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Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #30!

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This is the thirtieth 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 twenty-nine.

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Frank Brunner and Steve Englehart faked a fan letter to themselves.

STATUS: True

In an interview in Comic Book Artist #6, Frank Brunner shared an interesting story about how he and Steve Englehart managed to wriggle their way out of a small controversy over a storyline in their Doctor Strange series in Marvel Premiere involing Sise-neg/Genesis, which basically revolved around Dr. Strange following “God” along as he creates the universe

Image hosted by Photobucket.com:

We had just completed Marvel Premiere #14-well, I had just completed the pencils, most of the art, but for some reason or another, nobody took notice of what we were doing. When the book came out, Stan finally got a hold of it, and I don’t know, somebody pointed it out, or he read it, and he wrote us a letter saying, “We can’t do God. You’re going to have to print in the letters column a retraction saying this is not ‘the’ God, this is just a god.” Steve and I said, “Oh, come on! This is the whole point of the story! If we did that retraction of God, this is meaningless!” So, Steve happened to be on his way to Texas for something, this is when we were in California, and we cooked up this plot-we wrote a letter from a Reverend Billingsley in Texas, a fictional person, saying that one of the children in his parish brought him the comic book, and he was astounded and thrilled by it, and he said, “Wow, this is the best comic book I’ve ever read.” And we signed it “Reverend so-and-so, Austin Texas”-and when Steve was in Texas, he mailed the letter so it had the proper postmark. Then, we got a phone call from Roy, and he said, “Hey, about that retraction, I’m going to send you a letter, and instead of the retraction, I want you to print this letter.” And it was our letter! We printed our letter!

Cool story, eh? Now how do we know Frank is his real name?!!?

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4 Comments

great, the supposed first major black hero makes his debut MASKED. AND he gets killed.

Shooter told me exactly the opposite. About ten years back, I had lunch with Shooter at the Chicago Comicon (before it became WizardWorld) when he was working with Broadway Comics. A friend of mine was shooting a documentary about gays and comics and Shooter was one of his interviewees.
What he told us then was that he wanted to be able to kill a Legionaire, but guessed DC wasn’t going to let him (the story was his first and written/illustrated on spec), so he introduced the Shooter Four (Ferro Lad, Princess Projectra, Nemesis Kid and Karate Kid). Ferro Lad was the deginated victim. He decided he liked the character and got the idea about making him black. He was to one day take off his mask rather non-chalantly, be shown to be black and the Legion were to not react at all. Mort killed the plan for the reason cited above and he went with the original plan.
So, he was cannon fodder that almost got a reprieve.
I actually doubt BOTH versions of the story. That night, I got out my Archives (which reproduce coloring errors, btw) and back issues. His hands and skin around his eyes are white from the first appearance.
His death was also obviously the entire point of his character. He only made one appearance between his introduction and death – in the Satan’s Dozen/Sir Prize and Miss Terious story. There, he is shown his future as a pile of ash, “predicting” his incineration by the Sun Eater.
Shooter also believes the Rampaging Hulk story where Banner was almost raped in the YMCA shower was “gay-positive,” so his view of history is not exactly reliable.
That being said, he’s a really nice, interesting guy whom I really enjoyed spending time with.

According to Rob Liefeld, at the time it was happening, Extreme Studios would request a Deodato cover and pay for a Deodato cover from Glass House Graphics (Deodato Studios) liaison/business manager/American rep David Campiti and they would get a cover that didn’t look even close to Deodato’s style. Liefeld would tell Campiti that it didn’t look like a Deodato cover and that they had paid for Deodato and Campiti’s response would always be, “I’ll have to get back to you on that” and never hear anything about it again.

Liefeld is definitely not someone you should go to for reliable information about his own fuckups. In any case, Deodato is far more believable. He probably didn’t want to screw over his own buddies. Giving them credit would have cost him nothing. Comic book companies love to squeeze as much money as they can from their readers and creators. That maxim was particularly true in the 90’s.

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