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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #83

This is the eighty-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 eighty-two. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: The Superman story in Action Comics #1 was made up of a cut up comic strip.

STATUS: True

Jerome Siegel and Joseph Shuster worked together on a pitch, Superman, that was continually turned down by publishers. They continued to try to pitch the feature as a comic strip, but it would not fly.

Eventually, they effectively gave up on pitching the comic as a strip and agreed to sell it as a comic book. The only problem was that when they agreed to sell it to National Comics and their new series, Action Comics, they were on such a time crunch, deadline-wise, that rather than creating a new comic book story, they just took their unsold Superman comic strip pages and cut them up and re-worked them so that they would work as a single comic book story (this is partially why the story in Action Comics #1 and #2 are seemingly interconnected – they’re really X amount of comic strip storylines cut in the middle).

The result sure did work out, though, didn’t it?

urban 2.jpg

Sheldon Mayer recalled doing the cutting himself, but he is likely thinking about work he did on the second issue of Superman #2, which reprinted parts of Action Comics #1 and #2. Shuster almost certainly did the cutting and pasting himself.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Jim Shooter was the moving force behind Jack Kirby being removed from the cover of Fantastic Four #236.

STATUS: False

Over a year ago, I did an installment of Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed that featured the story of the cover of Fantastic Four #236, which featured Stan Lee, but not Jack Kirby.

urban 3.jpg

As it turned out, John Byrne turned in the cover with Jack Kirby featured on the cover, but, according to Byrne, Marvel Editor in Chief Jim Shooter had the cover removed.

However, what was unclear at the time was WHY Shooter made the move. Most fans presumed that it was some pissiness on the part of Shooter that led to the removal of Kirby’s image.

The real reason, though, was in writer Ronin Ro’s “Tales to Astonish,” his book about Jack Kirby.

As it turned out, at the time period, Kirby was having problems with Marvel, and one of the issues he had was the use of Marvel of his name and likeness to promote their products. Which makes sense…after all, it is kinda messed up to see a company you’re having problems with using your likeness to sell their stuff without giving you anything in return.

Therefore, when Kirby was alerted to his image appearing on the cover to Fantastic Four #236, he (or a lawyer of his) requested that it be removed, which Marvel acquiesced.

So there ya go. Feel free to dislike Jim Shooter, if you will, but not for that, at least.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Geraldo Rivera made an appearance in an issue of Count Duckula.

STATUS: True

Marvel’s licensing comics heydey was during the 80s, with the Star Comics boom, but they continued on until the very early 1990s, and one of their later comics was the comic book adaptation of the cartoon series Count Duckula.

In 1989, they had one of the strangest guest appearances that you are ever going to see in a comic book, when talk show host Geraldo Rivera guest-starred in issue #8 of Count Duckula.

urban 1.jpg

In the issue, Geraldo is looking for his next “Al Capone’s Tomb” bit, when he accidentally finds Duckula’s crypt.

The world’s first vampire duck is too much of a story for Geraldo to turn down, so he features Count Duckula on his television show, but Duckula’s nemesis, Doctor Von Goosewing, shows up to cause yet another fight on the set of Geraldo’s talk show set.

In the end, though, we find out that Duckula, being a vampire, doesn’t show up on television!

Funny stuff, and what a weird crossover.

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Feel free to drop off any urban legends you’d like to see featured!

39 Comments

Geraldo is pretty odd, but nothing tops Uri Geller in Daredevil.

SanctumSanctorumComix

December 29, 2006 at 8:07 am

Marvel still was able to capitalize on KIRBY’s name on that cover.

Check out the blurb at the bottom (center).

I wonder if THAT was put on the cover BEFORE or AFTER Jack (or his legal team) squashed the cameo drawing?

Check into it.

~P~
P-TOR

Were the bits cut from Siegel and Shuster’s Superman comic strip submission eventually printed somewhere? I know Superman got an extended “origin” sequence relatively early (Superman #1?) Did that material come from the original submission?

Just noticed the cover blurb on that FF issue – what was the “All-New” Lee/Kirby FF story promised there? Is that an accurate description? Some ancient inventory material? Seems like in view of the corporate politics of the time, and the stuff mentioned in this very entry, it’d be extremely unlikely that Kirby was actually doing something new for Marvel then.

