web stats

CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #127

This is the one-hundred and twenty-seventh 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 twenty-six. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: The University of Oregon has a special agreement with Walt Disney to use Donald Duck as their mascot.

STATUS: True

Awhile back, poster Jim made the following comment:

[H]ow about the details on the University of Oregon’s “duck” mascot, which is 99% Donald, no question. Rumor always had it that there was a deal of some sort between the UO and Disney, but I don’t know any details

Oreg_ehrrx1qjof2owakh79jq1.gif

The details of their duck is, indeed, a fascinating subject.

The Oregon Ducks’ first school nickname was the Webfoots, a term referring to fishermen of the area during the 19th Century. Eventually, “Webfoots” was shortened to, and then kept as, “Ducks.”

This was especially prominent during the 1920s and 30s, when the school began bringing a live duck to their games as the school’s mascot. This practice was eventually discouraged.

Depictions of the duck began to proliferate in school newspapers, and the duck began to be drawn looking like Donald Duck. And so their team logo and mascot was, essentially, Donald Duck. In the late 40s, the Walt Disney company began to notice, and disapproved.

Luckily, Oregon Athletic Director, Leo Harris, was a close friend with an employee at Disney, and managed to set up a meeting with Walt Disney himself. Harris flew to Los Angeles to ask Disney to allow them to continue using Donald as their mascot. Disney agreed, and the two shook on the deal (without, though, formalizing the agreement through a written contract).

At the time, the following photograph was taken, which becomes important later.

3dd5278b6c5fc-54-3.jpg

Oregon continued to use Donald for the next couple of decades, until Disney passed away in 1966. At this point, Oregon was quite mindful of the fact that they did not actually have a written contract with Disney. When the company asked them about their deal, all they had to prove it was, well, the photograph itself!

Ultimately, Disney decided that the photo was fairly good evidence as to Walt’s intent regarding the school’s mascot, so they eventually signed a written contract allowing Oregon to maintain Donald as their mascot, with the caveat that it was only for school functions and any merchandise bearing Donald could only be sold in Oregon, with the profits split between the University and Disney.

3dd5278b6c5fc-54-1.jpg

While such a deal made sense to Oregon at the time, by the turn of the 21st Century, such an agreement was pretty limiting, as sales of college football merchandise was now a national enterprise.

Around this same time, Oregon coincidentally introduced a new, ADDITIONAL duck mascot, which they said was just an attempt to have a separate, more agile mascot to accompany Donald.

3dd5278b6c5fc-54-2.jpg

That might be the case, or perhaps it was a hint to Disney that they would be prepared to replace Donald if the contract was not re-negotiated.

In any case, a new agreement WAS eventually signed, but I do not know what the terms are. I note that I can’t seem to find any available merchandise online with Donald on it, so I guess the terms didn’t change much.

I believe Oregon has dropped their newer mascot, by the way. Although all you Oregon fans out there can let me know for sure!

Thanks to Jim for the suggestion and to Brad Schmidt at the Oregon Daily Emerald for the information!!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Bob Kane did not draw a Batman comic by himself after the very first issue.

STATUS: False

I used a legend by J.C. Stewart just the other week, and after that one, he sent me two more. I am still working on the latter, but here is the skinny on the former…J.C. asks :

Bob Kane’s pretty famous for using ghosts. Even though his name was listed as penciller for every Batman story for more then 30 years is it true the only Batman story Bob Kane ever pencilled was the first Batman appearance in Detective 27 ?

It is true that Bob Kane has quite the reputation for allowing other artists to draw in his name. However, that was not ALWAYS the case, and it was definitely not the case for the first few issues of Detective Comics, featuring Batman.

87_4_000030.jpg

In Detective Comics #30, however, Sheldon Moldoff joined Kane as a background penciler, and from this point on, although Moldoff, Jerry Robinson and George Roussos all credit Kane with pencils for a few years after this, I cannot tell you HOW much of the work was Kane and how much of it was his collaborators. It might very well be a case of Kane doing some loose breakdowns and the others filling in the rest.

For better of for worse, Kane DID do SOME pencils for Detective Comics and its sister mag, Batman, for a number of years. How much, I cannot say.

