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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #138

This is the one-hundred and thirty-eighth 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-seven. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Dwayne McDuffie once pitched a series called Teenage Negro Ninja Thrashers.

STATUS: True, in a way.

Tom Brevoort’s Blah Blah Blog is an amazing resource of Marvel history. Be sure to check it out here. You’d be doing yourself a huge favor.

Anyhow, someone asked me about this story awhile ago, and as it turns out, it came courtesy of none other than Tom Brevoort’s awesome blog!

In an entry from last year, Tom explains that, in late 1989, Rocket Racer started showing up again in the pages of Web of Spider-Man…

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and Night Thrasher had just debuted in the pages of Thor (along with the rest of the New Warriors)…

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McDuffie (then an editor at Marvel), took slight issue with the fact that this was basically a quarter of the black superheroes appearing in Marvel Comics at the time, and they were a bit, well, similar.

This led to McDuffie’s hilarious parody pitch…Teenage Negro Ninja Thrashers.

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Classic!!

So yes, technically, Dwayne McDuffie really did make a pitch for Teenage Negro Ninja Thrashers.

And yes – his point was well taken.

A few years later, McDuffie would launch Milestone Comics, which gave us a great many amazing black heroes, most notable (in my opinion, at least) being Static and Icon and Rocket.

Imagine that – making a point and also doing something about it?

Well done by McDuffie.

Thanks to Tom Brevoort again, for such an awesome comic history resource! And for posting the pitch.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Jerry Siegel publically threatened to kill himself to protest the shabby treatment he and Joe Shuster received from DC Comics.

STATUS: False

Reader Christopher Farnsworth (click here for his website) sent me the following last week:

There’s a persistent legend that says one of the Superman creators — Siegel or Shuster, I forget which — threatened to commit suicide by leaping off the Time-Warner building, wearing a Superman costume, around the time of the first Superman movie. This threat was supposedly part of the reason — along with the negative publicity — that Warner Bros. decided to give Siegel and Shuster a $100,000 annuity, in lieu of all the billions of dollars their most famous creation had earned.

I think I even heard Will Eisner repeat this at a panel at Comic-Con, and it’s featured, in a way, in Rick Veitch’s Maximortal.

But is it true?

It would definitely make for a great story, but sadly (ETA: By sadly, merely noting the lack of an interesting story – not that I was hoping Siegel would attempt to kill himself), it is not, in fact, true.

No, the story of how Siegel and Shuster finally got somewhat paid off for creating Superman came not from threatening suicide – but by threatening a curse.

In October 1975, Jerry Siegel sent off a press release to hundreds of media outlets detailing his anger over the unfair treatment he felt that he and Joe Shuster got at the hands of DC. Eventually, the press release got national attention, and especially thanks to the efforts of Neal Adams and Jerry Robinson, DC Comics eventually agreed to not only pay the two men a yearly stipend, but to give them credit for the creation of Superman, not only in the comics, but in all media!

Here is a snippet from the famous press release (which ran about nine pages):

It has been announced in show business trade papers that a multi-million dollar production based on the SUPERMAN comic strip is about to be produced. It has been stated that millions of dollars were paid to the owners of SUPERMAN, National Periodical Publications, Inc., for the right to use the famous comic book super-hero in the new movie. The script is by Mario Puzo, who wrote “The Godfather” and “Earthquake”. The film is to have a star-filled cast.

I, Jerry Siegel, the co-originator of SUPERMAN, put a curse on the SUPERMAN movie! I hope it super-bombs. I hope loyal SUPERMAN fans stay away from it in droves. I hope the whole world, becoming aware of the stench that surrounds SUPERMAN, will avoid the movie like a plague.

Why am I putting this curse on a movie based on my creation SUPERMAN?

Because cartoonist Joe Shuster and I, who co-originated SUPERMAN together, will not get one cent from the SUPERMAN super-movie deal.

So there ya go!

A cool story, but not as dramatic as threatening to jump off the Empire State Building in a Superman costume!

EDITED TO ADD: Rick Veitch (who homaged this scene in his excellent Maximortal series) wrote in to make the very convincing argument that while Siegel didn’t do the whole threatening suicide thing the way Christopher suggests the legend was presented, there is a very good chance that, at one time or another, in the various back and forth letter conversations he had with DC Comics (in the press release, Siegel posts some of the responses to his letters, and it’s pretty evident that the back and forth got quite heated at times), Siegel DID make the “I’ll kill myself dressed as Superman” threat. It just was not a public thing, nor was it something that was connected with the Superman movie or the eventual settlement. Joe Simon cited it in his great book, The Comic Book Makers, and this is likely what Eisner was referring to, as well (the story that Siegel wrote a letter making said threat).

Thanks to Christopher for the suggestion, and thanks to Rick for the clarifying information!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Emma Frost’s secondary mutation was a result of Grant Morrison not being allowed to use Colossus in New X-Men.

STATUS: True

Reader Tony B asked: I recall hearing once that Grant Morrison gave Emma Frost her secondary mutation Diamond Form because he had wanted Colossus on the New X-Men, only to be denied during the “dead means dead” era. Any chance we can see an Urban Legend Revealed on that?

Sure thing, Tony!

Well, simply put – that’s exactly what happened!

That’s easy, no?

Morrison, when he began on New X-Men, wanted to use Colossus, but was as it turned out, there were already concrete plans to kill him to cure the Legacy Virus.

and Colossus had JUST given his life to cure the Legacy Virus.

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To replace Colossus, Morrison came up with the idea of giving Emma Frost the new power of turning into a powerful diamond form.

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Thanks for the suggestion, Tony!

And thanks to the Grand Comic Book Database for all these covers!

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!

142 Comments

Being a black guy who barely skateboarded…that made me LAUGH OUT LOUD just now.

LOLOL!
Dwayne McDuffie is so hardcore. That’s awesome. You go, boy!

Skateboards… Jesus.

Are we SURE that pitch by McDuffie was just a joke?

It seems like the kind of project that Mike Epps and Kat Williams would jump at.

I read somewhere that Morrison made Emma’s secondary mutation because he wanted to use her, but didn’t want a team filled with telepaths. I think I read it in a Wizard X-Men special.

Night Thrasher had 70s hair and clothing and a barely recognizable lingo? I think McDuffie is stretching reality to fit his point there.

Every time I read about the scummy treatment of Seigel and Shuster by DC in general and Weisinger in particular it makes my skin crawl. To the point where I can barely stomach TRIBUTES to the Weisinger era (probably a reason I can’t get as worked up by All Star Superman as some others can. Jack Kirby may have gotten something of a raw deal by Marvel, but the Seigel and Shuster thing is truly despicable. Thank goodness for Jeannette Kahn, from what I can tell she was a real class act.

Jerry Siegel did a lot to sabotage himself, though…

and while there’s no doubt that he did in fact create Superman, it’s a tricky thing when you’re dealing with characters who have been shaped by multiple creators over a span of years. a lot of the elements that turned Superman into a billion-dollar intellectual property really had little or nothing to do with his work.

not that i’m letting National Periodicals off the hook, by any means… Harry Donenfeld was a true jerk.

SanctumSanctorumComix

January 18, 2008 at 7:44 am

Yeah. STATIC was completely different.

He was (at least the cartoon version) a black kid, who spoke in weird lingo I couldn’t understand, and rode an electrically-charged manhole-cover… in a skateboarding fashion.

Well, he DID have powers, and his “skateboard” didn’t have lame things like wheels, so it’s completely different.

;-)

I kid, I kid.

~P~
P-TOR

Stephane Savoie

January 18, 2008 at 7:56 am

On a related note: how many black characters have had electrical powers? Static, Black Lightning (and by extention Black Vulcan)… any others?

On a related note: how many black characters have had electrical powers? Static, Black Lightning (and by extention Black Vulcan)… any others?

that’s all because of the hair, my friend… all because of the hair. :-)

Dwayne McDuffie is awesome.

