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.
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.
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.
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!!!
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.
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.
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!
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…
and Air Raiders…
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.
Heck, when we discussed Brute Force here awhile back, that’s what everyone thought it was (myself included)!
However, we were wrong.
You see, Brute Force was a toy tie-in comic…without an actual toy to base it upon!!
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?
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!
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.”
The character’s next two theatrical releases were titled “There’s Good Boos To-Night” and “A-Hauntin’ We Will Go.”
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.
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!