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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #145

This is the one-hundred and forty-fifth 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 forty-four. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.

This week we have legends involving masturbation, penises and sex! It’s the most risqué Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed yet!!

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: There is no masturbation in the DC Universe.

STATUS: At one point in time, Apparently True

One of the more interesting facets of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman is how odd the early issues are compared to the rest of the series, because the early issues of Sandman were firmly placed within the DC Universe. Once Gaiman established himself, he really pulled away from the world of superheroes (while still occasionally noting some connections), but in those early days, he was at the mercy of DC, who thought it made more sense for a brand new character like Morpheus to connect to other DC characters, so you have the interesting oddity of Mister Miracle and the Martian Manhunter guest-starring in early issues of The Sandman.

By the second story arc, Doll’s House, Gaiman had gained more freedom, but the comic was, even then, still intended to be a part of the DC Universe (this, of course, being before the days of Vertigo), so you would think that DC might take some issue with the topics being discussed in the Doll’s House storyline, including a serial killer’s convention.

3817_4_10.jpg

Well, Michael Berry had the same thought, so he asked Gaiman about it in a piece Berry did in 1991 for the San Francisco Chronicle, and Gaiman let him know that, in the issue about the serial killer’s convention:

“the only word that got censored was ‘masturbate,’” Gaiman says. “It was explained to me that people do not masturbate in the DC Universe. Actually, that explains a lot. That’s probably why the characters all dress in tight costumes and go around thumping the shit out of each other.”

Great quote, no?

First off, please note (as commenter Jack Fear noted, and I probably should mention) that the editor most likely only meant that you can’t SAY “masturbate” in comics. I don’t doubt that the editor phrased it to Gaiman this way, though. So yeah, it is more the word than the action, but it’s funny either way, right? I’d also imagine that things have changed since the late 80s/early 90s, and such a position is likely no longer the case at DC, but it is amusing to note that, for a time, apparently it was the case.

Reader Lyle suggested I cover this one, by the by. He asked:

I heard a rumor that Neil Gaiman’s Sandman got censored once by the DC editors, and this was over the fact that he mentioned masturbation in an issue, and was explained by the editor: “There is no masturbation in the DC universe.” For all I know you covered this already, but still wondered if this were true.

There ya go, Lyle!

Thanks to Lyle for the suggestion, and thanks to Michael Berry and Neil Gaiman for the information!!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: John Byrne snuck a drawing of a penis into an issue of Fantastic Four

STATUS: False.

Reader Steve Requin had an urban legend involving John Byrne’s classic Fantastic Four issue, #258 (the Doom spotlight issue)…

1482_4_0258.jpg

Steve writes:

I don’t have the comic anymore but I remember reading the French-Canadian version as a kid (English is my 2nd language), and I distinctly remember seeing the shape of a penis on one panel. In the scene, Dr Doom assigned Hauptmann (one of his science guy) to the task of attempting to duplicate the means by which Doom had once gained the powers of the Silver Surfer. Hauptmann notified Doom that he had completed the process and welcomed him to try it out. Doom instead grabbed Hauptmann and told him that he deserved the honor himself. Doom locked Hauptmann inside the chamber and activated it, ignoring Hauptmann’s screams. Raw energy poured forth into Hauptmann. Hauptmann’s body gets bulkier, his clothes burns off, and just before he is reduced to a skeleton, you can see the silhouette of his naked body, including his penis.

So, did I dream that or did he really drew it?

Before I get to this scene in question, let me mention how it reminds me of the “nudity” books back in the 80s/early 90s, when the Bronze Age back issue market was nuts. This was during a time when people were searching for silly stuff like, “2nd Appearance of Cable” or “Hobgoblin’s first appearance WITH the tattoo.” Well, one of the things people would also look for, to the point where it would actually appear in price guides, was “nudity.”

By “nudity,” it simply met that there would be something that would appear to maybe be a nipple, or something like that. There was an early issue of Infinity, Inc. where the JSA die, and one of the JSA (Wonder Woman, perhaps? I do not recall) is in the morgue, and you maybe/kinda/sorta see a nipple.

Another one was Uncanny X-Men #245, the Invasion parody issue…

jeanbomb.jpg

Pretty funny, eh?

But that’s what people were doing back then, while they weren’t searching for the issue where Kitty Pryde joined the X-Men or when Skyman died or Danny Chase’s first appearance. Okay…maybe not Danny Chase’s first appearance – everyone has limits, right?

Interlude over!

