgt. Fury costumes. Captain Action was always one of my favorite toys as a kid. It truly enhanced my story telling abilities. Every time I would play with it I made myself come up with new story lines and tried never to repeat anything I had done before.
1st: He had a gun and a sword. He was a master of disguise, fairly macho for a doll?
Beau: As you well know—“You NEVER call Captain Action or G.I. Joe a “doll”. Not unless you want to be spitting teeth out of your mouth. Even as a kid, I was always more interested in making up Captain Action adventures than I was when he was wearing the disguise/costume of another hero. I was more interested in just who Captain Action really was. My childhood stories always worked on an origin for Captain Action.
1st: What is your take on who Captain Action is and why he does what he does?
Beau: Growing up with the Cold War going on, I have always been interested in it and how it might play out in a super hero world. When Moonstone brought back Captain Action and decided to make him at spy, well, that sparked me into thinking of the original Captain Action and his dealings with the Cold War. I see him as the kind of hero we used to see in the 1950’s-60’s in the pulp/adventure tough guy paperbacks that was always busting Commie jaws and saving beautiful women from dangerous situations. I see him very much a man’s man and a big part of the way things were in the late 50’s and early 60’s. These were “his” times. He was very comfortable with how things were done and he did them better than anyone else. I always thought that his main strength was his drive and never give up spirit. His stamina to take a large amount of punishment if it means he’ll get his one shot in to stop the bad situation. To me, Captain Action was Jack Bauer before there was Jack Bauer. Captain Action is relentless justice.
1st: Is Miles Drake more the Mission Impossible type spy or more of the Sean Connery/James Bond type of spy?
Beau: I see him as more of a blue collar Sean Connery/James Bond. I see him as a soldier in a spy world. He’s just as apt to kick down a door as he is to take his time and pick the lock. He knows what situation calls for what action.
1st: Is he a spy or a trained killer, after all he does have a gun and a sword?
Beau: Is he highly trained to kill, Yes. Is he a killer, no, not in the raw sense of the word. He knows when he must kill and just as he has been trained and educated by the government to be able to kill, his parents and upbringing gave him a superior moral compass to know how to use that combative training and when there is no other way out, to use his killing talents. Captain Action is a problem solver.
1st: Is it safe to assume there will be plenty of pretty girls and good old fashioned knock down, drag out violence?
Beau: Yes. Yes and Yes. I like adding a bit of quirk to each of my stories if I can and it calls for it, something nobody else may have done. In this case it’s a Communist controlled Yeti.
1st: You’re writing the Classic 60′s Captain Action story in the Captain Action Winter Special. What is the story about?
Beau: Ed Catto and Joe Ahearn wanted a story that had a Winter-like setting. They must have read my mind because I LOVE to have stories set in the Winter time. The elemental atmosphere is like adding an extra character to a story. In this 12 page story, Captain Action deals with Mountain climbing, a beautiful French Spy, a major double-cross, Russian thugs and oh yeah, a Communist controlled Yeti. High octane adventure that never lets you forget that even in the most dire situations there time for a smile or two.
1st: In the 60′s Captain Action, had a partner Action Boy and his pet panther, Khem. Is your story strictly Captain Action, or will it include a sidekick and his kitty cat?
Beau: This story and the previous one I did (Captain Action #4) are shorter, less than 12 page stories. There wasn’t a lot of space to add Action Boy or Khem into them. I needed to focus on letting the readers get to know Captain Action through his actions and not a lot of endless blocks of text. So many writers today think they are writing screenplays or novels and they forget that comic books are words AND pictures. You have to be able to tell a story and build a character thought their actions even more so than through their words. In the future, if Moonstone and the guys want me, I would love to continue to build from Captain Action’s past and involve Action Boy as well as Khem and other parts of his rich past.
1st: What elements do you need to tell a manly cold war style spy thriller?
Beau: Communists. Lies. Conflict. You also need some thread of real world history laced with made up stuff. A side order of made up stuff should always be on the plate. Action is always a must. Again, if you wanna read a novel, do so, but if you want words and pictures, read a comic!
1st: How does Miles Drake fit those requirements?
Beau: He is a man of his time. The world of politically correctness hasn’t had a chance to taint the world of Captain Action. Miles Drake is a smart guy that knows his body as well as he knows his mind. He uses both to their full capacity. His brain always has the plan and his body is the truck that drives it there. As I said before, Captain Action is a problem solver; his brain figures out the problem, his fists solve it.
1st: For such a manly tale of intrigue, you need a real macho artist to capture all the action is its high testosterone glory. Who has your back on this project?
Beau: The legendary Eduardo Barreto! Even though Eduardo and I were born countries apart (Although the same year) we have always said that we are twin brothers from different mothers. Our interests, sense of humor and influences have always run parallel. We jump at every chance to work together. As I have always told Eduardo, I rule everything north of the border and he rules everything south. He is truly the strongman from Uruguay. Eduardo is a master story teller. His sense of lighting and movement is in the league of Frazetta, Williamson and Toth in my opinion. He is not limited by genre as some artists are. If you want a super hero story, he’s your man, if you want a western, call on Eduardo. If you need a funny animal story, he is still the guy to call on. It’s always a privilege to work with Eduardo. Always!
1st: I fully agree that Eduardo Barreto is man enough to draw a story like this; but, the last I head was in Uruguay and had severe Meningitis, will that slow down the project or will Ed tough it out?
Beau: I checked with Eduardo before he signed on for this project to make sure he would be feeling strong enough to carry it out. He explained to me, even though it has been a rough row to hoe, he is bored or resting and that he can come full throttle without disobeying doctor’s orders. Eduardo is as tough as Captain Action himself. Eduardo has been so very touched by all the outpour from readers and fans since the word of his illness got out. Knowing that so many people are behind him gives him strength to do what he enjoys, tell stories.
1st: The Captain Action Winter Special doesn’t come out until January, what makes it so cool that every reader will need to run from their computer screen right now and run to their local comic shop to make sure they don’t miss it?
Beau: It’s the best of the past and the promise of the future. The original Captain Action laying the foundation to the house that the present Captain Action is building. It’s a layered piece of work that has something for everyone. It’s a marriage of tradition and cutting edge. It’s what you should be reading. Order and support it now. The payoff is coming this Winter.