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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #118

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

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: James Cameron got the idea for The Terminator from “Days of Future Past.”

STATUS: False

Reader FreedyJay sent me in this one,

“Days of Futures Past” inspired James Cameron to write The Terminator.

A problem with instances like this is that it is quite difficult to definitively prove one way or the other whether an artist was, in fact, inspired by a particular story.

For instance, FreedyJay also asked about the legend…

John Byrne got the idea for “Days of Futures Past” from a Dr. Who story (“Day of the Daleks.”)

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Byrne did, indeed, watch that episode before he came up with “Days of Future Past” for Uncanny X-Men, but the episode also aired a good EIGHT years before “Days of Future Past” was written, so I certainly believe Byrne when he says he was not actively thinking of the episode when he came up with “Days of Future Past.” Please note that Byrne freely admits that yeah, he most likely was subconsciously influenced by the story, which is fine in my book, as it is not like the basic concept of the story is so exceptionally unique – it is the application of the story to the X-Men which makes the story work so well (the topic, by the way, led to an awesome line by Byrne along the lines of, “This is how I learned to always be wary of great ideas that come to you seemingly out of nowhere”).

In any event, with that being said, why would I then say with any definitiveness that Cameron DIDN’T get his inspiration from “Days of Future Past”?

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Well, as it so happens, in the case of The Terminator, Cameron actually DID cite his inspiration – and it led to a lawsuit!

When discussing his film at the time of its release, and specifically when asked about any particular inspiration for the film, Cameron often mentioned two episodes of the TV series The Outer Limits that he was inspired by, “Demon with a Glass Hand” and “Soldier”.

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As it turned out, both episodes were written by noted Science Fiction writer, Harlan Ellison.

Word got back to Ellison, who sued Cameron. There was a quick settlement (for an undisclosed figure, I believe Ellison at the time noted he was not really worried about the money, just that he wanted to be acknowledged) and now, at the beginning of the film, there is an added line “acknowledgement to the works of Harlan Ellison.”

So there ya go, FreedyJay! Thanks for the suggestion!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Top Cow Studios was going to be called Ballistic Studios

STATUS: True

As I mentioned awhile back in different piece (I don’t remember if it was a Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed installment or not), Image Comics originally consisted of six independent studios that all published under the banner of Image Comics, but were each responsible for their own product.

The studios were:

Erik Larsen’s Highbrow Entertainment
Rob Liefeld’s Extreme Studios
Todd McFarlane’s Todd McFarlane Productions
Jim Valentino’s Shadowline

and, at first, Jim Lee and Marc Silvestri shared Homage Studios, but soon, Silvestri branched off to his own studio, leaving Lee to name the rename the remaining studio first Aegis, and then Wildstorm Productions

So that left us with Marc Silvestri’s Top Cow Productions.

However, there was a rumor that Top Cow was going to change its name to Ballistic Studios. This rumor was suggested by none other than Comic Book Resources’ own, Andy Khouri.

I asked Top Cow’s Matt Hawkins about it, and he was able to get me this quote from Marc Silvestri that addressed this topic, and also threw in a nice story of where the name “Top Cow” came from in the first place…

When Image started I had a girlfriend who loved cows, and being the dutiful boyfriend, well… So the story of us celebrating the start of my new company with a bottle of wine or three mixed with her love of cows, (and the need for a company name) is true.

After much sobering up an much more ribbing from the guys at Homage studios, I was going to change the name to Ballistic Studios. Then this really interesting logo design consisting of a globe with udders and a lightning bolt came in and the rest is history.

Here is that logo…

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Now of course, while they did not change the name to Ballistic Studios, that was not the exact end of the flirtation with the name Ballistic Studios, as they even later published a Swimsuit Special using the name…

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But in the long run, Top Cow was never supplanted, and that’s the name that they still use today, over fifteen years after it was created!

Thanks to Andy for the suggestion, and thanks to Matt and Marc for the information!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Terra was created as a sort of parody of Kitty Pryde.

STATUS: True

FreedyJay sent me this one along with the others weeks ago:

Knowing that many people thought the New Teen Titans was DC’s answer to the X-men, Marv Wolfman and George Perez purposefully introduced Terra so that she would be compared to sweet Kitty Pryde and then they could shock readers by making her a traitor.

So it was QUITE a surprise when I opened up the first issue of Comic Foundry, and found a story on exact this topic!!

Now the actual story is not exactly what FreedyJay describes, but I think it is close enough to the spirit of his suggestion as to qualify it as a “true” urban legend.

The X-Men and the Teen Titans were, indeed, seen as sort of competing books in the early 80s, as both books were big sellers for their respective companies, and both featured young heroes in them.

In Uncanny X-Men, Kitty Pryde was quickly becoming a popular character, as the youngest member of the X-Men…

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A couple of years after Kitty’s introduction (and about a year after Kitty became more and more of a featured character in the title), the young, well, mutant, I guess, Terra debuted in the pages of the Teen Titans…

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and soon became a member of the team….

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However, she soon was revealed to be a villain, working against the team along with Deathstroke the Terminator, in the famous “Judas Contract” storyline.

