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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #35!

This is the thirty-fifth 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 thirty-four.

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Elliot S! Maggin’s first comic book work was originally written for a college class.

STATUS: True

Awhile back, in this here space, I talked about Elliot S! Maggin’s big breakout work in comics (“Must There Be a Superman?”). However, Maggin’s FIRST comic work also has a very interesting pedigree.

Appearing in Green Lantern & Green Arrow #87 (which was also the first appearance of John Stewart!!!), Maggin’s first story was a Green Arrow back-up story, illustrated by Neal Adams.

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I will allow Maggin himself to explain the genesis of the story (from this interview with Jayme Lynn Blaschke):

“What Can One Man Do?” was a term paper at Brandeis. My junior year there I took an American history course that involved a section on mass media taught by a graduate student. I wanted to illustrate that comic books were useful as an ideological tool. I had read that comics in South America and elsewhere were used by governments and anti-government insurgent groups to make their cases through story narrative to their constituencies, and I thought that countries with lower literacy rates probably did not have a monopoly on the medium’s effectiveness. So I chose Green Arrow because he was the most overtly politically aware of the popular characters of the time. I gave him a left-leaning personal crisis — imposing pretty much my own political philosophy and my own speech patterns at the time (the latter were a bit quirky, even by the day’s standards) — and had that determine the direction of his public life. It was a simple story, but I particularly liked the little touches that I used to try to make it distinctive: quoting Hemingway (as Denny had quoted Mailer a few months earlier) and using a bit of contemporary jargon.

I got a B+ on the paper and thought I deserved an A. So I sent it to DC to make that point to my instructor. I did, as it happens, but the semester was over by the time I got my answer from Julie Schwartz and the publication never affected my grade. Not that I thought it would.

I wonder if anyone else’s first two comic stories have that interesting of a background?

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Wolverine’s costume was patterned in part on the uniforms of the Michigan Wolverines football team.

STATUS: False

A few years back, a reader of Bob Rozakis’ column asked the question, “Was Wolverine’s costume inspired by the University of Michigan football uniforms? If you look at the “flying wing” design on their helmets, it’s quite like the shape of his mask.”

Bob did not have an answer, but to show what the reader was thinking, here are the Wolverines’ helmets and Wolverine as he first appeared…

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A little while later, another reader offered up, “Dunno about Wolverine’s costume being inspired by the U Michigan football team’s helmets, but either his yellow (or more properly, maize) and blue costume colors were inspired by the U Michigan’s team colors being those and the team nickname being the Wolverines or else we’ve got a major ridiculous coincidence.”

Here are their team colors…

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Luckily, Bob had Len Wein ready with a reply, “Trust me, the U of M football team was in NO WAY an influence on the design of Wolverine’s original costume. Since I stood at John Romita’s shoulder as we designed it together, I can absolutely guarantee it. We were just looking for images that evoked a Wolverine, hence the black slash/stripes and the earlike black thingies that have evolved into huge earwings. Just thought you’d like to know.”

So Wolverine and Tom Brady have one less thing in common now.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Ernie Chan had to be credited under a different name for years due to a typographical error.

STATUS: True

Since his debut on issue #26 in 1973, Ernesto “Ernie” Chan has inked more Conan pages than any other artist in comic history.

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However, for a number of years, Chan was forced to go under a different name, all due to a typographical error.

Born in the Philippines in 1940, Chan worked in the Philippines comic industry, along such great Filipino artists as Alfredo Alcala, Tony DeZuniga, Nestor Redondo, Danny Bulandi, Romeo Tanghal, etc.

DeZuniga was one of the first Filipino artist to hit it big in America, so Chan came to America to apprentice with him in the very early 70s, and eventually Chan got work at DC Comics and then Marvel, eventually becoming the longtime inker on Conan.

However, as you might notice from the number of covers Chan did for DC in the mid-70s (and he did a LOT of them), he had an interesting credit – Ernie CHUA.

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As Chan explained in a 1992 Marvel Age (#109) interview with Barry Dutter:

BD: Originally you worked under the name of Ernie Chua, is that correct?

EC: I started out using Ernie Chua as my name, because that is the name I had on my passport. I had to go by my legal name, for tax purposes and stuff like that.

BD: Is Chua your real name?

EC: No, that was a typographical error on my birth certificate that I had to use until I had a chance to change it to Chan when I got my citizenship in 1976.

BD: Now your name is legally Ernie Chan?

EC: That’s my legal and true name, yes.

As you can see, those covers first started popping up in 1977, credited to Ernie CHAN.

