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Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #129

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

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Ladrönn quit Marvel for a time because a Silver Surfer story he was doing was done by a different writer in a Spider-Man title.


Awhile back, in a previous installment of Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed, I discussed how the original Silver Surfer series was going to be re-named the Savage Silver Surfer, but the book was canceled before it could happen.

However, since the last issue ended off with the Surfer being quite angry at humanity, it was a longstanding “Hey, whatever happened to THAT plot point?” thing, and it was eventually explained away in Webspinners #4-6, by Eric Stephenson, Keith Giffen and Andy Smith (Smith originally inked Giffen and then penciled the last issue), which took place after the last issue of Surfer’s original series.


The explanation was that Surfer was controlled by the Psychoman.


However, as it turns out, that was not the ONLY comic in the works at Marvel based on the idea of dealing with the ending of the original Surfer series.

Reader Frank Rook wrote in to ask about a proposed mini-series that the great artist José Ladrönn had planned, and specifically, the rumor “that Ladrönn and friends were working away at this story, only to learn Giffen & Stephenson were already given the go-ahead to do their own, and responding to the slap in the face, they quit and ceased dealing with Marvel for some time.”


I asked Ladr̦nn about it, and he referred me to Jean-Marc Lofficier, who was going to do the mini-series with Ladr̦nn, and Lofficier explained to me the following Рthe project was commissioned by Marvel, scripted (by JM Lofficier), edited and paid for by Marvel, that 5 pages were drawn by Jos̩, but that it was subsequently canceled in favor of the INHUMANS.


The four pages that Ladrönn finished before the book were canceled can be found on Lofficier’s website here. It was going to feature Doctor Strange!!


Lofficier also contributed a great write-up on the series over at the awesome website, The Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe.

Thanks to Frank for the question, and to Jean-Marc Lofficier and Ladrönn for the answers!!

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That Gil Kane legend is awesome. Amazing even.

You had it right the first time, it’s Jean-Marc Lofficier. Unfortunately it was the only time you got it right. There are not so many frenchmen in mainstream comic books, please get their names right.

I loved Robotman as a kid- the humor was as biting as anything I had encountered in a comic strip, outside of Bloom County (which I didn’t always get, not knowing much about, say, Gary Hart or Donald Trump). I still remember the “Mr. Spock’s Birthday” series, the two kids he hung around with, and that it was consistently funny. I felt the strip lost a lot when it became “Monty.” Maybe I just got older, who knows.

Anyone evlse ever see the hideous “Robotman” pilot that aired maybe 20 years ago? I knew it would be bad when the theme song (“Here come the robots! Robotman & friends!”) sounded like it was sung by the guy who did the “Who’s the Boss” theme. The show was sappy and squirm-inducing, nothing like the strip.

For a good t.v. special based on a comic strip, look for “Opus: a Wish for Wings tht Worked,” a Christmas special that may have aired only once. It was Bloom County animated, with the humor in tact.

Brian (or anyone who knows)- was there ever a Calvin & Hobbes t.v. cartoon? It was rumored there would be one every year of my childhood, but I don’t remember seeing one.

The Gil Kane legend is quite possibly the awesomest comic industry story I’ve ever heard.

Ladronn (excuse me for leaving out the umlaut – or whatever a mexican would call it) on the Silver Surfer would have been a dream come true. I loved Moebius on Parable and I think Ladronn’s stuff is awesome. I wish he did more work. I’d read Hip Flask if he were still doing interiors, but as he’s only doing covers I’m not that interested.

Filrouge: It seems to me that Brian only got it wrong once (right underneath the pic with Dr Strange) and got it right the other three times, unless you feel that calling him “JM” instead of Jean-Marc is wrong.

Sidney Assbasket

November 16, 2007 at 7:07 am

I often extoll the virtues of european comicbook artists to friends who can’t see beyond the generic cartooning of the latest ‘hot’ Americans. However, after seeing the Dr Strange/Silver Surfer image above, i’ve changed my mind.

Can you say,’lobotomised’?

Seriously, all that’s missing are glittering strings of saliva hanging from the corners of their mouths.