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So, was Terra made into a villain as a sort of parody of Kitty Pryde’s goodness?

Here is Wolfman on the topic, from the pages of the aforementioned Comic Foundry #1, in a piece written by S. Scott Fernandez.

“I decided to take advantage of the fact that everyone would assume that she’s [Terra] a Kitty Pryde type character and totally turn them all around, Wolfman says, “It was never planned to be a rip-off or anything. The character came first, then the realization that the X-Men also had a young kid in it. I was there and the decision from day one was that, ‘OK, let’s use that, let’s play against that. Let’s play against everything the readers are expecting and throw them for a loop.”

Be sure to read the rest of Fernandez’ piece for some other interesting information about the Teen Titans, and specifically about the writing of the Judas Contract.

Thanks to FreedyJay for the suggestion, and to Comic Foundry, S. Scott Fernandez and Marv Wolfman for the information!!

Okay, that’s it for this week!

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

84 Comments

Soooo…you’ve covered ‘Days of Future Past’ and ‘Day of the Daleks’. What about FF #241 and ‘The Three Doctors’, FF #252 and ‘Death to the Daleks’, and FF #254 and ‘The Krotons’?

Just, y’know, curious.

Other than depositions, has Ellison written anything in the last 25 years?

Yeah. That book explaining how they ruthlessly – ruthlessly, I tell you – made him cut all the good parts out of the City on the Edge of Forever script.

“Other than depositions, has Ellison written anything in the last 25 years?”

Good one!

Don’t forget about the issue of Power Man / Iron Fist which featured Dr. Who (Tom Baker) and the Daleks.

Is that Fernandez peice about the Teen Titans online somewhere?

Ellison has written some (excellent, IMHO) short stories over the last decade or so. I used to have some of the collections, although I don’t know where they were originally printed.

Does anyone know anything about Byrne’s apparantly failed attempts at being a novelist? I’ve read both Fearbook and Whipping Boy and don’t understand why he never wrote any other novels. (Or, did he and I just haven’t seen them?)

Theno

Yeah, Ellison’s “Let’s sue everyone who might possibly say anything bad about me in the future” attitude is pretty low class, but he’s still doin’ good work.

Harlan Ellison sued someone? I’m shocked, very shocked, and I just found out there was gambling in Rick’s Cafe!

As for Ellison’s writings I think he is still working on the Last Dangerous Visions. He has lust been concentrating on this for 30 years, so short stories, and lawsuits are all he has time for these days.

Bobb

Byrne wrote a short story for an anthology titled “Hotter Blood: More Tales of Erotic Horror,” published in 1991 (the book also includes contributions from Kurt Busiek and Grant Morrison, interestingly enough).

Soooo…you’ve covered ‘Days of Future Past’ and ‘Day of the Daleks’. What about FF #241 and ‘The Three Doctors’, FF #252 and ‘Death to the Daleks’, and FF #254 and ‘The Krotons’?

Hmmmm… as a long-time Doctor Who fan, this is pretty interesting. Parallels between Day of the Daleks and Days of Future Past never occurred to me previously. Probably because I actually saw The Terminator before I ever watched Day of the Daleks or read Days of Future Past. So by the time I did see & read those two earlier works, the concept of taveling back in time to change events in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic future just seemed like a popular sci-fi trope.

As for FF #254, yep, I always thought it was *very* similar to The Krotons, with the villain’s costume design from another Who story, The Masque of Mandragora, tacked on. And even the title of FF #254′s story, The Minds of the Mantracora, was very similar.

>> Other than depositions, has Ellison written anything in the last 25 years?

The Mutt said:

>> Other than depositions, has Ellison written anything in the last 25 years?

Let me try this again…

The Mutt said:

>> Other than depositions, has Ellison written anything in the last 25 years?

Blast!

The award-winning _Jeffty is Five_. The award-winning _Soul in Onyx_. _Crazy as a Soup Sandwich_. _Medea_. _Objects of Desire in the Mirror are Closer than they Appear_. _Goodbye to All That_. _Mind Fields_. _Slippage_.

You really shouldn’t display your ignorance for all the Web to see…

Allan Lappin, do I really need to point out the amusing irony of your post?

DC had a George Perez spotlight podcast last year where GP spoke a little about Terra.

He basically said that because of Kitty, no matter how much foreshadowing they gave towards Terra turning on the team, that the readers would forgive her and were shocked when she turned traitor.

I was a big X-Men fan and an even bigger New Teen Titans fan, and that story is news to me! Strangely, I can’t recall ever making a comparison in my head between the two characters at the time.

Whoa!

Ellison sued someone?

No way!

Actually, in the industry itself, Ellison is not noted for being particularly good, innovative, or inventive. The general consensus is that he’s a bit of a hack. And that he sues people to generate publicity for himself. Because lord knows he wouldn’t stand out otherwise.

I ACTUALLY Laughed out Loud, when I read that.

“You really shouldn’t display your ignorance for all the Web to see…”

Thankfully, I have you to do it for me.