“Just noticed the cover blurb on that FF issue – what was the “All-New” Lee/Kirby FF story promised there?”

An adaptation of one of the FF cartoons with H.E.R.B.I.E. The story’s titled “The Challenge of Dr. Doom!” and is a retread of Fantastic Four #5. Kirby is credited with doing the breakdowns.

“This issue’s anniversary story by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby represents the first collaboration by that titanically talented due since King Kirby left Marvel some years ago for the wooly wilds of animation studios. Long-time fans will recognize the story as a variation on the FF’s first fabulous meeting with Dr. Doom in FANTASTIC FOUR #5 — and no wonder! When DePatie-Freleng started their Saturday morning cartoon show of the FF, that story was among the first adapted — with storyboard by Jack, no less. When we were looking for a special feature, someone suggested that we modify Jack’s storyboard into a comics format, and voila! (A tip of the hat and many thanks to David DePatie and Jack Kirby for their consent and cooperation in this somewhat unusual undertaking.) As was the case on the TV show, The Human Torch has been replaced in the story by the now-defunct Herbie the Robot.

“Sharp-eyed fans will also have noticed a difference in art style from page to page. As an extra-special treat, we corralled almost every inker who ever set pen to Jack’s work on the FF and talked them into tackling a page or two. To spare you long sleepless nights trying to figure out who did what, here’s a who’s who of FF inkers along with the pages they handled: Chic Stone — pgs 1, 7, 12; Dick Ayers — pg 2; Al Milgrom pg 3; Joe Sinnott — pgs 4, 10; George Bell (aka George Roussous) — pg 5; Sol Brodsky (the original FF inker and designer of the book’s original logo) — pg 6; Vince Colletta — pgs 8, 11; Frank Giacoia — pg 9; Pablo Marcos — pg 13; John Byrne — pg 14.”

Cry me a Rivera is an awesome title.

Count Duckula! great! hey you should do a Ren & Stimpy comic rumor sometime too!

I could be wrong but I’m 99.999% sure the figure of Stan on FF #236 is actually by Marie Severin (though it’s possible she inked Byrne’s pencils to keep The Man “on model”).

Kurt

You may be right. Byrne never said he specifically drew it, so it very well could be!

Thanks.

In Adventures of Superman #437 from 1987, Marv Wolfman introduced Doctor Stratos, a red haired guy in a white suit who claimed to be a god. At the end of the issue, Doctor Stratos transforms into a powerful giant after being defeated by Superman, and says he’ll be back soon. He never showed up again.

Since the issue was drawn by Erik Larsen and not regular artist Jerry Ordway, I’m assuming it was a fill-in. The fact that it was inked by nine guys seems to confirm that. Wolfman left the comic a few issues after that, so he probably didn’t have a chance to use the character again.

My question is: Did Wolfman re-use this idea to create Lord Chaos in New Teen Titans, around 1991? That villain looked exactly like Doctor Stratos, was a demi-God, and at one point even wore a white suit.

Steange Cameos are numerous. The strangest came must be in Sabrina I think. Will Hanna and Joe Barbera meets Sabrina and the strangest crossover must be Sabrina .vs. Sonic The Hedgehog… or perhaps that is a tie with Archie .vs. The Punisher. That was a weird one too. Makes every Judge Dredd-crossover feel normal.

As far as crossovers, the Archie VS. Punisher one was rather odd, but in my opinion, managed to keep the integrity of both of the actual titles, a rarity for most crossover books.

There seems to be quite a few characters who creators don’t want to let go of when they change companies. I can’t remember off the top of my head, but I think Howard Chaykin had a character virtually the same as Dominic Fortune somewhere else, and wasn’t there a different version of Devil-Slayer before Marvel’s? I’m sure there’s a ton more, would be cool to see some of them.

Eyemelt:

Both Howard Chaykin’s Dominic Fortune and Rich Buckler’s Devil Slayer were reworkings of characters they had created for the short–lived Atlas/Seaboard company. The former was Moro Frost, The Scorpion, and the other Demon Hunter (I think; this one didn’t really catch my fancy, but the connection was reported in the Amazing Heroes newsmag, and the Marvel version was known to me because Buckler (re)launched him there via his original Deathlok series, which was a personal favorite; AH said—this was probably in the Deathlok “Hero History” article in #94—that he “debuted” there getting off an airline flight his predecessor was last seen catching in his Atlas series). Other hands turned Scorpion into a modern day Daredevil–type in his third—and final—issue, the character having been indicated in the prologue of #1 to be more or less immortal.

