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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #53!

This is the fifty-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 fifty-two.

Last year was the end of the first year of doing this, and this installment is the beginning of year TWO!

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Mike W. Barr was initially inspired to write Batman: Year Two upon reading Frank Miller’s seminal Batman storyline, Batman: Year One.

STATUS: False

One of the “problems” from the later collections of comic book storylines is that later readers tend to get a bit fuzzy on dates. For instance, readers from 2006 are not aware as much of the large delays in titles like Watchmen or Dark Knight Returns, mainly because they only know the works AS collections.

It is because of this phenomenen, I believe, that leads people to believe that Mike W. Barr came up with the idea for Batman: Year Two based upon Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One.

This is not the case, which would be a bit more reasonable if people remembered the comics as COMICS, not collections, as they would then recall that Batman: Year One…

came out a mere FIVE months before Batman: Year Two….

In any event, Barr had originally came up with the idea back in 1984, and the story was to be titled Batman: 1980. DC turned the idea down, though, because the idea of looking back into Batman’s continuity was not seen as appealing.

Post-Crisis, though, things changed, and when word got out that Miller was doing Year One, current Detective Comics writer Barr was offered the chance to do a matching story.

He dug out the old “Batman 1980″ stories, made a few appropriate changes, and viola, a story “inspired” by a story that was written two years after it.

Quite a trick.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Wendy Pini used to attend comic conventions dressed as Red Sonja.

STATUS: True

I have heard this one a few different times, most recently on the Comics Journal messageboard, citing an entry on Mark Evanier’s blog, News From Me.
Here is the lowdown from the website for Creation Entertainment, which helps organize genre conventions (sci-fi, comics, etc.).

In their section on conventions from days gone by, the site points out…WENDY PINI, co-creator of Elfquest, in her Red Sonja costume that she wore while frequently appearing with Sonja writer Frank Thorne.

FRANK THORNE (with GENE COLAN looking on) and WENDY PINI created the RED SONJA SHOW which they performed at several comic book events in the early seventies.

Evanier’s entry was about an appearances Pini made on the Mike Douglas show along with Phil Seuling. Seuling was asked by Douglas to bring along someone dressed up as a comic book character. Much to everyone’s surprise, the comic book character Seuling was thinking of was Red Sonja!

Here is a pic from the show, courtesy of Evanier’s site, with the four people in the photo being, from left to right, Mike Douglas, Phil Seuling, Wendy Pini and Jamie Farr (co-host for that show).

Pretty neat, eh?

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Gyro Gearloose was cut off from the rest of the Uncle Scrooge gang due to postal rules.

STATUS: True

Carl Barks created many popular comic book characters for Disney, none greater than Uncle Scrooge. One invention, though, was Gyro Gearloose, the inventor.

Gyro was pretty popular, and proven popular enough to gain his own back-up story in the pages of Uncle Scrooge, beginining in 1956’s issue #13…

However, mere popularity wasn’t the only reason for Gyro’s inclusion. According to Daniël van Eijmeren’s amazing website, the Guide to the Carl Barks Universe

As explained in the entry for “Land Beneath the Ground” (US 13-02), the Gyro Gearloose stories that began in “Uncle Scrooge” No. 13 came about as a result of Western’s applying for a second class mailing permit for the comic. To gain second class privileges a periodical must contain at least two stories, each one featuring different characters. Barks turned to Gyro Gearloose, the inventor, to provide the required second feature.Two stories had been completed before it was realized that no characters from the lead story could be used.

This is why Gyro did not appear in most of Barks’ Uncle Scrooge stories, he COULDN’T!

It’s too bad, too, as I liked Gyro. What the heck WAS he, anyways? A chicken?

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!!

37 Comments

According to Wikipedia, Gyro was a chicken.

Wendy did make a good Red Sonja.

Was that ever, like, made official, do you know (him being a chicken), or is just people’s best guess?

I love Gyro, but that’s a horrible toupee he wears. Surely, he could invent something more natural looking! ;-)

When I was twelve or so and watching Ducktales on TV (blissfully unaware of the history of all these “made up” characters thrown in with Scrooge and the nephews) I always kind of assumed Gyro was a goose. Because “goose” and “gearloose” rhyme or something. Looking at that picture, he does look a lot more like a chicken.

To gain second class privileges a periodical must contain at least two stories, each one featuring different characters….no characters from the lead story could be used.