I should have asked if he’d written anything worth reading in the last 25 years.

Just a very minor nitpick. Jim Lee’s Wildstorm Productions wasn’t called as such at the time of Image Comics’ founding. I think it was named Aegis Entertainment at the time, although the transition to the Wildstorm name was starting by the second month of publishing.

Doctor Who is rubbish

Acespot:

“In the industry itself…”

What industry is that? Plumbing? Aerospace? Because the “general consensus” of the people I’ve spoken to in the entertainment industry over the past 20 years is that, regardless of how one feels about the man himself, his writing is very well-respected.

Granted–that his work is held in regard is, admittedly, my own filtered (albeit pretty well-informed) observation, not something I’d offer up as a stone-cold fact. But you might allow for the same.

And to Harlan’s other detractors: Yes, like most people who know him, I find Harlan alternately engaging and maddening…but calling his talent and craft into question just because he hasn’t written anything THAT YOU’VE READ in the last decade or two is petty and snotty. Wow, Harper Lee hasn’t written anything since 1960′s TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD–she must REALLY suck, huh?

In an interesting coincidence, Jim Johnson is also rubbish.

Never heard that James Cameron was talking about Ellison’s two OL scripts BEFORE Harlan sued and got his name added to the credits, but there is a third OL that is, if anything, closer to TERMINATOR than either of his. It was called “The Man Who Was Never Born” and starred Martin Landau as a post-WWIII mutant who travels back in time to prevent Bertram Cabot, Jr., from starting the war. To his surprise, he finds that he’s in a time when Cabot’s parents (Shirley Knight and John Considine, not to be confused with his brother Tim, who was in Disney’s “Hardy Boys” and “Spin & Marty” serials, as well as the later “My Three Sons” sitcom) haven’t yet married. So, using his hypnotic power to appear normal and handsome, he woos her away from her intended to prevent Junior from ever being conceived!

“Actually, in the industry itself, Ellison is not noted for being particularly good, innovative, or inventive. The general consensus is that he’s a bit of a hack.”

Why then did SFWA give him their Grand Master award last year?

“I should have asked if he’d written anything worth reading in the last 25 years.”

The award-winning _Jeffty is Five_. The award-winning _Soul in Onyx_. _Crazy as a Soup Sandwich_. _Medea_. _Objects of Desire in the Mirror are Closer than they Appear_. _Goodbye to All That_. _Mind Fields_. _Slippage_.

You didn’t read any of them, yet you know they weren’t any good? I didn’t know omniscience and ignorance could go hand in hand.

Allan, that comment was clearly irony for the simple fact that Ellison seems to do not much else but sueing people.

Jeez, guys. He’s making a joke at Ellison’s expense. And in case you weren’t aware, jokes aren’t required to be completely factual one hundred percent of the time. Just funny.

Stop getting offended on Ellison’s behalf and move on to something worth talking about.

“Other than depositions, has Ellison written anything in the last 25 years?”

I’m sorry, I love Ellison – but that’s a funny line, and I think y’all are taking a little good-natured ribbing from the Mutt too seriously…

As for robots and ripoffs, I seem to remember an early 1990s film about a killer robot. I think it may have been called Hardware ? If I remember correctly, it was apparently a complete rip-off of a 2000 AD story? Does anyone know anything else about this?

God looking at all those covers of the Uncanny X-Men and the New Teen Titans reminds me of the days where you could buy your weekly fix for under five bucks. Where there was only monthly issues, not five or six and you loved the anticipation for the next installment.

Wildstorm and Top Cow were not among the original Image studios. Lee and Silvestri worked together under the Homage Studio banner until Marc left.

As for robots and ripoffs, I seem to remember an early 1990s film about a killer robot. I think it may have been called Hardware ? If I remember correctly, it was apparently a complete rip-off of a 2000 AD story? Does anyone know anything else about this?

I really HAVE been doing this thing for a long time, as more and more often, people are bringing up ones that I’ve covered already.

I do not mean it as a shot at you at all, Wilbur, because it happens frequently. It makes sense, as there are hundreds of old ones to sort through now, so it is quite difficult to keep track of what I have and have not covered.

In any event, here is the link to the Hardware story.

Wildstorm and Top Cow were not among the original Image studios. Lee and Silvestri worked together under the Homage Studio banner until Marc left.

Damn you, Blond! I was going to correct that today, but you beat me to it!

…You know, someone should sue Ellison over all his years of frivolous lawsuits, just so he could see how the shoe fits up *his* ass for a change.

I don’t care what anyone says, or if it was ripped off: Hardware was an AWESOME movie. Totally kick-ass.

He’d just counter-sue you for not giving any credit to his ass for being able to fit your foot up there.

Brian Davison – *Please* tell me you’re related to Peter.

I mean, I’m a big Doctor Who fan too, so I certainly don’t think it’s rubbish. I just like the idea of Peter Davison’s relatives defending Doctor Who on comic blogs.

Apodaca said …

He’d just counter-sue you for not giving any credit to his ass for being able to fit your foot up there.