Kane’s last issue of Detective was 1942′s #64…

87_4_000064.jpg

and his last issue of Batman was 1943′s #18…

141_4_000000018.jpg

I believe he continued doing the Batman newspaper strip for awhile (although, again, how much of it should be credited to him, I cannot say). When he returned to comics, though, it was with ghost artists doing his work, as was the case for the rest of his career drawing Batman.

What’s amusing to note is that even when he WAS drawing the book, he was known for doing a number of swipes (to be fair, practically EVERY artist did swipes back then).

DSK, at his cool blog, The Vallely Archives, shows how Kane seemed to swipe heavily from other works, including prominently, Henry Vallely.

Here is one example:

Vallely – GBIA_page_33.1.jpg

Kane – batman_33_01.1.jpg

As you might notice, while Kane certainly SWIPED Vallely, it does not appear as though he actually lightboxed it. Instead, he just appeared to have re-drew it by sight. A lot of artists drew like that, taking certain poses/panel layouts.

So yes, while Kane might have not done a LOT of Batman art over the years, he definitely did SOME, and for the first few issues, he did it ALL.

Thanks for the question, J.C.! I’ll try to find out more info on the second one (it is also about Kane – the infamous “Clown Painting” story that Arnold Drake told a lot – I’ve yet to find any info outside of “Arnold Drake told the story a lot”).

EDITED TO ADD: David Frankel wrote in to share this link to the now returned Dial B For Blog, where we take a look at Kane swipes.

Not Blog X shares this link from Mark Evanier’s excellent website, where he discusses Kane’s drawing ability.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: 30 Days of Night was a movie pitch BEFORE it was a comic book series.

STATUS: True

The success of Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith’s 30 Days of Night comic was an influential event in comic book history, as the series demonstrated to many others the value of having a comic book to use to make a movie pitch. Soon, a great deal of independent publishers began to look at comic pitches as basically, “Could this be optioned for a film?”

Reader Kris N., though wrote in last week to ask, “Is it true that 30 Days of Night was a movie screenplay before it was a comic?”

And the answer, interestingly enough, is basically yes.

I say basically only because it was not actually a screenplay, but the development from comics to film for 30 Days of Night did, in fact, begin in the realm of film.

I think Steve Niles can tell the story better than I can, so here he is, courtesy of an excellent article by Scott Collura & Eric Moro over at IGN.com:

“I pitched it as a movie for two or three years,” recalls Niles, who prior to 30 Days has been best known for his work in the comics industry. “I pitched it to just blank faces. And they’d say, ‘It sounds like Buffy, it sounds like Buffy.’ And honestly I had just about given up.”

Following the rejection of the 30 Days pitch, Niles continued to focus his energies on his comics work, writing various books for Todd McFarlane including Spawn: The Dark Ages and Hellspawn. It was on the latter comic that he first worked with Ben Templesmith, a first-time artist who would go on to partner with Niles on the 30 Days comic.

30daysb.JPG

“It was just one of those weird things,” says the scribe. “Ted Adams from IDW called and said, ‘We want to do some comics. We can’t pay, there’s no money, but you can do whatever you want.’ So I just pulled out a sheet of my pitch list and said, ‘Here’s pitches that nobody ever bought.’ And he was like, ‘This vampire in Alaska thing looks kind of cool!’ Ben liked it, IDW wanted to do it, so we just did it and didn’t get paid a dime. And the day the ad for the first issue hit, we started getting calls from every studio, every producer, even people I had pitched before. People to this day deny that they rejected it, and I love it! Even one of the producers on the movie had originally rejected it.”

30-days-of-night.jpg

Pretty darn cool progression, eh?

Thanks to Kris for the question, Niles for the info and Scott Collura and Eric Moro for writing the article!

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is cronb01@aol.com.

See you next week!

48 Comments

Cool stuff as always, Brian. I’d love to find out if Arnold Drake’s ‘clown painting’ story is true, too.

[...] Walt Disney did have a handshake agreement to let the University of Oregon use Donald Duck as a mascot. Yet another myth examined by Comics Should be Good. [...]

Wow. Detective Comics #30 has a guy getting a welding torch to the face on the cover. The late ’30s was EXTREME!