I think you may have to double check that Superman story.

Siegel and Shuster submitted Superman as a comic strip to McClure Syndicate, which M.C. Gaines was working for.

Gaines assistant, a teenage Sheldon Mayer, thought it was fantastic and would be the next big thing. The Syndicate didn’t think so and they passed.

At the same time Gaines was trying to keep some printing presses rolling. He worked out a deal with National (DC) that they’d use his presses if he helped find them material to print.

Sheldon urged Gaines to send over the Superman submission. Vin Sullivan was the editor there and he approved of it because it was different and would stand out. Plus they were desperate for material.

From there, somebody (nobody knows for sure) cut up the strip submission and turned it into a comic book. Chances are it was Vin or possibly Sheldon.

DC always recognized they owed Sheldon for recognizing Supermans appeal to kids and convincing them to run it.

Siegel talks about this here:
http://theages.superman.ws/siegel.php he goes into detail roughly 2/3rds the way down.

He says Joe Shuster did the cutting up, but I think that’s been disputed.

Comic Reader Man

December 30, 2006 at 3:01 pm

Josie & the Pussycats met Hanna-Barbera in JATP #50.

I don’t ever recall seeing a Sabrina crossover with HB…anyone know where, when or if this appeared?

Stan Lee & Dan Decarlo appeared as themselves in a few early Marvel-Atlas stories featuring My Friend Irma.( issues #41 & #48).

I forgot to say that these twin revivals were major evidence in a theory I had formulated a very long time ago that the 70s Atlas was, for whatever reason, a Marvel front. Other evidence:
1: Atlas was Marvel’s previous name, for most if not all of the 50s.
2: The presence of Stan Lee’s brother Larry Lieber on Atlas’s staff.
3: When, during Atlas’ brief existence I asked the manager of the local comic shop why they didn’t carry Charlton titles, his reply was the lack of sales history. The entire output of Atlas for that month was displayed in the window right behind him—we were standing out front—and by Jon B. Cooke’s account (see below) they would have had a helluva lot less sales history than Charlton (don’t know why I didn’t point that out, and I’ve been kicking myself over it for thirty years now; granted, absolutely nobody around there carried Charltons).

There is an article by the aforementioned Mr. Cooke at http://www.atlasarchives.com/history.html, said to be reprinted (so to speak) from “Comic Book Artist” #16, which says exactly the opposite, that it was founded by ex–Marvel exec Martin Goodman, who threw that company’s former name in their face, angry that they had fired his son. Mr. Cooke also states that creative talent retained ownership of their characters, etc., but the thinly disguised revivals of the aforementioned two at Marvel—which, by definition of the industry’s then standard operating procedure, owned at least the new versions outright—themselves argue against this. Furthermore, the next to last sentence reads as follows: “Without exception, none of the characters has ever been revived, a sad legacy indeed.” As has already been seen, Dominic Fortune/Scorpion and Devil Slayer/Demon Hunter (that IS right, as I’ve now confirmed it at the site that displays the article under discussion) prove that this is at best a gross and misleading oversimplification, technically true but no better than that. Furthermore, note the fact that, as I said in posting #14 above, other hands took over The Scorpion for its third issue. Both the Atlas site and the GCD confirm will this for any doubters. This absolutely demands that either the company owned the property, or, if Chaykin’s Atlas contract did indeed have him retaining ownership of his creations there, Goodman, et. al., had no idea that they had agreed to this, requiring it to be an isolated incident rather than standard policy. PERIOD. With all due respects to Mr. Cooke, whom I have heard of elsewhere, I can see absolutely no way around this, and it calls the credibility of the entire article into question. As for the Marvel revamps, one might argue that as this was several years before Pacific Comics, Chaykin and Buckler had no viable alternative (sorry about the pun!) at the time, nor could they see one in the offing, and disguised their creations so as to retain ownership of the originals. But the Marvel versions are really too close for any subsequent work elsewhere with “their” originals to seem a realistic option. Given the alleged origin of this Atlas company, why would Chaykin or Buckler go to Marvel of all places with them rather than DC, where Chaykin at least had been quite recently working (“Sword & Sorcery” and his own creation “Ironwolf”)? Did that working relationship end badly? Never heard a word myself, but I wasn’t reading ‘zines then. I am open to reasonable explanations (in other words, so long as they don’t come across as grasping at straws to preserve Mr. Cooke’s standing at the expense of fidelity to the facts and common sense).

