Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #156
This is the one-hundred and fifty-sixth 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 fifty-five. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Actor Bill Hader got his breakout film role due to his interest in Sandman comics.
Bill Hader was not exactly plucked from obscurity for his minor role in the film You, Me and Dupree in 2006.
Hader was already a cast member on Saturday Night Live (when he got the call that he made the show, Hader was reading a Sandman trade paperback). However, while he was not totally obscure, he was not nearly a big name in the acting game, which is reflected in the size of his role in the film (which I watched the other day On Demand to see just how much of the film he was in – boy, that film was bad).
He is basically in one scene in the film. However, in that one scene (a bunch of guys are sitting around watching a football game) he met the actor Seth Rogan. While not filming, the two began talking, and after about ten minutes of discussing comic books (their mutual love for Sandman and Neil Gaiman, specifically), Rogan offered him a role in the film he was writing with his writing partner, Evan Goldberg, Superbad.
While doing Superbad, he also had a bit part in Rogan’s Knocked Up film.
Both films were produced by Judd Apatow, and Hader soon had a part in the next Apatow film, Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
And he’s going to be appearing in the NEXT Apatow film, Pineapple Express.
And all because of his love for Sandman.
Here’s Seth Rogan about it, from a New York Times article on the topic:
”If you watch ‘You, Me and Dupree,’ he barely does anything,” said Mr. Rogen, who played Mr. Hader’s police partner in ”Superbad.” ”There was almost nothing to imply that he was a good actor at all. We just liked the same movies, and the same comic books, and that was basically it.”
Interestingly enough, when Neil Gaiman did a reading for charity at this year’s New York Comic Con, guess who introduced him?
Pretty cool, huh?
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Alice the Goon was the inspiration for the word “goon”
STATUS: False, but with a slight caveat
Alice the Goon has one of the oddest progressions out of any comic character you can think of.
When she debuted on December 10, 1933 in Thimble Theatre (the strip that starred Popeye), we knew nothing about her (including that it WAS a “her”) except that she was a big monster who worked for the Sea Hag (click on the image to enlarge).
A month later, in a great gag that involved Wimpy changing clothes in front of Alice, we learned that this big ol’ monster was a FEMALE monster! Whether Thimble Theatre creator, E.C. Segar originally meant for Alice to be, well, Alice or not has never been determined, but it’s likely that he just came up with the idea later on.
At the end of the “Plunder Island” storyline, Popeye is fighting Alice and is about to throw her off of a cliff when Alice’s child screams, “Mama!” Popeye stops fighting her, of course, and we learn that Alice was forced to work for the Sea Hag involuntarily.
A couple of years later, Alice shows up again, saving Popeye’s son from the Sea Hag, and she was a recurring cast member from that point on.
Alice the Goon was the basis for the title of Spike Milligan’s popular BBC radio show, The Goon Show.
However, Alice the Goon did NOT originate the word “goon.” It has been appearing in dictionaries as early as the early 1920s, meaning “a stupid, foolish, or awkward person.”
That said, it is EXTREMELY likely that the secondary meaning of the term (which has since become the primary meaning of the term), that of “a hired hoodlum or thug” WAS based upon Alice the Goon, as, well, that’s what she was! Also, this secondary meaning originated in the late 1930s.
So it is extremely likely that Alice the Goon did influence the now standard meaning of the word goon, but E.C. Segar did not coin the word itself, as it was around for more than a decade before Alice the Goon came into the picture.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Marvel put out a somewhat racy comic magazine in the 1960s.
STATUS: Basically True
Marvel Comics was founded by Martin Goodman, who got his start in the pulp magazine business, which was not the most delicate of business arenas. Right up until he sold his company, Martin Goodman produced men’s magazines alongside the comic books of the Marvel line. There would occasionally be some off-color magazines being published by Goodman’s men’s magazine company. Marvel, though, was kept relatively untouched by such influences, or so most readers thought. However, they most likely did not know about the Adventures of Pussycat.
The Adventures of Pussycat was a men’s magazine one-shot in 1968 made up out of a collection of somewhat racy comic strips (and an uncovered, but not nude, centerfold) about a sexy secret agent, in the same fashion as Playboy’s popular Little Annie Fanny by Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder (who sadly just recently passed away). The strip ran through many of Goodman’s men’s magazines. The black and white one-shot was launched the same time as the black and white Spectacular Spider-Man magazine was launched.
What is notable about the strip is that it was produced by many of the same workers who were part of Marvel Comics at the time, including Stan Lee himself doing some of the scripting!
Lee’s brother Larry Lieber wrote some of the strips, as well. The series’ opening strip was drawn by the legendary Wally Wood. The comic detailed the adventures of Pussycat, a secretary for S.C.O.R.E. (Secret Council of Ruthless Extroverts) who is then recruited to fight against S.C.O.R.E.’s arch-nemesis, L.U.S.T.
It is a hilarious juxtaposition to see names like Jim Mooney and Bill Everett working on a comic like this, but especially seeing Stan Lee himself writing the strip!
Thanks to Fred Hembeck for turning me on to this comic! Here‘s Fred’s take on his first encounter with the comic (that’s where the above scans came from – thanks, again, Fred! Check out his website, while you’re at it at hembeck.com. And also, get ready to buy his book in two weeks! Preorder it here!)
Okay, that’s it for this week!
Thanks to the Grand Comic Book Database for this week’s covers!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you next week!