Back to Steve’s question!

Well, Steve, while you did not dream it, per se, as the scene as you remember DID occur in the comic book, it just did not result in the silhouetted penis as you recall.

Here is the scene, including a detailed look at the panel Steve is specifically referring to:

Copy of Fantastic Four258-11_edited_001.jpg

Fantastic Four258-11_edited1.jpg

There’s just not a penis in that panel, silhouetted or otherwise. Byrne does put two black blobs (symbolizing the energy effect) on the crotch, but they’re only there to obscure the crotch, not to form the silhouette of a penis.

I’ll allow, though, that having ANYthing there can certainly lead to a question of the intent – I just don’t think that there was intent for it to be a penis (nor do I think it looks like it in actuality – the blob on the left is on the guy’s LEG, for crying out loud!).

So if the legend is “John Byrne snuck a drawing of a penis into an issue of Fantastic Four,” my answer would be – False.

Hope this helps, Steve! Thanks for writing in!!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: An issue of New X-Men snuck the word “sex” into the issue on practically every page of the comic.

STATUS: True.

Sneaking the word “sex” into comics is not a new thing.

Heck, current Marvel Editor-in-Chief, Joe Quesada, did it himself in 1994, with the cover to the second issue of Ninjak (see for yourself below):

5065_4_002.jpg

But New X-Men #118 takes the cake, by far – there are at least EIGHTEEN instances of the word “sex” being snuck into the comic (and perhaps a couple that we have not found – or were there but were edited out).

9855_4_0118.jpg

Years after the fact, artist Ethan Van Sciver mentioned that he came up with the idea because he was kinda irked at Marvel at the time for whatever reason, and thought it’d be fun to do a little mischief. He was not alone – at least one of his three inkers that issue helped him out (hmmm…perhaps one of the other inkers was told to eliminate said “sex” usage if he saw it?), as did the colorist for the issue.

The end result is a barrel full of subliminal fun!!

I was all set to go through the comic and scan each instance, but luckily for me, Peter Luzifer at Uncannyxmen.net did it for me, almost six years ago! Thanks, Peter!

Here are a few of the panels (they were done one per page):

sex03.jpg

sex06.jpg

sex07.jpg

sex08.jpg

sex11.jpg

sex13.jpg

Check out Luzifer’s piece here for a lot more sneaky panels from the issue. And heck, check out uncannyxmen.net period, as they are a neat site!

Thanks to Ethan Van Sciver for the information behind the panels, and thanks again to Peter Luzifer for his excellent work identifying each panel!

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Thanks to the Grand Comic Book Database for all this week’s covers!

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!

117 Comments

Good bunch of Urban Legends.

I’m not sure I agree with marking the 2nd one as False though. It definitely looks like there’s a penis in that panel to me – whether it’s accidental or not.

Agreed, there’s a penis there alright.

The Sandman Companion also mentions the lack of masturbation in the DC universe.

The Sandman Companion also mentions the lack of masturbation in the DC universe.

Thanks, Sanagi!

There’s no penis there – there’s just two black blobs (symbolizing the energy from the device – the same blobs are elsewhere in the panel, now don’t get me wrong, he is obviously intentionally putting the blobs there, that’s true, but they’re there to HIDE the crotch, and that’s what they do – hide the crotch, not form it). The left blob is placed on the guy’s leg, ABOVE the pelvis! If it were meant to be a silhouetted penis, it would not be in that position nor extended that high (unless this scientist guy has some extremely weird anatomy ;)).

That Gaiman quote is hilarious.

Oh, and no penis.

You people are seeing things. There’s no penis there.

I see a dog with it’s head split open.

This is the first time I’ve ever looked that closely at the Ninjak cover, took forever to find it (lower left hand corner, the ripples in the water). Can’t say that I’ve ever noticed the word “sex” hidden in a comic before, guess I just don’t examine comic art as closely as a I could.

The bit that looks like the penis isn’t the black blobs. It’s the paler thing hanging down from the black blobs.

re: the SANDMAN question; I do remember hearing something about the masturbation ban, but I had assumed it was simply a ban on using the word “masturbate.” In the SANDMAN issue, as published, the killer recalls that he “locked myself in a toilet stall and… did it to myself…” or words to that effect. The meaning was crystal-clear, though.

I thought it was rather odd for the book to get coy about something as simple as jerking off, given the unflinching freakshow of homicidal sexual deviance on display in that issue.