Ok, normally I never reply, but that was damn funny. I’m just wondering how they would fit the tattoo on the foot reading “acknowledgement to the ass of Harlan Ellison.”

Noone could draw Terra and her powers the way George could…. Noone. That detail still amazes me.

“He’d just counter-sue you for not giving any credit to his ass for being able to fit your foot up there.”

…Or try to claim you owe him a licensing fee for the shit that got stuck to your toes when you finally got your foot unstuck from his rear end.

As for what Harlan’s written recently, well he did pen the season finale to the just ended masters of science fiction.

As for the lawsuits, yeah he’s made a fair amount recently, but here’s the thing. He hasn’t lost. Not one of his lawsuits has been thrown out. so is it really a case of him being sue happy or is it a case of someone who knows what his rights are and refuses to let anyone get away with anything?

It’s a case of Ellison being a cock.

“Jeez, guys. He’s making a joke at Ellison’s expense. And in case you weren’t aware, jokes aren’t required to be completely factual one hundred percent of the time. Just funny.”

Fair enough. Now explain to me how “everyone in the industry hates him and thinks he’s a hack” is funny. Does he say it in a little accent?

Regarding Days of Future Past and Day of the Daleks, in most areas of the US the Jon Pertwee era stories did not actually air on public television stations until the late 1970s. It was the import of the Tom Baker (4th Doctor) stories in the mid-70s that sparked the interest in Doctor Who, and in turn caused PBS stations to request more episodes and the subsequent airing of the 3rd Doctor episodes. So actually Byrne could have seen Day of the Daleks more like 1-3 years before coming up with Days of Future Past.

Ehh, “The War Machines” has a lot more in common with The Terminator than any of the Dalek stories.

Having seen both episodes in question of The Outer Limits I can only see how Soldier fits into the equation. It had a few bits in common with the plot of Terminator: Solider from the future appears in an alley way, there’s another soldier he has to fight, he didn’t live a normal life in the future, and the futuristic war. No Psychic cats in Terminator I can tell you that. Demon with a Glass Hand doesn’t really have anything in common other than the future time travel idea. The Short story of Soldier is even less like the Terminator.

However, there is no Sarah Conner, nor Skynet, nor robot in disguise, nor that John Conner savior paradox.

So, that’s my take. When you write, try to take an old idea and make it yours. Site many influences not a few, or keep your mouth shut and collect the check!:)

I would of gone with Ballistic myself. If you look at woman like Renea Geerlings and Silvestri’s wife the word ‘cow’ DOES NOT come to mind. :)

Ellison? Let’s see he wrote an episode of that hack sci-fi show Sumerian 5? Babel 7? Whatever it was called.

Boy, everyone remembers that show with its computerized effects that made people go ‘Wow, that’s not very good, is it?’

I appreciate his love of comics and those old editorials on the sci-fi channel where he consistenly put people down in comical fashion. ON the other hand…

I’m just waiting for the good Mr. Ellison to show up here and sue the bejesus outta ALL of you for slander.

But for real, he’s my favorite author, and anyone who think he’s a hack should compare the times that he wrote his stories with other similar stories by other authors out there. Ellison always comes first.

You wanna talk about hacks, let’s talk about a certain author who shoves Shakespearean crap up the nose of every story he writes, and every other story involves a little girl who travels into some kind of dark mirror-world and oh no her mom is now an evil queen or something and she needs to find a talisman! Or at least two of those elements featured prominently. Oh, and how 1602 Daredevil gets his powers by eating slime on the wall of a cave for no reason whatsoever… that was a stroke of genius, right there.

THUS SPEAKETH MY VITRIOL!

“Having seen both episodes in question of The Outer Limits I can only see how Soldier fits into the equation.”

There’s also his short story “I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream”. The last of Humanity is struggling to survive against the military computer that destroyed civilization in a nuclear war after it achieved sentience.
Since they’re living in an underground complex, the computer is always monitoring and tormenting them, and it restores them to life whenever they die, it also has strong parallels to the Paranoia RPG.

“You know, someone should sue Ellison over all his years of frivolous lawsuits”

If that worked, the Scientologists wouldn’t be around any more.

THE TERMINATOR has another possible inspiration. It seemed obvious at the time but no one ever seems to speak about it.

In the mid-70′s Marvel Comics did many stories about Deathlok the Terminator, a cyborg assassin from the future who gets sent back to our present to kill a target and change history. (I remember a 1976 story where the Thing had to stop him from killing President -elect Jimmy Carter!)

Not only was the basic premise the same, but most importantly so was his name. Having said that, nothing is new under the sun, it’s how you use it. Just as Deathlok probably had myriad cues for his creation, the same is probably true of Cameron’s. Still, it’s a far closer analogue than most of the ones that get discussed.

Hey, maybe you could do a piece sometime on the inspirations for Deathlok!

Just another (relatively minor) nitpick… the original Homage Studios was a collaborative effort between Jim Lee, Marc Silvestri, and While Portacio (he’s the most commonly forgotten of the original seven Image founders… probably because he temporarily dropped out of the comics biz soon after the establishment of Image to tend to his sister’s ailing health). While Silvestri soon left Homage to form his own Top Cow imprint and Lee turned Homage into Aegis Entertainment and eventually renamed it to Wildstorm, Portacio sold his ownership of “Wetworks” (one of Image’s original launch titles) to Lee.

