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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #46!

This is the forty-sixth 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-five.

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Dave Cockrum’s resignation letter from Marvel was placed into an issue of Iron Man as a prank.

STATUS: True

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In Iron Man #127, David Michelinie and Bob Layton really began the push for their “Tony Stark is an alocholic” storyline, which would famously come to a head the next issue with the popular “Demon in a Bottle” story.

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In the issue, a visibly drunk Tony Stark cruelly berates his longtime butler, Edwin Jarvis.

The next day, a sober Tony is surprised to learn that Jarvis is resigning from his position.

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The text of Jarvis’ resignation letter reads as follows:

To: Anthony Stark

This is to notify you that I am tendering my resignation from my position. This resignation is to take effect immediately.

I am leaving because this is no longer the team-spirited “one big happy family” I once loved working for. Over the past year or so I have watched Avengers’ morale disintegrate to the point that, rather than being a team or a family, it is now a large collection of unhappy individuals simmering in their own personal stew of repressed anger, resentment and frustration. I have seen a lot of my friends silently enduring unfair, malicious or vindictive treatment.

My personal grievances are relatively slight by comparison to some, but I don’t intend to silently endure. I’ve watched the Avengers be disbanded, uprooted and shuffled around. I’ve become firmly convinced that this was done with the idea of ‘showing the hired help who’s Boss.’

I don’t intend to wait around to see what’s next.

Sincerely,

(Jarvis)

cc: The Avengers

Well, soon after the issue was released, in the letter pages of Iron Man #130, David Michelinie explained that the wrong letter was placed into #127.

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Well, as it turns out, the letter that was statted in was none other than the resignation letter that Dave Cockrum gave to Marvel upon his resignation of his staff position that year (1979). Someone just changed the “Marvel” references to “Avengers” references.

I asked Bob Layton about it, and he confirmed that that was the case. According to Bob,

The particular issue was Iron Man #127, although I can’t remember who the culprit was. But, it did cause a big stink in the offices at the time. It was a totally bonehead move.

Agreed. That is a pretty crummy prank to pull.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Orson Welles once teamed up with Superman.

STATUS: True

One big advantage that the panelists on What’s My Line? had for the mystery guest is that they knew who had a new movie coming out, because, generally, if you want to plug your movie, you would show up on What’s My line?

The producers of 1949’s Black Magic took this one step further, by having their star, Orson Welles wrangle an appearance in an issue of Superman!

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Black Magic starred Orson Welles as Cagliostro, hypnotist who wreaked havoc in King Louis XV’s court. Nancy Guild played Marie Antoinette, and Raymond Burr even made an appearance as Alexandre Dumas, who would write the story that the film was based on.

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The team-up appeared in late 1949, in a Wayne Boring-illustrated tale in Superman #62.

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Notice the movie plug worked into the cover of the comic!

The plot involves Welles, while working on Black Magic, accidentally being trapped in a ship headed for Mars, where he learns of the Martians plans for invasion of Earth (their leader, Martler, was a huge Hitler admirer).

Welles remarks, “When I fooled the world with my Martian invasion broadcast, I never dreamed I would invade Mars myself!”

Who would, Orson?

Who would?

Luckily, Orson notifies Superman of the plan, and the duo quickly mop up the Martians, and leave Martler on an uninhabited asteroid.

Thank you, Orson Welles!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Michael Fleisher’s Spectre issues had so many problems with script continuity that they needed a separate writer to keep the continuity straight.

STATUS: False

For years, people wondered exactly what the deal was with Russell Carley’s “script continuity” credit in Michael Fleisher’s Spectre stories (beautifully drawn by Jim Aparo) in Adventure Comics #431-440.

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What does a “script continuity” man DO, exactly?

Did Fleisher have a problem keeping everything that was happening in the comic straight?

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In the 1988 collection of these stories, Wrath of Spectre (issue #2, to be precise), Peter Sanderson (Click here for the latest in Sanderson’s excellent series, Comics in Context, over at IGN) wrote an article explaining exactly what it was that Carley did:

Michael Fleisher explains that, ‘When I first started writing comics, my friend Russell Carley, who’s a fine artist, and I used to work on them together. We would get together on a Saturday afternoon and we plotted the story together. Then Russell would take the plot and break it down into panels, and I would write the script.’ When Fleisher started writing comics, he only had experience writing prose. ‘I had never written any kind of script in my life.’

He believed that Carley had a stronger visual sense than he did, and therefore would be better at determining how the story should be expressed through comics panels. ‘We wanted to come up with some kind of title that expressed what he did as opposed to what I did.’ But Fleisher believes that the credits they came up with for Carley failed to make his actual contribution clear. ‘All we succeeded in doing was confusing everybody,’ Fleisher concludes, adding that whenever he is asked about the SPECTRE series, he is invariably asked just what Russell Carley did.

