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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #55

This is the fifty-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 fifty-four.

This week is ANOTHER theme week! It is “Comic Books and Rock ‘n’ Roll” Urban Legends week!!

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: James Kochalka performed the theme song for the FOX show, “The Loop.”

STATUS: True, with a band.

James Kochalka, noted comic book artist whose work include his current project for Top Shelf, Superf*ckers…

is also a cool musician.

At his neat Kochalkaholic blog, Alan David Doane interviewed James, and they talked about The Loop theme song, “Hockey Monkey.”

Doane – The song “Hockey Monkey” by yourself and The Zambonis was the theme song of a Fox TV series called “The Loop” that debuted this year, and the song has gone on to gain significant radio airplay. How this experience has affected your life and your work?

Kochalka – It has not really affected my life and work in any way whatsoever, that I’ve yet noticed. We got $25,000 for the song, but we split that five ways. Certainly the song was heard by millions and millions of people, but it hasn’t led to huge sales. It did give us inroads to commercial radio. Up until now, my stuff has only been played on college radio, but after the show premiered we took a chance and sent the Hockey Monkey single out to 400 commercial and modern rock radio stations. Of those, I think about 20 or 25 started playing it. Most significantly, the SIRIUS satellite network started playing it on their most popular music channel, Alt Nation. It quickly climbed the charts there, eventually becoming the #1 most requested song. It’s still way up there, it’s been high on their charts for a couple months now. They’ve played the song HUNDREDS of times, it’s unreal.

Now, I will get money from BMI for all this airplay and television play eventually, but I don’t know how much. BMI’s payment schedule has like a one-year delay. So this time next year I should know what it all adds up to.

The Burlington Free Press has a great story here about how the deal came about.

If you want to see the Nickelodeon music video that Kochalka and the Zambonis, click here for mov. format and here for wmv. format.

I like the song a lot (and I think The Loop is pretty good, too).

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Paul Simon named some of the rhymes in “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” after the old Marvel bullpen.

STATUS: False

Awhile back, a commenter asked the following question. I forget who it was, so if the commenter reads this, let me know and I’ll edit it in:

Was Paul Simon really thinking of the Marvel staff when he wrote “Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover”:

“Slip out the back, Jack” (Kirby)
“Make a new plan, Stan” (Lee)
“Don’t need to be coy, Roy” (Thomas)
“Hop on the bus, Gus” (?)
“Just drop off the key, Lee” (Stan)

I’ve never heard Simon mention comic books at all in any interview he’s ever
given, so it seems highly unlikely that his song had anything to do with Marvel,
even in a wink-wink kind of way. But who knows?

It was an interesting theory, so I went a-lookin, and a very nice Paul Simon fan forum pointed me in the right direction, to an interview Simon gave in the 70s, posted on the web by Jean-Marc Orliaguet at his fan website.

According to Eddie Simon, in a 1975 Timothy White piece,

“Paul loves to play these little improvisational rhyming games with his three-year-old son, Harper James,” Ed reveals with a laugh. “You know. ‘There Goes Rhymin’ Simon’ and all of that–that’s where that stuff comes from. It all started a while ago when Paul was teaching him this ‘Fe Fi Fiddle-eye-o’ song, and just grew from there. Harper James laughs like crazy when he does it!

and from Paul himself, from the same piece…

“I woke up one morning in my apartment on Central Park,” he says, “and the opening words just popped into my mind: ‘The problem is all inside your head, she said to me . . .’ That was the first thing I thought of. So I just started building on that line. It was the last song I wrote for the album, and I wrote it with a Rhythm Ace, one of those electronic drum machines so maybe that’s how it got that sing-song ‘make a new plan Stan, don’t need to be coy Roy’ quality. It’s basically a nonsense song.”

So I think we can pretty safely (while not 100% certain) say it wasn’t about the Marvel bullpen.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: The co-creator of Tank Girl co-created The Gorillaz

STATUS: True

In the late 1980s, Jamie Hewlett Alan Martin created Tank Girl, which is set in a future world where a girl, well, drives around in a tank, having all sort of really strange adventures.

It was really stream of consciousness, and the book became popular among music groups who would then appear as themselves withIN the comic.

The strip continued in the magazine Deadline from the first issue of the magazine until its last.

At about the same time that Deadline was folding, in the mid-90s, Tank Girl had a movie, which did not do particularly well.

Hewlett did design work for various places until, a few years later, while Hewlett was sharing a flat with Blur frontman Damon Albarn, they came up with the idea for the Gorillaz.

