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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #119

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

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: 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.

STATUS: False

For quite awhile, on the wikipedia page for Marv Wolfman (it has since been corrected after I asked Marv about it last month, darn you, Wolfman, and your need for things being “accurate” and “truthful”!!), there was the following tidbit:

Wolfman, on the panel “Marvel Comics: The Method and the Madness” at the 1974 New York Comic Art Convention, told the audience that when he first began working for DC, he was forbidden to use the name “Wolfman” in print due to the company’s interpretation of the Comics Code Authority’s ban on the mention of werewolves or wolfmen

It seemed like an interesting story, so I asked Marv about it, and as it turns out, the basic framework of the story was true, but like a good game of telephone, it had been twisted around so that it was now exactly the opposite of the true story!

In late 1969, when House of Secrets #83 came out, you were not allowed by the Comics Code to mention werewolves or wolfmen in comic books.

So Gerry Conway decided to ask, “Even if that is the fellow’s name?” In that case, they said, it would be allowed.

So that gave us House of Secrets #83…

1901_4_083.jpg

You can click on the following pages to enlarge the images, but the basic gist is that Abel explains that the following story was told to him by a “wandering wolfman,” and on the very next page we get…”Story by Marv Wolfman.”

HouseOfSecrets08302med_002.jpg

HouseOfSecrets08303med_001.jpg

A funny after-effect of this amusing move by Conway to get around the Comics Code silly restrictions is that up until that point, there weren’t normally writer credits in the mystery magazines. Once WOLFMAN got a credit, though, EVERYone wanted a credit, so soon, the first page of the comic looked like House of Secrets #87…

House_of_Secrets_1970__087_02_001.jpg

Thanks to Marv Wolfman for the information, John Lancaster for some great issue research, and Jeff Albertson for going WAY beyond the call of duty, and checking for (and scanning for me) an issue I didn’t even know to ask for at first. Thanks to all!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Crystar the Warrior was a toy based on a comic book, not a comic book based on a toy.

STATUS: True

In the 1980s, as you all I am sure well know, Marvel had a number of successful comic books based on toys, most notably G.I. Joe, whose success led to Marvel getting the deal to produce the Transformers comic book.

In both cases, Marvel worked carefully with the toy companies, and Marvel helped develop a significant portion of each toy line (as noted in a couple of previous Comic Book Urban Legend installments, both here and here).

So when The Saga of Crystar, Crystal Warrior came out in 1983, after the release of the Crystar action figure line, it would not be surprising for people to think that Crystar was another toy tie-in.

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However, that is not the case.

As mentioned in a recent installment of Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed, Marvel produced a comic called Brute Force in the early 90s, which was an attempt to convince a toy company to make a toy based on the idea of anthropomorphic animals in armor.

As it turns out, that was what Crystar was, as well.

Remco released the action figures in 1982, while the comic did not come out until May of 1983, but Marvel had been shopping the comic around before its release, and Remco bought the concept.

crystar.jpg

crystar_carded.jpg

The comic was written by Jo Duffy and drawn by Bret Blevins, but it did not last too long, despite guest appearances from Dr. Strange, Nightcrawler and Alpha Flight.

The toy line was not long lived, either. Should have had a cartoon, Crystar!!

Thanks to Toymania for the picture of the toy, and thanks to Don Markstein for the credits for the Crystar comic book.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Danzig’s logo came courtesy of an issue of Crystar the Warrior

STATUS: True

In 1983, Glenn Danzig began work on a side project from his band, The Misfits, called Samhain.

As it turned out, though, The Misfits were about ready to break up, so Samhain went from being a side project to being Danzig’s main project. In the late 80s, Samhain basically changed their name to Danzig (there were other changes, but for the most part, it was more of a name change than one band ending and a new band beginning).

Both Samhain and Danzig had, for their logo, the following skull…

logo_danzig1.jpg

Well, as you might notice, the skull is directly lifted from this Michael Golden cover for Crystar #8 (note the bottom of the cover)…

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Pretty funny, huh?

Thanks to my pal John Mihaly for letting me know about this, and thanks to Revelation Records, which is where John got his information.

Okay, that’s it for this week!

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

43 Comments

Not to seem ungrateful, because I truly love the column, it’s really the highlight of my friday mornings, but the last two items seemed more like trivia than urban legends. I never got the feeling that there was any dispute over the last two items, just that they weren’t commonly known.

Just to reiterate…I absolutely love this column.

As for a suggestion, what about the controversial Jim Shooter “killed” Gene Day urban legend?

I consider the Crystar info to be urban legend worthy. I remember when the comic came out. I was buying everything but the toy-tie ins. I skipped it because I thought it was another just like GI Joe and Transformers.

I had no idea that Doc Strange or Nightcrawler guest starred in it.