So, that rubbish Doctor Who show just won the Hugo Award for Dramatic Presentation – Short Form…for the second year running.

Marcello Santo Nicola

September 1, 2007 at 11:27 am

I remember another comic with a story similar
to TERMINATOR, a Team-Up between Superman and
OMAC where they try to prevent someone coming
from the future of killing a janitor who´s
OMAC´s ancestor. It was pencilled by George Perez.

Another minor nitpick: The ‘acknowledgement to the works of Harlan Ellison’ is at the _end_ of the movie, not the beginning (though it is right at the beginning of the credits). It aired here last night, and I looked for it.

(Also, interestingly enough, according to Ellison at least Cameron was bitter enough about the decision that when the movie first made it to TV, Cameron had a hand in re-editing it, and personally removed the ‘acknowledgement’… until people told Ellison about it, who sued again to get it but back in there).

Oh, and I agree with the people who observed that the plot really doesn’t match Harlan Ellison’s work to any significant degree. Seemed a horrendous overreaction to sue to get credit for a few of the ideas. That’d be like HG wells suing Ellison for credit, for stealing the idea of time travel.

Interesting the abuse meted out to poor old Harlan. Possibly because he was very choosy about the artists hired to create the series of comic adaptations of his stories in the mid ninieties perhaps?

I do have a question though about rumours of ripoffs and so forth; Is it true that there was a lawsuit of the Flash villian The Puzzler and Batman’s nemesis The Joker?

Possibly because he was very choosy about the artists hired to create the series of comic adaptations of his stories in the mid nineties perhaps?

What would that possibly have to do with it?

“I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream”.

I read part of that, but had to return the book to the library.

Hey, he should sue those Matrix guys! That scene in the interrogation room! He has no mouth!

@ Wilbur Lunch: Good question! Sounds like something for a future column to address.

RE: Days of Future Past. To me the central theme of that whole story was “in the future we won, and now the shoe’s on the other foot and it’s just as bad as it was before we started”. I don’t really get that from either the Terminator or Dr Who.

RE: Top Cow. Mr Silvestri, that’s not a globe with udders, that’s a globe with teats. (Sorry).

It’s amazing to me how such an inconsequential writer can leave such a big footprint on fanboy pop culture. Ellison wrote a couple of decent short stories in the Sixties that became famous mainly because they had the kind of profound-sounding, but pointless titles that stoned 14 year olds think are really cool. You know, like Moody Blues lyrics.

Then he wrote a script for Star Trek that won awards because the producers were smart enough to re-write the crap out of it.

Then he settled into a career of getting consulting jobs based on that one credit, having his name slapped on Marvel comics because they thought that might get them some cross-over audience, and winning awards because he was the only name recognizable to people outside of fandom willing to show up at the Southern Ohio Science Fiction Concordium and make a speech.

Now he’s a walking lawsuit. A human remora, attaching himself to any genre project that makes money, claiming they stole his ideas, as if every single conversation about time travel doesn’t hit the “Would you kill Baby Hitler?” question in the first two minutes.

He’s David Gerrold without the work ethic. He’s the guy who played Ensign #3 on Charlie X who still shows up at the conventions in costume. He’s the fifty year old who still wears his varsity jacket. He’s Sally Kirkland.

He’s a bad joke that people won’t stop telling.

>>Noone could draw Terra and her powers the way George could…. Noone.

Peter Noone is a gifted comics artist as well as the former lead singer of Herman’s Hermits? You learn something new every day …

Crap. Forgot to sign in just now, though probably it’s just as well, as I suppose there’s a good chance Harlan Ellison once made a joke about “Noone” & “no one” & will be gunning for me in court.

Otherwise, yes, Harlan’s one of the better short story writers the field has ever produced (The Mutt’s comments are, I’m afraid, pretty much prima facie absurd), though he turned into a caricature of himself … jesus … probably 30 years ago if not more. Too bad. (Not to mention the punch line that The Last Dangerous Visions had become by the time Jimmy Carter was elected president, & Harlan’s occasional boasts about the novel[s] he was gonna write any … day … now. Yeah, Harlan — you’re no more a novelist than Albert Pujols is a pitcher.)

As for what he’s written worthwhile in the last 20 years, for some bizarre reason my computer isn’t taking to recently installed Netscape 7.0 all that well & I can’t do *any* searches (not via Google, nor Yahoo, nor MSN … hell, I can’t even use Wikipedia), so I can’t double-check the publication dates of the stories Mr Lappin lists, but the vast majority do strike me as rather recent-ish. Not “Jeffty is Five,” though — I’d bet money I read it in F&SF when I was in college, & that’s a lot closer to (*sigh*) 30 years ago.