Excellent points, Jamie.

I’ll definitely go get a better version of exactly HOW the pages came to get cut up.

Thanks!

So, John Byrne drew the FF cover but he didn’t know the story as to why Kirby was removed? C’mon now, why must every one of your columns have some kind of anti-Byrne agenda to it?

John Bynre gave us the reason why Kirby was removed and reiterated it on his board again yesterday.

Why don’t you do a column about why John Byrne is the most slandered man in comics.

How do we drop off suggestions? Through here? I heard a rumor that Led Zepplin was the backing band on the 60′s Spider-Man cartoon. Playing the incidental music. There’s another one future legend to cover, if it hasn’t been already.

E-mail’s usually the best.

So, John Byrne drew the FF cover but he didn’t know the story as to why Kirby was removed? C’mon now, why must every one of your columns have some kind of anti-Byrne agenda to it?

John Bynre gave us the reason why Kirby was removed and reiterated it on his board again yesterday.

Why don’t you do a column about why John Byrne is the most slandered man in comics.

Byrne slander?

That’s absurd.

Where do I even slightly knock Byrne in the piece?

Dude says “Shooter took him out,” and he’s right, Shooter took him out. So I dunno where you’re getting a slight towards Byrne in the piece. And past Urban Legend pieces? What the heck? Where are the past instances of knocking Byrne in Urban Legend pieces?

I’m actually getting more irritated the more I think of it. I really should be viewing it as more bizarre than irritating, but I can’t help but lean toward irritating. There’s not an INSTANCE of me knocking Byrne in these past columns, and you’ve decided to not only ignore that, but to claim that “every one of your columns have some kind of anti-Byrne agenda to it.” I mean, if I wrote, like, a single anti-Byrne column, I would still be a bit irked, but as it is, I do not believe I have. CERTAINLY not enough to make an argument of “every one of your columns have some kind of anti-Byrne agenda to it.”

I have thought about it…and I have now calmed down from the initial “more irritating than bizarre,” and am now willing to go back to “more bizarre than irritating.”

So, yeah, very bizarre.

I agree. Happy New Year, Brian and everybody else!

response to Ted Watson – the problem is relying solely on Cooke’s article instead of going to Jeff Rovin’s own article from the Comics Journal which Cooke bases so much of his article on. it’s at the same website that you found Cooke’s article at, but for some reason you don’t cite it ( http://www.atlasarchives.com/articles/cj114.html )

Atlas had a different distributor than Marvel, and thus got more of a push from that distributor when they came out. Charlton was its own distributor, and was notorious for being very spotty — you never knew if you would find a Charlton book available for sale, ever.

In order to get artists to leave Marvel (and DC, but they targeted Marvel specifically), Rovin had to promise the moon, including co-ownership of characters and higher pay rates. When Goodman found out, he hit the roof. Once the creators found out that they didn’t have what they thought they had signed on for, they left. Almost every Atlas title changes creators after the 2nd issue, once the original creators found out what the real deal was going to be.

The similarity to Marvel (including setting Larry Lieber up as a poor-man’s Stan) was obviously set in place to compete with Marvel. Goodman was trying to one-up his previous company. The problem was that Goodman was a publisher, not a creator. He only understood the outer trappings, the gimmicks. He had never understood the creative elements that made Marvel Marvel. When you add into that the fact that he was notorious for flooding the market (going back to the 40s) when he thought there was a fad, and you get a pretty accurate account of the Atlas debacle.

And as for why the creators would re-use their characters so obviously — well, they weren’t using the trademark names, and who was left at Atlas to run the lawsuit? When you add in that many of the creators felt they had been misled and/or lied to about their contracts and were not given what they were promised — Atlas wasn’t going to go to court when the judgment could just as easily come back at them as having broken the contracts.