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‘A lot of the ideas for the Spectre, like the giant scissors cutting a man in half, were Russell’s ideas,’ Fleisher reveals. (Jim Aparo singled this scene out as one his own favorites in the series.) ‘We had a lot of fun,’ Fleisher continues. ‘But then he lost interest. I think we only did this for a year. He wasn’t really interested in comics, and I was. So he dropped out. We’re still good friends, but professionally we went our separate ways.’

Fleisher took over the work of breaking the story down into panels once Carley left the series.

So there you go! Thanks to John Wells for the heads up AND the transcription!

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

> Agreed. That is a pretty crummy prank to pull.

Personally I found that to be quite amusing. Stick it to The Man!

But they weren’t sticking it to the man, really. It was more like sticking it to Cockrum, by making his private correspondence public.

Mister Goodman

July 10, 2006 at 12:05 pm

Mostly the prank stuck it to David Michelinie and Marvel’s readers, sabotaging the key moment of a storyline that had been building for months. (A story that has generally been seen as the most popular Iron Man storyline ever.)

Oh yeah, it wasn’t good for Michelinie either, which is just another reason why I think it was a crummy prank to pull.

It was an awesome prank foiled by fanboys who take things waaaaay too seriously.

ParanoidObsessive

November 9, 2008 at 11:40 pm

If you have to be a fanboy to find it incredibly disrespectful and scummy to reprint someone’s personal and private correspondance in a public setting, then call me Captain Fanboy.

I’d find it offensive if someone took a letter of resignation I wrote to an employer and published it on the Internet, especially if it was possible to figure out precisely whose it was through inferrence alone (which it was, in this case). In the same vein, it’s offensive that someone felt the need to do so in this case, motivated solely by what appears to be childish and immature motives.

I’d say there was no intent behind it other than to be anything other than hurtful to an ex-employee, and ironically enough, the “prank” clearly seems to underline precisely the sort of unfair, malicious, and vindictive treatment that led Cockrum to resign in the first place.

It’s not awesome, amusing, or hilarious – all it really is is clear evidence that someone at Marvel in 1979 was a complete asshat.

Maybe this was not meant as prank OR to be hurtful to Dave Cockram. Perhaps, the intention of printing the resignation letter in full view of the public (sans the name of the author) was to call attention to Marvel’s gross mistreatment of the authors and artists that creat the comics we have all come to love. Albeit, this was at the expense of a very important moment for Iron Man, and an iconic moment in comic history. However, I feel sometimes the creators of the works we love deserve a fraction of the respect we heap upon their creations- I think the culprit of this “prank” probably felt the same way.
Anyway, I don’t feel this act was particularly harmful to Cockram, as he continued doing a large portion of Marvel covers and DC covers as a freelancer. So I say this was a wonderful act of rebellion.

/rant

“It’s not awesome, amusing, or hilarious – all it really is is clear evidence that someone at Marvel in 1979 was a complete asshat.” Speak for yourself, and I’ll do the same, thanks. I think it IS amusing. Perhaps not awesome, certainly not hilarious per se, but amusing? Certainly. I also agree that it was most likely an asshat at the cause, but not all of us are such tight asses that we can’t find something amusing just because it was also a douchey move. I think the funniest part is how worked up people get over the whole thing, though. And, honestly, if someone reprinted a personal resignation letter I had written, I would have a good enough sense of humor to, while perhaps be upset, not make a stink about it.

Also, I think Jenocyde sums up what my thoughts are on why the prankster may have done such a thing. Maybe it was someone juvenile who thought it was funny because it was mean; but who’s to say that it was supposed to be mean-spirited? Before the days of the internet, how else could they have gotten word out to all their fans that, perhaps, things were amiss at Marvel?

Alrite, I’m not a fanboy, obviously, so maybe I’m missing something here but what the f*ck is that guy talking about when he calls himself a prudent armadillo? It boggles my mind that nobody has brought up what the hell this means! I almost get the .357 magnum joke…almost, but not the amradillo referance.

A little late in answering, but ‘armadillo’ is the Marvel alliterative nickname for Archie Goodwin, ie “Armadillo Archie.”

I guess any comment here is way past the expiration date, but I want to share what I’ve found.
The following is from Jim Shooter’s blog:
http://www.jimshooter.com/2011/08/some-marvel-tales-and-other-horror.html

the comment is from August 23, 2011 at 3:13 PM by Jim Shooter
“Regarding the resignation letter….

Editor Jim Salicrup needed a resignation letter for Jarvis, in the Avengers. His explanation to me for using Dave’s, which had been floating around the office — Paty made sure that it was made public — was that he thought it would be too small for the type to be read, given the generally lousy letterpress printing for comics back then. And, it was easier than writing a letter and having it statted down to fit. Of course, we got a great printing job….

Jim Salicrup has always been a friend and supporter of mine (as I am of his) so I cannot believe there was any malicious intent. Bad move, but so it goes.

As far as I know, Paty had nothing to do with it the letter being printed in Iron Man. She didn’t work in production proper, she worked for Sol on “special projects.”

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