“Skateboards… Jesus.”

Actually, that should probably be:

Skateboards . . . Sweet Christmas!

Sorry, couldn’t resist :-)

If only Dwayne McDuffie had waited until Lupe Fiasco’s Hip Hop Skateboard theme “Kick, Push” came out we could have had a great media cross over.

> not that i’m letting National Periodicals off the hook, by any means… Harry Donenfeld was a true jerk.

I sometimes wonder about the poor treatment given creators historically. Were the people screwing them over really doing so – or were they simply elments of their time? Was the treatment no more unreasonable for the 30′s and 40′s than the depiction of Asians and African Americans?

Don’t forget Storm! She can bring down the lightning.

I sometimes wonder about the poor treatment given creators historically. Were the people screwing them over really doing so – or were they simply elments of their time? Was the treatment no more unreasonable for the 30’s and 40’s than the depiction of Asians and African Americans?

i think it’s a little bit of both.

at the time, comics–comic books in particular–were viewed mostly as cultural detritus churned out by hacks and slumming artists who had to pay the bills until they could write a novel or get into magazine illustration or something.

nobody thought it was art, and nobody certainly could have dreamed that these comics and the characters in them would end up being as valuable as they are today. writers and artists cranked out ideas and characters and almost nobody got proper credit or remuneration for their inventions because, hey–this stuff wasn’t worth anything; it was meant to be consumed today and forgotten later today!

the editors were mainly concerned with just getting the books out on a regular schedule. of course, some editors were more sadistic in pursuit of this goal than others.

but them’s was the times.

That McDuffie legend is hilarious.

And good lord, but I hate that Emma Frost cover.

Emma’s “package” makes another appearance on CSBG. (That ain’t no camel toe!) Although given the context of the today’s post I’m guessing that the package was another aspect of using her as a Colossus replacement, since Colossus is male.

“It would definitely make for a great story, but sadly, it is not, in fact, true.”

I’ve got to take issue with this sentence — I don’t think you really meant to indicate that it’s sad that Jerry Siegel didn’t threaten to kill himself over the Superman situation.

I think the actual terms of the settlement with Warners was much less than $100,000 annually, also. I recall recently reading a fanzine article from the early 80′s that mentioned it had been upped to $30,000. Whether that was for Siegel and Shuster as a pair, or for each individually, I’m not sure. Wikipedia for Shuster notes Warner “granted the pair a lifetime pension of $35,000 a year plus health benefits.” Pretty small compensation, I think.

As for Weisinger, I think there has got to be a fascinating book about him waiting to be written. Gerard Jones’ Men of Tomorrow really only touches on the topic. I don’t share T’s extreme distaste for the stories he oversaw (many of which were written by Jerry Siegel, by the way — if nothing else, Weisinger and DC did give Siegel work when no one would have been surprised if they hadn’t — and thank God he did, because we got some great, very powerful stories from Siegel’s reunion with his creation), but damn, was he colorful. Very glad I’ve never had to work with anyone who treated people the way he is said to have.

Oh yeah, forgot to mention: Dwayne McDuffie rules! I still miss Milestone.

Does anyone know if McDuffie suffered any sort of punishment for his joke?

That Siegel story sounds very much like (if memory serves) the climax to The Amazing Adventures of kavalier and Clay. I would bet that Chabon heard that story and decided to use it. Or perhaps it was the other way around, that somehow Chabon’s fiction became mistaken for Seigel’s fact?

Also, it should be pointed out that, by all accounts, Weisinger wasn’t exactly being magnanimous in giving Siegel work in the ’50′s. If anything, he enjoyed being able to have Superman’s creator under his thumb.

“It would definitely make for a great story, but sadly, it is not, in fact, true.”

I’ve got to take issue with this sentence — I don’t think you really meant to indicate that it’s sad that Jerry Siegel didn’t threaten to kill himself over the Superman situation.

I’ve got to agree with Jeff above. The sentence read the same way to me.

The Dwayne McDuffie story is awesome, though.

Jonathan Lethem played with this “comic creator threatening to kill himself wearing a costume”-idea in “Fortress of Solitude”. So I guess this rumour is a well-know one.

The late-80s was chock full of skateboarding superstuds. Glad I missed out on that tidal wave of action.

If I recall correctly, The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay novel featured one of the Golden age creators (Kav or Clay, can’t remember) publicly threatening to jump off a skyscraper.

>> That Siegel story sounds very much like (if memory serves) the climax to The Amazing Adventures of kavalier and Clay. I would bet that Chabon heard that story and decided to use it. Or perhaps it was the other way around, that somehow Chabon’s fiction became mistaken for Seigel’s fact?

As was pointed out in the story, Siegel threatening suicide was pastiched in Rick Veitch’s series The Maximortal, which predates Chabon’s novel by a good 10 years.

As to Emma Frost…well, it worked out, didn’t it?

I’m sure I’m going to be in the minority here, but Ive gotten so sick and tired of comic creators over the years whining about not getting their just deserts. Didn’t these guys get paid when they did their original work? Was there ever a contract indicating that if their creation made tons of money, they would get a piece of the pie? No. Otherwise they could be justly compensated by bringing it to a court of law.

I worked for Microsoft 10 years back or so. I made 30K per year when I started. Part of my job included writing articles for their publications and Technet. I probably wrote 85% of the original Microsoft Windows 98 book. I’m sure the book sold in droves. Should I have expected royalties?

I worked as a jewelry designed for SWANK in the mid-seventies. I designed a healthy portion of their 1976 women’s jewelry line. They made TONS of money that year on their breakthrough fashion line. Should I have expected to get extra compensated afterwards?

Jerry & Joe aside, (maybe they’re a special case),what is it with comic books creators who took a job, knew what they were going to get paid, but cried holy murder afterwards when when they got paid for actually became profitable? I just don’t get it.

McDuffie should take his pitch to the Cartoon Network. They’d greenlight it in a flash.

the first urban legend is amazing.

the last one is interesting.

Oh that pitch was hilarious!

Oops, missed that first Kav and Clay mention. Ten web-lashes for me.

As for creator rights, there have been 70 years of comics, and there are perhaps 2 or 3 dozen characters in all of comicdom that have really seized the public consciousness and can support themselves. The old creators always moan about how they got screwed over their success, but how many thousands of characters have been created that failed? How many companies have gone under? The vast majority. Nobody is lamenting their share of the Amazing Crabman (or whoever) that lasted 2 issues and was never heard from again. No one can tell before hand what is going to be the next big thing, so what is more fair, your $1000, or 10% of the profits? If it’s like most creations, it won’t catch on and you take the $1000 and move on to the next idea.

Take the X-men for example. Claremont/Byrne revitalized the whole line and made an incredibly popular book, but half of those characters were created by somebody else. What percentage should they get?

It’s easy to Monday Morning Quarterback when you know how things turn out, but is it more beneficial in the long run to risk it all instead of straight work for hire?

I remember when George Reeves died. For weeks, the story was that he put on his Superman outfit and attempted to fly out his high-rise apartment window. When that proved to be false, the next wave of stories was that he put on his Superman outfit and shot himself, more than likely “thinking” that he was really invulnerable. The “true” story was that Reeves was indeed found shot in his apartment, but he was naked and it was ruled a suicide. It was later revealed however that he had been beaten shortly before he died and bullet holes and shell casings were found in other areas of the apartment. Interesting enough, this all happened while a party was going on in the apartment and the guests took nearly an hour to contact the police after “discovering” the body of their host in his bedroom. Several sources suggested years later that a jilted lover and his jealous fiance began to fight at the party and George was the unfortunate recipient of an act of rage. Why none of the partygoers ever revealed the real true story over the years is your guess as well as mine.

i heard an urban legend once that Chris Claremont assaulted a fan at a comic convention. is this true? i heard it was close to the end of morrison’s new x-men.