I was there when Atlas came out. I liked some of their stuff and hated a lot of it. There’s some good stuff hidden among the fluff (primarily in the first few issues of the titles when the creators still believed they had creative freedom).

the true legacy of Atlas is that it gave dreams and hope to the new generation of comics creators. it showed them that it might be possible to own their work, or to try different things. page rates went up after Atlas. Both DC and Marvel changed their contracts to allow more creative control. It’s been reported several places that the reason the DC Showcase volumes end where they do is that once you hit 1976 (post-Atlas), DC had changed its reprint policies and they have to negotiate with the creators to make the Showcase volumes economically viable.

Jim Kosmicki:

I have read the Jeff Rovin article now, and do have some questions about it. First, note that the Cooke piece is singled out with a “History” button all its own, while Rovin’s is buried with a bunch of other articles. I seriously doubt that said button existed when a link at Fred Hembeck’s site first led me to the Atlas Archives two or three years ago, and all this situation is why I didn’t cite Rovin’s work: I didn’t know the thing existed! After all, why would two articles ostensibly covering the exact same ground yet so at odds with each other both be posted on the same site, with the one you say should be disregarded given the much higher profile? Shouldn’t they be posted side by side, so to speak, with a disclaimer that the site’s administrators don’t know which to believe? There’s a story there, but I’ve got NO idea what it might be. Secondly, Jeff is obviously anything but objective (THAT could very well be a major factor in the two contradictory articles situation, come to think of it). His description of how Martin Goodman had done business since the depression era—”he’d capitalize on what was current or successful, take as few chances as possible….”—is hard to reconcile with him being the man in charge when the other Atlas became Marvel and changed the face of the comics industry, which he was.

You also wrote: “As to why the creators would re–use their characters so obviously—they weren’t using the trademarked names, and who was left at Atlas to run the lawsuit?”
That’s not what I asked. Let me try to make it clear, this time. If Atlas was a deliberate attack on Marvel as BOTH articles claim, why would Chaykin and Buckler rework their creations from there at Marvel (as opposed to DC or even Charlton, which around that time was publishing the fan faves E–Man and ROG–2000, and therefore doesn’t seem to be that unlikely an option), and why didn’t Marvel recognize their Atlas antecedents and understandably refuse to have anything to do with them (or—again come to think of it—did the facts that 1: Goodman’s new company failed so spectacularly and, 2: they would own these thinly disguised versions of his properties, amuse them)?

Going in, I thought I had more to say about this, but can’t think of anything else now.

Rod Odom (a thinly disguised “Dr. O’Doom”) apparently eats, drinks, sleeps and breathes in the service of John Byrne. Get a life, Mr. “Odom!” No one has been a bigger fan of Byrne’s art than myself, but he is just a man, no greater than any other. Do you even have a job? Because you seem to spend your entire waking hours hunting down any hint of a slight against the mighty Byrne on the internet and taking action against it. Darken our collective doorstep no further.

I dunno, Bill. I personally really don’t have a problem with a dude constantly sticking up for John Byrne, if that’s his bag, so be it.

But come on, get the facts right, at least! Constant anti-Byrne agenda?!!? What the heck?!?

I don’t run the Atlas Archives, so I can’t possibly claim to explain why one is highlighted and one is not, other than the Cooke article is more recent and less critical of a publishing house that was obviously admired by the webmaster.

but Rovin was there. yes, his piece has a sense of personal mythmaking, but it also rings really true if one simply looks at the other sources that discuss that time.

Goodman OWNED Marvel, but he also owned several other publishing houses. One of his hedges had always been to publish with as many corporate names as he could, so that debt from one flop (or profit from one hit) couldn’t be easily connected to each other. Early Marvel books may have had Marvel on the cover (at least after the first year or so) to tie them together, but if you looked at the publishing indicia (the actual legal copyright claim), they were often credited to many different companies.

and, as I said above, Goodman published a lot of different publications besides comics, men’s magazines, film magazines, puzzle magazines, etc. Anything that might be a profit center, he had a finger in it. In fact, Mario Puzo wrote for Goodman’s film magazines while he was writing The Godfather in the 60′s. It was long acknowledged that the Men’s magazines were what made the most profit for a long time, not the comics. It was just better PR to be identified as a comics publisher than a men’s magazine publisher.

