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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #98

This is the ninety-eighth 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 ninety-seven. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: DC once asked Marvel Comics for a page of Jack Kirby’s New Gods artwork when they needed a copy for reference work.

STATUS: True

Much has been written about Jack Kirby’s departure from Marvel Comics in 1970, and rightfully so, as the move was a major point in comics history, as Marvel was forced to scramble to replace their most popular artist, and co-creator of a number of their most famous characters.

As you might imagine, workers at Marvel were quite interested in exactly what Kirby was going to come up with at DC Comics. Towards the end of his Marvel tenure, angry over what he felt to be breaches of agreements; Kirby was resistant to use new creations at Marvel, choosing instead to save up his new ideas until his situation was settled. Ultimately, his situation was settled by going to work for DC Comics, where Kirby’s Fourth World line of comics debuted at the beginning of 1971.

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The interest at Marvel, however, soon found an avenue to see what it was that Kirby was working on, in the person of Vince Colletta.

Colletta was a prominent inker at Marvel Comics during the 60s, inking Kirby on a number of issues of Fantastic Four, but most notably, a long run inking Kirby on the Thor feature in Journey into Mystery.

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Colletta also freelanced for DC, mostly working on DC’s romance titles. So when Kirby came to DC in 1970, it was determined that it would be an nice sign of familiarity to fans for Kirby to be inked by Colletta on the Fourth World comics.

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This was all fine and good, but since Colletta was working for both companies, he would often bring the pages by the Marvel offices to show everyone what Kirby was working on – not in a malicious sense, but merely in a “hey, look what Kirby’s doing now!” manner.

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The Kirby pages were popular at the Marvel offices, and it soon led to an interesting situation that I read about in a few places (including Ronin Ro’s book on Kirby), but it seemed so darn implausible that I was quite doubtful. But surprisingly, as implausible as it sounds – it actually happened!

I asked Mark Evanier, one of Kirby’s assistants at the time, about it, and here’s what he had to say:

When Jack was doing an issue of New Gods, he needed reference on something he’d drawn in an earlier issue. He asked DC to send out a stat but they never got around to it. So I called a friend at Marvel. I’d been back there a few weeks earlier and seen stats on the wall that they’d made when Colletta was up at the office with pages. My friend at Marvel sent Jack the stat he needed.

Isn’t that amazing?

For what it is worth, Colletta only lasted on the New Gods titles for the initial issues, with Jack Kirby choosing Mike Royer to be his new inker. That, though, almost certainly had more to do with general dissatisfaction with the appearance of the finished product than the fact that Colletta was loose with the pages he was working on.

Thanks to Mark Evanier for the info!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Daimon Hellstrom was a riff on Damien from The Omen.

STATUS: False

Just recently, there was a little brouhaha over an ESPN Radio announcer who used some jokes that someone (presumably a producer of the program) found on a sports blog. The radio personality did not credit the blog where he found the material (although, after a backlash, he ultimately apologized and credited the website). Besides the whole ethical question about taking credit for someone else’s work, it deals with the problem of, when you have two people using something – and one is a major personality while one is a minor one, odds are folks are going to think that the minor one took it from the major one, whether that is the actual truth or not.

This is the situation that has come about in the revisionist history of Daimon Hellstrom and the film The Omen.

The film the Omen stars a young child named Damien, son of Satan.

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The comic book featuring Daimon Hellstrom stars Daimon, son of, you guessed it, Satan.

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Naturally, as comics have long taken from the popular world of film (Alien becomes The Brood, etc.), it is only natural that people would think that Daimon Hellstrom was a riff on Damien from the Omen. After all, “the son of Satan” is not exactly the most unique idea ever. After all, Rosemary’s Baby came out just a few years prior, which was ALSO about the son of Satan.

However, the comic book Son of Satan was released in 1973 (first in the pages of Ghost Rider, then in Marvel Spotlight).

The Omen was released in 1976.

It IS likely, however, that the hype surrounding the release of The Omen did, in fact, lead to Marvel giving Hellstrom his own title in late 1975, which lasted for only 8 issues.

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Thanks to John McDonagh for suggesting this one. You’re on a roll, John!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Tom Fontana is working on a Batman graphic novel.

