INTERVIEW: DiDio & Lee on "Dark Knight 3," Vertigo's Future & DC's Evolving Readership
This is the forty-third 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 forty-two.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Julie Schwartz once had to write a comic story in a day because of an mistaken cover instruction
STATUS: True, just that it was Bob Kanigher, not Julie Schwartz
Reader Dave Lartigue dropped me a line about a possible urban legend he was curious about,
I was fortunate enough to hear Julius Schwarz speak at a comics con. He basically reminisced about old times, and it was a very entertaining talk. He told one anecdote that has stuck with me.
He said that during his days at DC he was looking at the proof for a cover to a war comic. He felt that some element on it needed to be moved down, so he wrote on the proof “Drop One Inch”. Someone misinterpreted his instruction, thinking there was a story called “Drop One Inch” in the book and changed the cover to announce this. The cover was then printed and Schwarz was alarmed because now it was announcing a story that wasn’t inside. Consequently, he had to quickly write a story called “Drop One Inch” to cover the goof.
After doing some checking, I found that Julie Schwartz told this same story a few years back, but when speaking of the recently departed Robert Kanigher.
Said Schwartz then (in a press release DC Comics issues upon Kanigher’s passing),
Longtime officemate Julie Schwartz considered Kanigher a fast and versatile talent. “There was one day when he was looking at a cover,” Schwartz recalls, “and it didn’t look right, so he wrote a note on the side that said, ‘drop an inch,’ meaning to adjust the art somehow. Anyway, the page came back with a caption added that read ‘Drop an Inch!’ So Kanigher immediately sat down and wrote a story called ‘Drop an Inch.’ I think he did it over his lunch hour.”
Looking into the matter, I discovered the following.
July 1958’s G.I. Combat.
Right there on the cover, “Drop an Inch.”
The first story? A nine-page Robert Kanigher story titled “Drop an Inch.”
I think we can safely say that this one is true.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: When Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Steve McNiven began work on their Fantastic Four run, it was intended to appear in the pages of the regular Fantastic Four
A few years back, there was quite a bit of controversy when Marvel announced that the popular creative on their Fantastic Four title, Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo, were being replaced by a new creative team apruptly. The news came as quite a surprise, as Waid’s Fantastic Four was gaining a good deal of critical acclaim, along with fine sales.
Ultimately, in a strange example of a reverse in position, Marvel announced that Waid and Wieringo were NOT going to be taken off the book after all. Instead, the creative team that WAS to replace them, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Steve McNiven, would have their own brand-new ongoing series, Marvel Knights: 4.
However, in another twist, Aguirre-Sacasa and McNiven were already working on the project BEFORE they were ever going to replace Waid and Wieringo.
Aguirre-Sacasa relates the story in Marvel Spotlight:
David Finch/Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Originally, I was hired to write a 12-issue miniseries called “FF: Working Class Heroes.” Then that project got shuffled onto the mainline book, then we were put in the Marvel Knights line. I think I wrote the first issue thinking it was for the Working Class Heroes miniseries, and they suggested I keep moving forward. But then they said, “We’re thinking of using your script for the regular FF title.” Then I wrote two or three issues and then they said we’re going with the Marvel Knights for this. Bill Jemas had wanted to write a more grounded FF, ste on Earth, essentially, so that was his idea, and they also wanted a book that was very different in feel from what Mark Waid was doing, which was more of the action-packed, cosmic adventure stories.
It must be a weird experience to write a comic for three different titles!!
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Dr. Strange has a daughter named Sofia
STATUS: Essentially True
Aguirre-Sacasa’s situation, where the writer really had no idea where his story was going to end up, was very similar to that of the writers who were a part of Marvel’s ill-fated Epic line of comics.
Initially, Epic was to be the place where Marvel would let creators introduce creator-owned talent that Marvel would own a piece of, in case the characters became successful. It evolved, instead, to becoming a place where lesser-known talent would work on a stable of established Marvel characters, giving old characters a new spin and hopefully the series would become successful for Marvel, and if not, Marvel would not be laying out a lot of money for the deals. However, when Marvel had an ownership change, the launch of the titles were dropped. Instead, the three finished books, Sleepwalker (by Robert Kirkman!), Young Ancient One and Strange Magic, were released in one big book, titled Epic Anthology. Marvel promptly cancelled the anthology after the first issue was released.
However, in that first issue, we met Sofia Strange, rumored to be Doctor Strange’s daughter. I asked writer Jason Henderson what the deal was, and this is what he told me,
Uh, gosh, okay: so the question is, is Sofia Strange Dr. Strange’s daughter?
Okay, this is the opinion of the creative team and Marvel then; what Marvel thinks now is anyone’s guess.
Answer: Not just yes, but heck yes.
I mean, look at her: blue-paisley print in her jacket, streak in her hair….
How did this happen?
Once upon time there was a pitch: the hidden daughter of Doctor Strange. Greg Scott and I were working on SWORD OF DRACULA when we started putting this idea together, sending it to then-editor Stephanie Moore and Bill Jemas. Moore was busy putting the (new) Epic line together, which was supposed to be a line of niche-oriented books with new ideas and even new creators. Rather than let the pitch develop by itself, Marvel dovetailed it in with Epic. Made sense: Greg and I were pros but still very much at the start of our careers, so we could be shoehorned into Epic well enough.
Sofia Strange (as she eventually came to be named) was the daughter of Doctor Strange and his other-dimensional wife Clea– and in fact, in an early script, the story begins not in New Orleans but in the Dark Dimension, where Queen Clea, Dormammu’s forces closing in, sends the young Sofia and her nanny Vesper to Earth. But Sofia must remain hidden, especially from Doctor Strange, who does not know she exists. For various reasons, Clea doesn’t want Stephen Strange roaring back to the Dark Dimension and making things worse.
Flash forward to today, where the issue actually does pick up, with Sofia coming to New Orleans (I love New Orleans. I wanted to cross this over with my ghost-hunter book SOULCATCHER) and getting used to using her powers. Another cut scene from Issue 1 showed Dr. Strange in Greenwich Village, getting up in the middle of the night for some milk, suddenly struck by a teasing sense that someone is being magically hidden from him, a great fog in his senses.
So there we had it: Dr. Strange’s daughter, with all his powers, in New Orleans having small, magic adventures, conveniently hidden from the Marvel Universe so that we could avoid excessive entanglements with all the guys from New York.
Alas, we did one issue’s art by Greg Scott, colors by JD Mettler, an AMAZING cover by Tony Harris. And then it all got folded into the Epic anthology, and the rest is history. Nothing attached to Epic survived.
I guess she’s still alive out there, probably practicing magic in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Thanks, Jason, for filling us in!! Be sure to check out what Jason is up to now at his website, www.jasonhenderson.com!!
I’m pretty sure someone asked this question in ONE of the comments section, but I can’t find it for the life of me, so please, if you did ask me this question (Does Dr. Strange have a daughter?), drop me a line so I can credit you.
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!!
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