Theno

Crystar. heh

I thought I was one of the only ones who remembered it. Good memories. Thanks.

SanctumSanctorumComix

September 7, 2007 at 7:44 am

I have to echo the sentiment that the Crystar bit isn’t “really” much of an Urban legend.
It was just a long-lost, little-known fact.

I remember reading about the “reverse tie-in” about CRYSTAR back in MARVEL AGE # 1.

I.I.r.c, The figures were designed by John Romita JR. for presentation to the toy company.
(I could pull out the issue to verify, if anyone really cares.)

I have all the issues of the comic (it was mostly a fairly pedestrian story) and even bought the Crystar figure when it was released (still have it, with all his accessories, in my display case).
Sadly, I got one that was a bit defective… it has two LEFT FEET (literally).

But, there was a fairly strong merchandising push for Crystar.
He was on paper napkins and party table-cloths (for kid’s parties), as well as some children’s books and the toy line.

A cartoon COULD have made him successful.

I know those Michael Golden painted covers kept ME going back for more.

~P~
P-TOR

SanctumSanctorumComix

September 7, 2007 at 7:47 am

Oh, but THANX for that scan of House of Secrets #83…
That SPLASH PAGE is ALL kinds of AWESOME!

Alex Toth produced some very nicely designed visuals back in the day.

~P~
P-TOR

How about the urban legend: Writer X was Howard Mackie?

Oh how I miss those little intros from Abel, Cain, the 3 Witches from Witching Hour (what were there names?) Destiny and Madame Xanadu.

Wasn’t “Wolfman” a trademark of the movie company Universal?

Wasn’t that the reason why “Wolfman” was not allowed in comic book covers.

That’s what I heard.

i’m with that other guy!
X is Howard Mackie would be AMAZING.

Wow, that “The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of” splash/title page is incredible.

“…the 3 Witches from Witching Hour (what were their names?)”

Mildred, Mordred, and Cynthia, of course–used to great effect by Neil Gaiman in SANDMAN.

I think you’ve just started a new urban legend, that being that credits in DC’s horror/mystery comics were unknown until Marv Wolfman got one. That’s not right.

I’m also wondering what if anything Gerry Conway had to do with Wolfman getting a credit in HOUSE OF SECRETS. Was Conway an assistant for editor Dick Giordano in 1970?

So does this mean that Marvel owns the Crystar characters? Not that they’re good characters, mind you, but it would still be cool to see them pop up again somewhere in the MU.

I’ve heard Marvel had to make Morbius a “living” vampire to get around the code and that Sauron had to be a flying dinosaur instead of a bat because he looked too vampiric (although he was still “living”). So, how’d DC get a pass on Manbat? Somebody greasing the Comic Code’s palms or did they just have a lock on bats?

I actually have an issue of Crystar, and it’s the one with Dr. Strange in it, no less.

I recently picked up the entire run of crystar at my local shop, reread it for the first time in 15 years, one thing that was never resolved is how did alpha flight get back to the regular marvel univerise.

Hasn’t Glenn Danzig vehemently DENIED that his logo was swiped from Michael Golden? I thought I remembered reading that somewhere rather recently, in fact? Anybody know for sure if the subject has ever been broached to Danzig himself?

Whether he admits it or not, that’s clearly the same skull.

I believe, but am not certain, that Conway wrote the opening sequence in House of Secrets 83. GCD lists a question mark.

Whether he admits it or not, that’s clearly the same skull.

I suppose they could argue that they designed the skull well before it was released, and that Michael Golden got ahold of it and copied THEIR design.

Unlikely, but possible.

I believe, but am not certain, that Conway wrote the opening sequence in House of Secrets 83. GCD lists a question mark.

Makes sense. He was working on the title at the time, and Wolfman credits him as the guy.

. I never got the feeling that there was any dispute over the last two items, just that they weren’t commonly known.

The point of the first one is that people DID think that it was a tie-in to a toy, not the other way around, and as to the second one, we have someone disputing it in this very comments section. :)

I think you’ve just started a new urban legend, that being that credits in DC’s horror/mystery comics were unknown until Marv Wolfman got one. That’s not right.

Sure, there had been credits here and there. Just not the way they had post-Wolfman’s credit, where it was a matter of, “If THAT guy gets one, then we ALL get one,” when it had been a haphazard thing before then.

A year or so ago, Sam Kieth put out the first issue of a new series, “My Inner Bimbo”, from Oni Press. It was one of the more interesting comics I’ve read in a while, and was supposed to be part 2 of a magum opus of miniseries with Oni that would eventually tie up all loose ends from the end of The Maxx, his popular Image book that ended in 1997. Issue 2 never happened.

There’s been a little speculation that this was because DC had him sign an exclusive contract, and he can’t write for Oni at the moment. As a pretty big Maxx fan and an avid buyer of Sam Kieth’s newer works, I’m hoping you can help find out if this is why I never got to see issue 2 of a promising new series!

