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.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: The Superman story in Action Comics #1 was made up of a cut up comic strip.
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.
However, in 1938, National Publications was beginning to have success with their title Detective Comics, so felt that they needed to have a new hit – but they needed it fast.
In fact, they did not have enough time to solicit NEW strips, so the call went out – put together a number one issue made up just of features that were already sent to them.
Gerry Jones, in Amazing Heroes #96, from June 1, 1986, describes what happened:
[Jack] Liebowitz pressed Vin Sullivan to get the fourth comic book [title] up and running…The title would now be Action Comics. There was no time to go soliciting material.
Independent wanted it on the racks in the spring of 1938, and the sales force was going to push it hard. The deadline was so tight that Sullivan would have to pull it together from inventory and stockpile pages. Only parts of it would be printed in color. He collected a decent set of adventure strips, but it lacked a strong lead feature. He wanted something with a catchy central character, something he could splash on the cover, but there was nothing at hand strong enough. So he asked his friend and former coworker Sheldon Mayer if Charles Gaines had anything knocking around that he hadn’t been able to set up with the McClure Syndicate.
Mayer found a rejected Superman comic strip, and then…Vin wrote his letter to Jerry [Siegel] and Joe [Shuster], telling them that their Superman samples were headed for Cleveland by parcel post and that if they could cut and paste them into thirteen comic book pages in a matter of days, he’d buy them.
And the rest, of course, was history.
Pretty cool, eh?
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Jim Shooter was the moving force behind Jack Kirby being removed from the cover of Fantastic Four #236.
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.
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.
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.
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!