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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #8!

This is the eighth in a series of examinations of comic book urban legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous seven.

Let’s begin!


COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Jimmy Olsen, Perry White, the Daily Planet and Kryptonite all appeared on the Superman radio show before they ever appeared in the comic book.

STATUS: True

As Superman grew in popularity in the late 30s, he gained a radio program.

The radio program quickly outgrew the amount of stories that were supplied to it by the comic books (remember, the radio show began in February 1940, so there was less than two years worth of Superman stories to draw from as resources), so the show was forced to invent new stories and characters of its own.

In the second episode of the series, editor Perry White was introduced. The comic would follow later that year by changing the newspaper Clark Kent worked at from the Daily Star to the Daily Planet, and rather than George Taylor, Perry White became Kent’s boss.

Copy boy Jimmy Olsen followed soon after (in episode #28).

In 1942, another major addition made an appearance.

According to the radio announcer…

Superman for the first time in his life faces an enemy against which he is entirely powerless. That enemy is a piece of the planet Krypton-kryptonite, it is called – which a few days ago struck the Earth in the form of a meteor. A full understanding of his danger came to Superman when he approached the kryptonite for the first time. As he came within five feet of the mass of metal, which glowed like a green diamond, he suddenly felt week, as if all his strength had been drained from him.

Heck, in 1945, the radio show even featured the first Superman/Batman pairing!

For more info, check out this wonderful resource about the Superman radio show.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: C.C. Beck based Captain Marvel’s appearance on a movie where Fred MacMurray daydreams about being a superhero.

STATUS: False

E. Nelson Bridwell, speaking of the origins for the look of Captain Marvel (nee Captain Thunder), had the following to say in 1977…

The twenty-nine-year old [C.C.] Beck came fresh from a job on a movie mag and possibly inspired by a dream sequence in which the star became a kind of superhero modeled Captain Thunder on Fred MacMurray.

MacMurray DID, in fact, star in a film called “No Time For Love,” in which MacMurray, in a dream sequence, dressed up as a caped superhero.

The only problem is that “No Time For Love” was released in 1943.

Captain Marvel’s first appearance?

1940.

However, just because Bridwell was wrong about the specific film that inspired Beck to choose MacMurray to base Captain Marvel on does not mean that Beck did not, in fact, base Captain Marvel’s appearance on Fred MacMurray.

According to Beck himself, “Captain Marvel himself was based on the actor Fred MacMurray.”

Or according to Jim Steranko, “With the movie job fresh in his mind, he began the task of translating Bill Parker’s ideas into graphic form. He chose film star Fred MacMurray as the model of Captain Thunder, giving him the same black, wavy hair; bone structure, and cleft chin.”

And many others agree.

So it is likely that Beck DID, in fact, base Captain Marvel’s appearance upon MacMurray…just not that particular film.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comImage hosted by Photobucket.com

What do YOU think?

(Quotes and photos courtesy of the amazing Marvel Family Webpage)

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: A DC comic character invented in 1964 did not make his debut until 1992.

STATUS: True

In 1964, the 50th issue of Showcase was released.

Here was the cover of that issue…

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

As you may notice, it is a repackaging of old King Faraday “Danger Trail” comics under the banner of “I-Spy.”

The reason why that happened, though, is because the ORIGINAL #50 was never released, and no art was done but the cover.

And that very cover (with art by Mike Sekowsky) was never seen at all until 1992, when it was released as the cover to Doom Patrol #51, with no changes made except the removal of the title…

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

DC wanted a spy comic, with the success of James Bond, so editor Lawrence Nadle worked upon the creation of a spy who was a master of disguise.

However, tragically, Nadle passed away before Yankee Doodle got any further than a cover.

Never one to leave a concept alone, though, DC ultimately reused the master of diguise angle (along with the patriotic feel) for the Unknown Soldier. Likewise, Ditko’s The Question’s method of disguise seems awfully similar as well.

Still, Yankee Doodle never made a comic book appearance until 1992, when Grant Morrison and Richard Case (with Stan Woch on inks) gave us the origin of Yankee Doodle, managing to tie in the Question as well.

Pretty cool by Morrison, no?

Well, that’s it for me this week!

Feel free to tell me some urban legends you have heard, and I will try to confirm or deny them!

19 Comments

Hi, How terrific to find this site. I’m one of Lawrence Nadle’s sons. Once or twice a year I try to find comics that my father wrote or edited and I knew about I…Spy but not about the Yankee Doodle character. I havent looked at anything else on your site yet but wonder if you know that my father’s brother was Martin Nadle aka Naydell aka Dell aka Nadel. He was my father’s older brother and was working at DC first. He was also the inventor of Jumble, the puzzle game, in the Daily News.

Also, you might not know that my father and the artist Bob Oksner teamed up and produced some syndicated comic strips under the pseudonom Bob Lawrence. The ones I remember my father doing either as Bob Lawrence or as Lawrence Nadle are I Love Lucy, and Nero Wolf. He also ghosted some Rudolph The Red Nosed Raindeer stips.

Well, will certainly pour over this site and write again if I have more info to share.

Ken Nadle

Glad to hear from you, Ken!

I actually remember seeing an in-house ad for the Yankee Doodle Showcase issue (using this cover image) in a 1964 DC Comic — and once I find it I’ll give you the specific title and issue number.

DL

That would be very cool if you could, DL.