That pitch letter was one of the funniest things I’ve ever read.

rob’s right. somewhere out there lupe is putting together a 1st and 15th publishing company with that as the flagship book. and i’m BUYING IT.

i love that a creator can call bull on a lack of imagination like that tho, characters with the same traits really irritate me. it’d be like if, say, a company owned an iconic character like the hulk and then went and made a female version. or a red version. or, y’know, something stupid like that.

i am a robot

Re. the Siegel/Shuster shenanigans: Let’s not forget ‘Superman’ waving to Jimmy Corrigan before leaping from the building and falling to his death. If only I could forget it, along with the addictive misery that is the latest Acme Novelty Library :)

I’m not sure that this is an urban legend but I’m curious as to who was responsible for Beast’s lion look. I’ve heard both Morrison and Claremont. Beast gets hurt in x-treem x-men but I don’t think he’s ever actually shown as a lion and then he just shows up in new x-men with hardly any explanation or comment. So whose idea was it and, perhaps more difficult, why?

not really an urban legend but why doesn’t mcduffie take milestone to another publisher?
or
Does DC own part of the milestone universe?

“Was there ever a contract indicating that if their creation made tons of money, they would get a piece of the pie? No. Otherwise they could be justly compensated by bringing it to a court of law.”

That’s taking a whole lot for granted, but let’s just say — since you obviously know nothing about the specifics and are just using the fact that it was brought up at all to moan and whine — this:

- the company took advantage of the vagueness of the original contracts coupled with the youth and naivete of the two creators to convince them to sign away all the rights they would’ve had. They signed something on the understanding that they would be working for the company for years… and then the company immediately fired them. [Read "Men of Tomorrow" -- it's a fascinating story, and, whoever else you want to criticize, you won't be criticizing Shuster and Simon after reading it.]

- the idea that you think that two starving comic book artists could afford to take the company which sold 90% of the comic books in the country for a decade [I'm assuming you're talking about suing them in the '40's when it happened, as opposed to the '70's, when they finally got paid off... since the company would only be richer and more powerful each year after the fact] to court? Well, you seem almost as naive as Simon and Shuster in that belief.

By the way — did Thrasher ever have that skateboard again? Is that letter why they got rid of it?

“…a lot of the elements that turned Superman into a billion-dollar intellectual property really had little or nothing to do with his work.”

Which makes the credit that Bob Kane has always gotten for creating Batman all the more ironic. Kane’s original concept was completely different than the character we know today. Bill Finger should really get the lion’s share of the credit for creating the character, since Kane’s contribution seems to amount to little more than coming up with the name.

[...] Yes, Dwayne McDuffie once pitched a parody script called Teenage Negro Ninja Thrashers at Marvel (from Comics Should be Good!). It’s got to be great working for a comics company when you can directly bash editorial decisions. I wonder what would happen if a creator tried that nowadays? [...]

Come on, “sean”. Don’t be such a tool. You know I excluded Siegel and Schuster, suggesting that they might be a special case. And can I truly be accused of moaning and whining when I’m complaining about moaning and whining?

Facts are facts. Comic book creators will always have an audience to express their grievences. They’re well known to their fans and they’re WRITERS. Very few other professions include the same benefit.

I don’t know what you do for a living, but do you receive additional compensation if your work is exemplary? If so, good for you. But that’s not the norm. I would suggest the majority of employers have high expectations that are rarely met. When they are met, you’re considered to have done what you were paid for to begin with.

Finally, check your words before you write that “I know obviously nothing about specifics.” I’m a professional in my 50′s who’s reached the top of my field in three different career paths.

More interestingly about Emma Frost is that her appearance in New X-Men came about through the online suggestion to Grant Morrison by a fan. (All that stuff there was in the back of the New X-Men TPBs; this one isn’t.)

http://www.grant-morrison.com/ink_4.htm

(see also http://www.grant-morrison.com/ink_6.htm)

Finally, check your words before you write that “I know obviously nothing about specifics.” I’m a professional in my 50’s who’s reached the top of my field in three different career paths.

And the president of the United States is older than you, and occupies the top position in his career path.

And he’s terrible with specifics.

I don’t know what you do for a living, but do you receive additional compensation if your work is exemplary? If so, good for you. But that’s not the norm.

That’s not the norm? Geez, I thought that was called a PAY RAISE.

a lot of the elements that turned Superman into a billion-dollar intellectual property really had little or nothing to do with his work.

Strongly disagree. I think as long as a moron or a retard wasn’t at the helm of the book, it would have continued to grow just due to natural momentum. I think the original elements created by Seigel and Shuster were what kept the book growing in appeal, not 50 colors of kryptonite, Super-pets, the Legion, Supergirl or any of that other stuff. It’s Superman, Clark Kent, Lois Lane, Daily Planet the costume and the powers. Then the elements introduced in the radio show. I think even the radio show played a bigger role in growing Superman. I thought the Weisinger era was not very good and was subpar to the older golden age stories.

Ken R said: “Also, it should be pointed out that, by all accounts, Weisinger wasn’t exactly being magnanimous in giving Siegel work in the ’50’s. If anything, he enjoyed being able to have Superman’s creator under his thumb.”

From what I’ve read, I can believe that that may have been part of it, but regardless of motivation, he hired Siegel, which was a good thing for Siegel, and for those of us who enjoyed Siegel’s resulting stories. I’m not saying Weisinger was a hero, by any means, but neither did he do nothing but evil.

I’ve wondered if Siegel’s treatment of Luthor in the 60′s (especially the origin story) was inspired by his relationship with Weisinger. A former friend, now an adversary, but one who still shows flashes of humanity?

Hey, how do we do the cool word ballon quote thing?

And can I truly be accused of moaning and whining when I’m complaining about moaning and whining?

Yes. Yes, you can. Abso-goddamn-lutely.

I was almost glad they killed Collosus. He had become such a sad character. His sister was dead, his parents were dead, I think his brother was dead, too. It was kind of pathetic.

I still don’t know how beast got turned into the family dog/cat/beast-man. I thought Larocca’s art on Extreme X-men looked faded, probably using a digital inking thing.

Much as we might like wish it otherwise, unless it’s spelled out in the contract (or unless there’s a lawsuit and a court decision mandating it) no employer in any industry is required by law to pay an employee anything beyond their agreed upon salary. In the absence of a legally-enforceable contract or a binding court decision, any types of bonuses or royalties are at the discretion of the employer.

some stupid japanese name

January 18, 2008 at 4:33 pm

On the flipside of creators rights, would it be fair for publishers to ask for some of the money back that they paid creators for projects that lost money? It’s like creators get the cake and get to eat it too, while publishers have all the risk. If you want more money if a property takes off, shouldn’t you be willing to lose some if it doesn’t?

It’s Superman, Clark Kent, Lois Lane, Daily Planet the costume and the powers. Then the elements introduced in the radio show. I think even the radio show played a bigger role in growing Superman. I thought the Weisinger era was not very good and was subpar to the older golden age stories.

right, T… you just co-signed my point.

you seem particularly fixated upon Weisinger, but defending or praising Weisinger was never MY point.

my point was that a lot of the elements of the mythos that made Superman as popular as he’s grown to be had little to do with Siegel’s original work: for example, the radio show, which you acknowledged.

and also as you mentioned: the powers. Siegel’s original Superman didn’t have most of the powers he has now… a lot of them originated with the radio show.

hell, correct me if i’m wrong, but didn’t the radio show give Superman the power of flight even?

Jeff:

Hey, how do we do the cool word ballon quote thing?

the command is

except with no spaces, dig?

DOH!

i meant (less than)blockquote(greater than) (less than)/blockquote(greater than)

To add to the list of African-Americans and other Black characters with electrical powers, there’s Miss Megawatt from the Defenders of Dynatron City.