STATUS: True

Quite often, comic projects are announced and just, well, disappear. There really is not much to say about them, except that they just never got made.

A notable example is a run on Marvel’s Doctor Strange with Roger Stern writing it and Frank Miller drawing it.

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There was a house ad for it (with AMAZING artwork from Miller), but nothing ever became of it. I asked Roger Stern awhile back about it, and Stern replied:

I’m afraid that the story of why Frank never drew Doctor Strange isn’t very interesting. As I recall, Frank was under consideration for some sort of James Bond project, so he bowed out of drawing Doc — temporarily, we thought at the time — to get ahead on his other deadlines. Luckily, Marshall Rogers came along and delivered six very tasty issues. And after that…well, by that time Frank was really caught up in writing and drawing Daredevil (and later, Ronin), so we never did get to work together on Doctor Strange.

Still…nice ad, wasn’t it?

Indeed it was, Roger, indeed it was.

But there you go – stuff just doesn’t work out, and projects disappear, and we often never hear anything about them again.

Sometimes, though, we can find things out about these ephemeral projects, like in the case of Tom Fontana writing a Batman graphic novel. Reader DWEarhart asked the other day what ever happened to the project that Tom Fontana, famed creator of the television series Homicide: Life on the Street and Oz, was supposed to be writing.

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The project was announced all the way back in July of 2005, and was going to be drawn by the estimable Cliff Chiang and be released at the end of 2006. It even had a title – Batman: Hopelessness and Faith.

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But here we are at the beginning of the second quarter of 2007, and there has been nothing heard about – no solicitations, no announcements, nada. Does this project even exist? Or is it just a rumor?

Luckily for DWEarhart, CBR’s own head honcho, Jonah Weiland, was on the case, and did some checking for me, and here is what he has to report:

I spoke with Kevin Deiboldt, one of Tom’s assistants, and he gave me an update. He said that Tom turned in a draft some time ago and DC came back with some notes, but Tom’s been so busy with his TV and writing career that he hasn’t had time to go back. Tom’s currently working on a pilot for NBC as well as writing a novel. As for a time frame on getting this thing out, Kevin said “your guess is as good as mine,” but this is still something Tom wants to do and excited to be a part of. Basically, to use a Hollywood term, it’s in “Production Hell,” but promises it will come out of that hell once Tom’s schedule allows for it.

So there you go, folks, the project is not ephemeral! It may be delayed, but it does exist!

Then again, the cover of the book was later used for a cover of Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, so that’s always worrisome….

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Thanks to Jonah Weiland for the info!

Okay, that’s it for this week!

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

32 Comments

I think the timing of Son of Satan had more to do with The Exorcist than The Omen. In the early issues, Daimon Hellstrom was shown exorcising demons, and he lived in the Georgetown section of Washington, DC, where The Exorcist took place.

I can’t think of anything I want more right now than a Rosemary’s Baby comic…

@ Rob M:
Boo Hiss! Georgetown! Foggy Bottom all the way!

Take a wild guess where I went to college….

Damien was in fact the first name of Father Karras in “The Exorcist.”

Yet one more great column. I love this thing I swear. Anyhow, I have a question maybe someone can find out…the Frank Miller James Bond thing? I mean, what was it all about? Did Miller have any art done? Bond being one of my all-time favorite characters and Frank Miller being my favorite writer…Please, can i know?

Oh and I’ll tell ya what would be hot, a Homicide:Life On The Street comic done in the Season style of Buffy. That was a hella good show. Especially the episode with the guy caught between the train and the platform.

Again, thanks Brian and staff at CBR.

I didn’t think that Vince Colletta could fall further in my estimation. It seems I was wrong.

Oh and I’ll tell ya what would be hot, a Homicide:Life On The Street comic done in the Season style of Buffy. That was a hella good show. Especially the episode with the guy caught between the train and the platform

great episode. poor vincent d’onofrio. great column too!

I loved Homicide: LIfe on the Street, so the thought of Tom Fontana doing a Batman story makes me all giddy. Let’s hope it sees the light of day.