This “master of disguises” reminds me of the Johnny Double/Human Target controversy. Johnny DOUBLE was originally supposed to DOUBLE for people targeted for assassination. But when his one Showcase title came out, he was just a regular PI. The Human Target came out later with the doubling schtick. Can anyone explain why?

Clayton Emery
http://www.challengersoftheunknown.com

Hello,

For your info Capt Marvel is based on the appearance of Nazi boxing champion Max Schmelig(see photo link)

http://www.fighttoys.com/Schmeling-Dempsey%20oversize%20VP%20(a).jpg

Looks AMAZING similar, huh?

Funny stuff. This is a be

MacMurry looks NOTHING like CM, BTW.

K

“…So it is likely that Beck DID, in fact, base Captain Marvel’s appearance upon MacMurray…”

“It is likely”? You even quote C.C. Beck stating as much, himself! Wouldn’t that make it so?

Well, no.

People mis-remember, people lie, people confuse stories they heard with truth.

Basic rule of Journalism: There are no 100% reliable witnesses.

Yeah, don’t get me wrong, I’m still pretty sure he did use MacMurray as the influence, but definitely not sure enough to say it with any definitiveness.

That Showcase cover doesn’t really look much like Sekowsky; I’d say it’s Infantino, with Murphy Anderson inks.

Ken, my wife (one of Bob Oksner’s daughters)remembers you dad very well when they were a team.

Hi Ron- I’m a little late in responding but happy to hear about your wife’s remembering Larry. Check out the magazine Alter Ego (its all about comic book history). I wrote an article about my father and his two brothers and mentioned Bob in it. The issue is #72 available from twomorrows.com as a pdf for $2.95. I don’t know why they don’t mention the article in their description of the issue but it is #72 and is 8 pages long. It has drawings by, and if I remember correctly, a picture of Bob. Best, Ken

Mike Tiefenbacher

November 6, 2008 at 10:53 am

The cover of the Yankee Doodle issue of SHOWCASE (reproduced in AMAZING WORLD OF DC COMICS originally beore the abovementioned DOOM PATROL issue) was actually drawn by Nadle’s longtime collaborator Bob Oksner. (Nadle was editor of ADVENTURES OF JERRY LEWIS at rhe time of his death.) Sekwosky, Infantino and Anderson had nothing to do with it, nor was it ever used as an actual house ad in any 1964 comics.

Hi. Translating this article to Spanish I found this which i think its a good addition to Captain marvel urban legend. Here you have.

http://img222.imagevenue.com/aAfkjfp01fo1i-16686/loc508/29940_vlcsnap-1806171_122_508lo.jpg

Rabbi Joel Berman

November 10, 2010 at 2:05 pm

Hi. I hope someone here can help me.

I was trying to find an old story. I believe it was DC. Here’s my memory: There’s a spy (the protagonist) who infiltrates a Nazi camp. His contact inside the compound is a young Jewish woman who tells him that the time may come that, in order to prove his cover, he may have to kill her. Should that happen, she says, “you must do so without hesitation, or you will lose your cover.” And that is in fact what happens. The protagonist completes his mission with the huge regret that he had to kill the innocent Jewish girl. It struck me as a King Faraday type story, so I went on line and got the two Showcase (50 & 51) issues of I-Spy, referred to above. But the story wasn’t there. I am frankly puzzled, because that’s where I thought it would be. But it’s not.
I teach a course on Jews and Comic Books, and wanted this as material. Reprint would be fine. I’m wondering if there were any other reprints of the Faraday stories from Danger Trails (1950-51 DC)? Some collection that included a story not in the Showcase I-Spy’s? The artist I’m picturing reminded me of Alex Toth, but Infantino was doing some similar work at the time, so I’m not sure. It wasn’t credited, of course.
Who would even know?
I know I’m getting old. My memory is definitely slipping. There was a time I’d have remembered it exactly.
What forums could I post this inquiry on?
Thanks.

@Rabbi Joel Berman, I’m sorry, I’m not familiar with the story, but DC published a lot of war stories over the years. Are you sure it’s not say, an Unknown Soldier story? Or maybe just a generic war story without a continuing character?

Rabbi Joel Berman

December 20, 2011 at 12:31 pm

There is an Unknown Soldier story (may have been the first one) in Star Spangled Comics, that has the exact same plot. It was called “8000 to One.” I just remember the art looking much more Alex Toth-ish, or early Carmine Infantino. I have a memory of one such panel in particular, bothering me that just doesn’t appear in the Unknown Soldier version. I think the Unknown Soldier version was a reprint of an older version that I’m remembering, but since no one else has this memory, I guess I could be wrong.

You note that Jimmy Olsen appeared in the 28th ep of the radio show, before he was ever in the book, but didn’t Jimmy show p in the first ep, along with his father, just after Supes has emerged from the rocket, a fully-grown man?

I could have it wrong, but I would SWEAR that it was this character, Jimmy Olsen, who suggests that if Superman wants to help people, he should get a job at a newspaper, and even suggests the name “Clark Kent” for him to use as a human identity.

I head a later ep, and I was puzzled as to why Jimmy did not seem to know Supes and Clark were the same person.

I will have to go looking for that download. I am not sure I still have it.

But now that I think on it, seems to me the first ep did not even feature Supes. Maybe the first (and the sencond) were a two parter, with Agnes Moorehead (Endora from Bewitched) as Kal-El’s mother, Lara?

I’m really gonna have to look this up, now.

Peace!

Fr. Robert Dye
Tulsa, Oklahoma

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