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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #112

This is the one-hundred and twelfth 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 one-hundred and eleven. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Marv Wolfman got his job working on the Superman animated series not because of his comic work, but because of his Garbage Pail Kids work.

STATUS: True

In case you are not familiar with Garbage Pail Kids (which would surprise me, but ya never know!), they were a trading card series that debuted in the mid-80s to parody the popular toy line, Cabbage Patch Kids.

Each of the cards would feature a kid with an amusing word (usually rhyming) that would go with the kid’s name.

For instance…

USGiant1Mascot.jpg

The line proved quite popular, and in 1986, they decided to produce an animated television series based on the characters.

However, while all thirteen episodes of the first season were produced, they never aired, due to a large amount of protest over the Garbage Pail Kids which, to be fair, WERE pretty darn gross. That the animated series was more like Mad magazine (in that it parodied popular culture) was less important than with what people THOUGHT the series was going to be like.

So the series never aired, but like I said, the episodes were PRODUCED (I believe Buzz Dixon may have worked on an episode or two). And among them was an episode done parodying Superman. Some people working on the show were familiar with Marv Wolfman, and knew that he both knew Superman (as he wrote Action Comics for DC) and that he was interested in animated series writing.

So Wolfman was hired to do a Superman parody episode.

While the series never aired, when the good folks at Ruby Spears decided to do a Superman animated series, they decided, based on the episode of Garbage Pail Kids that Wolfman did, that Wolfman knew how to write Superman.

They did this not knowing that Wolfman was currently writing the Superman comic book!!!

3345_4_0424.jpg

Wolfman claimed to not have told them, figuring that since he would be writing based on what the producers wanted the character to be like, and not the comic book, that his writing the comic book might not actually be an incentive to them.

So the series was produced, and it was a nice series, running for just the one season, during the 50th anniversary of Superman’s debut, in 1988.

rubyspears1.jpg

But still, pretty funny, eh? A Superman comic book writer being hired for a Superman cartoon show without them knowing he was, at that same point in time, writing for the comic book. Tooooo weird!

Here’s Brainy Brian, just for fun. :)

th_2d2f9960.jpg

Thanks to Marv Wolfman for the information.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Marvel published a toy tie-in comic book without an actually toy to tie-into!

STATUS: True

During the late 80s, Marvel did a number of comic books tying into toy lines, perhaps with each toy company figuring their line of toys were going to be the next G.I.Joe or Transformers…

However, Visionaires…

3442_4_001.jpg

and Air Raiders…

3402_4_001.jpg

just never caught on.

So when Brute Force popped up in 1990, no one really batted an eye. “Just another Marvel tie toy-in comic” folks thought.

4013_4_001.jpg

Heck, when we discussed Brute Force here awhile back, that’s what everyone thought it was (myself included)!

4013_4_002.jpg

However, we were wrong.

You see, Brute Force was a toy tie-in comic…without an actual toy to base it upon!!

4013_4_003.jpg

Yes, that’s right, Marvel came up with Brute Force as a comic FIRST, in the hopes that toy companies would like the idea and make their own toy BASED on Marvel’s comic book!

Isn’t that nuts?

4013_4_004.jpg

Reader Drancon delivered the following quote from the book’s writer, Simon Furman, who explained how it was Bob Budiansky who created the title.

Though I thank Bob for bringing me in to write the series, I felt bound by it, constrained (far more, strangely, than I ever did with Transformers or Thundercats, or any of the comics that started out as toys). It suffered, I think, from too much back story. It should have been simpler, more stripped down, pitched younger than it was.

Thanks to Scott Shaw! and Drancon for the information.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Casper the Friendly Ghost was not known as Casper until the first issue of his comic book, four years after he first debuted!

STATUS: False

Seymour Reit and Joe Oriolo created Casper the Friendly Ghost, who made his debut for Paramount’s Famous Studios under their “Noveltoon” theatrical release program in 1945.