Another fine column as usual. I saw Steve Niles in Toronto last August and he confirmed that “30 Days” was indeed a movie pitch originally.

Since someone always brings up the point that “these aren’t really urban legends,” I thought I would point out that the Oregon-Disney thing is well known in the state. It’s not a “rumor” at all. Of course, you East Coast people and your media bias probably think Oregon itself is a rumor, and that’s why you put it that way!

I would gladly support a modern revival of the guy who fights opponents with a welding torch.

An excellent column.

Dial B for Blog has returned, and recently did an in depth series on Batman and Kane, the link for part 1 is: http://www.dialbforblog.com/archives/389/

Dial B for Blog has returned, and recently did an in depth series on Batman and Kane, the link for part 1 is: http://www.dialbforblog.com/archives/389/

Took a look and, good grief, Bob Kane even swiped his freaking signature from someone else! The more I learn about the guy, the less I like him. Being Jewish, I always enjoy hearing about how so many Jews has an influence on the comic book industry… but, man, Kane is the one guy I wish was not Jewish. He’s like, I dunno, the Shylock of the comic book biz.

Great column! Just found out about it, and from now on I’m going to be a true follower.

Is it true that Marvel made a “one year later” during Secret Wars? i.e., Spider-Man appeared in the black costume in his own series before appearing in it in SW?

I believe Oregon has dropped their newer mascot, by the way. Although all you Oregon fans out there can let me know for sure!

The “Roboduck”, as it was called, was dropped almost instantaneously. The fans (at least the local ones) absolutely hated it.

“Bic said …

I would gladly support a modern revival of the guy who fights opponents with a welding torch.”

…Dogwelder?

Speaking of Hellspawn, is it true that Brian Bendis was fired from Sam & Twitch because he turned down the job writing Hellspawn?

Story I heard was that McFarlane asked Bendis to write the new Spawn spin-off, Hellspawn, but Bendis didn’t think he had the right “voice” for it. When he declined, Todd threw him off of Sam & Twitch, too…

Man, that new duck mascot thing is ugly.

“Is it true that Marvel made a “one year later” during Secret Wars? i.e., Spider-Man appeared in the black costume in his own series before appearing in it in SW?”

Oh yeah, absolutely. They introduced all these changes, and then played them in a cagey way, because you had to wait for Secret Wars to come out to get the explanation. So you didn’t know, for example, where the black suit came from, or why the Thing wasn’t in FF anymore.

Huh. Until I saw that original Valley image, I never noticed that Bruce Wayne has two fingers showing at the fold of his sleeve. That’s not a fold, those are fingers, lol.

Yo go re asked:

“Speaking of Hellspawn, is it true that Brian Bendis was fired from Sam & Twitch because he turned down the job writing Hellspawn?

Story I heard was that McFarlane asked Bendis to write the new Spawn spin-off, Hellspawn, but Bendis didn’t think he had the right “voice” for it. When he declined, Todd threw him off of Sam & Twitch, too…”

If you look, the first handful of issues, 7 I think, WERE written by Bendis. I don’t remember much about it except that it was a Violator/Spawn story, and there were some characters instant messaging each other throughout. Really, the weakest Bendis stuff I’ve read.

Speaking of McFarlane, what ever happened to his project with Kirkman?

JdRavnos said “Detective Comics #30 has a guy getting a welding torch to the face on the cover.”

The secret origins of the Dogwelder?

Oregon has a football team? Sheesh! Who knew? Another Urban Myth expelled!

MarkBlack posted:

-Recombatants/DNAgents crossover. Clearly an unofficial crossover. There was rumours when it came out that DNAgents fans were absolutely pissed because they thought that the ReCombatants were ripoffs, not homages to the characters. Any truth to that?