Calberta Mustard

January 18, 2008 at 5:05 pm

Sorry Fantome but you do come across as a whiner. You sound bitter about your experiences as a writer and designer. Writing about Windows 98 isn’t the same thing as creating an iconic character. Granted you say Siegel and Shuster may be a special case but you still sound like you feel ripped off even as you say it’s what you expected.

best column in a while (no offense to others of course!). That McDuffie one is just unreal. Magneto being dead didnt stop Morrison from “using” Magneto and he was also “killed” right before Morrison’s run right? Via Wolverine in Eve of Destruction or whatever that was..

“hell, correct me if i’m wrong, but didn’t the radio show give Superman the power of flight even?”

I’m not certain, but I always thought that was the animated shorts (aka the best things ever done with the character).

Yeah, McDuffie proved his point with Milestone, , McDuffie. Of course, Milestone only lasted about two years, which probably proves something too, but I’m not sure what.

Dwayne McDuffie is hilarious. That proposal made me laugh out loud. Also, he makes a great point.

Methinks he should be writing a book that involves deliberate parody of the industry. I’d love to see him on DEADPOOL or AMBUSH BUG or even MAD.

There is a legal difference between Siegel and Shuster’s independent creation of Superman and work created while under contract or in a work-for-hire situation. S&S didn’t write a computer manual under contract, they brought their creation to a publisher. Different rules apply.

IIRC, the rumor is that Bob Kane was underage when he first signed a contract with DC/National, which made the contract possibly unenforceable. To secure the rights to Batman, DC/National made a new agreement with him to guarantee their ownership of the character, while always crediting him as sole creator and giving him some sort of financial arrangement.

Brian from Canada

January 18, 2008 at 8:12 pm

“Magneto being dead didnt stop Morrison from “using” Magneto and he was also “killed” right before Morrison’s run right? Via Wolverine in Eve of Destruction or whatever that was..”

Magneto wasn’t dead: true, he was left bleeding from Wolverine’s attack — but it was on the island of Genosha. That left it completely plausible for Magneto to be healed by a Genoshan mutant.

There may have been a corporate directive not to kill a major film character too. ; )

Death was a joke even for the characters in the Marvel universe when Quesada took over. Making “dead” mean dead was supposed to return the emotional impact of death — with characters only coming back if there was a need and an escape clause.

Joss Whedon’s resurrection of Colossus… now there was a reversal!

So Emma was given her second power just because Morrison couldn’t get Colossus? That sounds kinda… petty. Couldn’t he have created a new character instead? Then again replacing Jean with the freakin’ White Queen as Cyclops’ lover was also another “because I feel like it” thing. It never made much sense to me.

And I think Mcduffie was wrong to protest Night Trasher as being some kind of stereotype. If anything he was a Rocket Racer rip off. Now, if there HAD been a third Black Skater character, he might’ve had a point.

And I remember Milestone comics too. The stories were average and the art poor. While I applauded their efforts to balance the lack of ethnic heroes in comics (I’m Latino myself) their characters were never too original or flattering (Blood Syndicate was a street gang!) Only Static felt original, and only until his TV series did I feel he was cool.

right, T… you just co-signed my point.

you seem particularly fixated upon Weisinger, but defending or praising Weisinger was never MY point.

my point was that a lot of the elements of the mythos that made Superman as popular as he’s grown to be had little to do with Siegel’s original work: for example, the radio show, which you acknowledged.

and also as you mentioned: the powers. Siegel’s original Superman didn’t have most of the powers he has now… a lot of them originated with the radio show.

hell, correct me if i’m wrong, but didn’t the radio show give Superman the power of flight even?

I did not in any shape or form cosign your point. Your point is that Seigel and Shuster’s work had little to do with Superman’s popularity. My point is that Seigel and Shuster’s work had the most to do with Superman’s popularity, followed by maybe the radio show and the films, followed by Weisinger. Nothing in my last post invalidates my point and supports yours.

The things Seigel and Shuster created are the most fundamentally appealing aspects of the character, the things that are most common to every incarnation and interpretation, the things that are internationally known about the character. The basic concept of a man from space with superpowers raised among humans and adopting our world as his own, the appealing primal fantasy of being a weakling and social misfit on the outside but having the ability to secretly turn into superpowerful bully fighter, the circus strongman outfit with primary colors and a cape that became the template for every superhero outfit for decades, the names Superman, Clark Kent and Lois Lane, the concept of Lex Luthor….THOSE contributions are less substantial than what the radio show and Weisinger did? Those are the most recitable and appealing aspects of the character!

Take just the cape: How many of us as kids tucked a sheet into the back of our shirts and pretended to fly around? People even call superheroes “capes” as shorthand sometimes. How many of us bought the whole outfit as Halloween costumes as kids? Those are all Seigel and Shuster contributions. Kids don’t run around roleplaying as Jimmy Olsen and Perry White, which were contributed by the radio show. The average non-comic reader doesn’t know the different kryptonite colors that the Weisinger era created. People outside of comics have no idea who the Legion is.

If Seigel and Shuster’s contributions were the least responsible for Superman’s success, think about this: which contributions could most stand to be removed from the character? Say you made a Superman movie without the kryptonite, Jimmy Olsen, Perry White, the Daily Planet was called the Daily Star, and there was no kryptonite. Now say you made a movie removing the Seigel and SHuster elements but keeping everything else. You have a hero but can’t call him Superman. His has no secret ID named Clark Kent. He doesn’t have strength, heat vision, or x-ray vision and is not an alien. He doesn’t work as a reporter. He wasn’t raised by the Kents in Smallville. He’s not crazy about a woman named Lois Lane because she doesn’t exist. He doesn’t live in Metropolis. But he can fly, is vulnerable to something called Kryptonite and has a boss named Perry White and a friend named Jimmy Olsen.

Which version do you think would be more successful?

Brian from Canada

January 18, 2008 at 8:45 pm

I don’t know what you do for a living, but do you receive additional compensation if your work is exemplary? If so, good for you. But that’s not the norm. I would suggest the majority of employers have high expectations that are rarely met. When they are met, you’re considered to have done what you were paid for to begin with.

It may not be the norm for YOUR career paths, but each of the companies I’ve worked for in the past determined my pay raise based on performance.

More importantly, though: none of the companies you mention are entertainment companies. The companies you mention (Microsoft, Swank) don’t realize revenues on past work beyond a few years — whereas entertainment continues to realize HUGE profits on work from decades past.

[That's why we have the WGA strike cancelling this year's TV season and the Justice League film: the writers want to ensure they get a fair portion of the revenues from avenues that go beyond their initial use.]

Since 1975, Superman’s earliest appearances were reprinted in oversize treasury editions and in both hardcover and softcover editions — none of which were expected at the time the character’s rights were sold to National. Not to mention the motion picture, which set of Siegel and Shuster.

THAT is why comic creators demanded royalties and credit for their creations. And fans supported them because, by that point, they *clearly* recognized the work of individual creators — creators who were often barely able to make ends meet despite their creations still being strong revenue earners decades later.

Brian from Canada

January 18, 2008 at 8:52 pm

Then again replacing Jean with the freakin’ White Queen as Cyclops’ lover was also another “because I feel like it” thing. It never made much sense to me.

Emma chasing Scott made sense in three ways: first, Emma’s actions with Iceman prove she really gets off on manipulating strong men; second, Emma’s actions created a weakness in Cyclops, who’s far too straight laced; and, third, Emma’s more interesting to write because she’s a bad girl. (Jean was also far too clean.)

A case could also be made that Emma was attracted to Scott because she sensed she could take control of the school with him, and she loved being a headmistress.

On the subject of Morrison adding Emme Frost to the X-men… I never got why people threw such a fit about Cyclops ‘acting out of character’ when he dumped Jean for her. This is a guy who literally abandoned his wife and newborn son, having an affair is perfectly in character.