If you want some H:LOTS comics, Colier, pick up some trade paperbacks of GOTHAM CENTRAL. They even have the case board!

Oh, and you might want to pick up the issue of TOP 10 where Alan Moore homaged the subway ep as a teleportation accident.

Hey, whatever happened to Barry Windsor Smith’s Superman project teased at the end of SUPERMAN: THE COMPLETE HISTORY?

And whatever happened to the Claremont/Golden “Action Comics” annual that was promised for years? It was supposed to follow the events of Invasion. There was even a house ad for it.

“However, the comic book Son of Satan was released in 1973 (first in the pages of Ghost Rider, then in Marvel Spotlight).”

For the record, SON OF SATAN, judging from the GCD, debuted via his own feature in MARVEL SPOTLIGHT when GHOST RIDER was promoted to its own book (#11, August ’73, was GR while #12, October [and the book WAS a bi--monthlty, so there was no extended gap between these] was SOS) THEN made some appearances in early GR issues. That SOS superseded GR in MS I knew without checking, but was surprised to find no listed apps. by Daimon in MS’s last GR ish or two. Tell me, Brian: Do we both question the accuracy of these listings? If I’m alone, I won’t push it at all, as I wasn’t actually buying/reading either of these, but merely heard and read about them at the time and in the years thereafter (First met SOS in a giant–size DEFENDERS issue and he did intrigue me, but after getting his origin from a back–issue dealer, I wasn’t that impressed and didn’t look for any more; however, the story did seem to be continued from the previous, GHOST RIDER, issue).

How about a special edition of Urban Legends focusing solely on projects announced but never produced?

Is there any truth to Barry Windsor-Smith working on an original graphic novel featuring the Thing?

I could swear I saw something to that effect on his website about a year or so ago…

Ted, there’s certainly a chance that he made his Marvel Spotlight appearance before his Ghost Rider one. Sorta tough figuring out exact dates thirty years later, ya know? If anyone happens to know, though, fill us in!

Thanks for explaining what happened with Frank Miller on Dr. Strange. I’d wondered about that for years. Last week I was looking through the second part of “Days of Future Past” in Uncanny X-Men, and saw the house ad for the first time in ages, and was surprised by how Ditko-y Miller’s Strange was.

If you really want to see how Ditko-y he could get, Miller did a wonderful job on the 1980 Spider-Man annual in which Doctor Strange figured prominently.

It’s too bad he never ended up doing Dr. Strange on a regular basis. His take on the character and his mystical world in that annual was very impressive.

So where’s this FM Strange ad? You can’t hype it and then not show it.

Another book that was announced and never released: Marvels 2, by Jay Anacleto. Of course, that’s mainly because his beautiful artwork is anything but fast. So, is the Urban Legend that he’s still plugging away on the pages true? That Marvel was actually smart enough to wait to officially solicit the book until Jay is done?

I couldn’t find it, yo.

I will look for it again Sunday!

Steve in Hawaii

April 14, 2007 at 3:07 am

In regard to the Claremont/Golden Ation Comics annual: about twelve years ago I had a small comic shop, and Bob Wayne of DC comics came down for a retailers convention. I asked him at that time about the Golden annual, which had already been rumored for several years. He basically said “don’t hold your breath”. Still no word on it, so I guess Mike’s still workin’ on it.

“How about a special edition of Urban Legends focusing solely on projects announced but never produced?”

My request for such a column would be whatever happened to that portfolio of Anton Furst (designer on Burton’s two BATMAN films) Gotham City designs that was supposed to come out right after that “City Destroyer” story arc back in the early 90s? Was it cancelled in the wake of Furst’s suicide?

Concerning Ghost Rider/Son of Satan timing:

According to the GCD’s listed cover dates—and remember we’re talking 1973 here; not much chance of Marvel CDs being noticably off in relation to each other—GHOST RIDER #1 would fall between MARVEL SPOTLIGHT #s 11 (last GR there) and 12 (first SON OF SATAN solo). Neither GR #1 nor MS #12 says “Intro” for SOS, but nor is there any earlier appearance for the character listed. I guess one would have to read the actual stories to get the internal chronology straight. (Until they fix that apostrophe glitch, I’m not submitting anything to them, not even just pointing out omissions, etc.)