Michael Heide

March 7, 2008 at 6:37 am

In the case of Byrne’s alleged penis (wait, that sounds wrong…), you are definitely seeing things. It’s like looking at clouds and discover that they form the shape of Europe. Or something.

The New X-Men thing, however – that’s intentional.

SanctumSanctorumComix

March 7, 2008 at 6:44 am

Brian,

Not that I’m looking to make a case of it at all, but you’re not looking at the right area for the “penis”.

It’s only shown by use of hatched negative space.
The outline of it can sorta be seen to the right of it by a shadow-effect caused by the energy flash.

Look BELOW & BETWEEN the legs.
The 2 “black blobs” form an upside-down “V” shape of negative (skin) space. That would be the base of the wang.

Huptmann’s unit then dangles down and to our right (his left) and the head of which is delineated a bit by the use of shading (energy blast shadow).

So, you can see his member there (although it is heavily hatched because of the resultant energy explosion effect (and Byrne knowing how to obfuscate naughty-bit details with artistic details.

Again, I don’t really care.
But that’s where it “is” – or at least SEEMS to be.

~P~
P-TOR

SanctumSanctorumComix

March 7, 2008 at 6:54 am

Lest anyone take my “argument” the wrong way, I am NOT saying that there IS a penis.

I’m merely saying that the location and appearance of what COULD be TAKEN for a penis isn’t in the location that Brian was referring to.

Just to clarify.

One would have to ask John Byrne himself if he intended to represent a penis in that panel with the use of highlight, hatching and shadow.

Whether you’d get an accurate and/or honest answer after all these years is another matter.

~P~
P-TOR

Gérard Morvan

March 7, 2008 at 7:34 am

Well, there was a place in the DC Universe where masturbation existed at the time it was banned in DC Comic books: Themiscyra, also known as Paradise Island. It was during the visit of several political and religious delegates (as well as reporter Lois Lane), way back during George Pérez’s run. The delegates asked if it was not too hard living without men, and Wonder Woman answered that some chose the way of Artemis (no sex whatsoever), others the ways of Narcissus, and others… Well, as Peter David wrote, there’s a reason why it’s called “Paradise Island”. Given that Narcissus is famous for being in love with himself, I think what “The Ways of Narcissus” referred to was pretty obvious. Don’t you think so?

Tom Grummett (I think it was him) snuck the word “sex” into an issue of Generation X where Husk and Skin are playing Scrabble.

I thought that Grant Morrison was also involved in the “Sex issue” in X-Men. There is a lot of sexual content in the issue aside from just the hidden words.

Heck, when Emma Frost *ahem* diffuses the angry mob outside the school, I was sold on the theme of the issue. I wouldn’t think it was just about the artist being upset with the publisher…

One would have to ask John Byrne himself if he intended to represent a penis in that panel with the use of highlight, hatching and shadow.

That was basically my point. It may or may not have been on purpose, but there is definitely something that looks like a knob there and there doesn’t seem to be any evidence so far to dismiss the Urban Legend as “false”

“I thought that Grant Morrison was also involved in the “Sex issue” in X-Men.”

Given that he’s all about the Sigil Magic and has slipped things like this in previous works of his like The Invisibles, I’m sure he’d have been involved in the idea somehow, if not the originator.

I see a sailboat.

All seriousness aside, I think one reason why Sandman (and John Constantine, too, another early guest star) was shoehorned into the DCU early on was because of Alan Moore’s use of the Justice League in Swamp Thing. At the time, Moore, Bissette, and Totleben’s dark take on the League blew everyone’s mind. I can’t imagine what the reaction would have been if we had had the Internet (as it is now) back then!

Anyway, as time passed, someone made the decision to segregate via Vertigo. But early on, the novelty was exciting…

Come on people, it’s obvious that there are three penises (penii??) — above the characters right shoulder, just below the word “understanding”, right next to the four breasts and the profile of Wilford Brimley.

I’m actually more disturbed by the deformed trefoil pelvis on the skeleton in the next panel.

Penis. Totally penis. In conclusion, penis.

I think that panel is like a Rorschach test. Some people see a penis, some people don’t.

One a side note, I have that Invasion parody issue of X-Men. One of the first back-issues I ever bought. Pretty funny stuff with the male members of the team.

Never heard that New X-Men one before. Intriguing.

Also: No wang.

Um.. I don’t see the sex on the ninjak cover. care to help me out.

Also ethan van sciver just became awesome.

Doron: see comment #9.