Well, it depends on what “truth” you’re looking for.
Was it true that DNAgents fans were upset over the ReCombatants being ripoffs? Well, that’s possible. Some fans are like hornets or fire ants–the slightest thing can set them to attack.
I can’t recall exactly but it seems to me that the DNAgents crew (Mark Evanier and Will Meugniot) struck first with their “Project Youngblood” (Evanier has gone on record that he deliberately planned his Youngblood characters to be analogues for the Wolfman-Pérez Titans) and that Wolfman and Pérez simply “retaliated” with the ReCombatants. (I vaguely seem to recall that both creative teams were completely fine with the “crossover” and that neither creative team was trying to rip off the other team, regardless of what some rabid fans might have thought.) IIRC, Eclipse (publishers of DNAgents) used a “real-time” cover date as opposed to the DC and Marvel standard “2-months-future” cover date. The DNAgents issue (#14) carried a July 1984 coverdate, while the Tales of the Teen Titans issue (#48) carried a November 1984 coverdate. (The Titans would have been in stores sometime in September, while the DNAgents would’ve been in shops in July. That is, if I’m recalling the shipping practices correctly.)
The only reason that there might have been some cause for “upset” on the part of DNAgents fans would’ve been that more people read the Titans-ReCombatants fight than had read the DNAgents-Youngblood fight.

As an aside, could Evanier and Meugniot’s “Project Youngblood” have subtly (or subliminally) influenced a certain young artist who would spring his own “Youngblood” team nearly a decade later?

I would gladly support a modern revival of the guy who fights opponents with a welding torch.

Dogwelder! I will weld dogs to you in locations strategically chosen to impair you.

Or just for fun.

Dogwelder! He needs a movie.

This series is some if the best extracurricular reading in comics! Thank you.

“As an aside, could Evanier and Meugniot’s “Project Youngblood” have subtly (or subliminally) influenced a certain young artist who would spring his own “Youngblood” team nearly a decade later?”

I know for a fact that certain “creators” at Image stole a bow-wielding character. An aspiring artist I know left his stuff for the “creator” to review & critique. He eventually got it back, but not without a price. The 1st apperance splash of the archer was a direct copy of my friend’s character concept splash. It looks like it was lightboxed it was so exact.

Were the ideas of Youngblood be lifted? A better question might be “What WASN’T lifted?”

“the infamous “Clown Painting” story that Arnold Drake told a lot – I’ve yet to find any info outside of “Arnold Drake told the story a lot””

I know that story is in “Men of Tomorrow”. But I don’t know whether the reference for it is Arnold Drake.

“Speaking of McFarlane, what ever happened to his project with Kirkman?”

Its still going on, he mentions this in part 1 of 2 podcast interview at Wordballoon

There’s a brief quote on the summary of their project “Haunt” but you should listen whole interview and the others on the site, John Siuntres does a GREAT job interviewing, usually really funny with guys like Kirkman and Bendis

RE Disney and the Fightin’ Donalds of Oregon, I always get that one confused with the time the Univ. of Michigan tried to snap a picture with Stan Lee and Herb Trimpe…

I know that story is in “Men of Tomorrow”. But I don’t know whether the reference for it is Arnold Drake.

Yeah, it IS a quote from Drake in “Men of Tomorrow,” too.

That’s where I first saw it. Then I saw Mark Evanier cite the story when Arnold Drake died, and I believe Greg Hatcher once quoted Drake telling the same story years ago at a con.

So we know Drake certainly thought it was true. :)

>Since someone always brings up the point that “these
>aren’t really urban legends,” I thought I would point
>out that the Oregon-Disney thing is well known in the
>state. It’s not a “rumor” at all.

Since I’m the “Jim” who asked about it… I’m a University of Oregon grad (MS in CS, 1990) and while I had heard that there was “an agreement”, I never knew (or looked for) the details. And of course, what is “known” in Oregon is at best “rumor” in Seattle and unimagined in far off Tibet.

To me, the point of this column isn’t really just debunking myths or confirming rumors, but pulling back the curtain to reveal the bits of comics history many people may know a little about, but not all that much. Like this one: we go a photo of Walt, we got merchandising details, we got a truly ugly potential replacement mascot. Way cool stuff.

I lived in Tacoma, have family in Oregon and live in CA, but I never knew any details about the Fightin’ Ducks story. The west coast is pretty big, we’re not all buddy buddy hippies, y’know.