I don’t know why the people who dislike Harlan Ellison have to try to label him as a bad writer. I mean, you want to claim that he’s a jackass in person? I won’t try to hard to defend him (although I will point out that Ellison-baiting is a common pastime for jackass fans, and he’s never been anything other than nice to me personally.) You want to claim that he files lots of frivolous lawsuits? Go ahead, he probably does. You want to claim that he’s an overall jerk, and not very nice? Have at it.

But when you try to also claim that he hasn’t merited his fame as a writer, that’s when your enthusiasm for the rant has taken you a long way down a dark alley to Crazy-Person-Town. Trying to claim he’s a lousy writer undermines your other claims, because people just write off what you say as the rantings of someone with no taste or discernment. Because Harlan Ellison isn’t famous for being a jerk, he’s famous despite it.

Did anyone read Ellison’s book about the “STAR TREK: City on the Edge of Forever” situation? Mutt said, “He wrote a script for Star Trek that won awards because the producers were smart enough to re–write the crap out of it.” Ellison insists that it was HIS original script, not the episode–as–aired, that won the awards, some of them anyway. However, in that book Harlan makes so many anti–Roddenberry comments and then presents the evidence right there that they aren’t true that Michael Fleischer could cite it as prima facie evidence against HIS sanity! And besides, if Harlan hates both Gene and that final version of “City” so much, why does he insist so vigorously and vehemently that Gene did NOT do the re–write?

“So actually Byrne could have seen Day of the Daleks more like 1-3 years before coming up with Days of Future Past.”

From page 113 of _Comics Creators on X-Men_:

Byrne: “So anyway, we did that story and 4 or 5 years later I was living in Chicago. Doctor Who was running on a local PBS and on came this episode called ‘Day of the Daleks’, which I had seen when I was living in London, Ontario, around 1975.”

” (The Mutt’s comments are, I’m afraid, pretty much prima facie absurd) ”

I’m glad you noticed.

I met Ellison once at a comic book store and we had a very nice little chat about Neil Gaiman. The only work of his I was familiar with was a Hulk comic book script. (I didn’t know he wrote that STar Trek episode until later.) Plus, I was there to see Gaiman. I didn’t know about Ellison’s bad reputation until years later.

So, even though I barely knew who he was, was familiar with almost none of his work, and was there to see someone else, he was very cordial, friendly and interesting.

Years later, I had trouble reconciling the great guy I met with the dick I was hearing about. I suspect Ellison just doesn’t put up with stupid shit, and has very little patience for assholes and time-wasters.

From Amazing Heroes 39 (January 15, 1984) — Zero Man by Len Wein:

“Zero Man, Wein explains, comes from an alternate 25th century future in which a group called the Final Order has taken over the government and turned the country into a complete totalitarian dictatorship. There is an underground group fighting this dictatorship…[the Zero-Men]

…The Zero-Men have invented a time machine. They plan to send one of their number, a volunteer, back to 1984…he’s outfitted with a special uniform…tied to his bio-system; once [it is] put on, [it] can’t come off…

…Finitus shows up in 1984 just a couple of minutes too late to stop him…

…Thus begins a war between the two men, each trying to set history on the path he wants it.”

Sounds a bit like Terminator.

The Rural Juror on his quote from Amazing Heroes #39: “Sounds a bit like The Terminator.”

Yeah, but only a bit.

I’ve never liked Harlan Ellison’s work. Much like Piers Anthony and David Eddings, he strikes me as someone deeply in love with the sound of his own voice, both verbally and on paper. I’m sure that he was cutting edge in the 60s, but he seems to have been coasting for a long, looong time now.

However, I won’t claim he’s a hack. It may well be that I’m simply not smart enough to understand his o’erwhelming cleverness. That seems to be the general consensus whenever I claim to not understand what’s so great about people like Brian Wood, James Kochalka, David Foster Wallace, and Dave Eggers.

Of course, now I’m waiting for the inevitable backlash as someone’s head explodes because I mentioned Ellison in the same sentence as Anthony and Eddings … who I’m sure will be quickly labeled as talentless hacks.

Peronally, I like Asimov, Tolkein, Orson Scott Card, and G. R. R. Martin, but that’s just me.

Funny, I just had this arguement with my best friend last weekend. I find Ellison to be great and Anthony to be a hack, and he loves Anthony’s work and despises Ellison’s. But, he and I have only read two works by either that are the same: “I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream” and “Xanth.” So, the two of us have legimately different opinions of the two authors.

I think that, for someone like Ellison who is often in the genre’s public eye, once an opinion is formed, it is hard to shake. If you happen to read Ellison works you don’t like before ones you might, you’ll have already coloured your opinion, and instead of enjoy the work, nit pick it.

On another note: to Anthony Strand, did you know that Peter Davidson’s daughter did voice work for a Big Finish Dr Who episode? She’s a guest star in “Red Dawn.”

Theno

[...] * Terra was created as a sort of parody of Kitty Pryde. [...]

[...] * James Cameron got the idea for The Terminator from “Days of Future Past.” [...]