I’m not sure about the FF knob either – but felt compelled to comment on M Bloom’s spotting of knobs in the Xmen parody issue.
I never noticed them, perhaps page and panel numbers could be given?

I think Grant Morrison was also forbidden to use the word “masturbate” in Arkham Asylum, even though he used it in the clinical sense. Morrison probably talks about it in the anniversary edition that came out a few years back.

Oh please. There’s no penis.

ARKHAM ASYLUM had a lot more cut from it than the m-word—starting with the visual of the Joker in a corset, fishnets, and high heels…

[quote]Which actually brings up a question that might be considered for a future Urban Legend. A few days ago at Newsarama I was reading a thread about Longshot, and a couple of posters stated that the character was brought into the X-Men to keep him in the spotlight until Nocenti and Adams could launch a solo title. Longshot left the book shortly after that Invasion issue so that the solo title could launch (which, of course, it didn’t). I’d never heard any of this before, and was wondering if there’s any truth in it.[/quote]

I’m not sure about the first part, but there was definitely a Longshot ongoing planned. It was mentioned in one of the Marvel Age end of the year previews. The first letter I ever sent to Marvel was to ask about it several months later.

“I thought it was rather odd for the book to get coy about something as simple as jerking off, given the unflinching freakshow of homicidal sexual deviance on display in that issue.”

DC and Marvel’s policy doesn’t seem to be dictated by how offensive something really is, but instead by own something in the comic could influence kids and then a concerned parent could notice it and create an uproar.

Likewise, Marvel can not show Peter Parker having sex with MJ (because kids can get ideas about sex being healthy and normal, and then they would want to try it themselves, you know, and the world would end), but it’s okay to have zombie Peter devouring MJ’s corpse.

I thnk the masturbation issue is part of the same phenomenon. Kids can start to jerk off if they see it on Sandman (Gosh, ever heard of kids jerking off? What a novel idea), but it’s okay for them to see serial killers that peel off people’s skin as they kill them. Kids won’t easily be able to replicate THAT…

Michael Hoskin

March 7, 2008 at 11:49 am

THERE! ARE! FOUR! LIGHTS!

The real question should be why is the word “SEX” placed in comics/ Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

This seems like a good time to re-suggest my previous suggestion (wow, what a clunky sentence) about John Byrne showing She-Hulk’s nipples beneath a tattered shirt in one of the Marvel Graphic Novels…

Okay, not only am I not seeing a penis, I’m not seeing whatever we’re supposed to be interpreting as a penis. Am I mistaken in what I thought a penis was?

“the only word that got censored was ‘masturbate,’” Gaiman says.

I heard a rumor that Neil Gaiman’s Sandman got censored once by the DC editors…

Not to be a stickler or anything, but for the record: When the editor of a for-profit publisher asks a writer on their payroll to change something because it doesn’t conform to the publisher’s standards or style, that’s not called “censorship.” It’s called “editing.”

In Action Comics # 432, the Human Target story: The secretary Deedee is tied up, and her vagina is visible.

Jukka Laine said …

In Action Comics # 432, the Human Target story: The secretary Deedee is tied up, and her vagina is visible.

There’s one for Brian to look up.

[...] Last but not least don’t forget to read this funny article found on Comic Book Resources which all deals with one topic: “his week – Sex! Sex! Sex! Neil Gaiman and masturbation in the DC Universe! a href=”http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2008/03/06/comic-book-urban-legends-revealed-145/” target=”_blank”>Sex! Sex Sex! Ethan Van Sciver and sex in the New X-Men! Sex! Sex! Sex! And John Byrne and a penis!” [...]

yup. penis there. its not the BLOB thats the penis, its the “negative” space between the blobs, and the blob below that space. totally marked wrong.

I think I remember something about Grant Morrison had said in an interview just as he started his run on X-Men about wanting to get X-Men readers laid, and that his run was going to be a sigil to that effect.

http://www.uncannyxmen.net/db/article/showquestion.asp?faq=8&fldAuto=77
Has a bunch of 118 SEX pics too, from an article back in 2002.

Funny stuff. Especially all the denials by anyone and everyone involved.

“This seems like a good time to re-suggest my previous suggestion (wow, what a clunky sentence) about John Byrne showing She-Hulk’s nipples beneath a tattered shirt in one of the Marvel Graphic Novels… ”

I have the Graphic Novel you mention, and yes, her nipples are shown.

I think a better question than “is there a penis in that drawing” is “why do so many of you people want to see a penis there”?