And some believe today’s government is full of mindless, petty, restrictive, pointless and confusing bureaucracy…

Minor typo in the Pini/Sonja story:

“Evanier’s entry was about an appearances Dini made on the Mike Douglas show along with Phil Seuling.”

I do not now, nor do I ever, want to see Paul Dini dressed as Red Sonja. For starters, the hair color is all wrong.

Fun and interesting, as always.

Hah, good catch, Ed!

That WOULD be an unfortunate sight!

The Gyro Gearloose item: Wasn’t DC putting out comics with all Superman, all Batman, all Wonder Woman and all Superboy stories respectively in 1956? Didn’t they offer subscriptions, and therefore need second class permits? After all, wasn’t it a related consideration that caused the new Flash to pick up the numbering from the Golden Age one when he moved from Showcase to his own title instead of having a number one, not long later at all?

Ted:

Nope. That’s why characters like Aquaman and Green Arrow survived the Golden Age: they were solid, reliable back-up characters.

Geez, I remember buying “Year One” and “Year Two” as new comic books, and they didn’t seem to come out that close to each other. Time sure seems longer as a child.

Well, that settles it. They’ve got to do another Red Sonja/Jamie Farr crossover.

Athelind:

Yes, they were. Superman, Batman, Superboy and Wonder Woman DID all have their own self-titled comics, since the 40s, with the possible slight exception of Superboy, whose comic might not have started until about 1950 or so–WW in fact wasn’t appearing anywhere else in 1956–without different back-up series (I admit that for a brief stint sometime in the 1940s, and therefore irrelevent to the current discussion, Lois Lane had a feature of her own in the back of “Superman”). Aquaman and Green Arrow were appearing in the rears of “World’s Finest…” and “Adventure Comics,” and in the Sea King’s case, in the back of “Detective Comics” as well, but not in those other heroes’ self-titled comics. The only available out here is that DC wasn’t offering subscriptions to the solo titles, but an earlier Comics Urban Legend item about mailing regs requiring text pages works against that. Anybody else?

This might seem a bit bizarre, but Gyro was brought “back into the fold,” so to speak, when Uncle Scrooge got a Saturday-morning cartoon show. He seemed to be on retainer for Scrooge and even built a mech armor to be worn by Scrooge’s security guard. By saying the keyword – “Blatherskite (sic?)” – some random guy would turn into the robotically enhanced “Gizmoduck.” So, even though Gyro was essentially upstaged by his own creation, he was acknowledged as part of the “family.”

Yes, I’m a huge geek, and yes, I do love it.

Most current readers mainly know the older comics from reprints, not the actual comics, so it’s very easy to forget all the “filler” strips that were in older comics.

the comments above about the backup stories is surely part of the reason, but most, if not all, of the examples given were for anthology series, not solo character books. But I would imagine that if you had a half or whole page strip of “Pete the Cop” or “Super-Turtle,” you could claim to have a separate “story” with a character totally independent of the main character. Just like you could claim to meet the text page requirement with a short story OR a letter page OR a “Direct Currents” hype page.

Jim Kosmicki:

What you say sounds good on the face of it but, by that reasoning, a one-page strip with Goofy or some other non-Duckberg (Is that it?) Disney character would have freed Gyro to appear with the ducks. It doesn’t seem to have been that easy.

Arcan,

A couple things.

1) It was a weekday afternoon show.
2) The code words for Gizmoduck were “Blatherin’ Blatherscythe!”

What I just wrote is probably the most nit-picking thing I’ve done in a long time.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go jerk off to pictures of Magica DeSpell.

Arcan & Matt:

Just curious for the record here, but is the TV show you guys are talking about “Duck Tales”?

It has occurred to me that it might well be that once G.G. was established as the “no-characters-in-common” second feature, establishing an alternative one and, more to the point, incorporating Gyro into the lead series wasn’t so easy under the postal regs.

No, the word really is “blatherskite.” At least in most common usage. In fact, “blatherscite” is next and “blatherscythe,” is the least-common variation, probably because it’s furthest from the original Scots word (bletherskate) and the actual pronunciation. A scythe (sounds like “five”) is what you use to cut grass or wheat, while the “skite” (sounds like “fight”) is not.

http://www.worldwidewords.org/weirdwords/ww-bla1.htm

In any case, as a word adapted to English from a language without Roman characters, there’s of course going to be some difference of opinion on how to spell it. But in terms of popularity, Arcan got it right the first time.

And the cartoon in question, of course, was Chip & Dale’s Rescue Rangers. Heh.