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According to Bob Rozakis, Chan told him the reason that the immigration officer did not just correct the typo was because he thought it would be better for Ernie, as “there are too many Chans in the U.S.”

Pretty scary, eh?

Well, that’s it for this week, thanks for stopping by!

Feel free to drop off any urban legends you’d like to see featured!!

12 Comments

Emilia é gostosa!

por favor el heroe SUPRMAN es un personaje de rostro y cuerpo carismatico no es nada musculos por que siendo hombre de acero no necesita levantar pesas y mostrar musculos su verdadero rostro es el del dibujante curt swan, al plastino ,jim money, murphy anderson, kurt schffenberger de la epoca o años 50 y 60 y nunca envejese su ropa es irrompible no es debil ante cualquier enemigo sea de la tirra o del universo por favor corregir esta mala accion de los dibujantes modernos posiblemente a partir de los años 80 ,90 y 2000 en adelante tales dibujantes de estos años podrian ser personas que tienen pacto con el diablo satanas y sus demonios por que dibujan al HEROE SUPERMAN con un rostro cambiado de aspecto endemoniado demacrado y debil pasr la vos aestos malos dibujantes y escritores que se rectifiquen y tambie la serie esmollvill de clarck kent es una farsa yo conozco su vredadera historia y no sigan asi por favor en semejante mentira haga la verdadera historia .

Translation, anyone?

Babelfish can’t decipher it into something readable. Something about the devil possessing current artists to explain why Superman’s musculature is so much more defined than in the days of Swan, et al?

Yeah, I gave Babelfish a shot at first, and it was pretty indecipherable.

I know we must have some bi-lingual folks here, though, right? Help us, people!!

Here’s a bad translation:

please the hero SUPRMAN is a personage of face and charismatic body it is not at all muscles for which being a man of steel it does not need to raise weight and to show muscles his real face is that of the drawer curt swan, to the plastino, jim money, murphy anderson, kurt schffenberger of the epoch or years 50 and 60 and envejese his clothes are never unbreakable they are not weak before any enemy be of the tirra or of the universe please to correct this bad action of the modern drawers possibly from the 80s, 90s and 2000 from now on such drawers of these years might be persons who have agreement with the devil Satan and his demons that there draw to the HERO SUPERMAN with a face changed devilish gaunt aspect and weak pasr you aestos bad drawers and writers who are rectified and tambie the series esmollvill of clarck kent is a farce I meet his vredadera history and do not continue that like that please in similar lie it does the real history.

In brief, I think he’s pissed off.

He may have a point. I mean, would it suprise anyone to find out that Geoff Johns had made an agreement with Satan and his demons?

Well, this post is a little old and I don’t know if anybody will read it again, but I’m from Argentina and I can translate that VERY WEIRD message (by the way, written in very bad spanish).
It says: ” Please, Superman is a character with charismatics face and body, He isn’t just muscles, because for being the Man of Steel He doesn’t need to lift weights and show up his muscles, His real face is that of the drawists Curt Swan, Al Plastino, Jim Money, Murphy Anderson, Kurt Schffenberger from the 50′s and 60′s and He never grows old, his clothes are unbreakable, He is not weak against any enemy from Earth or the universe. Please correct that bad action of the modern drawists, possibly since the 80′s, 90′s and 2000. Those drawist maybe has a pact with the devil Satan and because of that they draw Superman with a different face with a devilish, emaciated and weak look. Spread the word to this bad writers and drawists, for they can rectify. And too Smallville Tv Series is a fake, I know it’s true story and dont’ keep going with that huge lie, please do the true story”.
Well, Or He is a very angry ten years old boy or He has a serious mental illness.
I love this section. Yours Truly….

Julio Juri

Thanks, Julio!

I believe Len Wein, but how he thought yellow and blue with tiger stripes evoked a wolverine (and not a “Wolverine”…I wonder if there’s some trademark cya there), I’ll never know. The brown costume, maybe.

Just for comment follow up…

I have a memory from childhood and wanted to check the veracity. When Marvel was publishing FOOM for their fans, they held a contest in which readers could submit an original character idea/drawing and the winner would get to have their creation drawn I think by Jazzy Johnny Romita. I recall seeing some pretty dramatic amateur art for a submitted character called Wolverine, down to extendable claws maybe…it’s been lots of years ago, in the early to mid-70′s. Did that have any part of the Wolverine genesis? Also wondered for a long time if any of those other fan-submitted ideas were harvested later for company characters.

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