Following up on various comments above, I can suggest two whole COLUMNS for you , Brian:

First, the issue of the missing X-Men graphic novels. Throughout the late eighties, the X-books had their regular artists but they also had another group of artists, fan favorites all, who also seemed to work exclusively on x-books but only did fill-in issues or annuals. This group included Alan Davis, Art Adams, Rick Leonardi, Barry Windsor-Smith and others. When fans would write in to complain about only occasionally getting to see these artists work, Ann Nocenti in the letter column would respond that we weren’t seeing much or these artists because they were busy working on graphic novels. She mentioned several times over the course of many months that Leonardi was hard at work doing a Rachel Summers graphic novel and that Art Adams was tied up doing a Longshot graphic novel. Neither ever came out. (She said Davis would do an American Captain Britain monthly, but of course that became Excalibur.) What happened? If they really did months and months of work on these things, didn’t they end up with tons of pages that never got printed?

Likewise, I would LOVE for you to explicate the rights issues behind Wonder Woman and Superboy. That might fall into the “I assume that everybody already knows about that” category, but I’m probably not the only one who’s never understood what’s going on.

Doron, bottom left corner of ninjak

Which actually brings up a question that might be considered for a future Urban Legend. A few days ago at Newsarama I was reading a thread about Longshot, and a couple of posters stated that the character was brought into the X-Men to keep him in the spotlight until Nocenti and Adams could launch a solo title. Longshot left the book shortly after that Invasion issue so that the solo title could launch (which, of course, it didn’t). I’d never heard any of this before, and was wondering if there’s any truth in it.

re: the SANDMAN question; I do remember hearing something about the masturbation ban, but I had assumed it was simply a ban on using the word “masturbate.”

Yeah, Jack, I suppose I should be clear that it’s all basically an amusing line – just an amusing line that was actually said.

I’ll even edit as much in!

Thanks for the all the great suggestions, folks!

I always look into every suggestion people send in (it would be pretty foolish of me NOT to, ya know?), so don’t worry if you don’t see your suggestion featured right away – if I can find enough to do a bit on it, I’ll eventually do a bit on it! :)

Yeah, now I see a wang too.

Black Lutefisk

March 7, 2008 at 2:22 pm

First there is a penis then there is no penis then there is.

You people must have some weird looking penises to identify with the shape of the light in that picture.

SanctumSanctorumComix

March 7, 2008 at 2:35 pm

“I woke up this morning with a bad hangover
And my penis was missing again.
This happens all the time.
It’s detachable…

…Detachable Penis…”

~P~
P-TOR

I remember an article years and years ago in Wizard about a lobo cover Simon Bisley painted that apparantly had a penis on lobo’s arm. Bisley said it was just a coincidence, the way the muscle folded in the arm, but it was definately very clear :)

I didn’t see the penis until my mom pointed it out. How embarrassing.

McDowall, dammit! Comment #50 and you beat me to it! The cover is Lobos’s Back #1, by the way.

No peepee. I’m not seeing it.

Kind of off-topic, but I distinctly recall that whenever Jean Grey would activate her powers as Phoenix, Byrne would make her nipples pop out. Maybe I just imagined it.

…and then you should see what they do in french comics! They’ve done awesome storytelling using, well, masturbation, penises and sex.

It’s too bad most of the stuff i would talk about is not even available in english, you Grant Morrison-lovers out there would have a blast with Gai-Luron!

And that King Missile reference was very funny.

I think that panel is like a Rorschach test. Some people see a penis, some people don’t.

Now, don’t go bringing Watchmen into this.

The one that really surprises me is the X-Men one. If I were an editor and someone working for me pulled THAT out -not just one tiny, hard-to-spot word but lots of them- his ass would be fired SO fast he would wonder when he landed on the street.

And then you would be fired, they’d be re-hired, and you’d never work for Marvel again.

I think that New X-Men cover has the word sex on it also… “s-e” faintly on the ripples of Scott’s arm followed by the yellow X…?

… also possibly something on the other arm where the hand is leaving a shadow?

not a penis. Also, i don’t think it is to unbelievable that an editor would want a reference taken out of a comic book. At this point in the Sandman, i don’t believe it was a “mature readers only” comic, so it is possible that some kid could read the comic. And, i don’t think it is ridiculous to not want a kid to be influenced to masturbate after reading a comic book.

I see a dog with it’s head split open.

Does that answer your questions, doctor? :)

Michael Mayket

March 7, 2008 at 9:59 pm

I have never tried so hard to see a penis in my life.