Ding!Ding!Ding! ‘Steven! Norrin! Dinner time! Come and get your delicious plates of mush! Nursey has warmed it up for you!’

Interesting story about Robotman. Jim Meddick is from the town I live in. The local paper had a HUGE write-up on him and the strip – probably 2-3 full pages. It was the whole “local guy makes it big” thing. I read it every day for years, through the introduction of Monty. The series was renamed Robotman & Monty, but I couldn’t figure out why. A number of years went by when I didn’t read the paper at all. When I started up again, the strip had become Monty – I was really confused. I actually LIKED the robot. Oh well. Thanks for the info!

I could be wrong, but I think Steven Grant just told this Gil Kane story like two weeks ago on this very website.

I know the Robotman cartoon — it tied in to this whole oddball line of Hallmark toys and cards. I actually found a Robotman doll last year that played “I wanna be your Robotman” at length….

You can watch some footage from the cartoon here: http://youtube.com/watch?v=JLu9NvldAaM WARNING: This ranks among the strangest of 1980s cartoons. Um, not as weird as SPIRAL ZONE or TURBO TEEN.

So… Jim Meddick could write the adventures of “Robotman” (and call him that). Brad Bird could create an “Elasti-Girl” in “The Incredibles”.
And DC doesn’t sue?
Do they have the Doom Patrol names trademarked at all? Is that perhaps even why Beast Boy changed to Changeling? Could I come up with a comic series called “Negative Man” and publish it?

I loved Robotman. It was a really great strip at one point. *snf* Memories…

Michael H: Actually (this might be a good subject for a future UL), the story I heard is that DC only learned that Pixar was using the “Elasti-Girl” name late in the game, and that somehow Pixar and Disney’s lawyers never realized the name had been used before. The upshot was a rather friendly settlement of the issues, boiling down to “DC won’t raise a stink about the name as used in the movie, so long as it isn’t used as a trademark in merchandising of the Pixar character.” And, indeed, she is generally (always?) referred to as “Mrs. Incredible” in licensed stuff.

Mike L: There was never any Calvin and Hobbes animation, in large part because it fit into Bill Watterson’s general rule against any licensing for the strip other than reprint collections: i.e., the theory that any animation would “answer” the unanswerable central question of the strip with regard to how “real” Hobbes is. (I’m not sure that’s necessarily true in theory, but that’s what Watterson believed, anyway.)

I love that Gil Kane cover, by the way – it may not be an “Aliens” cover, but it sure does have a lot more life, energy, and personality than the final cover!

I do wonder what the deal was with Robotman and DC. I knew about the Elasti-girl/Mrs. Incredible deal with Pixar, and with Starman (the John Carpenter film and TV series) there’s apparently some credit to DC comics for the name (according to DC around about the time the Stern/Lyle comic came out). I presume the makers of the Robotman toy/comic gave DC some money to license the name…probably another good reason to get rid of the character when it became clear it was skewing toward Monty.

There’s another strip, Ink Pen, which recently had to change the name of one of its characters, a superhero, because his name was Captain Victory. They actually mention the need to rename the character because it’s the same name as a Jack Kirby character in the strip itself, which was funny.

As I understood it, Robotman was removed from the strip during renegotions over the strip’s ownership- the strip is now listed as “Copyright Jim Meddick”, wheras “Robotman” himself wasn’t created by him.

What I heard, Bill Watterson was asked to include Robotman in Calvin & Hobbes strip. Watterson said no, and Robotman was offered to Jim Meddick.

I think Watterson was interested of doing an animation at one time. The problem was he wanted a complete creative control over it, and he had no time then.

actually I never read Robotman, but found Monty over a year ago and love it. Where else will you find an alien, a hideous hairless cat (Fleshy the cat), a man from the future and Monty?

Bill Watterson is famously anti licensing his creations, and has never sold film or television rights, so will probably never see a Bill Watterson-approved animated version of Calvin and Hobbes. The closest I’ve seen is the student film (by Donato Di Carlo at the CFP Milano film school) which was on youtube a little while ago, but this has been removed.