And I think Mcduffie was wrong to protest Night Trasher as being some kind of stereotype. If anything he was a Rocket Racer rip off. Now, if there HAD been a third Black Skater character, he might’ve had a point.

He had a point as it is.

Night Thrasher was an armored ninja vigilante, Rocket Racer was a super-fast criminal. The only thing the two had in common was being black and having skateboards.

Emma chasing Scott made sense in three ways: first, Emma’s actions with Iceman prove she really gets off on manipulating strong men; second, Emma’s actions created a weakness in Cyclops, who’s far too straight laced; and, third, Emma’s more interesting to write because she’s a bad girl. (Jean was also far too clean.)

I’ve never understood this attitude. What I always liked about Scott and Jean was their moral uprightness. If you have mutant powers, it’s easy to be Wolverine, but it’s hard to be Cyclops. If you’re a telepath with the ability to bend minds, it’s easy to be Emma, but it’s hard to be Jean. Cleanliness is a daily decision – even a moment-to-moment decision. The pursuit of it – the desire to be good only makes characters more interesting. (And, frankly, more relatable. Why wouldn’t you try your utmost to be the most you can be?)

The pursuit of it – the desire to be good only makes characters more interesting. (And, frankly, more relatable. Why wouldn’t you try your utmost to be the most you can be?)

I think that’s an incomplete representation of your point. After all, a character can’t pursue their desire to be good if they’re already good. They must fail and make mistakes. You can’t be redeemed if you haven’t sinned, you know?

That’s what I find relatable about the Cyclops character and others like him. The drive to be the best they can, DESPITE the failures along the way. Just like lots of real people; they will, at times, succumb to temptation and desire, but they are constantly trying to rise above that.

Perfectionism is not an isolated action. It’s a response.

I was always impressed by Morrison’s take on Scott and Jean’s marriage, in the sense that it actually reflected an attempt on his part to pay attention to recent comic continuity (which is not his strong suit).

In the comics, post-marriage, there really WASN’T much of a spark between Scott and Jean. You could easily just say that was simply poor writing (not a rarity during the 90s), but I think Morrison is accurate when he pointed out there was little heat between the two.

Being a writer, I generally approve of letting writers have enough money to, say, go to the hospital or have decent living conditions. At the time of the annuity, Siegel and Shuster did not, and the very favorable deal Bob Kane got out of Batman indicates that S&S’s treatment at the time wasn’t standard– merely opportunistic.

“[That’s why we have the WGA strike cancelling this year’s TV season and the Justice League film: the writers want to ensure they get a fair portion of the revenues from avenues that go beyond their initial use.]

And they way they did that is by building a union and entering into negotiated collective bargaining agreements with their employers/clients which establishes their rights with regards to royalties and profit sharing up front and codifies them into every contract the union members sign. If comics creators want those same protections as the WGA then they should take the same steps. Because absent such up-front guarantees, then the publishing companies are under no legal obligation to provide additional compensation beyond what’s laid out in the individual contracts the creators sign and the time the work is commissioned or sold.

I laughed so hard at McDuffie’s hilarious pitch that I nearly fell off my skateboard.

On the subject of Morrison adding Emme Frost to the X-men… I never got why people threw such a fit about Cyclops ‘acting out of character’ when he dumped Jean for her. This is a guy who literally abandoned his wife and newborn son, having an affair is perfectly in character.

Since we’re talking about a fictional character, your take on that is as valid as anyone else’s (within reason – I don’t want to advocate the idea that every take on a character is equally valid) but the reason I think it rings false to some people is that when Jean died, Scott married a woman who looked just like her, then left that woman (and their newborn son) the second Jean turned back up. While it’s possible to read that as Scott being prone to stray, I think many people took it to mean he was so obsessed with Jean that no other woman would do.

In that light, using Scott leaving Madeline Pryor for Jean as proof that he’s prone to leaving his wife would be like using the fact that Wolverine seems more interested in Japanese culture than Canadian culture as a foundation for a story where he’s more interested in Irish culture than Japanese culture, on the grounds that he’s ditched one country in favor of another before.

That said, while I didn’t like Cyclops/Emma Frost* romance personally on principle, in execution I thought Morrison (and other writers) did a decent job of showing that much of the spark had gone out of Scott and Jean’s relationship. It’s not so hard to believe his infatuation would wear off.

(*On a tangent, it’s always bothered me that female X-Men seem prone to losing their code names or not having code names: Jean Grey, Rachel Summers/Grey, Kitty Pryde, Emma Frost, Cecelia Reyes, Danielle Moonstar – I could swear I remember Polaris being referred to only as “Lorna Dane” a few times in the character introductions around the time of the Fall of the Shi-ar Empire arc, but I might be wrong. I know it’s usually a result of the old name becoming inapprorpriate, or the writer having so much affection for a character that they prefer to call them by their real name, but as a trend it always seemed a little sexist to me, even though I usually roll my eyes when someone accuses a comic of sexism. It feels like they’re saying women aren’t as dedicated as men, or just don’t get the concept of code names)

Yeah, I liked Morrison’s “Scott and Jean are basically like best friends now, not lovers” position a lot better than “Scott is cheating on Jean with Emma.”

I still think it would have been awesome if it was that Emma was in love with Scott, but he honestly was just using her for therapy. Jean finds out, presumes they’re having an affair, and then they break up (because they both realize that while they love each other, they are no longer IN love with each other), at which point Scott ends up with Emma.

I did love the part where Emma admits she loves Scott. That part was awesome.

For a really good account of the ways creators got screwed around, read Gerald Jones’ Men Of Tomorrow. Not to excuse Donenfeld et al, but they were businessmen, and to them comics were nothing more than a means to sell paper. Stuff like creator’s rights were foreign concepts to them.

What really gets my goat, however, is that for decades DC was complicit in the utter lie that Bob Kane was the sole creator of Batman. Every time I read that byline it’s like a slap in the face of the memory of Bill Finger.

T,

of the two Superman movies you described, i definitely would rather watch the one based directly on Siegel & Schuster’s material, but i’m a comic geek and a sucker for that kind of rigorous retro-restoration. i reckon that a Superman movie in which he is a vengeful bully who doesn’t fly but runs real fast, jumps from building to building, throws people out of upper-story windows and threatens to brutalize women would probably largely unrecognizable to the general public.

i’ll grant ye that it would probably at least be more recognizable than a Superman with no Clark or Lois but has our hero flying around, dodging kryptonite and hanging out with Jimmy and Perry at the Planet. still, i don’t think you should underestimate the importance of something like the power of flight to the mythos.

just as you rightly said that the cape is intractably associated with the character, flying is intractably associated with the cape. when you were a kid and you tucked a blanket into your collar, what’s the first thing you imagined yourself doing? running along the electric lines or flying? in fact, a lot of kids thought that the cape gave Supes the power to fly.

people who know nothing at all about the comics, know nothing about the rocketship from the exploding planet or even the secret identity know at least 3 things about Superman: he has an S on his chest, wears a cape and he can fly.

the radio show introduced the slogan most associated with Superman – “Up, Up and Away!” – and the flying sound that followed it. the Superman movie serials did okay, but it’s been reported that they were a bit of a disappointment to audiences because they didn’t really show Superman flying. by the time the 1978 movie rolled around, its biggest selling point was probably its unprecedented, (relatively) convincing flight scenes (“YOU WILL BELIEVE A MAN CAN FLY!”)

anyway, i don’t want to belabor the whole flying thing and i definitely don’t want to it to look like i’m trying to diminish Siegel & Schuster’s accomplishments (the last thing i’d ever want to do) but i’m just saying that it’s all kinds of small touches that contribute to a character really taking off (no pun) and i’m concerned about how credit is apportioned in the cases of intellectual properties that are shaped by multiple creators.

take Daredevil: while the character and all his basic concepts were undoubtedly created by Stan Lee, the Daredevil who appeared in the 2003 movie was arguably at least partly the creation of Frank Miller, without whose contributions Daredevil would probably never have been a character anybody would have cared to make a movie about in the first place.

outside of comics, it’s the same thing with, say, the way sampling has affected how songwriting credits are accorded. the drum break in James Brown’s “Funky Drummer” has been sampled like 8000 times, and James Brown gets paid for it every time. but Clyde Stubblefield, the drummer who actually improvised the break, doesn’t see a dime because his drum solo was played in a song that, for all intents and purposes was “written by James Brown.” it’s forced people to think more carefully about the small contributions that add up to create the whole.