You’re all ignoring the most important part of Brian’s post: What WAS the 2nd appearance of Cable?

If I may ask, Scott MacIver, what issue of what comic is the X-Men “Sex issue”? I never heard of it.

Floyd The Barber

March 7, 2008 at 11:56 pm

“when the Bronze Age back issue market was nuts. This was during a time when people were searching for silly stuff like, “2nd Appearance of Cable” or “Hobgoblin’s first appearance WITH the tattoo.” Well, one of the things people would also look for, to the point where it would actually appear in price guides, was “nudity.””

God I miss those days.

If I may ask, Scott MacIver, what issue of what comic is the X-Men “Sex issue”? I never heard of it.

He’s referring to the issue we’re talking about here – New X-Men #118.

http://www.uncannyxmen.net/db/article/showquestion.asp?faq=8&fldAuto=77
Has a bunch of 118 SEX pics too, from an article back in 2002.

Funny stuff. Especially all the denials by anyone and everyone involved.

Fine article – that’s why I linked to it in the above piece. ;)

i don’t think it is ridiculous to not want a kid to be influenced to masturbate after reading a comic book.

that’s not what’s ridiculous: what’s ridiculous is that anyone thinks a kid either 1) needs to be “influenced” to masturbate or 2) that a casual mention of a serial killer doing so is somehow going to be an impetus.

You don’t want a kid to be influenced to masturbate after reading a comic? Then don’t give that kid Lady Death or Vampirella (or whatever the Bad Girl du jour is, these days)…

Nice bunch of urban legends this week. Best crop I’ve read in awhile.

My comment on Byrne’s FF panel:

There may not be a “penis” visible in that panel, but there is the definite implication of testicles. “Balls”, as they are sometimes called.

About subliminal “sex”:

The first time I ever noticed this was in an early issue of Chris Bachalo’s run on ‘Generation X’ back in the mid-90s. I forget which issue it was, but Skin and another character were playing Scrabble and a few random blocks spelled out the word. I only read a couple of issues of the series, but I’ve heard that Bachalo pulled the trick a few times during his run.

The penis is definitely there. The outline of the head is as clear as day.

I bought Uncanny X-Men #245 off the rack when it came out, but specifically because I could not believe how ugly the cover and splash page were, and needed proof that it actually existed. I hadn’t read X-men in about a year at the time, but considering how at least once per issue of anything written by Claremont someone ended up without clothes, and everyone had ended up naked at one point or another while I was reading it, that strikes me as odd that that panel would make it a collectable.

I do have the aforementioned “Infinity Inc”, too, and I remember in the price guides circa-1989, two issues of the series had notes in the books: naked Wonder Woman and “Todd McFarlane’s first issue!”

That first Hobgoblin tatoo pricing still exists today. I saw copies of it going for $80 last year (with tattoos) and saw one last month without going for $15. Strange.

I’m with the “that’s definitely a penis” crowd. Byrne obviously likes to tempt the censors. As well as the alleged She Hulk nipples, I’ve never seen anyone mention Uncanny X-Men 123 where on page seven, panel two, Storm’s right nipple is clearly visible (check it out, X-fans!).

PS Re: no masturbation in the DC universe – that must be a killer for all those heroes daily working alongside Power Girl.

“that’s not what’s ridiculous: what’s ridiculous is that anyone thinks a kid either 1) needs to be “influenced” to masturbate or 2) that a casual mention of a serial killer doing so is somehow going to be an impetus.”

I definately agree with you here. comics are not going to be the sole cause of masturbation, so yeah, you are correct there.

“The first time I ever noticed this was in an early issue of Chris Bachalo’s run on ‘Generation X’ back in the mid-90s. I forget which issue it was, but Skin and another character were playing Scrabble and a few random blocks spelled out the word. I only read a couple of issues of the series, but I’ve heard that Bachalo pulled the trick a few times during his run.”

I don’t think so. I have this issue, and i can’t find it anywhere. Skin made the word “Bxlomrmlezq” and the word “hick” then Husk made the word “Loser” But, the “SE” in “Loser” doesn’t intersect with the “X” in “Bxlomrmlezq.” Unless there is some other issue of Generation X where Skin and Husk played Scrable, then i don’t think the word “Sex” is spelled out anywhere in the issue.

I’m just not seeing it. On the Ninjak cover or on the last pic, I just don’t see the word “sex” anywhere.

On the Ninjak cover or on the last pic, I just don’t see the word “sex” anywhere.

Bottom left corner, in the water.