In an interview for Wired (conducted by Neil Gaiman!), the formation of the Gorillaz is discussed…

GAIMAN: How did Gorillaz come about?
HEWLETT: We were flatmates. One day, we were home watching MTV with our eyes just kind of glazed. Because if you watch MTV for too long, it’s a bit like hell – there’s nothing of substance there. So we got this idea for a cartoon band, something that would be a comment on that.
ALBARN: We’re the generation whose stars come from Pop Idol and celebrity-wrestling shows. And it’s all a bit like a cartoon, really.

Hewlett designed the group, while Albarn created the music for the group.

The Gorillaz have become extremely successful, selling millions of records and going on crowded tours. In addition, the design work on the group recently earned Hewlett Design Museum’s ‘Designer of the Year’ award.

Pretty cool, 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!!

37 Comments

I’m sorry, but is that last one really an urban legend? It’s not like Hewlett changed his name when he formed Gorillaz or anything. Ever since they came out he’s been associated with the “group.” I have to call bullshit on calling that an urban legend!

Just keeping you on your toes. Someone has to!

As far as urban legends for future installments… I keep hearing something of a supposedly secret deal between DC and Diamond. Something along the lines of DC having an option to buy out Diamond in their contract with them and/or some other “intimate” relationship between the two entities. Has anybody else heard this? Is there any truth to this?

yeah… the last one was a giveaway. his name is signed on the early artwork at that. but really, for a group of people who can look directly at a picture of wonderwoman and tell by the size of her breasts what generic comic style artist drew her, you would think a style as distinctive as hewlett would be a slap on the forehead.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

June 16, 2006 at 12:53 am

Yeah, you suck Cronin!

Everybody knew that last one!

Stop spending them new shiny CBR roaylty checks on Hookers and Blow and get back bustin’ dem real urban legends!

If any of them ever seem too known, I ask a bunch of random comic fans to see if they’ve heard it.

The Hewlett one passed muster.

It may seem obvious to us, but it really isn’t obvious to people who never read Tank Girl, which is, well, a pretty large amount of comic book readers. Heck, when’s the last time Hewlett even DREW Tank Girl as an ongoing? Eleven years ago?

FunkyGreenJerusalem

June 16, 2006 at 2:29 am

I’ve known people who don’t read comics who knew that one.

But then again, I’ve always maintained that music fans are as big, if not bigger, geeks than comic fans.

Oh, I definitely believe that.

Mike Loughlin

June 16, 2006 at 6:30 am

I remember playing songs from the Zambonis’ debut album when I was on college radio. All the songs were about hockey, and it was pretty funny.

That Paul Simon story goes back at least as far as, oh, 1982-1984 (when I was a regular reader of the Comics Buyer’s Guide). Someone had posted the topic as speculation, and I wanna say that over a period of a few issues, someone later verified that Paul had visited the Marvel offices, met Stand & Jack, or otherwise showed at least nominal awareness of Marvel comics during that time period. You might wanna contact Maggie Thompson (http://www.cbgxtra.com/Default.aspx?tabid=331) to see if she can dig up some details.

Dr. Anonymous

June 16, 2006 at 6:48 am

There is an urban legend that Leonardo DiCaprio co-owns Meltodown Comics in Los Angleses, any truth?

Okay, Brian, here’s an Urban Legend I think is really fasinating and has bugged me for years.

Marv Wolfman slipped a panel into Crisis in which the Marvel Universe is destroyed.

In an interview with David Anthony Kraft for his Comics Interview fanzine about two decades ago, George Perez is asked by DAK about what was, apparently, at the time a pretty prominent rumor. Perez says he has no idea about that, and you’d have to ask Marv, but I’ve never seen anyone actually do so. I’ve scoured COIE to find such a panel, and I’ve no idea where it could be. So I’d like to know if it’s true, and if not, where the rumor came from. Help a brother out!

Brian – Ah, don’t listen to them. Up to last month, I didn’t even know that Gorillaz was a virtual band created by Hewlett and Albarn. It’s only when I (finally) bought both CDs and looked online that I found out :)

Granted, I knew BEFORE you wrote the column, but not everyone who reads comics and/or listens to a couple of Gorillaz tracks knows about Hewlett.

Well, *I* didn’t know the Hewlett thing. Well, for one, I had no idea Hewlett was connected with Tank Girl. Also, I’ve never seen or heard anything by the Gorillaz, but I have heard OF them, so…

Bill, I assume, lives under a rock in Estonia, so that’s okay if he has a lack of knowledge.