Comb and Razor,
Your argument is compelling, but it doesn’t add much to the fact that S&S were cheated, period. There never would have *been* a radio show without S&S’s Superman. DC Comics, or superhero comics as we know it. According to Men of Tomorrow, the impact of Superman on the culture of the 1930s was roughly equivalent to Elvis, The Beatles, or Star Wars. Comics went from an offshoot of the pulps to eventually supplanting the pulps altogether. To not credit Siegel and Shuster in the movie (which is what originally ticked off Siegel so much) is frankly criminal.

What I meant to say is that “there never would have been a radio show, a DC Comics, or even superhero comics as we know them (it?), without S&S’s Superman.”

I think that’s an incomplete representation of your point. After all, a character can’t pursue their desire to be good if they’re already good. They must fail and make mistakes. You can’t be redeemed if you haven’t sinned, you know?

True, but not I think what Greg was going for here. More like, once you’ve decided to take the moral high ground, how do you handle the temptations along the way?

Granted, if the answer is always going to be ‘capably and nobly’, then we’re back where we started. But I don’t think there’s anything wrong per se with a complex character whose complexities begin from their being whole rather than damaged. It’s just that it demands a more subtle level of writing than your average comics writer can muster.

Meanwhile. Even if McDuffie did over-react a little…you have to admire a guy who can get his point across with such humour and flair. That pitch was hilarious on a few levels.

Dave–

oh, i know… Siegel & Schuster were definitely screwed over: no way around it. i’m not trying to deny it, rationalize it or excuse it. and i think DC should have given them a couple of million dollars in the 1970s just because it’s the respectful thing to do, regardless of the legal snafus inherent in the situation.

that being said, i think a character – an icon – like Superman develops as a result of the work of many, many people. even something as superficial as how he looks… most people would recognize a face drawn by (or in the style of) Curt Swan or Murphy Anderson as Superman before they’d recognize the character in Action Comics #1 (i know… i’ve tried!)

sure, without Action Comics #1, there wouldn’t be a character for Swan or Anderson to draw in the first place, i know… that’s not being disputed. but i really do think that Superman as a corporate property is more than the sum of his parts.

People always seem to forget (or repress) that long, long before Morrison went to work on Cyclops, other writers had established he abandoned his wife and son for Jean. Even in “Marvel Time” it was quite a while before he even admitted to Jean that he had gotten married -and- had a kid!

ZZZ posted:
(*On a tangent, it’s always bothered me that female X-Men seem prone to losing their code names or not having code names: Jean Grey, Rachel Summers/Grey, Kitty Pryde, Emma Frost, Cecelia Reyes, Danielle Moonstar – I could swear I remember Polaris being referred to only as “Lorna Dane” a few times in the character introductions around the time of the Fall of the Shi-ar Empire arc, but I might be wrong. I know it’s usually a result of the old name becoming inapprorpriate, or the writer having so much affection for a character that they prefer to call them by their real name, but as a trend it always seemed a little sexist to me, even though I usually roll my eyes when someone accuses a comic of sexism. It feels like they’re saying women aren’t as dedicated as men, or just don’t get the concept of code names)

Well, have you also noticed that the X-characters least likely to have a code name tend to also be the characters least likely to wear a mask? (I know that Beast and Nightcrawler fit that description, but notice too they don’t look human.)
It might seem somewhat “sexist” but if the characters don’t feel a need to hide their faces, why would they feel a need to hide their “name”?
Going a bit further, for some of the characters you list, the code names they had tended either to be a bit sexist or to give little real definition to the character (especially with regards to their powers). With the original X-team, you had Cyclops (his visor gave him the appearance of a single eye), Iceman (a guy who looks like he’s made of ice*), Angel (pretty apt given his overall look), Beast (okay–that’s harder to really explain other than his somewhat bestial/apelike appearance**), and MARVEL GIRL (hell, even Sue Storm’s code name gave an idea of what she did; was this Marvel Girl code for, “hey look–chick hanging with a bunch of dudes; what a marvel!”?). When Lorna was introduced, she got coded as Polaris (a reference to her magnetic powers–compasses point North, to the Pole, which points to the North Star, aka Polaris***). When Storm showed up, she seemed initially to be very uncomfortable with that name, but accepted it as she didn’t really intend to stick around (per the original story in Giant-Size X-Men); however, the codename fit her abilities (far better than “Nightcrawler” or the rather stereotyped “Thunderbird”). It was around this time that Marvel Girl started becoming “Jean Grey” (since Jean decided to quit the group, although she remained connected). The change to “Phoenix” was completely story-driven (and fit the story’s needs–she came back and had that Phoenix-effect). When we learned the truth about the Phoenix force, it gave a secondary rationale for that particular name. The next powered female to come into the X-universe was the White Queen (Emma Frost). With the Hellfire Club’s unfortunate chess connection, she didn’t have much choice in the name (she was the only prominent woman in the Club at the time; Mastermind was attempting to make Jean the new Black Queen–we didn’t know what had happened to the previous one). Of course, the Queens’ outfits were particularly sexist (probably mandated by the male hierarchy who all dressed in “gentlemen’s period fashion” while the Queens were dressed as, let’s face it, period harlots); I’m not surprised that once Emma moved outside the Club’s influence, she’d reclaim her real name (which is, after all, what she used as head of the Massachusetts Academy). During the Hellfire Club/Dark Phoenix storyline, we met the Dazzler. Alison used that not as a superhero codename, but instead to keep her father from finding out his daughter wasn’t going to law school like she was supposed to (and given no one could imagine the members of KISS without their makeup, Alison’s camouflage is easy to understand). Then came Kitty Pryde. Ah, poor Kitty. Or Sprite. Or Ariel. Or, for the longest time, Shadowcat. Nothing, however, that really spelled out who she was (at least she didn’t stick with that harlequin-on-roller-skates costume ). So her being “Kitty Pryde” seemed to indicate her being unwilling to accept someone else’s name for her and her teenage rebel phase where she was trying to figure out who she was. Dani Moonstar, as I recall, chose her last name as her code name out of family pride (of course, Projectra was already in use at the Distinguished Competition ;-) ) as well as a subtle jab at Xavier of her own identity, rather than just one of his “new mutants”.
Rachel was more of a problem from the point she became a part of the 616 universe. When she appeared, she took Marvel Girl, and later Phoenix, both as “tributes” to her “dead mother”. When Jean Grey returned (for the beginning of X-Factor), Rachel became trouble. Obviously, she wasn’t the daughter of that Jean Grey (even more so after Nate was born) and it was a bit ridiculous for two women in the Marvel Universe to share the same code names; so Rachel largely became “Rachel” (even in Excalibur). After Jean died this most recent time, Rachel pretty much reclaimed Phoenix but her teammates largely continue using “Rachel” (and since there haven’t been that many times when she’s really had need of the codename, again mostly because she’s maskless).
As for Cecilia Reyes, I think it was HER choice to not have a code name. She never thought of herself as a “member of the team” but rather an auxiliary. I think she preferred “Dr Reyes” if she had to be called anything.
Now, as to Lorna’s being called Lorna (instead of Polaris), for a good time there, she had lost her powers, so there wasn’t much need to be called Polaris. (Also, as I recall from the older stories, she never really wanted to be part of the team, so it’s likely those who wanted her help in fighting the “big bad guys” would respect her choice by not using a name she didn’t really want.)
Of course, we do have the cases of Rogue and Mystique. Until the advent of the first movie, Rogue didn’t have a “real” name (and even now, that name is rarely used in the comics), and Mystique’s real name was a bit of a mystery as well. Her very first appearance in Ms Marvel–back in the late 70s–had the line, “Raven Darkholme, a name as false”, (I don’t have the copy in front of me, but that’s the basic gist) referring to her. Years later, she suddenly was being referred to as “Raven” in private. But, was this actually REAL? Or was it just a code name of another sort?