The animation was done More on Watterson’s stance:

Lawrence Fechtenberger

November 16, 2007 at 12:04 pm

It seems to me entirely possible that DC did not have the name “Robotman” trademarked when the comic strip began.

A couple of points about trademark that people tend to overlook in discussions such as this: 1) Trademarks are not automatically granted. Publishing a story with a certain character is not enough to give one the trademark to his name. A trademark must be applied for. 2) Trademarks do not last for set periods of time. They can be perpetual if they remain in use, but if they go idle they may be held to have expired.

How that applies here: Nowadays it is the custom for a comics company to trademark the name of every character it owns, but that was not the practice in the old days. They often bothered only with their major characters. Remember, the original Robotman was strictly a back-of-the-book character, and Robotman Version 2.0 was a member of a team, not a star in his own right. DC presumably did trademark the name “Doom Patrol,” but it would not necessarily have done so with each member. Even if it had, those trademarks might not still have been valid at the time the comic strip began, in 1985. The original Doom Patrol comic book had been cancelled a full seventeen years before; there had been a couple of revivals since then, but neither lasted more than three issues. At the least, the issue would have been muddy enough to require a lot of lawyers to make clear. DC might have decided that owning a name it had never done much with in the first place was not worth all those legal fees.

As an aside, Hollywood’s Karate Kid films (“Wax on! Wax off!”) do state in the credits that the name is trademarked by DC.

Relevant to Meddick’s vs. DC’s Robotman, Michael Heide asked (Post #10): “Could I come up with a comic series called ‘Negative Man’ and publish it?”

STARLOG’s long–defunct sister mag COMICS SCENE reported in its in–the–back feature “Comic Screen,” that there was a proposed TV series via Nelvana Productions, called Negative Man, with the character credited to Bob Kane. Maybe DC veteran Kane’s involvement gave the comic company additional ammo for a legal complaint (the original version ran in DETECTIVE, for which Kane was supposedly drawing Batman, of course), but the fact that it got far enough in development to come to CS’s attention is further evidence that DC’s grip on the Doom Patrol’s members’ names may not be all that strong. By the way, Changeling went back to Beast Boy a few years ago, via his own miniseries (Heide brought up his original name switch as well).

Those Gil Kane pencils may not be correct but they sure are sweet!

[…] Coolest comic myth revealed yet over at CBR? Gil Kane once did a cover featuring Aliens without knowing what they looked like. […]

Wow, that’s a riot – drawing “an” alien vs. drawing an “Alien”! Just goes to show you even the pros sometimes flub a little bit.

Not to take anything away from Gil Kane, mind you.

But it IS funny. :)

I always enjoy this column but man was Jean-Marc Lofficier’s last name butchered.

Yup, this was a very good installment, Brian.

You had it right the first time, it’s Jean-Marc Lofficier. Unfortunately it was the only time you got it right.

Actually, amusingly enough, I mixed the spellings up a few times – correct, incorrect, correct, incorrect! It was just a silly typo, not a misunderstanding of the French.

To wit, I called Jim Meddick Jim Merrick a couple of times, too! :)

I could be wrong, but I think Steven Grant just told this Gil Kane story like two weeks ago on this very website.

Did he?


I’ll add a link to Steven’s piece!

Typos happen. Heck, “Monty” is called “Morty” in the first reference to the character in this piece. ;)

I love the Gil Kane story. Those durned Aliens! Always causing trouble! (Heck, the original artist’s for the Alien designs got Jello Biafra in trouble too!)

Typos happen. Heck, “Monty” is called “Morty” in the first reference to the character in this piece. ;)


I agree that Kane’s original cover looked pretty good- which surprises me, as I’ve never been a fan of his work. Maybe it was the inking (or lack of.)

Still, I’m amazed a Pro like Kane would be so clueless as to the properties involved. I guess he didn’t read 90’s comics. Can’t say I blame him. ;) But you know, at the least he should have asked, “What kind of alien?” They aren’t all Space Gorillas, you know.