What I meant was not that people wouldn’t know about Hewlett’s connection to Tank Girl and/or Gorillaz, because I imagine that quite a few people don’t know that. I meant that it wasn’t something that was hidden or in question or even a rumor. It’s not like “Stan Lee was once a woman in the Communist Party named Stella Lieber” – now that’s an urban legend!

I thought it was a nice bit of trivia, and I was interested enough to read the whole Gorillaz/Hewlett piece. Seems like it did its job.

Yeah, but like Greg said, it’s not an ‘urban legend’ by any means, more just trivia that some people didn’t know. Having said that, most of the Urban Legends are really fascinating, and this is probably the most interesting ongoing column on any comics website that I can think of.

Thanks a lot, Craig. I’ll drop Maggie a line!

Ken, I can tell you for a fact that Peter Parker is in Crisis…in fact, he’s also on the Alex Ross cover/poster/wraparound. If you look in the television screen right below Jay Garrick, you see him photographing the scene. I’m pretty sure he’s in the series proper, but I can’t remember offhand where.

No idea if Leonardo DiCaprio owns a comics store, but his dad George was a big alternative comics publisher along with Ron Turner from Last Gasp, back in the 60s and 70s. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_DiCaprio.

The one thing I’d add is that the crapness of the TANK GIRL movie basically precipitated the end of DEADLINE. It was a magazine that thrived on an atmosphere of coolness, which basically evaporated when associated so closely with such a turkey.

i remember back in 2000 / 2001 when Marvel.com was featuring a certain amount of original material and linked articles thru the “Your Man @ Marvel” and “Marvel Buzz” features. the most memorable article discussed the creation and proliferation of the “rock on” hand sign (aka the sign of the beast, aka the horns) during the metal movement in the 70s and 80s. in the article, gene simmons laid claim to inventing the hand sign. simmons, a big comics fan, credited spider-man as his inspiration. his anecdote essentially said he was at a photo shoot and wanted to do something unique, so he made the spidey web-shooter motion and tucked in his thumb in to make it his own. i don’t know how true this actually is – but i would really like to know.

Gene Simmons will take credit for anything if you give him long enough to talk. The “rock on” sign has been pretty solidly connected to Ronnie James Dio as something his grandmother did to ward of (or give) the evil eye. He would do it from stage and fans began copying him. Now maybe Dio is full of crap too,but since pretty much everything Kiss did was taken from elsewhere, I can believe that Simmons knicked this too (and I am a fan of early Kiss — they made something new of everything they borrowed, but their invention was the melange, not the actual elements themselves)

Nick,

Actually, Ronnie James Dio, formerly of Iron Maiden and now Dio, was the inventor of “the Horns”. Or, more acurately, his grandmother was.

Dio’s family are Italian immigrants, his grandmother coming from the “old world” if you will. She used the hand symbol as a light curse, similar to the “evil eye”. Dio himself would later use the hand sign as his music is chock-full of dark and mystical things. Most of his songs sound like readings from the Fiend Folio. Fans picked up on it and it spread like wild hellfire. Nowadays people (like me) get their own mother’s to give the devil horns’ sign and take pictures of it because it’s cute and funny.

Hope that helps.

Oh, and you’ve beeen debunked!

Freddy Freeloader

June 19, 2006 at 8:17 am

There’s a mistake in the Gorillaz trivia. I wouldn’t call it an urban legend ’cause Jamie Hewlett is even interviewed in the ‘mockumentary’ on the first Gorillaz DVD. Anyway, Damon Albarn didn’t voice Murdoc (he’s the bass player), the singer is 2D.

Freddy Freeloader

June 19, 2006 at 8:17 am

Still, thanks for the link to that interview.

Mauricio Matamoros

June 19, 2006 at 9:23 am

Well, just to let you know Michael that Mr. Ronnie James Dio isn’t from Iron Maiden, but Black Sabbath. Think that this it’s a big mistake, ’cause Black Sabbath it’s one of the biggest influences in the modern music (even with the shameless Ozzy), and Dio one of the most beautiful voices in rock.
Well, and just to go on with Sabbath, be aware that Terry ‘Geezer’ Butler, the master bassist of the band, it’s a big reader of comics, and he even co-wrote a Black Sabbath biography comic that was published in the mid 90 by Malibu Comics.
By the way, did you know that another great reader and collector of comics it’s the one and only Paul McCartney who, by the way, get to 64 years yesterday.
Cheers to Mr. McCartney.

