Luke Cage History: From Hero for Hire to Hollywood
TV, Comic Books
This is the one-hundred and thirty-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 thirty-six. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Joe Staton once snuck a pedophile joke into an issue of Brave and the Bold.
Reader Ethan Kaye (who has a neat blog that is a lot of fun to read, and you can read it right here) wrote in with this one almost a year ago, but I was just recently able to get to the bottom of it.
As Ethan mentions to me, in a 1983 issue of The Brave and the Bold (#197), Commissioner Gordon is sent a package from the Scarecrow.
Quite clearly printed on the package is the word “pedophile.”
Beyond that oddness, the story was so good (it filled in the story of how Earth-2 Batman married Earth-2 Selina Kyle), it ended up in The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told!
In that collection, DC edited out the word. But how did it get there in the first place?
To get to the bottom of it, I first contacted Alan Brennert, the great comic writer who wrote that particular issue. He told me:
I believe it was Joe Staton (or maybe George Freeman, who did the inks) who sneaked it in as a joke, but you should contact Joe or George and ask them. It sure wasn’t in the script! I was glad when it was taken out for the Greatest Batman Stories…aside from the propriety of using that word as a joke in an 80s-era comic book, it kind of distracted from the dramatic scene set-up with Gordon.
Other than this, B&B #197 is my favorite of all the comics stories I’ve done, and a large part of that, I must say, is due to the fabulous art by Joe and George. So I can forgiven them having a little fun with the title page…
Finally, thanks to Rik Offenberger at Archie Comics, I was able to get the answer from Joe Staton, and here is the lowdown:
Actually I think the label was more “PED-ophile”. Commission Gordon was holding a shoe box and at the time I thought is was funny that you might see “pedophile” as meaning “foot lover,” not a good pun, but not such a bad name for a shoe company.
Anyway, I put it in, but back then, DC had a pretty tight editorial process so stupid jokes and personal bits were normally caught and properly disposed of. Unfortunately, not in this case. My stupid joke was actually inked and even printed. Most people seemed not have even noticed it, but it looked tacky.
Later when editor Mark Waid told me that the story was going to be in a collection, I asked him to erase the label and he was happy to do so. It was my stupid joke and I’m very grateful to Mark for letting me set it right, especially since this was one of my best jobs, on one of the very best scripts that ever came to me, with one of the very best inking jobs I ever got.
Thanks for letting me clear that up.
A lot of thanks to hand out!
Thanks to Ethan for the question! Thanks to my pal H, from the aweseomrageous blog, The Comic Treadmill, for the scan of the page in question! Thanks to Rik Offenberger for getting me into contact with Joe Staton, and finally, of course, thanks to Alan Brennert and Joe Staton for their replies!
Wow, that was a lot of thanks! Heck, while we’re at it, let me thank The Grand Comic Book Database for the cover scan of Brave and the Bold #197!
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Mike Wieringo’s next assignment before his death was going to be a run on the Punisher.
Reader Jonathon Ansley told me that he had heard on the Around Comics podcast that Mike Wieringo’s next assignment for Marvel before his tragic passing in 2007 was going to be working on the Punisher. The Around Comics podcast matches what Cully Hamner said in September at the Wieringo tribute at Baltimore Comic-Con. Where he stated, according to CBR writer John W. Smith:
Cully Hamner revealed one project the Marvel-exclusive Wieringo had been working on around the time of his death: an arc on “Punisher: Max.” At first Hamner had thought –like he had with Spider-Man– that Wieringo was probably not right for the series. “But looking back on it, he probably would have pulled it off,” said Hamner.
I asked Marvel about it, and Tom Brevoort explained:
No. Mike was going to be doing three issues of PUNISHER WAR JOURNAL, but after he got the first script, he discovered that he wasn’t comfortable doing it, and so turned the assignment back.
So there ya go!
For an extra treat, here is a sketch (courtesy of the Comic Art Gallery of Spider Guile) of the Punisher by the late, great Wieringo (for even more of a treat, click on the image to see Guile’s very nice inking job of the sketch).
Thanks to Jonathon for the question and to Jim McCann and Tom Brevoort for the answer!
EDITED TO ADD:
Cully Hamner wrote in with the following:
Just to clarify something from that CBR piece:
I don’t believe I ever said that Mike was “working on” PUNISHER when he died, as I knew he was doing a WHAT IF? In fact, he sent me some of those pages while we were on the phone for the last time. In that same conversation, he also told me that he had been *offered* a PUNISHER arc, but wasn’t sure how he felt about it. We also talked about maybe getting my studiomate Karl story to ink it, as he had some time in his schedule coming up.
I did say, though, that I thought he would have found a way to pull it off, mainly because Mike was an endlessly creative and resourceful guy.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Marvel cobbled together a one-page story to keep a character from belonging to Hasbro.
Reader yo go re brought this one to my attention earlier this year, and it’s an amusing tale of how to skirt a contract rule.
In the 1980s, Marvel had a deal Hasbro to produce comic books based on the Transformers television and line of toys.
Part of the deal was that any characters Marvel introduced in the Transformers comic would be owned by Hasbro, not Marvel. That was not that unusual, and really, it was not much of a problem, as the main characters in the comic book were ones that Hasbro already owned – the Transformers.
And otherwise, throwaway characters weren’t much of a loss, so it was not a big deal.
However, when the artist on the British Transformers comic, Geoff Senior, showed the book’s writer, Simon Furman, the throwaway bounty hunter for a late 80s storyline, inspiration hit Furman. The character was too interesting looking to be just a throwaway character.
Then a dilemma hit, though. Would they really want to lose such an interesting character to Hasbro?
So, instead, Marvel UK had the character appear in a one-page backcover strip on a number of their titles right before he appeared in his “first appearance” in Transformers #113.
In the one page strip, he fights against a character named Tex in a one-pager, “High Noon Tex,” by Furman and Bryan Hitch (Reader Lee Robson corrected my initial credit of Senior as the artist on the strip – it was a young Hitch who actually drew it).
The character did, indeed, become a hit, and soon, he gained his own comic book title (check out the cover by Hitch).
Thanks to yo go re for filling me in on the story! Thanks also to the Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe for the picture of Tex and to the great Transformers site, Seibertron.com, for the Transformers cover! Thanks also to Lee Robson for the strip credit correction!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you next week!
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