Oh, and I still have all my Crystar figures somewhere :)

“Wasn’t “Wolfman” a trademark of the movie company Universal?
Wasn’t that the reason why “Wolfman” was not allowed in comic book covers.”

Comics Code Authority, 26 October 1954. “Scenes dealing with, or instruments associated with, walking dead, torture, vampires and vampirism, ghouls, cannibalism, and werewolfism are prohibited.”

Revised 27 October 1971. “Scenes dealing with, or instruments associated with, walking dead or torture shall not be used. Vampires, ghouls, and werewolves shall be permitted to be used when handled in the classic tradition, such as Frankenstein, Dracula, and other high-caliber literary works written by Edgar Allan Poe, Saki (H.H. Munro), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and other respected authors whose works are read in schools throughout the world.”

Whether trademarked or not, in 1969 the word “Wolfman” would be an “instrument associated with…werewolfism” and thus banned, even though the movie would have played a big part in the association.

Holy crap. I’m a huge Danzig fan and that’s the first time I’ve heard that story. Sure looks like the same skull to me. Hmmmm….

Unless Golden and Danzig both swiped it from the same place. Still, Golden’s awesome, so I’m guessing it’s his design.

“So, how’d DC get a pass on Manbat?”

Crazy semantics? Sauron had his whole ‘draining life essences’ thing, or whatever it was. If he did that, AND looked like a bat, he’d be too much like a vampire. Manbat was just a bat, with no vampiric overtones.

I actually bothered to do research, Manbat was created the year before before the Comics Code vampire ban was lifted. Morbius, on the other hand, was created the same year as the ban lifting, so he’s kind of hazy.

Hate to be a nitpicker (no, no I don’t), but that’s actually Abel, not Cain in the first story. Cain hosted House of Mystery.

Crystar would totally be anti-registration.

I can’t be the only one that wants a SHOWCASE volume (series) for HOUSE OF SECRETS? Especially with the knowledge that a lot of great talent created those books…bring ‘em on, DC! I want ‘em.

Hate to be a nitpicker (no, no I don’t), but that’s actually Abel, not Cain in the first story. Cain hosted House of Mystery.

It’s amazing the amount of times I’ve made that mistake.

Crystar would totally be anti-registration.

I am surprised he and the Crystal Warriors didn’t show up as a big twist at the end, instead of Namor’s troops.

I can’t be the only one that wants a SHOWCASE volume (series) for HOUSE OF SECRETS? Especially with the knowledge that a lot of great talent created those books…bring ‘em on, DC! I want ‘em.

It probably depends on the sales of the House of Mystery one they did, no?

Hopefully that one sold well!

On “My Inner Bimbo”, I think I saw a solicitation for a Sam Keith work with the same (or slightly modified) title in the most recent Previews magazine.

As for Writer X, I just figured it hadn’t been covered yet because the artist (or anyone in the know) still hasn’t come forward yet.

…though a long-term investigation could make for one heck of a special issue of CBULR!

As for Writer X, I just figured it hadn’t been covered yet because the artist (or anyone in the know) still hasn’t come forward yet.

Correct-a-mundo.

One additional comment about the possible Universal trademark on wolfman: No idea if they trademarked it, but their term was two words and capitalized, “Wolf Man.” It’s my understanding that trademark law IS that picky, so no problem even if the studio had done so.

Is it just me, or does Crystar look like the love-child of He-Man and Megatron?

ParanoidObsessive

November 20, 2008 at 4:44 pm

>>> I thought I was one of the only ones who remembered it.

I was one of those people who got the toy when I when I was but a wee lad, and I never knew until years later that there was a comic book tie-in at all. Of course, once I did learn Marvel had a comic, I was one of those people who just assumed the toy came first and the comic was made to help sell it, not vice-versa.

And speaking of toy line tie-ins and Michael Golden, I also had some of the Micronauts toys that had been picked up from a yard sale (and thus, I had no idea what they were called or what their backstory was), and had a few issues of Micronauts, but I never made the connection between the two until YEARS later (like, 15-20 years later). Not surprising, I suppose, since the toys and the comic were almost nothing alike.

>>> Crystar would totally be anti-registration.

Actually, as a “Warrior of Order”, he’d probably be more in favor of registration to keep the heroes in line.

[...] to make both toys and comics based on the idea. I’ve heard good things about the series and Danzig was clearly a fan, but I’ve also never gotten my hands on any of these toys. I’d be curious to find out [...]

I have that Danzig skull tattooed on me, and I’ve never heard that story. Interesting. Though you’ll never get an admission either way from Glenn himself, that’s for sure.

Yeah I’m looking at the ‘bottom’ on that cover!

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