So, did Elvis base his haircut on Captain Marvel, Jr? The story I heard was that the pre-fame Elvis asked his barber to cut his hair like the cover picture of the Little Blue Cheese…

Thanks for the correction on the Hewlett urban legend, Freddy!

So, did Elvis base his haircut on Captain Marvel, Jr? The story I heard was that the pre-fame Elvis asked his barber to cut his hair like the cover picture of the Little Blue Cheese…

Check it out here, in installment #37!

http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2006/02/09/comic-book-urban-legends-revealed-37/

#18 – At least one site agrees with you! I’ve got the big poster, and to me it’s just a guy with a camera… but since I can’t come up with a DC character for that role, I’ll go with Peter Parker. “Hello, Alex? George?”
http://www.io.com/~woodward/chroma/crcover2.html

How is there any more evidence that Dio is the one behind the horns than Simmons? It’s on the cover of “Love Gun” in ’77, and Dio didn’t even join Sabbath until two years later.

(Incedentally, the version of the Simmons story I heard was that he wanted to wave at some fans without dropping his pick, so he held it with the middle fingers and waved with the outside, then liked the way it looked in pictures he saw later – also that it was more of Dr. Strange’s gesture than Spidey’s)

It’s most likely, I think, that they both did it by themselves – Ronnie for his grandma, Gene because he thought it looked cool – and when fans saw (nearly) the same gesture used (independently) by both Black Sabbath and Kiss, thought it must actually be some super-secret rawk symbol and adopted it…

You gotta remember Dio had other bands before he was in Sabbath. He’s an old little man.

There is one other interesting comic/cartoon connection with Simon & Garfunkle — on their very first single (a 45 record) they called themselves ‘Tom & Jerry’.

According to Ronnie James Dio himself, it was probably some guy named Og that invented the sign around 25,000 years ago.

Lars Ulrich claims to have seen Dio using the sign back in 1975, 76 and 77 – when Dio was with Rainbow and not Black Sabbath.

George Clinton and Bootsy Collins have supposedly been using the sign long before it became known as the devil’s horns.

All this and more at
http://www.lacitybeat.com/article.php?id=1216&IssueNum=66
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corna

Felipe de Amorim

November 3, 2006 at 3:07 pm

Well, the “devil´s horn” sign is indeed pretty, pretty old. It goes way back to the Roman Empire, and originally had nothing to do with the Devil. The horns were actually a reference to bulls, praised by the ancient Romans as a holy animal and as a symbol of power and strength, related to the soldier´s god Mithras. So, when a Roman made the “horned hand” symbol with his fist, the intention was to channel the bull´s might and/or the good grace of Mithras.

Of course, as many other traditions of ancient european paganism, the “horned hand” also survived in the christian world, although with a transfigured meaning. Know througout Italy as “mano cornuta”, the symbol started being used as a way to protect oneself from diabolic forces (in a way similar to the “sign of the cross” gesture). Of course, if one pointed the “horned hand” to another person, the obvious implication was that the said person was diabolic or in relation with the devil, what allowed for the gesture to be also used as a light curse.

And, in the funny comic book related note, the original esoteric meaning of the “mano cornuta” still survives in the Marvel Universe… it is one of the most commom hand gestures of the Doctor Strange, a champion of the fight against the forces of evil. How intentional was that, I have no idea.

Yeah, but we’re talking specifically of who made the sign so particular to rock and metal, not who invented it in teh first place.

You gotta remember Dio had other bands before he was in Sabbath. He’s an old little man.

But I’ve heard him tell the story. He claims to have first used it AFTER joining Sabbath, as he wanted his own hand-sign to replace Ozzy’s ‘V-for-Victoy/Peace’ sign.

ON June 16, 2006 at 11:49 am Ken Raining wrote:

Okay, Brian, here’s an Urban Legend I think is really fasinating and has bugged me for years.

Marv Wolfman slipped a panel into Crisis in which the Marvel Universe is destroyed.

I don’t know if it appeared in the comic itself, but I do recall that in one of the Who’s Who wrap-ups for the book, where they listed who died, which realities person became which hero, which people died on which worlds, etc. there was mention of Marvel. I can’t recall after nearly 20 years if it was Actually Universe 616 that was destroyed, or if was listed as a cross-over world where both Marvel and DC heroes existed, but it was destroyed.Because of that, I was a little miffed at the DC vs. Marvel thing, because DC continutity said that Marvel had been destroyed!

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