If you read the various histories of comics, whether Steranko’s or Gerard Jones or Goulart’s, they are all consistent that Goodman had a long, long, long history of flooding the market to follow whatever trend was selling at that date, whether superheroes during the war, westerns/love/crime after the war, or horror in the late 50′s/early 60s. Goodman didn’t publish one or two books, he published dozens to make the quick profit. (Anyone who knows the 70′s Atlas history should know how familiar that sounds).

after his Atlas distribution company went under in the collapse of the comics’ market in the late 50′s, the owners of DC (who also owned Independent News – one of the largest magazine distributors left in the market) agreed to take them on, but put Goodman under very strict controls about how many titles he could publish in any genre (as well as total) because they didn’t want him to flood the market again. It was the only deal he could get, so he took it.

and it had to frustrate the hell out of him, as when the Batman craze came along, he couldn’t take advantage of it!! He was limited in the total number of books he could publish. Once the 10 year agreement for distribution was over, Goodman found another distributor (Curtis, I believe) and we had the famous 1968 explosion of new titles from Marvel where the split books each became two solo books and lots of new titles debuted. The difference is that Marvel had become Marvel, and there was a market for more Marvel product (but not as much as even Goodman thought, as many of the new 1968 books didn’t last long).

Once Goodman had the profit statements from his new, expanded lineup in place, he sold out to a conglomerate (just as National Periodical had recently done). National Periodical (DC) sold to a major media company, whereas Goodman sold out to Perfect Film, who worked primarily in the printing industry (and may have been a major creditor if the rumors I’ve heard are correct).

Goodman expected the new owners to allow his son to remain the nominal publisher of Marvel, but Chip Goodman was a bad businessman and didn’t do well. Once he was fired (as soon as the new owners could legally), that’s when Goodman began setting up Atlas to tear apart Marvel, with Chip as the publisher. He got connected up with yet another distributor (Kable, I believe) who had minimal comics product and thus allowed Goodman free range to print as many books as he could, as it was a new potential market for them.

Atlas failed because they debuted at a negative point in the country’s history in terms of spendable income. They failed because they didn’t have a coherent editorial plan. They failed for any number of reasons. But ultimately, Chip Goodman retained the men’s magazines (which was the only part of the company that he seemed to care about or have any understanding of) and washed his hands of the rest.

The creators, meanwhile, had used Rovin’s experiment to their advantage. In the late 60′s, the rapidly aging DC staff writers had asked for benefits and talked about unionizing. They were almost all fired and replaced by the new generation of writers like O’Neill, Wein, Wolfman, etc. by the early 70′s, Neal Adams (at the height of his influence and powers) began to talk about creating a union for comics’ creators. Since by that time there were mainly DC and Marvel left, the two companies were able to maintain solidarity and refuse most of the demands pretty easily. Then comes in Jeff Rovin and Atlas with promises of co-ownership and return of art and higher rates, and there was competition. If you’ve read the articles linked to already, you know that the better deal never really existed, but the potential lasted just long enough to give the creators a bargaining chip. Both DC and Marvel changed their policies to the better for creators before everything was said and done.

and if you look at what Atlas actually published, not many of the DC and Marvel “stars” ever really made the jump. and the ones who did were still at the early stages of their careers and were able to recover and get work once the Atlas experiment was over. Although many of them (like Chaykin) never really stuck with the majors like many of their contemporaries did. that early taste of freedom, followed by the start of creator-owned titles like Star*Reach, made them less willing to work on the plantation.

But this is a long-winded reply to a rather simple question. There was no Atlas/Seaboard company to lodge a lawsuit. There was reasonable doubt as to whether the creators had signed the standard work-for-hire contracts (which is why Marvel and DC began really emphasizing that status around this time). What was the benefit of a lawsuit to protect characters that had “failed” and were no longer published by a company that was no longer in existence?

and if you look at it from Marvel’s perspective, what better way to thumb their nose at the grandiose claims of their former owner (who had not been a supportive owner in the first place) than to recycle some of the characters? Add into that fact that Marvel, at the time the characters were recycled, was not a well-oiled machine. it was run by writer-editors who each had their own little feifdoms, with not much overall control, definitely not a company that ran things in front of the lawyers on a regular basis. That all came later, when Jim Shooter became Editor-in-Chief and began imposing a more corporate culture on the company. So Marvel as a company most likely didn’t know that creators were recycling characters — the individual creators may have been doing it to spite Goodman/Atlas, but it’s very unlikely that it was intentional on the corporate level. And actually, if you read interviews with many of those creators where they talk about recycling the characters, even then it wasn’t about thumbing their noses at Atlas as much as it was trying to use characters that they liked and thought had potential.