I see a penis as well. Here is a visual for those not seeing it.

Link didn’t work–need to copy and paste I guess.

http://aycu38.webshots.com/image/47917/2000823215337969323_rs.jpg

Ah–hyperlink is automatic I guess.

I grew up in the fifties and read comics just because I liked the characters and/or stories. That comics would become a sub-culture was the farthest thing from my mind.

The quote about the DC world and masturbation is hysterically funny, whatever the frame of reference.

Possibly comics did aid my young attempts at masturbation, considering the fantasies I had about Batman/Bruce & Robin/Dick’s relationship when they weren’t on the page.

OK here are two related rumors I’ve heard.
I’ve heard that whenever John Byrne draws a bunch of rubble from a building falling down or something that he will sneak in the face of Barney Rubble from the Flintstones. I don’t have any Byrne comics handy so I can’t look to verify if this is true or not.

Secondly, I remember back in an issue of Groo when it was published by Epic said that every issue included a secret message (Usually “Tis is the secret message.” That issue had a list of where they could be found but is this still true? Does every issue of Groo still contain a hidden message or was was that something they did for a joke to get people to look for a secret message and then after that there really wasn’t one?

At this point in the Sandman, i dont believe it was a “mature readers only” comic,

@comixkid2099, the cover’s right there, with “Suggested for Mature Readers.” While “suggested” and “required” aren’t the same thing, let’s not forget that movie ratings are suggestions, not requirements as well (though in recent years theaters have started to treat them as requirements).

I remember back in an issue of Groo when it was published by Epic said that every issue included a secret message

@jccalhoun, I have no idea whether they still do that, but my favorite obscure secret message from Groo was the one where a bunch of 1s and 0s were worked into the pattern of a curtain or a wall. It turned out to be the binary representation of “THIS IS THE SECRET MESSAGE” in ASCII.

I see a penis as well. Here is a visual for those not seeing it.

That’s hilarious, because that is quite literally the third DIFFERENT place I’ve seen someone say is the penis.

I think all of them are incorrect, but the funny part is how they are all different spots (I’m not mocking anyone for finding them, by the way – I’m just finding humor in the fact that there have been three “definitive” IDs of the penis).

I really think it’s a bit like Occam’s Razor, really. You know, the simplest explanation is most likely to be the case. And it seems more likely that there just isn’t meant to be a penis there rather than the stretch to find a hidden one (and like I said, it’s not even like there’s a consensus on WHERE it is! Three DIFFERENT locations so far!).

That said, even if one COULD find a hidden penis somewhere in the panel, it still wouldn’t fit the question as asked, which was that there was a clear, silhouetted penis in the panel, and NO one is suggesting that, right?

How about the shadowed penis on a little Indian boy in this month’s Jonah Hex?

Ray Annual #1. The Ray gets caught masturbating by a 747.

It took forever for the page to load for the Ninjak cover scan and I finally saw the world sex, but looking on the jaw, it looks like there is some other letters there too…

Re: comixkid2099′s response:

“I don’t think so. I have this issue, and i can’t find it anywhere. Skin made the word “Bxlomrmlezq” and the word “hick” then Husk made the word “Loser” But, the “SE” in “Loser” doesn’t intersect with the “X” in “Bxlomrmlezq.” Unless there is some other issue of Generation X where Skin and Husk played Scrable, then i don’t think the word “Sex” is spelled out anywhere in the issue.”

It has been years since I read the issue and I don’t have it anymore, but I swear that I’m not making it up.

The instance that I was referring to would be easy to miss on first glance because the letters are upside down, but they do spell out “s-e-x”. You have to flip the book around in order to read it. The letters were on the side of the Scrabble board, not on the actual board itself.

Unless, as you said, we’re talking about two different issues.

I’ve seen the pic Brett-Nola is talking about, either online or in Wizard a few years back. I don’t have the issue though.

No, you’re correct in saying that there isn’t a clear, identifiable penis. I was just trying to point out what I thought others might be missing.

On the other hand, there is certainly a strong suggestion of a penis. I suppose someone could always go to ByrneRobotics and ask Byrne about it personally. Surely someone here is a member there.

But regardless of that, there is no “clear, identifiable” penis, and Brian is correct to call it false.

By the way, just have to say, I love this column/feature/whatever. Keep up the great work.

Though to be fair, I think everyone who has replied here has seen the “alleged penis” in the precise same place that I have. Not sure where these other claims are coming from–they aren’t in any of the comments here.

