Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
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.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: LadrÃ¶nn 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 JosÃ© LadrÃ¶nn had planned, and specifically, the rumor “that LadrÃ¶nn 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 LadrÃ¶nn about it, and he referred me to Jean-Marc Lofficier, who was going to do the mini-series with LadrÃ¶nn, and Lofficier explained to me the following – the project was commissioned by Marvel, scripted (by JM Lofficier), edited and paid for by Marvel, that 5 pages were drawn by JosÃ©, but that it was subsequently canceled in favor of the INHUMANS.
The four pages that LadrÃ¶nn 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 LadrÃ¶nn for the answers!!
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: The title character of a comic strip was asked by the Syndicate to be removed from the comic strip.
The journey of Robotman was a strange one.
Created not by a cartoonist, Robotman was, instead, the brainstorm of corporate synergy. Some corporate folks saw the money that characters like Peanuts and Garfield were making, so they came up with a character, then tried to market him for toys, etc.
Part of the big push was to have a comic strip. The strip was offered to any number of young and upcoming cartoonists (including a young Bill Watterson), until ultimately, Jim Meddick took the gig.
It was an interesting gig, in the sense that there was no real guidelines for the character except to draw him like the licensed character was meant to look like, so Meddick figured he could just use the chance to get some exposure before the whole thing fell apart.
Surprisingly, though (especially to Meddick), the strip caught on. The marketing sure didn’t, but the strip did, and over a decade later, Meddick was still doing the daily Robotman strip, even though he had jettisoned most of the cast and introduced a new character who Robotman would hang out with, named Monty.
Ultimately, though, in a bizarre move, at the turn of the century, during contract negotiations, Meddick’s syndicate asked him to DROP Robotman from the comic strip!!
You see, they felt the name Robotman was too childish, and made it sound like strip was a young-readers strip, when the humor actually skewed a bit older, so in 2001 – Robotman was written out of his own strip. Such events are not all too uncommon in comic strip history, but usually it is a matter of the cartoonist finding that certain characters are more popular – something a little more natural, not being told by the company itself that they no longer want to use the title character!!
Instead, Robotman’s friend, Monty (who, over the years, had been retconned into being Robotman’s creator) took over the strip, where he still exists today.
Pretty strange way to go, huh?
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Gil Kane once drew an Aliens cover without knowing what the Aliens look like.
My pal Funky dropped me a line to tell me that former Wildstorm top editor, Scott Dunbier, has started up his own blog, and it is AWESOME. Check it out here.
In it, Dunbier sheds light on some interesting stories he’s been privy to in comics, like the aforementioned Gil Kane story.
Remember Wildcats/Aliens? It was an inter-company crossover between Wildstorm and Dark Horse, and it resulted in a lot of cool Wildstorm characters from the book Stormwatch being killed off by the Aliens.
Dunbier hired Gil Kane to pencil the one-shot, with Kevin Nowlan on inks. Kane eventually had to back out due to health problems (he died a couple of years later), but not before he produced an…interesting cover for the project.
Here is Dunbier describing the cover he wanted Kane to produce…
My idea was to have the image feature two characters, Zealot from the WildC.A.T.s and, from the Dark Horse side, an Alien. It would be dramatic and, more importantly, save time–a full team shot would take longer to draw. I told him I wanted the two characters prominently displayed; on one side would be the Alien, looming large behind Zealot, who has her sword drawn up. I asked Gil to make her expression defiant, not fearful. To establish the location, on the Stormwatch satellite, I asked that he put a porthole somewhere with the Earth visible through it. I had already sent Gil all the reference for the WildC.A.T.s and Stormwatch characters and he said he didn’t need any for the Aliens. He told me he could turn the piece around by the next day and, since time was a major issue, would Fed-ex it directly to Kevin and fax it to me. In the end Gil didn’t send the fax, that old Fed-Ex deadline was too tight for him to make a copy.
And Kane gave him what he wanted…except, apparently, Kane had just taken “Alien” to mean “draw an alien,” because what he delivered was…
Nowlan then worked double time to fix it before the image was due to be published in an ad in Wizard.
Just like Scott Dunbier’s blog! Check it out!! He has a great Michael Moorcock story on his blog at the moment!
A reader pointed out to me that Steven Grant linked to the story in his column a month ago. Here is the link to Steven’s column! Sorry, Steven! Steven also added that Kane’s take on the story was “They only told me ‘draw an alien.'”
Thanks to Funky for letting me know about the blog, and thanks to Scott Dunbier for sharing the information with the world. And thanks, also, to Steven Grant, for that extra information!
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 email@example.com.
See you next week!
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