I’m not sure if any of this rambling answers your specific questions, but it’s important to not put today’s context onto what was done 30 years ago — it was a different environment.

What an interesting turn the replies for this edition have taken. I’m quite enjoying the talk about Atlas myself (failed comic book companies, especially the spectacular ones, are always interesting). But the Anti- John Byrne accusation is amazing. You mention byrne in passing, Brian, and only because he was the artist of the cover in question. There’s no suggestion that Byrne was at fault. I infer from the hostile post that Byrne is saying that Brian’s version of events is incorrect; if that’s the case, a link to Byrne’s site would be appreciated. In any event, Byrne’s problem is with Rodin Ro’s account of things, not Brian’s.

Jim K.: “What better way [for Marvel] to thumb their nose at [Goodman]….Marvel as a company most likely didn’t know that creators were recycling characters — the individual creators may have been doing it to spite Goodman/Atlas….”

Yeah, that does answer a lot of it for me. Thanks.

As for the Atlas Archives site, I certainly did not mean to suggest I thought that you had some inside information there. Sorry it came acros that way. I do wonder why, given that “Phil” “obviously admired” (your words, and just giving credit where it’s due, as I certainly agree with that) the defunct company, he put Rovin’s article up at all. Did he hope Cooke’s contrary piece would be believed by the site’s visitors over Rovin’s, making Jeff look bad? Oh, well.

One last thing: “There was reasonable doubt as to whether the creators had signed the standard work–for–hire contracts [with Atlas] (which is why Marvel and Dc really began emphasizing that status around this time).” Back in Urban Legends #48, a discussion board debate concerning Jack Kirby’s departure from DC in the mid–70s directed me to certain references that indicated the Big Two began emphasizing work–for–hire because of the instituting of some regulation/legislation saying that if comics work wasn’t specifically stated to be such, then it wasn’t (I believe that’s what was said—it is at least pretty close—but see below). This reaction by the companies—so as to retain total ownership as they had always been doing—led several names, including Kirby then at Marvel, to leave comics entirely until the rise of the creator–ownership–oriented alternative companies a few years later, starting with Pacific. This was before Brian changed sites and left all the old discussion postings behind, so those links, etc., are gone, and I didn’t make notes, primarily because I didn’t know that was going to happen. Again, this is all at worst pretty close.

who/where do we email for suggestions?

Well, while we’re on the subject of similar characters, can anyone honestly tell me the characters ‘Spawn’ and Marvel’s ‘Nightwatch’ are just a coincidence? Or were Marvel hoping Image would fall apart, and realised they could use the idea of dead guy with living costume?

Yeah, Nightwatch was pretty freaking weird, wasn’t he?

Just wanted to comment on Dr. Stratos… apparently this wasn’t just a throwaway fill-in based on the comments made in the preface of Roger Stern’s most recent Superman novel for the JLA line, where the Doctor makes his return.

Yeah… I remember that Doctor Stratos story. I actually got pretty anxious waiting for his return, over the years… Not that he was such an awesome villain, but that last scene was so full of rage and angst and emotion… You just knew Doctor Stratos would come back at full force and it would be a titanical battle.

It took him a while, tough. Guess he got sidetracked.

Love catching up on this column, reading stories about old comics and events behind the scenes. You’ve made me question in fun some of the articles and how they relate to the overall theme of your column. I’ve ignored a few as they are still interesting, but I have to ask, how is whether or not Geraldo Rivera appeared in an issue of Count Duckula an urban legend?

Ever since I spent a lonely summer at my uncle’s house, I’ve been immersed in comic books and still can’t give them up. I greatly appreciate this site. Keep up the great work.

I have ever been glad for which you sharing a present detail, all best suited, I’ll gain knowledge of much to the information you will have.%KW%

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