It was titled “The Friendly Ghost.”

caspar1211.jpg

The character’s next two theatrical releases were titled “There’s Good Boos To-Night” and “A-Hauntin’ We Will Go.”

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In 1949, St. John Publications purchased the licensing rights to all of Paramount’s animated characters, and in their comic book about the friendly ghost, in 1949, they were the very first ones to actually name the ghost int he title, with Casper the Friendly Ghost #1.

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However, it has been reported by numerous sources (including the great Don Markstein, who rarely misses anything, he’s a sharp tack, he is!), that the comic was the first usage of Casper the Friendly Ghost as a name PERIOD!

However, reader Evan Johnston helped correct this mistaken belief, by demonstrating that Casper WAS named in both of the original Casper short films.

Thanks to Evan Johnston for the information!

Okay, that’s it for this week!

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

48 Comments

Re: Brute Force. Just like the Transformers (who Furman was at that time [and still is] most known for writing), the Brute Force characters (and backstory) were created by Bob Budiansky. So it was a Marvel editorial invention, and I guess Furman seemed like the best writer for a potentially toy-based line on robotic animals.

Furman: “Though I thank Bob for bringing me in to write the series, I felt bound by it, constrained (far more, strangely, than I ever did with Transformers or Thundercats, or any of the comics that started out as toys). It suffered, I think, from too much back story. It should have been simpler, more stripped down, pitched younger than it was.”

thats kinda weird

I lived overseas during the early 90′s and I remember watching a Garbage Pail Kids series. Or maybe it was just a show with a similar concept ? I kinda doubt that but who really knows. I used to think it was a CBS show because the channel it aired on in that country primarily showe CBS programs. Wasn’t there a live action movie too ?

Gil Kane did the really nice designs for that Superman animated series. Maybe you could find some of his design work to show, instead of that (very nice) Jose Luis Garcia Lopez pose.

The show was intentionally aimed toward a very young audience, so writing the current comics, aimed at tennagers to adults, wouldn’t be the best test of whether you could write cartoons for toddlers to pre-teens.

Yes, that’s right, Marvel came up with Brute Force as a comic FIRST, in the hopes that toy companies would like the idea and make their own toy BASED on Marvel’s comic book!

Isn’t that nuts?

In hindsight it does but they would’ve made a mint if it caught on. They were producing all these tie-in comics and it’s not that farfetched to try and get some of the toy-moola too.

For years, years I tell you, I have been trying to rememeber the name of the toys with holograms that I loved as a kid. Thanks, for inadvertantly answering that question, anyway.

The Kid

While The Garbage Pail Kids show never aired in the US, it did end up airing overseas. I think it’s available on DVD now.

-Steve!

I’m sure this almost all rumor and urban legend, but anyone else ever hear the story that Casper is the ghost of Richie Rich?

Also, the guy who played Zack on Saved by the Bell totally died in a car crash, Screech is Mike D of the Beastie Boys brother, there is in fact, a real killer not named OJ Simpson, and Mikey from the Life cereal commercials is a child rapist now, or something.

The Casper is Richie’s ghost thing comes from a Simpsons episode, I believe.

I’m pretty sure I’ve seen “A Haunting We Will Go.” Towards the end, a despondent Casper, heartbroken over the fact that all the living people are afraid of him and all the ghosts think he’s a wimp, attempts suicide. I’m not making this up. He lies down crying on a set of railroad tracks, and waits for the train to hit him. When it of course passes right through him, he gets up, still crying, and walks forlornly into the distance. It is at once hilarious and deeply disturbing.

I think I remember a Garbage Pale Kids TV show too. Then again, I live overseas. I sure do remember the cards and movie.

The Garbage Pail Kids complete 2-disc series is available on Netflix! I thought the first episode was aired, but I could be mixing it up with the Cabbage Patch Kids Christmas Special.