From Amazing Heroes 39 (January 15, 1984) — Zero Man by Len Wein:

“Zero Man, Wein explains, comes from an alternate 25th century future in which a group called the Final Order has taken over the government and turned the country into a complete totalitarian dictatorship. There is an underground group fighting this dictatorship…[the Zero-Men]

…The Zero-Men have invented a time machine. They plan to send one of their number, a volunteer, back to 1984…he’s outfitted with a special uniform…tied to his bio-system; once [it is] put on, [it] can’t come off…

…Finitus shows up in 1984 just a couple of minutes too late to stop him…

…Thus begins a war between the two men, each trying to set history on the path he wants it.”

Sounds a bit like Terminator.

Off topic, but was this a comic? I can’t find anything on a comic called Zero-Man?

Let’s change directions… I remember seeing Silvestri’s girlfriend at conventions in the early ’90′s. She was smokin’ hot. Always seemed to be walking around the con wearing a little bikini under nearly transparent white shorts!

‘Tis true, Harlan does not suffer fools easily.

That said, he DOES tend to go overboard on what he considers foolish behavior-for example, yelling at someone for getting an autograph for a relative, yet not having read any of Harlan’s work himself.

I can’t complain though, he was very nice and quite accomodating when I met him in the same line as the abovementioned unfortunate. I asked him to help me with a running video gag, fully expecting to be verbally eviscerated, and instead his take on it was “Hey, it’s just wierd enough-I’ll do it, but I get to set the whole scene MY WAY.” I didn’t argue, and got my video clip, got my books signed, and recieved a polite handshake on my way from the table.

As to his work, I’m not his biggest fan, but neither am I a detractor. I like it ok, but would rather read Niven or Jordan before Ellison. I WOULD sit through one of Harlan’s panel discussions again, tho, as he tells some damn funny stories of his escapades in the military.

[...] #100 – The Scorpion was originally going to be the child of Viper and Silver Samurai Marvel Adventures: Fantastic Four #12 was an intentional knock-off of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Chris Elopoulos draws the Mini-Marvels series. Jay Faerber’s run on Titans featured some prominent supporting characters that were not in Jay’s intended plan for the series. Walter Simonson compiled a list of all the appearances of Doctor Doom in comics and determined which ones were actually Doom and which ones were Doom-bots. #101 – Jim Shooter got the idea for Spider-Man’s black costume from a piece of fan fiction. The dentist of the Superman movie’s producer’s wife auditioned for the role of Superman. The clone of the Guardian was originally going to be a member of the New Warriors. #102 – Marvel came out with a Broadway musical starring Captain America. One of the members of Youngblood was originally announced as a cast member of the New Mutants. Justice League Unlimited had to create the Justice Guild at the last minute for their Legends episode, because DC would not let them use the Justice Society. #103 – Orson Welles was planning on doing a Batman film in the 1940s. DC had a completed Xena/Wonder Woman crossover comic book but decided not to publish it.. Marvel and DC taking turns making crossover comics resulted in George Perez missing out on X-Men/Teen Titans #104 – DC Comics almost bought Diamond Comics Distrubutors. A character who was appropriate enough for a DC cartoon was found not appropriate for a DC toy. There was purple Kryptonite. #105 – Jack Kirby was okay with DC redrawing his Superman faces. DC redrew Superman’s face on a comic drawn by the same person who designed Superman on the popular Super Friends TV series. Marvel had Dave Cockrum redraw the X-Men in an X-Men guest appearance in a John Byrne-drawn issue of Iron Fist. #106 – Jesus Christ was a supporting character in Ghost Rider. The second volume of Ghost Rider was not supposed to be an ongoing series. Howard Mackie took an issue to trash anything that had happened in Ghost Rider since he left the book. #107 – The Fantastic Four were going to wear masks originally. Steve Englehart came up with an interesting plot to protest his exit from the Fantastic Four. Steve Englehart’s Silver Surfer book was designed as the Surfer exploring outer space. #108 – J.M. DeMatteis finished the story from a canceled Marvel comic series in a DC comic series. Steve Epting broke into comics by entering a non-existent contest! Chuck Dixon was the original writer on Heroes Reborn Captain America #109 – Marvel had an agreement with Frank Miller that they would not bring Elektra back unless Miller wanted to do so Harvey created Little Aubrey to avoid having to license Little Lulu. The sequel to Batman: The Cult became a Punisher mini-series. #110 – A comic character was made an actual citizen in Japan! The Astro Boy name came about because NBC was afraid DC would sue them over the name “The Mighty Atom.” In Japan, the re-runs of Astro Boy they use are sub-titled American versions. #111 – Marvel Comics once had a line of female superhero comic books. Thor appeared in a Marvel Comic BEFORE the Silver Age! A doppleganger of Superman created in a special Superman comic was originally intended to be the way for Superman to return from the dead after his death against Doomsday. #112 – 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. Marvel published a toy tie-in comic book without an actually toy to tie-into! Casper the Friendly Ghost was not known as Casper until the first issue of his comic book, four years after he first debuted! #113 – Jack Kirby left DC because he thought they lied to him about the sales of his New Gods titles in order to pay him less money The Superman radio show had a drastically different origin for Superman JM DeMatteis changed a storyline in Justice League of America because he didn’t know how the story was supposed to go. #114 – Disney once had a series of Mickey Mouse comic strips depicting Mickey trying various ways of killing himself. DC had to change the name of their Helix line of comic books because of the Shadowrun role playing game. Bernie Wrightson once thought he had some sort of disease due to the paint brush he was using. #115 – Marvel had a line of female heroine comic books in the 1970s. Disney once kept a company from publishing comic strips that, at the time, were most likely in the public domain. Al Milgrom was blacklisted from Marvel Comics after he snuck an insult of Bob Harras into a comic book. #116 – Marvel got rid of the X-Ternals because of threats of litigation by the Highlander folks. Scott Lobdell introduced Onslaught without knowing who or what Onslaught was. Larry Hama’s origin for M and Penance was not what Scott Lobdell originally intended for the characters. #117 – Kitty Pryde was in the original treatment for Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars, but was removed before the comic was released. Marvel and DC only trademarked “superhero” because Mego trademarked it first. Marvel took a British comic book character and basically just put her into Alpha Flight wholesale. #118 – James Cameron got the idea for The Terminator from “Days of Future Past.” Top Cow Studios was going to be called Ballistic Studios Terra was created as a sort of parody of Kitty Pryde. #119 – Marv Wolfman could not credited as a writer when he began at DC Comics because the Comics Code did not allow “wolfman” to appear in comic books. Crystar the Warrior was a toy based on a comic book, not a comic book based on a toy. Danzig’s logo came courtesy of an issue of Crystar the Warrior Ta da! [...]