Regarding Robotman, yeah, I always wondered how the toy got the name since I knew about DC’s hero. Not that I cared, as I found the doll too sacchirane for my taste. Imagine my surprise when I found the Bloom County-esque strip version! Which I actually liked better than BC because it had so many SF references (and good ones, too.) I’m surprised they decided to drop Robotman but Monty was the real star to me anyway.

“The title character of a comic strip was asked by the Syndicate to be removed from the comic strip.”

Man, that’s some tortured syntax. It makes it sound as though the syndicate called up Robotman and asked the character, “Can you have someone remove you from the strip?”

It would have made far more sense (and been shorter, besides) as “The syndicate asked that the title character of a comic strip be removed from the strip.”

That Ladronn drawing of Galactus is AWESOME.

Here’s a possible one for a future installment:

“Is it true that John Byrne actually kept his Super Powers collection on the mantle of his living room fireplace, AND in alphabetical order by character?”


“Is it true that John Byrne actually took his Aquaman Super Powers figure back from a child who was playing with it, placing it back on the mantle and then chastised the father of the child?”


“I still remember the “Mr. Spock’s Birthday” series”

Me too!

The mind-meld with the cake is classic: “My creamy filling weeps!”

Jiminy Snick: I just read that one this week too! If Byrne was like that, I feel a little better about myself in some ways. I guess we’re all kinda anal about our little treasures, huh.

The most interesting difference between the pencils and inks on that Kane cover is the woman’s face – it’s great in the pencils, and horribly flat and generically 90’s-looking in the inks.

i have an urban legend sugestion, but it may not be an actual urban legend.

In 1998, i believe, there was an animated Silver Surfer series that only lasted one season. At the end of the first episode, Silver Surfer asks Galactus if the planet in front of them would be suitable for consumption. Galactus says something like “I promised an honorable individual to keep that world safe. it is not for us.” The planet looked a whole lot like earth, and the “honorable individual” sounded a whole lot like Reed Richards of the fantastic four. However, in the second episode, when Silver Surfer is suposed to be searching for a planet for Galactus to consume, he is waylaid by Thanos and Ego the living planet. At the end of the episode, Galactus forgives SS for not finding a planet and says “i have found one” and the last thing we see is Earth. The next episode is the SS rebellion against Galactus. So, my question is, was the Silver Surfer animated series only meant to be a one-episode deal in the begining, thus, the reference to Earth and Reed? Or, was this just a simple mistake on the part of the people involved with the show?

Good Lord! “Comic Scene Magazine”!

Just when I thought I had a handle on the whole nostalgia thing.

re Trademarks: to keep a trademark, are they required to put TM next to a name every time it appears on the cover? If not, why do they? And if they are, was that the origin of the comic titled “Superman-Tim?”

comixkid2099: That planet was Zenn-La, not Earth. The “honorable individual” was the Surfer himself, back when he was Norrin Radd.

Aren’t trademarks meant to protect Brand Names (like Coke, Pepsi, Honda, Dominos Pizza, Starbucks,etc.) while copyrights are to protect individual creations.
For instance Capt. Marvel. Marvel and DC both have copyrights on charecters with that name, but only Marvel can publish a title with that name because they own the trademark.

Sidney Assbasket

November 17, 2007 at 4:11 am

avengers63:”I guess we’re all kinda anal about our little treasures, huh.”

This is true. The problem is that John Byrne was being anal with a little girl.

Er… what I mean is…

Lawrence Fechtenberger

November 17, 2007 at 5:56 am

I presume the suggestion that SUPERMAN-TIM meant “Superman trademarked” was a joke, but in case anyone is confused: the SUPERMAN-TIM comics were produced by a company called Tim Publications, and were meant to be used by department stores as a sort of promotional gimmick. Tim was the name not only of the company but of its mascot, who was featured in the comics (and in the company’s other comics, TIM IN SPACE and GENE AUTRY-TIM).

More information can be found here:


“comixkid2099: That planet was Zenn-La, not Earth. The “honorable individual” was the Surfer himself, back when he was Norrin Radd.”

thanks, Yiding! that makes more since now that i look at it again.