I’m not denying that Superman is a sum of his parts. What I do think is undeniable is that the most important, essential contributions that made him the success he is today came from the original creators. Since I seem alone in that thought, I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

Milestone Comics.

There was nothing “Milestone” about it.

But I don’t think there’s anything wrong per se with a complex character whose complexities begin from their being whole rather than damaged.

Can you give me some examples of characters like this?

The McDuffie pitch was brilliant.

One thing to remember re: creator’s rights is that for a lot of years, comics companies played it both ways: Creators had no rights to their characters because they were written on staff, but they had no benefits, health insurance, etc., because they were freelancers. Gardner Fox and John Broome were among several DC writers who got the axe at the end of the sixties for suggesting that as staff writers they should get staff benefits.

Oops, I just realized I’d run out of time earlier (had to get to work) and I sort of left out some points from my previous post which had been noted by asterisks:

*Granted, when Iceman first appeared in the pages of “X-Men”, he might have been better called “Snowman” since he didn’t take his more crystalline ice form for several issues.
**By “bestial/apelike appearance”, I meant his original, fairly bulky/husky, almost gorilla-like shape as opposed to the more literal beastly appearance he got in the 1970s.
***Yes, yes. Before anyone points it out, compasses in the Northern Hemisphere point to the Magnetic North Pole and not the ACTUAL North Pole (which is oriented towards the star Polaris, or Alpha Ursae Minoris by scientific notation). Of course, the difference between the two is fairly meaningless unless or until you’re in the higher latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere.

“sure, without Action Comics #1, there wouldn’t be a character for Swan or Anderson to draw in the first place, i know… that’s not being disputed. but i really do think that Superman as a corporate property is more than the sum of his parts.”

I would go further. Without Action Comics #1, there would not be a superhero comics INDUSTRY for Swan or Anderson to work for in the first place. Read Men Of Tomorrow. Before Superman, comics were a minor part of the publishing field. After Superman, supeheroes WERE comics, at least until the 50s.

I understand that secondary creators get short shrift. It bugs me that Stan Lee gets credit for “creating” the X-Men when it was Chris Claremont who, for better or worse, made them what they are today, and it was Len Wein and John Romita Jr. who created Wolverine. That said… Superman is different. So much of what makes superheroes superheroes came from Siegel and Shuster’s original blueprint.

Senator David Poundcake

January 20, 2008 at 9:09 am

Ahhh, Emma Frost. Your bulging pudenda takes me back to the eighteen month period when Marvel were taking creative risks and publishing comics worth reading.

What could be funnier than an X-Force letters page full of semi-literate retards decrying Milligan and Allred’s inventive take on the franchise whilst simultaneously pleading for the return of Shatterstar and Domino, “Coz doze guys ROOOOL!!!”

Good times. I wonder, will we ever see another Megalomaniacal Spider-Man?

I think not.

Brian from Canada

January 20, 2008 at 11:01 am

It bugs me that Stan Lee gets credit for “creating” the X-Men when it was Chris Claremont who, for better or worse, made them what they are today, and it was Len Wein and John Romita Jr. who created Wolverine.

Stan Lee gets credit because he (and Kirby) created the initial concept of the X-Men as mutants fighting for peaceful co-existence with humanity while battling other mutants. And, to be fair, every generation of X-Men — including Claremont’s — has made reference to Xavier’s dream, which is from Stan Lee.

And X-Men, like most other titles, pay homage to the creator of the basic concept.

Claremont got credit for Excalibur and X-Treme X-Men, and will probably get credit on New Exiles (to replace whoever did the original).

So much of what makes superheroes superheroes came from Siegel and Shuster’s original blueprint.

Thank you for giving me back SOME faith in modern comic fandom. Hearing people say that Seigel and Shuster’s contributions were least responsible for Superman’s success is mindblowing.

Thank you for giving me back SOME faith in modern comic fandom. Hearing people say that Seigel and Shuster’s contributions were least responsible for Superman’s success is mindblowing.

for the record, i never said this.

well… actually, looking back over it, i said “most” of the things that made Superman an icon were not from S&S when i really meant to say “many” and probably should have said “some.”

still, i think i clarified my point a bit in subsequent comments.

the sentences i was thinking of were:

my point was that a lot of the elements of the mythos that made Superman as popular as he’s grown to be had little to do with Siegel’s original work

and

a lot of the elements that turned Superman into a billion-dollar intellectual property really had little or nothing to do with his work.

which is not exactly the same as saying that S&S contributed “the LEAST” to the mythos, a strain that you seemed to be arguing against but that i was not actually professing (aside from in my carelessly worded initial statement).

anyway… let it be. seems we were actually talking about two different things, but we can at least agree that Jerry & Joe did create Superman (and, by extension, the superhero genre) and were treated unfairly and that is not cool. and Weisinger was a monster.

I would go further. Without Action Comics #1, there would not be a superhero comics INDUSTRY for Swan or Anderson to work for in the first place.

Right. Who cares if they invented Krypto the Superdog. They invenSeigel and Schuster synthesized the basic elements that define superheroes, even today.

Super Powers.
Colorful (skin-tight, even!) costume.
Secret identity.
Righteous Moral Code.

None of them are original, mind, but before Superman they hadn’t been stuck together.

I see comb and razor’s point, mind. The Superman we got today isn’t much like the Seigel and Schuster Superman. (In a lot of ways Spider-man is closer, with the wise cracking, the nebulous relationship with the law and the limited powers.)

But I think that skirts the REALLY important issue here… Most of the basic tropes of superhero stories we still use today came from S and S.

() I’m not sure that this is an urban legend but I’m curious as to who was responsible for Beast’s lion look. I’ve heard both Morrison and Claremont. Beast gets hurt in x-treem x-men but I don’t think he’s ever actually shown as a lion and then he just shows up in new x-men with hardly any explanation or comment. So whose idea was it and, perhaps more difficult, why? ()

In the last issue of X-Treme that Beast was actually in, he was in a hospital bed, or something, and Sage used her evolving activation powers on him. she was thinking to herself “This is what you will become” and it showed a shadow of the lion he would look like in New X-Men. I’m guessing Morrison (or quietly) came up with the idea, and claremont, who was using Beast right beforehand, was commanded to come up with a reason beast was going to look totally different in a few months.

I’m not sure that this is an urban legend but I’m curious as to who was responsible for Beast’s lion look. I’ve heard both Morrison and Claremont. Beast gets hurt in x-treem x-men but I don’t think he’s ever actually shown as a lion and then he just shows up in new x-men with hardly any explanation or comment. So whose idea was it and, perhaps more difficult, why?

In an interveiw, in what i think was a Wizard X-Men special, Morrison (or Quitly, its been a while since i read it) said that they liked the idea of a more feline beast like in the old Beauty and the Beast tv show. He described it (and so did Beast in the comic) as a secondary mutation like Emma’s diamond form.
And as far as the Cyclops/Emma/Jean triangle goes i really liked it. Cyclops was never mr. perfect. he always had issues dealing with things like leadership, girls, living up to others expectations (to the point were it got annoying), ect. He also just came back from the dead not too long before Morrisons run began (he died in The Twelve story arc) and he was kinda messed up. So it wasnt completely out of character to go for Emma. He was dealing with alot of stuff and rethinking who he was as a person which led him to go with emma over jean. It was also the first step that made him develope into the character that he is now. Finally he has a back bone and isnt constantly doubting himself. Hes the take charge leader that he always strived to be and should have been years ago (only took 37 years to develope further as a character, sheesh).

tried doing the quote box thing in the above post on the first paragraph, but it didnt work. sorry.

