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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #45!

This is the forty-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 forty-four.

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: She-Hulk was created based upon a rumor.

STATUS: True

As I pointed out with Spider-Woman, Marvel has historically been very protective about their trademarks, and were quick to work on short notice to deal with the trademark decisions.

Well, in 1977, the Incredible Hulk TV movie came out, leading to the 1978 TV series that quickly became a big hit. As the show became more and more popular, it was becoming evident that it would not be long before a female Hulk made her introduction.

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In fact, the rumor that that was exactly what they were planning made its way to Marvel, who quickly acted. As John Buscema (penciller of the first issue) says, “They were protecting themselves.”

Therefore, the first issue of The Savage She-Hulk was released in late 1979/early 1980, and by March, Marvel had already filed for a trademark for the character.

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As a side-note, She-Hulk remains probably the last significant Stan Lee creation in comic books.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Mad became a magazine because of the Comics Code.

STATUS: False

Most comic fans know of the history of the Comics Code, which was put into place in 1955, and how the restrictions of the code severely damaged EC Comics, as most of EC’s most popular titles were directly tied to words and concepts that the Comics Code specifically banned. For instance, I think anyone could understand how the publisher of such titles as Crime SuspenStories, The Vault of Horror and The Crypt of Terror would not be pleased when the Comics Code came out and prohibited any titles using the words “Horror” or “Terror” (or spotlighting the word “Crime”).

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In addition, EC Comics decision to turn Mad, a comic they launched in 1952, into a magazine has also been attributed to the Comics Code. In this instance, that is incorrect.

The actual reason for Mad becoming a magazine involved Harvey Kurtzman, who essentially was the brains behind Mad. Kurtzman practically wrote the whole comic, but in the mid-50s, he was offered a staff position with the magazine Pageant.

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To keep him, William Gaines, publisher of EC Comics, agreed to turn the ten-cent comic into a 25-cent magazine. Kurtzman chose to stay with the magazine he was basically running rather than take a staff job at a different magazine.

Gaines was asked about the issue in an interview with Steve Ringgenberg:

RINGGENBERG: Did you change Mad from a comics format to a magazine format to escape the censors?

GAINES: No. No, I did not. I changed it because Harvey Kurtzman, my then editor, got a very lucrative offer from, I believe, pagent magazine, and he had, prior to that time, evinced an interest in changing Mad into a magazine. At the time I didn’t think I wanted to because I didn’t know anything about publishing magazines. I was a comics publisher. But, remembering this interest, when he got this offer, I countered his offer by saying I would allow him to change Mad into a magazine, which proved to be a very lucky step for me. But that’s why it was changed. It was not changed to avoid the Code. Now, as a result of this, it did avoid the Code, but that’s not why I did it. If Harvey had not gotten that offer from Pageant, Mad probably never would have changed format.

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Kurtzman ended up leaving the magazine a year later, in 1956, anyway, but by that point it was clear that Mad Magazine was a hit.

So, from all the readers of Mad Magazine over the years, thank you, Pageant Magazine!

Thanks also to Greg Hatcher, who recommended this one way back in the very FIRST Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed! I have no idea why I didn’t use it until now.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Alan Scott intentionally created a garish costume.

STATUS: True

I feel sorta bad for Alan Scott. First, I pointed out how he lost the cover to his comic to his own DOG, and now I’m pointing out how his costume was DESIGNED to look goofy!

Readers of Green Lantern’s first appearance in 1940 might think that Scott was a bit off with his choice of costume, but there was a method to the madness…

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In his first appearance, Alan revealed the exact reasoning behind his costume choice. He CHOSE to appear so garish because, as he says in All-American Comics #16, “”I must make myself a dreaded figure! I must have a costume that is so bizarre that once I am seen I will never be forgotten!”

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Well, you succeeded, Alan!

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!!

7 Comments

Great post! I always wondered, though, was the back of GL’s cape supposed to be purple, or was it originally supposed to be black, with the highlights inked in purple?

Didn’t Stan Lee create Speedball, coming along much later than She-Hulk?

(Now, whether Speedball is “significant” or not, we could argue about, and I’d let you win. )

I love the entire Savage run! It comes together as a cohesive story, told from start to finish. The love triangle and its resolution (before being botched up in other appearances later) is brilliant, as is the other threads in the story.
Lee wrote the first issue.

No, Ditko created Speedball, with writer Tom DeFalco.

Lee did create Ravage 2099, which I wasn’t so much a fan of, and I like Lee’s remixed streetwise Batman one-shot. Maybe Stan Lee will make even more great comics in the future.

These comics are very good and specially a women hero is majestic because with beauty comes with brain and lady hulks i cannot believe how great it would be to see them fighting

I was always floored by the fact that the introduction of the She-Hulk just wasn’t that big a deal–even her origin was rather humdrum. Now I know why. But I stuck with it for a few issues before giving it up. I was more of a DC person than a Marvel person, anyway.

Anthony Durrant

October 29, 2011 at 3:21 pm

According to the book TV SUPERHEROES, the creators didn’t actually come up with a female Hulk. However, one of them came up with the idea that David Banner would give a woman a blood transfusion, and that his blood would then cause the woman to become evil in some way, and the Hulk would have to fight her. Sadly, this episode would never come to pass – CBS cancelled the series instead.

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