@ Michael:

I think there needs to be a “Dysfunctional Family Circus” type online strip of Casper just continually failing to commit suicide.

Maybe I should write it??

Those damned Garbage Pail Kids creeped me out almost as much as the Cabbage Patch Kids. *Brrrrr*
Damn you, Art Spiegelman!

[quote]I’m sure this almost all rumor and urban legend, but anyone else ever hear the story that Casper is the ghost of Richie Rich?[/quote]

But I know this is absolutely not true because as a kid I had a comic where Richie Rich teamed up with Casper and Wendy. He wasn’t a lot of help (since he’s kinda lacking in the superpowers) until they needed a spell component which was something like a lightning bolt of forever… Richie went home and got his mom’s giant diamond lightning bolt (diamonds are forever, you see).

Thanks. My nightmares will now be haunted by that cover featuring an Image-style heavily-armored, gun-toting, and extremely angry looking dolphin. Please tell me his pithy catchphrase was not “So long… AND THANKS FOR ALL THE FISH”, delivered just before shooting Rikki Rockett or whoever in the head, execution-style.

Fun stuff, as always.

However, nit-picker that I am, I have to say the name Caspar was “invented” before the cartoon was.

http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/dictionary/index.asp?action=view&term_id=12306&term_type_id=2&term_type_text=Places&letter=F
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casper_(name)

ALMOST True.
It was the good folk at CBS, namely Judy Price, the head of the Saturday morning animation department, who liked my Garbage Pail Kids Superman parody and hired me to write a pilot. She loved the pilot then handed the show, and me, to Ruby-Spears to do. When we had our first meeting at CBS, Judy introduced me to Jenette Kahn, DC Comics publisher, who I’d been working for for years at that point and knew well. That was the first time CBS knew I had done the comic.

Maybe I’m late to the party on this one, but Marv Wolfman reads and comments on this blog?

That’s rather kick ass.

Seriously. That’s a nice feather in your cap, Brian, Greg, et. al.

Although not mentioned in the title of the cartoons. Casper was named by the narrator in “The Friendly Ghost” as well as “There’s Good Boos To-nite”.

I’m sorry but it’s a FALSE.

First short
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEbtBP1kbn4

Second short
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=byV3K10Vcc0

Another great installation.

Boy, they sure do hand out big report cards at Casper’s school, eh? That thing’s the size of his body.

Air Raiders #1 was drawn by Kelley Jones. I love seeing great artists early weird-ass stuff

ALMOST True.
It was the good folk at CBS, namely Judy Price, the head of the Saturday morning animation department, who liked my Garbage Pail Kids Superman parody and hired me to write a pilot. She loved the pilot then handed the show, and me, to Ruby-Spears to do. When we had our first meeting at CBS, Judy introduced me to Jenette Kahn, DC Comics publisher, who I’d been working for for years at that point and knew well. That was the first time CBS knew I had done the comic.

Oh yeah, Marv, sorry – I actually was going to include that Price EVENTUALLY found out that you worked on the comic, but forgot to get around to including that.

But it’s true that when she hired you, she didn’t know, right?

Awesome quote,Drancron! Thanks a bunch!

And oh yeah, the Garbage Pail Kids show very well may have aired overseas.

I still have the respective second issues of those Visionaries and Air Raiders comics, oddly enough.

I think Brute Force was more than a little “inspired” by the Battle Beasts toys from 1986:
http://www.skooldays.com/categories/toys/ty1257.htm

Wasn’t Crystar the Crystal Warrior a Marvel creation that a toy company actually licensed? But most people who are even aware of it today think it was a comic based on a toy and not the other way around?

Flush it all away

July 20, 2007 at 5:01 pm

Frank, I was just about to say that…and even provide another Battle Beasts link:
http://www.toyarchive.com/BattleBeasts/Figures/Figures.html

Considering that Battle Beasts predated Brute Force by 4 years, I’d bet it had at least some influence on Marvel.

