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This is the fifteenth 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 fourteen.
As I have mentioned in the past, the impetus for this whole thing came from when I, myself, fell for a false urban legend involving Walter Simonson. Well, today I get to address ANOTHER Simonson-related urban legend!
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Walt Simonson based the concept of the Time Variance Authority in his Fantastic Four run on the Time Lords from Doctor Who.
Mr. Simonson addressed this here, with the following response…
Actually, the TVA had nothing to do with Doctor Who. Where do these ideas come from? Just curious. Did you read this somewhere? I’ve never seen any Doctor Who programs although I drew a few Doctor Who illustrations a zillion years ago for Marvel.
The TVA (Time Variance Authority) was a satire of bureaucracy in general and of Marvel at that particular time and place as the company was moving towards a more corporate model. (The initials of the TVA were taken from the Tennessee Valley Authority, one of the New Deal developments during the depression.) The point of the TVA is that it was an infinite organization and still expanding (a new desk and monitor for each new universe born out of every possible time bifurcation). The office environment was the perfect visual symbol for a bureaucracy as were all the faceless monitors. The one character with a face was middle management and his was the only face you ever saw.
Which is another way of saying that there was no upper management visible. It’s possible one didn’t exist. Or if it did exist, it was irrelevant to the operations of the TVA.
The purpose of the TVA was deliberately vague. Whether or not the TVA had anything to do with the actual management of time remains a mystery. It’s possible it existed to serve itself and had no real function regarding the regulation of time.
Its HQ had a great clock on the front of the facade and the hands of the clock denoted a non-real time.
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