In the comic book world, trademarks are mostly protecting logos and (perhaps) the look of a character. For instance, even if/when Superman’s first stories are in the public domain, you wouldn’t be allowed to use the most familiar “S” shield or the traditional “Superman” comic book logo from his DC title, because those are trademarks owned by DC. Note that trademarks are also often tied to particular industries or markets only, and the goal is to avoid confusion in the marketplace. You couldn’t make a new comic book called “Iron Man,” but you quite likely could start a new business, “Iron Man Scrap Metal Yard,” without much fear, because people would be unlikely to think you’re related to Marvel Comics.

In practice, it seems that “name/logo on the cover” is the accepted standard for successfully asserting a trademark in comics (which helps explain a lot of “Marvel Team-Up” or “Secret Origins” selections, incidentally.) It’s quite possible that Robotman had never so appeared at DC before the strip, thus putting his trademark into iffier territory.

Warren Ellis told the Gil Kane story cover story at the Herocon. It was a very very funny story

Mark Evanier also provided a link to Gil Kane story on his blog about a month back.

Oops! I did it again. Post #21, with the reference to COMICS SCENE, is mine. I set up an “account” in this computer completely separate from that of its owner and primary user, had to re–establish many automatic log–in cookies, and should have caught it here. Sorry, again.

Lawrence Fechtenberger, may I just profess my deep love for you username?

Also, I used to have quite a bit of love for the Robotman strip. The toy was marginal – a sort of ‘My Little Robot’ concept – but the strip was about as engagingly twisted a take on sci-fi cliches as you’ll ever see.

The most interesting difference between the pencils and inks on that Kane cover is the woman’s face – it’s great in the pencils, and horribly flat and generically 90’s-looking in the inks.

Agreed, totally. I actually had a shock of disappointment when I scrolled down from the pencil drawing to the finished cover.

KC RYAN said:
“Wow, that’s a riot – drawing “an” alien vs. drawing an “Alien”! Just goes to show you even the pros sometimes flub a little bit.”
Gil Kane didn’t screw up insomuch that he had never seen anything about the Alien movie, so he wasn’t aware that when they asked him to draw an ‘alien’, they meant an ‘Alien’. A miscommunication, not so much as a screw up.

Does anyone know how Robotman was written out of the series? I always wondered how Merrick did that…

[…] You’ll notice what a dense comic book this is, as there’s quite a bit going on.  That doesn’t necessarily make it good, but it’s something to remark on.  It’s not a great comic, but it’s charming in that pre-Crisis, post-1960s DC way, when their comics grew up just a little but couldn’t escape the wackiness of the Silver Age.  Composite Superman is a goofy idea, but Burkett does a decent job with him.  It’s a bit clunky, the way he lets us know all of the powers of the Legionnaires, but you know? it still reads better than “The Lightning Saga.”  It’s kind of nice to see the kinder, gentler Batman of these days, and it would be nice if writers could find a happy medium between him and the post-Crisis bleak Batman we all know and love.  It seems like the current Bat-writers are trying, which is kind of cool.  The Green Arrow/Black Canary back-up story is pretty darned good, and shows why Barr is such a underrated superhero writer and why Gil Kane is, well, Gil Kane (when he’s not asked to draw aliens, of course).  There’s a lot to like about this comic, and if you’ve never picked up a comic book before, you might laugh at the goofiness of Composite Superman, but Burkett certainly tries to give you your money’s worth.  And for 60 cents, you need to get your money’s worth, consarnit! […]

The most interesting difference between the pencils and inks on that Kane cover is the woman’s face – it’s great in the pencils, and horribly flat and generically 90’s-looking in the inks.

That’s Kevin Nowlan’s inks there. He’s the only inker who’s ever made me not hate Gil Kane’s art.

Gil Kane didn’t screw up insomuch that he had never seen anything about the Alien movie, so he wasn’t aware that when they asked him to draw an ‘alien’, they meant an ‘Alien’. A miscommunication, not so much as a screw up.

I’m not sure I agree. Even if he wasn’t aware of the franchise, surely it should be pretty obvious they’d want the alien on the cover to resemble the one’s on the interior.