FYI, I loved Battle Beasts as a kid. You got two cool, armored animals for just a few bucks.

Flush it all away

July 20, 2007 at 5:03 pm

oh, and that Casper cover makes me sad. Poor Casper.

So um, are the Garbage Pail Kids available on bootleg DVDs? You know, like the first Fantastic Four movie?

Garbage Pail Kids. I remember the guy at the Circle K charging too much for them. Bah! Visionaries, I bought that issue, a world of technology gone to ruin. Meh.

I think that Richie Rich being Casper thing was just a joke on the Simpsons.

Kelly Jones, does it take that long to develop a signature style?

Bert Duckwall

July 21, 2007 at 7:47 am

What about Sectaurs? For a “secondary” toy title, it had cool art and a story. Don’t forget them.

All this talk about toys and comics is really making me miss ROM right about now. What do I have to do to get some new ROM ?

Forget new ROM, I want old ROM! Essential ROM, dammit!

Thanks, Evan! Correction made!

Richie Rich and Casper teamed up quite often, actually. Although, Richie invariably ended the adventures believing the whole thing was a dream. Definitely not the same character in different states of life/unlife.

Speaking of the Garbage Pail Kids, I found this classic one in a box of junk from a garage sale I’d bought stuff from.

http://home.kih.net/~doug_bundy/gpk-rhps.jpg

BTW, starting about 2-3 years ago they started putting out new GPK stickers.

Saddest Casper ever. But boy I like the art!

about the garbage pail kids NOT airing on cbs back when it was scheduled to air on tv for the 86/87 tv season:

from what has been known about it,the REAL reason behind the show unable to air was due to a lawsuit established at the time by the cabbage patch kids’ creator and then-licensee holder Coleco toys,citing that the characters were a complete slanderous parody of the cpk line,and he cited possible copyright infringement on the cpk toy line.i would suggest researching into that interesting angle to see if that was the actual case.

The Garbage Pail Kids DID air overseas. I’m french and it was aired on our “cinquième chaine” (channel 5) when I was a kid. It was translated into “Les Crados” (which means more or less “The Gross”). They were regular kids that would turn from normal into Garbage Pail Kids and use their powers to solve mysteries (though I guess being faceless while your facial features were on your hand is not that useful a power).

“Each of the cards would feature a kid with an amusing word (usually rhyming) that would go with the kid’s name.”

Really? Since neither of the examples shown (Adam Bomb and Brainy Brian) rhymes, I wonder how accurate that is.

“I’m sure this almost all rumor and urban legend, but anyone else ever hear the story that Casper is the ghost of Richie Rich?”

There was story in the Sick! magazine (or was it Crazy? MArvel’s version of Mad magazine at the time) That hinted at this idea back in the late 70s or early 80s, long before that Simpson’s episone.

Really? Since neither of the examples shown (Adam Bomb and Brainy Brian) rhymes, I wonder how accurate that is

Fair question, Jim!

I looked back, and yeah, it was more than 50% rhyming, so I think that still constitutes “usually,” but yeah, there were enough NON-rhyming ones that I probably shouldn’t have said “usually.”

I remember Brute Force. I’m not sure why but I’m pretty sure I picked up all 4 issues…

Yikes!

Brute force really appealed to me as a kid. Hope it gets picked up and brought back to the normal marvel universe like what they did for rocket racoon,ultra girl, etc

Note that Brute Force was released under the main Marvel imprint, not the Star imprint.

Patrick Zartman

April 27, 2011 at 3:29 pm

I remember those Brute Force comics. They were in the quarter bins at every store for years after that.

“Considering that Battle Beasts predated Brute Force by 4 years, I’d bet it had at least some influence on Marvel. ”

Interestingly enough, in Japan the Battle Beasts were called Beastformers and part of the Transformers line (which is weird since they don’t, ya know, transform).

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