No, Duck Tales it was, and while it was mainly a syndicated weekday show, it also did get some Saturday morning airplay, too.

Who’s the nerd now, dog?

–yo
oh, the shame, the shame of it all!

Gyro is a parrot, everybody knows that. Even Don Rosa, who named his parrot “Gyro”.

No way is Gyro a parrot. José Carioca (Three Caballeros) is your typical Duckberg inhabitant associate parrot. Gyro looks pretty chicken-like to me…

And incidentally, Wendy does make a good Sonja…

I thought Gyro as a goose too..especially as Scrooge also had another strange relative called “Gladstone Gander”

Mark_Lucas_TBP

July 25, 2006 at 1:06 pm

If Gladstone is a Gander, then Gyro would need a sex change to be a goose. Of course, I’m nitpicking species in a universe where Pluto is a pet dog and Goofy is not.

Just for the record, Gyro IS a chicken. According to the recently-released “Carl Barks and the Disney Comic Book: Unmasking the Myth of Modernity” by Thomas Andrae (University Press of Mississippi), Barks is quoted from a 1975 interview: “I only figured on using him once in a very great while, so I just made a big awkward-looking chicken.” (p 99)

Ted –

My copy of Superman 26 (1944) contains back-up strips from Private Pete, Faffs, and Judge Jollopy, as well as a two page story called “The March” by Alton Black. Batman 25 also has 2 Private Pete stories, and the story “A Blow For Freedom” by Stan Carter.

I can’t believe there are more responses about what species Gyro Gearloose is than there are about Wendy Pini doing an excellant job of filling out a chainmail bikini…

Patrick J McGraw

January 1, 2007 at 6:17 pm

The actual code word needed to activate the Gizmoduck armor was only “Blatherskite.” The fellow who wound up in the armor habitually exclaimed “Blatherin’ blatherskite!” and so accidentally activated the armor. He continued to use the full phrase because he never found out that he only needed to say “blatherskite.”

And not many people are commenting on how good Wendy Pini looks in that chainmail bikini because nothing needs to be said.

I always heard he is a common crane.

BTW Gyro Gearloose has remained a very popular character in the German Donald Duck comics, where he is named “Daniel Düsentrieb” (“Daniel Jetpropulsion”) and where his doggerel credo “Dem Ingenieur ist nichts zu schwör” (“Noting is too difficult for an engineer”) has become proverbial.

I have to agree with Brian … Year One and Year Two did feel like they were published years apart, not months. Odd …

And Wendy Pini back in the day … good god, comic creators aren’t supposed to be that hot!

Gyro rejoined the fold in print decades before Duck Tales premiered on television.

Anthony Durrant

May 13, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Although Gyro himself could not appear in a comic featuring the other Disney characters, he had a nephew named Newton Gearloose – every bit as much of an inventor as Gyro himself – who appeared in a JUNIOR WOODCHUCKS story; I know this because I once owned a comic in which the story was reprinted. Also in this story were the Beagle Boys’ nephews, the Beagle Brats, who reform and join the Woodchucks.

ON June 2, 2006 at 12:50 pm Ted Watson wrote:

The Gyro Gearloose item: Wasn’t DC putting out comics with all Superman, all Batman, all Wonder Woman and all Superboy stories respectively in 1956?

To jump in 4 years later…

My father gave me 2/3s of his comic collection at age 6, the remaining (mostly Disney) going to my younger brother. This trove of two long boxes contained a near complete collection of Superboy, Superboy and the Legion of SuperHeroes, and LSH. And in the back of almost every one of those was a short little story about two teenagers who found this magical device with letters on it, and why you pressed H-E-R-O you were transformed into a hero. I always loved it because every hero was a reader submitted creation. Now I know WHY it was there too, it supplied the second story with no links.

Gyro is called “Professor Sparrow” (pardal) in Brazil.

Stephen White

July 24, 2011 at 8:40 am

I feel old that the Wendy Pini story, commonly known among comic book fans of my generation, is now of urban legend status to the younger generation. I had an issue of Comics Journal from when I was about 10 years old with some photos of Wendy in it wearing the chainmail bikini, so I’ve always know about it. My dad didn’t collect Playboy for me to sneak in his room and steal, so, you know … ahem.

Here in Brazil, Gyro Gearloose is a passer. His name here is “Professor Pardal” – Professor Passer, translated to English. According to Wikipedia, passer is a genus of the sparrows: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passer

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