I agree, Jim. I just always like when people come here and say “That’s not an urban legend!” I think Brian ran out of urban legends a long time ago, and I agree with you that it’s very cool to find out about these “hidden” nuggets about comics history. So I was joking about it, to a point. I moved to Portland in 1993 and during the Ducks’ Rose Bowl season, there was a lot of discussion about the mascot. Not as in-depth as Brian goes, but enough to know the outlines. I suppose that was because in 1994, people around the country suddenly knew what Oregon was! I wonder if it’s gotten less play in the intervening years because they’ve de-emphasized Donald and brought in those horrible, horrible uniforms.

Mark Evanier talks about Kane’s swiping and drawing ability in this post:
http://www.newsfromme.com/archives/2006_06_06.html#011600

The U of Oregon isn’t the only college to use a well-known cartoon for its mascot. The mascot for the University of California at Irvine is the anteater, inspired by the comic strip B.C. They used Johnny Hart’s character for years, had ZOT! as a rallying cry, named on-campus restaurants and stores things like Zot-n-Go and B.C.’s Cavern, etc.

At least, I assume there was an agreement involved, since the design lasted for decades.

When I started at UCI in 1994, the B.C.-style anteater was the most prevalent version out there. By the time I graduated, they’d mostly shifted to more realistic drawings. Even the costume for games has since been replaced by a more “Xtreme” version. Though you can still find the classic anteater if you look for it.

I don’t know whether they were trying to distance themselves from the cartoon or the cartoonist, or whether they figured going realistic would get them treated more seriously.

What is the Drake “Clown Painting story? Anyone has a link?

Thanks, Kelson!

That’s quite interesting!

Since someone always brings up the point that “these aren’t really urban legends,” I thought I would point out that the Oregon-Disney thing is well known in the state. It’s not a “rumor” at all. Of course, you East Coast people and your media bias probably think Oregon itself is a rumor, and that’s why you put it that way!

What’s an Oregon?

“What is the Drake “Clown Painting story? Anyone has a link?”

Leave it to Mark Evanier to have the story. Here’s the link:

http://www.newsfromme.com/archives/2007_03_15.html#013103

A movie pitch first?

What, comic books are good enough you?

I remember reading 30 Days of Night and thinking it wasn’t a very good comic book, but it would be a great movie. The pacing and structure were off for a comic. I have yet to see the film.

I was wondering if you could investigate the comic book urban legend of the girl who gets out of her car and finds a deranged fanboy on the roof with her boyfriend’s head on a hook made out of Silver Surfer holofoil covers.

…Well, at least people couldn’t argue whether or not it’s an urban legend.

That Drake story about the clown paintings is friggin hilarious. Really great. My fave part (maybe even better than the punch line):

“I said to him, ‘Bob, isn’t it disappointing to you that you don’t draw any more? You were once such a great artist.’ He wasn’t, but you had to talk to Bob that way.”

Bless Arnold Drake. Rest in peace, good man!

Since someone always brings up the point that “these aren’t really urban legends,” I thought I would point out that the Oregon-Disney thing is well known in the state. It’s not a “rumor” at all.

Urban Legends are by definition untrue so any entry that gets marked as “true” can’t be an urban legend.

no they’re not – urban legends are any stories that are told and retold (with variations in the details) without regard to whether they’re true or not. Stories that are more about the telling of the story than the info they contain…

The Adventures of The Welder! Burning thru crime like a blowtorch of justice!

The University of Missouri — Kansas City had an original Walt Disney drawing of their first mascot — the Kangaroo. Unfortunately, they didn’t get any kind of deal with Walt himself or the Disney company so they can’t use the image for their official mascot and, since Disney claims rights to the image, what they can use it for and with is pretty limited due to copyright.

no they’re not – urban legends are any stories that are told and retold (with variations in the details) without regard to whether they’re true or not.

I just checked dictionary.com and you’re right. Though most of the definitions on there say that they’re usually untrue, it’s not a requirement

RE:Oregon Duck Mascot

Interesting info on the Ducks Mascot…enough to make me remember my undergrad days at the U of O in the early 50s. For a couple of years, I was the caretaker of the live duck mascot. I was responsible for its housing, food and getting him to the football games. Eventually, the duck went to that great duck farm in the sky about the time I graduated.

If Oregon were to utilise “Destroyer Duck” as their mascot, they’d never lose a game. (Kind of tough to get Kirby’s permission now though.)

Leave a Comment

 

Categories

Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives