Veteran comic book and comic art collector Nick Katradis self-identifies as “a lifelong Captain America fan.”
And he’s been pretty serious about it for a long time.
“Captain America is my favorite character in the Marvel Universe. I immigrated to this country in 1970 with my family from Greece. When I started reading comics in 1972 as an 11 year old, Captain America captured my heart and soul because he was kind hearted, noble and had the utmost integrity, which separated him from most of the other super-hero comics I read about,” he recently told our sister publication, Gemstone Publishing’s weekly email newsletter, Scoop.
His first exposure to the Star Spangled Avenger came in the pages of Captain America and The Falcon #153, cover dated September 1972, written by Steve Englehart and illustrated by Sal Buscema.
It not only inspired his comic book collecting from that point, later it would also influence his collection of original comic book art in a major way.
The Scoop article, which profiled both his and fellow collector Jason Versaggi’s collection of Captain America covers and interior pages by artist Steve Epting, inspiration for Marvel Studios’ Captain America: The Winter Soldier. His dazzling array of Epting art includes, among other things, the cover and complete interior story for Captain America #11, the first cover appearance and origin story of the Winter Soldier.
But FAN has learned that’s not all of the story.
Not only does Katradis have those Epting pieces, he’s a major collector of Sal Buscema’s work as well, including his work on Captain America. And it actually all leads back to the first issue he ever read.
“The first Captain America art to grab my imagination was back in 2003 when I saw the splash to Captain America #153, my first Cap comic, at auction on the Heritage Auctions website. I was heartbroken when I was outbid that day and missed out on owning the splash from it. So I went on a holy quest to find any and all Sal Buscema Captain America art, and to acquire every page I could,” he told FAN.
“Usually it also follows suit that the artists who drew the character you love the most love are also your favorite artists or become your favorite artists,” he said. “Hence Sal Buscema and Steve Epting are two of my favorite artists, even though they drew the character decades apart.”
Katradis said both incredibly talented artists, and importantly they portrayed the character in the best possible light.
Although he never has again seen the Captain America #153 original cover art, he just acquired Buscema’s splash page from that issue about four months ago.
And he also has a brilliant recreation of that cover illustrated by Steve Epting.
Katradis said the process took three years. First, Epting does not generally accept detailed commissions of this sort, but he agreed to do it. Second, he was winding down his Captain America run and had to finish that commitment. Then came his run on the Marvels Project, and then his stint on Fantastic Four.
Eventually, though, the artist came through with an incredible piece.
Was it worth the wait?
“I felt like an 11-year-old kid reading his first Captain America comic once again,” he said. “I guess this is what our hobby is all about!”