“From Amazing Heroes 39 (January 15, 1984) — Zero Man by Len Wein:”

No relation.

Damn, Raven has some hot pins!

ParanoidObsessive

November 20, 2008 at 4:31 pm

>>> Interesting the abuse meted out to poor old Harlan. Possibly because he was very choosy about the artists hired to create the series of comic adaptations of his stories in the mid ninieties perhaps?

I’ve always been struck by the impression that a lot of the dislike for him stems from the fact that he tends to come across like a rampaging dick with a Napoleon Complex in real life. Even Asimov, who was a good friend of his and wrote a “sympathetic parody” version of him as a character in a few different stories usually made him come across like an ass.

Which has no bearing on his work, which is definitely both innovative (for its time) and enjoyable. Though I’d probably agree with the sentiment that his best work is long behind him. But realistically, the same can be said of many famous authors as they get older.

>>> Years later, I had trouble reconciling the great guy I met with the dick I was hearing about. I suspect Ellison just doesn’t put up with stupid shit, and has very little patience for assholes and time-wasters.

One of the generally accepted ideas about him is that he can be incredibly charming and likeable when he wants to be – the problem being that he’s far more likely to be a grumpy curmudgeon who intimidates his way through social situations through sheer force of will.

>>> I’ve never liked Harlan Ellison’s work. Much like Piers Anthony and David Eddings, he strikes me as someone deeply in love with the sound of his own voice, both verbally and on paper.

Interesting. I’ve heard any number of criticisms about Eddings, but never that one before.

Piers Anthony, on the other hand, probably fits that description to a T.

>>> Hey, he should sue those Matrix guys! That scene in the interrogation room! He has no mouth!

He’d have to get in line – there are a LOT of people who should be suing the Wachowskis over the Matrix. Like Philip K. Dick, for starters. If he hadn’t gone and died in the 80′s, that is.

>>> On another note: to Anthony Strand, did you know that Peter Davidson’s daughter did voice work for a Big Finish Dr Who episode? She’s a guest star in “Red Dawn.”

While it may be general knowledge at this point, she also appeared in an episode of the fourth season of the new Doctor Who series, playing – appropriately enough – The Doctor’s Daughter.

funkygreenjerusalem

July 18, 2010 at 3:18 am

However, there was a rumor that Top Cow was going to change its name to Ballistic Studios.

There was even a competition in Wizard to come up with the new name for the studio – which may be where Ballistic came from.

All I know is that JLA issue with Harlequin Ellis (or something like that) in it was AWFUL. Never read anything by Ellison aside from (I think) a Hulk and an Avengers–they were so ordinary I didn’t know anyone “special” wrote them. Not really a big sci fi reader.

What I don’t understand is the need to put him down. Like his writing or don’t like it, who cares? As to his personal behavior, unless you deal with him regularly how can you say what he’s like? Gossip about a stranger based on stories heard from someone whose friend met someone who read something somewhere…hardly convincing. As for lawsuits, if a creator doesn’t defend his rights he will quickly find he has none left. Same reason Disney and Warner Bros. have to send cease-and-desist letters to preschools that use Mickey Mouse or Bugs Bunny art: it’s not (necessarily) that they hate preschoolers so much as granting unauthorized use to ANYONE soon leads to unauthorized use by EVERYONE.

[…] oppression. Claremont and Byrne were always very keenly influenced by pulp science-fiction. Byrne has even admitted he may have been inspired by the classic Doctor Who story Day of the Daleks in creating Days of Future […]

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