DanCJ: Where does it say that when Kane pencilled the cover, he knew anything more than what Brian suggests? After all, I believe it is common industry practice for covers to be prepared well in advance of the interiors, isn’t it? And remember, Alien was the Dark Horse property (via a license, of course) in this inter–company cross–over while it was the *Wildstorm* editor who hired Gil, according to Brian’s text.

Well it doesn’t specifically state that he knew it was the cover for a comic, but I think that that’s reasonable to assume. Given that it’s a comic cover I think it’s reasonable to assume that the comic has interiors. Given that the comic has an interior I think it’s reasonable to assume that you’d want the aliens on the cover to resemble the ones on the interior. If Kane didn’t know what the ones on the interior would look like then he shouldn’t have said “he didn’t need any [reference] for the Aliens”

I think either I’m misunderstanding you or you’re misunderstanding me.

My point was that Kane might not have known that the comic was a cross-over with another company, but did know—if only subconsciously—that the one that hired him did not have the rights to ALIEN, so, there not yet being any interior pages for him to see and set him straight, drew “an alien” instead of Alien. That was really insulting to read my posting that way.

I’m not sure how I insulted you, but sorry – it wasn’t intended.

I think you’re still missing the point though.

If they asked him to draw a character fighting an alien on the cover – regardless of whether it’s an Alien (TM) or just any other of the many aliens you get in stories, I’d have thought Kane would realise that the one on the cover should resemble the ones on the interior.

My theory is that Kane hadn’t SEEN the interior work. Remember, Brian said Gil was hired to do the project but backed out due to health problems. The GCD doesn’t indicate he did any interior work at all, so I submit that the cover was the first thing to be drawn and when Kane drew it he hadn’t been exposed to enough info about the project as a whole to know the “Alien” property was involved and just drew AN alien. One more time: my theory is that interior pages didn’t yet EXIST when Kane drew his cover! Clear NOW?

Note also, the GCD DOES indicate that Kane’s cover illio WAS printed on some copies, and that another by interior penciller Chris Sprouse was on others. Interestingly, they give primary credit to Spouse’s, and list Gil’s as “Sequence 1,” but the scan posted is of the one Brian has up here. At first glance, I thought they meant that Kane’s was rejected for the cover and reproduced inside the comic while a replacement by Sprouse was on the front of the book, but on close examination that doesn’t seem to be their intent.

Yeah, Dan, the cover was done before any interiors were done. Kane got sick, so he never got to do the interiors.

Thank you, Brian.

I know that Kane hadn’t seen the interior. I didn’t realise that he was originally going to be the artist, which might change things a bit IF he’d actually read the script at the time he drew that cover. Otherwise it would still be pretty naive to draw the cover without a clue what the story is actually about. It could have called for the aliens to be disembodied floating heads for all he knew.

From post #62: “I know that Kane hadn’t seen the interior….”

From post #54: “Even if he wasn’t aware of the franchise, surely it should be pretty obvious they’d want the alien on the cover to resemble the one’s on the interior.”

Hard to read the earlier statement as NOT saying that he had seen the interior.

Obviously–given what did in fact happen–Kane was not aware of the crossover, was not aware that the alien was to be the pre-existing property ALIEN, and thought he had the freedom to design an alien that worked within whatever specifics that he HAD been told of the plot. Maybe Gil’s illness was already affecting his thought processes, but remember that Brian said he was hired by the Wildstorm/WildC.A.T.S. editor, not the Dark Horse/ALIEN editor, so I don’t see that miscommunication as all that implausible.

From post #54: “Even if he wasn’t aware of the franchise, surely it should be pretty obvious they’d want the alien on the cover to resemble the one’s on the interior.”

Hard to read the earlier statement as NOT saying that he had seen the interior.

I’m not sure why you think that. He knew there was going to be an interior, so it seems only sensible to find out what the ones on the interior look like. (sorry about that heinous rogue apostrophe in that bit of my post you quoted – I hate those)

As I said before though, I didn’t realise that Kane was due to draw the interiors, so as long as he’d seen the script then that mistake is a lot more understandable.

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