Lawrence Fechtenberger

January 21, 2008 at 8:43 am

Is there anything so certain in life as this:

Whenever someone suggests that there is anything racist or sexist in comics, a bunch of white male fans will rush in to deny it?

A retro-active “hats off” to Dwayne McDuffie.

Interesting that Emma AND the Beast were both late additions to Morison’s ideas. How different would his run had been if it had ran as intended? The book would have included:

Professor X
Cyclops
Jean Grey
Wolverine
Colossus
Moira Mactaggart
Xorneto (maybe?)

and God only how’s the story would’ve turned out…what would he have done with Scott and Jean? Still broke them up and kill Jean? What would he have done with Colossus and Moira? Emma and Beast had lots of screen time, and I can see how their additions probably changed his ideas quite a bit…pretty much only Wolverine (who didn’t have as much character work done with him as the others) would have probably had the same story arc. Still, an interesting ‘what might have been’…

Whoops, just remembered…in one of the trade paperbacks, Morrison mentioned he was going to kill off Moira early on anyway, since he didn’t know she was dead. She would have taken the Beast’s place when Cassandra Nova mentally forced Beak to beat the crap out of the Beast with the baseball bat…except instead of sending her into a coma like the Beast, Moira would’ve died.

I love how fans react when writers give their characters human foibles.

“OMG OOC!!!!!”

”Milestone Comics.

There was nothing “Milestone” about it.”

Wrong there, since he introduced more Black Superheroes then DC or Marvel have in decades.

You’d think with most Marvel heroes based in New York you think heroes would be more diverse.

[...] The Mighty Thor Via goodcomics.com [...]

[...] stereotypical, and more prominently used, minority characters in comics. This included a famous leaked 1989 parody pitch for a series called Teenage Negro Nina Thrashers, inspired by the paucity of black heroes who [...]

[...] stereotypical, and more prominently used, minority characters in comics. This included a famous leaked 1989 parody pitch for a series called Teenage Negro Nina Thrashers, inspired by the paucity of black heroes who [...]

[...] stereotypical, and more prominently used, minority characters in comics. This included a famous leaked 1989 parody pitch for a series called Teenage Negro Nina Thrashers, inspired by the paucity of black heroes who [...]

[...] was gracious, he was kind … but admittedly, he did not tolerate foolishness, as a story about a 1989 period when he was a Marvel editor showed [...]

[...] stereotypical, and more prominently used, minority characters in comics. This included a famous leaked 1989 parody pitch for a series called Teenage Negro Nina Thrashers, inspired by the paucity of black heroes who [...]

[...] A native of Detroit, McDuffie officially joined the comics industry as part of Marvel Comics editorial in the late '80s. While working on special projects for the publisher, he quickly made his name as a writer creating series such as "Damage Control" and helping to redefine the Deathlok character to fan and critical acclaim. He soon left the staff to become a full time freelance writer, becoming a voice in the industry for diversity, particularly fighting against stereotypical portrayals of people of color on the comic book page. [...]

[...] industry, per his heavy involvement in online venues. One example of his commentary, via satire, is here. Another is this anecdote about Archie’s former attitudes toward interracial dating (as [...]

R.I.P Dwayne

[...] characters were pretty much “filler characters,” McDuffie decided to write a spoof proposal for Teenage Negro Ninja Trashers. This wasn’t to bashed Marvel, but to get a simple point across… we’re more than just a skin [...]

[...] A native of Detroit, McDuffie officially joined the comics industry as part of Marvel Comics editorial in the late ’80s. While working on special projects for the publisher, he quickly made his name as a writer creating series such as “Damage Control” and helping to redefine the Deathlok character to fan and critical acclaim. He soon left the staff to become a full time freelance writer, becoming a voice in the industry for diversity, particularly fighting against stereotypical portrayals of people of color on the comic book page. [...]

[...] The epilogue, courtesy of CBR: [...]

[...] A native of Detroit, McDuffie officially joined the comics industry as part of Marvel Comics editorial in the late ’80s. While working on special projects for the publisher, he quickly made his name as a writer creating series such as “Damage Control” and helping to redefine the Deathlok character to fan and critical acclaim. He soon left the staff to become a full time freelance writer, becoming a voice in the industry for diversity, particularly fighting against stereotypical portrayals of people of color on the comic book page. [...]

[...] about McDuffie is thanks to his outspoken advocacy for multiculturalism and honest storytelling. He famously butted heads with the powers that be in the comics industry, and wasn’t shy about speaking his mind at [...]

[...] up after superhero battles. McDuffie could be a very funny writer (his legendary 1989 proposal for "Teenage Negro Ninja Thrashers"–a hilarious and very compact critique of the black superheroes Marvel was featuring at the [...]

[...] Comics, McDuffie fought for a better representation of black male characters, writing a biting, yet funny, critique of how black men were represented. Share [...]

[...] the old ways of Marvel/DC that minority characters can be serious at well. Below is a note that Dwayne sent to Marvel thick with sarcasm about a pitch for a new [...]

[...] pugnaciousness on matters of diversity (read the very funny memo he wrote when, as a Marvel editor, he detected a surfeit of skateboardin’ black superheroes) change superhero comics [...]

[...] Dwayne McDuffie’s fake pitch to Marvel [...]

[...] a couple of direct references on this page that will maybe become much clearer if you read about this proposal by the late great Dwayne McDuffie (hat tip to longtime Stealth fan JR Carter for picking up on this [...]

How spammed did this page get?!?

Was Dark Wheelie maybe the son of Rocket Racer antagonist, Big Wheel?

http://www.gunaxin.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/Big-Wheel.jpg

And be careful how you scroll back and forth from the comments to the pictures and back, reading about Emma Frost’s “package”, and then seeing “that’s all because of the hair, my friend… all because of the hair”…

That wasn’t really spam – those were actually trackbacks for all the people who linked to this piece when Dwayne McDuffie tragically passed away.

So that’s why they only seem to appear at the end of the threads after they’re (mostly) finished. And now I know. And knowing is half the battle.

I’m trying to get through all of these, in order…there’s a lot….but they’re almost all great, and at the very least interesting. Almost half way there…

If you like ‘em now, wait until you hit #150 or so! They get a lot better.

[...] have seen this before, but I felt it was my duty to share it with those who haven’t. It is a legendary pitch to Marvel Comics from Dwayne McDuffie, who was an editor for Marvel at the time. He had taken offense to [...]

[...] you thought our Teenage Negro Ninja Thrasher just had a cool skateboard and that was it? G’eedup obviously has much more than that up his [...]

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[...] None of them put their careers on the line with bold statements like Dwayne McDuffie’s infamous Teenage Negro Ninja Thrashers memo or created entire critical frameworks for discussing women’s place in popular fiction like [...]

[...] he wrote a sarcastic pitch for a "Teenage Negro Ninja Thrashers" series to editor Tom Brevoort that has now passed into industry legend—ed.] It’s great to see Vance Astrovik back in action along with the failed New [...]

[...] I’m an open-minded sort of guy, so of course I consider skateboarding to be a sport. One I, sadly, never learned. But these guys have! That’s Rocket Racer, Night Thrasher and El Guapo, three separate characters with super-powered skateboards. For you see, super-powered skateboards were all the rage in the 90s. So much so that legendary writer Dwayne McDuffie once pitched Marvel the sarcastic ‘Teenage Negro Ninja Thrashers’. [...]

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