Personally, I’d call it unverified. Actually, I’d even call it true, unless some other information came my way. It’s clearly a penis, plain as day. The cross-hatching and colouring attempt to obscure it, but there it is. It’s just–it’s right there.

We’ll have to agree to disagree on this one.

Yeah, sorry, I should have specified I wasn’t referring just to the comments! I received some e-mails on the topic, with scans. One argued that the tip of the left blob was it and one argued that it was on the left of the abdomen (using the same basic argument that you mentioned – that the negative space formed a penis).

So was Morrison just covering Sciver’s ass then, when he stated in interviews around that time that it was all his idea?

So was Morrison just covering Sciver’s ass then, when he stated in interviews around that time that it was all his idea?

Maybe, or maybe Morrison suggested the idea, and Van Sciver just ran with it.

I dunno.

Grant didn’t know I was doing it. I let my inker and my colorist know, and that was it.

Grant approved later though, laughed, and told me I should have told him. He thought it was funny.

Thanks for the heads up, Ethan!

I see John McCain’s face.

It’s a sign!

Here’s an idea for an Urban Legend. I heard that Grant Morrison, Mark Millar, Mark Waid, and Tom Peyer had a failed proposal for Superman to radically overhaul the character into a more proactive, politically influential, populist hero sort of thing. Is that true?

Thanks for the suggestion, Jono! It’s one I’ve been working on for awhile – it’ll likely pop up some time in the future! :)

Secondly, I remember back in an issue of Groo when it was published by Epic said that every issue included a secret message (Usually “Tis is the secret message.” That issue had a list of where they could be found but is this still true? Does every issue of Groo still contain a hidden message or was was that something they did for a joke to get people to look for a secret message and then after that there really wasn’t one?

They did used to do it every issue, but even when I went through a detailed list of them I could only find about a quarter of them.

They announced in the letters column (don’t ask me where) that they weren’t going to do any more though.

That’s hilarious, because that is quite literally the third DIFFERENT place I’ve seen someone say is the penis.

That picture shows it exactly where I see it. TBH, it’s clear as day to me. I don’t see how anyone can miss it (though I still don’t rule out the possibility of it being accidental)

Surely we are all of the consensus that you can see a bit of Commissioner Gordon’s penis in The Killing Joke though!

The Lobo-penis-arm mentioned earlier was actually featured on this very website:
http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2006/02/02/comic-book-urban-legends-revealed-36/

I noticed a Groo “Secret Message” in the recent one-shot from Dark Horse to celebrate groo’s 25th Anniversary.

Years ago there was a Canadian show called Prisoners Of Gravity & Morrison talked about the no masturbation thing there. Funny interview if you can find it.

Well, if you’re going to mention penises in comics, you can see Namor’s royal member, at least in outline, in Marvels #1…. or is that just an urban legend?

I finally found back the old French-Canadian black and white copy of Fantastic Four when I first thought I’ve seen it so many years ago. Here, I highlighted the alledged penile area:

http://i122.photobucket.com/albums/o270/steverequin/FF_penis2.jpg

Could be a coincidence, of course. I’m not saying John Byrne put it there. I’m just saying I’m seeing it.

[quote]Well, there was a place in the DC Universe where masturbation existed at the time it was banned in DC Comic books: Themiscyra, also known as Paradise Island. It was during the visit of several political and religious delegates (as well as reporter Lois Lane), way back during George Pérez’s run. The delegates asked if it was not too hard living without men, and Wonder Woman answered that some chose the way of Artemis (no sex whatsoever), others the ways of Narcissus, and others… Well, as Peter David wrote, there’s a reason why it’s called “Paradise Island”. Given that Narcissus is famous for being in love with himself, I think what “The Ways of Narcissus” referred to was pretty obvious. Don’t you think so?[/quote]

Peter David was implying that the inhabitants of Themiscyra were lesbians. That was in the “all-female team” issue of JUSTICE LEAGUE TASK FORCE:

http://www.comicbookdb.com/graphics/comic_graphics/1/51/24168_20060311013038_large.jpg

…I can’t believe I just admitted to reading that title, but it was Peter David.

What the…
Whether it was intended or not, there IS what seems to be a penis in that panel

Something tells me that the people seeing a penis in that panel see penises all the time in other things, too.

[...] About a year ago, I did a column including a legend about whether John Byrne drew a silhouetted penis in an issue of the…. [...]

[...] via Comics Should Be Good! @ Comic Book Resources » Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #145. [...]

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