What apostrophe glitch?

I’m pretty sure that the first appearance of Son of Satan was in Ghost Rider #1, cover date September 1973. He also appeared in GR #2, cover date October. before his own series started in Marvel Spotlight #12 (cover date October). He was not featured on the cover of either issue of Ghost Rider, although his dad appears on #2. On the splash page of Marvel Spotlight #12, there’s a footnote (remember when Marvel used footnotes?) that reads “Confused and confounded, Pilgrim! Then we suggest you read Ghost Rider #2 on sale now, to clear the air! — RT” (RT=Roy Thomas, editor).

So…yeah…how about a column on all the projects (and characters) that never saw light after being advertised.

Early Image alone could be a column for this in and of themselves.

New Mutants was supposed to intro a character named Cougar, what happened?

There was, at one point, going to be another Daredevil run for Frank Miller…never happened.

Byrne’s Image project?

SO many books and characters get announced…then dropped, even after initial sketches or adwork.

I think it’d be a great idea.

WITH PICTURES!

Thanks

Rob M.: Thanks.

Corey: In the GCD, wherever there is supposed to be an apostrophe to make either a possessive or a contraction, there is “'” (not the quotation marks, just what’s between ‘em) instead. If you’ve got access to an index that has one, you can go through the process to fix it, but it will show up that way again anyway. Not realizing it wasn’t just in the indexes that I was in progress with, I emailed them about it, and they pointed out it was across the database, which it is. Checked just before I came here and it’s still there.

Was the Perez/Wolfmam Teen Titans GN released?

Also, there was a Barry Windsor Smith (i think) Batman GN that he never finished… because he´s always adding new pages. Is it true?

Promised but never produced:

The Spectre GN by Thomas/Ordway!

Promised and promoted, but never released (produced?):

NOW announced a number of Green Hornet spin-offs that never came out, and how many were actually left on the proverbial shelf? Most blatantly, there was the third Kato solo, heavily promoted first as a mini, then a GN. They announced a Black Beauty Special (actually a two-part mini) and a Legacy Special (much of the described content here, including the “never before seen first mission” of the 1960s Green Hornet had actually been previously depicted by them, and THAT might have been what got it put on hold). Most surprisingly, in ’93 NOW printed house ads indicating a GH 3-D Special among CURRENT titles, but it was never mentioned in the regular Hornet title’s letter column or other editorial text pieces, and certainly never came out. Again, how much material was actually written and/or drawn?

Wolfman talks about the Teen Titans graphic novel “Games” that he and Perez were going to work on after Perez left the Baxter New Teen Titans relaunch (after issue 5) to work on Wonder Woman:

http://www.marvwolfman.com/TITANS%20GAMES.html

On the subject of uncompleted items, Innovation had several-On A Pale Horse, one of the Lost in Space comics, and others that I cannot recall right now.

Henry R. Kujawa

June 5, 2008 at 10:05 pm

“Do we both question the accuracy of these listings?”

I spent 2 years doing indexes at the GCD, until the “editors” there drove me NUTS with their incessant interference and non-stop nitpicking. I’ve since cut off contact with them, since they instituted a policy of only allowing “scans of actual comics” (which means, they should be as DARK, DIRTY and UNREADABLE as possible). I can’t work with idiots like that.

Perhaps at some future date, if they get around to making ME an editor, I would then be able to resume the arduous task of upgrading that site. LORD KNOWS, it needs it! But it ain’t gonna happen if every timne someone who really knows what the hell they’re doing and cares as much as I am is deliberately driven away because they’re more interested in “being in charge” than improving the site.

Henry R. Kujawa

June 5, 2008 at 10:09 pm

By the way, I have EVERY appearance of GHOST RIDER in MARVEL SPOTLIGHT and in his own mag from the 70′s, and browsing at the GCD last summer, I seriously looked forward to upgrading those indexes, and upgrading ALL the covers. Guess that ain’t gonna happen any time soon, either…

The whole someone using your material incident….I never expect to see it mentioned here. :-)

http://michiganzone.blogspot.com/2006/03/espns-colin-cowherd-borrows-m-zone.html

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