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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Legends Revealed #193

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This is the one-hundred and ninety-third in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous one-hundred and ninety-two.

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: Art Spiegelman started his career doing Garbage Pail Kids.

STATUS: False, with Specks of Truthiness

Reader Manolis V. passed along a legend that he had heard from a friend of his:

that Art ‘Maus’ Spiegelman started his career drawing Garbage Pail Kids cards

What I imagine caused the confusion is the dates.

Spiegelman’s amazing tale of the Holocaust, Maus, came out in 1986.

Garbage Pail Kids, which were co-created by Art Spiegelman, came out a year earlier.

However, Art Spiegelman by this point was already a known commodity in the comics world, particularly with the creation of Raw in 1980.

In fact, Maus first appeared years earlier (first in the early 70s as a short story and later the first six chapters of Maus were serialized in Raw), pre-dating Spiegelman’s involvement with Garbage Pail Kids.

However, the specks of truthiness in the story lay in the history of how Spiegelman actually DID start his career, and while it was not with Garbage Pail Kid, it was with Garbage.

When Spiegelman was in his late teens in the late 1960s, he was interning at Topps Bubble Gum (most notably the company that produced Bazooka bubble gum and Topps baseball trading cards) and soon found himself working on staff in Product Development.

Spiegelman was crucial to the creation of Garbage Can-dy, candy shaped like, you guessed it, garbage.

But it was his involvement with Wacky Packages that solidified his position at Topps for years to come.

Wacky Packages were trading cards that consisted of parodies of notable products, like Crust toothpaste instead of Crest, etc.

Spiegelman helped hire a veritable Who’s Who of the independent comic book scene to work on Wacky Packages, including such luminaries as Kim Deitch, Jay Lynch, Bill Griffith, Drew Friedman and Spiegelman, himself.

By this point, Spiegelman was already heavily involved in independent comics. In 1980, he and fellow artist Françoise Mouly (an artist whom Spiegelman had a some familiarity with) co-created Raw, a comic magazine geared toward the elite of the independent comics set.

In 1985, while still at Topps, Spiegelman, along with Mark Newgarden, co-created Garbage Pail Kids, which became a national sensation (even getting its own TV series and film).

The next year, Spiegelman’s acclaimed Maus stories were finished (the six chapters from Raw were re-tooled for the final book) and collected into a graphic novel, which drew considerable national acclaim. Five years later, Spiegelman released the second volume of Maus. In 1992, the series as a whole received a special Pulitzer Prize, making it perhaps THE most acclaimed graphic novel of all time.

Spiegelman left Topps in the late 1980s, presumably over dissatisfaction over creator’s rights, and has done a number of tremendous works since.

In any event, no, Garbage Pail Kids did not start Art Spiegelman’s career, but his time at Topps was clearly a big part of his life and career.

Thanks to Manolis for the question! And thanks to Jim Turoczy for an important correction (Maus’ first appearance in comics was in the 70s not 1980. Jim also correctly points out that Spiegelman goes by “art spiegelman,” sans capital letters).

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116 Comments

I actually remember buying that garbage can candy back in the day at the same pharmacy I bought Wacky Packages and pre-Crisis DC comic books. They didn’t stock Marvel for some reason…it was mainly Curt Swan Superman books and the like. That really takes me back. Reminds me of buying a Spider-Man comic and a plastic garbage can full of “slime” with fake rubber worms in it at around the same time, but at a different drug store.

I… I’m sorry… I… don’t get the Salvation Run joke.

The song is “All Along the Watchtower.” Google the lyrics.

I was really little when Wacky Packages came out and everyone older than me– like those between 8 and 12– loved them. But because I was 4 or 5, I was really disturbed by them. I remember the spoof on Downy they did called Drowny (where the angel faced kid on the package is now desperately holding their breath underwater) gave me nightmares. Gah. Thanks for that Cronin. I’m going to have nightmares tonight because of you!

Tom Fitzpatrick

February 6, 2009 at 5:37 am

Soooooo, you’re immortal now.
Forever in a comic book.
Now you can die happy.

;-)

“But General … the pumps don’t work. The vandals took the handles.”

I wish I was buying Salvation Run (Nothing against the series just can’t buy everything) to see that, I wasnt even aware it was suggested before..hilarious

As regards the character with his own book, when was Wonder Man killed off to try and create an ‘anyone can die’ vibe in Force Works?

I’m going to start telling people I was reading Art Spiegelman’s work when I was five years old now.

@Chris Mcfeely

The lyric goes something like “there must be someway out of here…said the joker to the thief”.
Even though this is a Bob Dylan song, it is most famous for the cover that Jimi Hendrix made of it.

I think Mark was referring to Moon Knight, who suffered one of his many deaths along with the cancellation of his early-90s series around that time.

When did The Crossing happen? Because I immediately thought about Iron Man (even with the similarity of him being replaced by a teenage version of himself—ahh 90’s comics! What a treat!)

Stephane Savoie

February 6, 2009 at 6:49 am

Brian, you really ought explain the Dylan references you make. Not everyone is a fan, and assuming we’ll Google anything is a bit annoying.
(That said, what Sturges does is even more annoying: he doesn’t reference the Dylan song, he references your blog posting. How many people got that scene? Not many that I know…)
That said, still a great story.

Don’t ask Brian to do your googling for you! The man’s busy enough.

Hate Flacon’s costume…makes it hard to enjoy any appearance of the character…BUT http://www.tencentticker.com/projectrooftop/2006/03/09/the-falcon-by-joel-carroll/ I do like that.

oops *Falcon

“All Along the Watchtower” — notice where they are standing . . .

Lyrics include:
There must be some kind of way out of here
Said the joker to the thief
There’s too much confusion
I cant get no relief

Joker’s line is a variation on the theme.

Stephane, “All Along The Watchtower” is arguably the best-known Dylan song ever, if for no other reason than the countless cover versions. As for Sturges’ writing, the Joker saying *anything* to the (Shadow) Thief involving the line “all along the watchtowers” isn’t some sort of joke that only CSBG readers will get. Readers familiar with the song will understand the reference; Brian’s post was just the catalyst for Sturges to drop it in there.

Oh, the song was most recently featured as a plot point (or two) in Battlestar Galactica . . .

But the version that’s dear to my heart is U2’s.

Hi Stephane, Sturges does reference the Dylan song. The title of the song is “All Along the Watchtower.” While I love Dylan’s version I’m a little more partial to the Hendrix cover.

Pretty good of Art Spiegelman to help get himself hired. I’m sure he appreciated it. ;-) Good column though, seriously. Good old Mark. This merits a wistful “Bossmen”-style “eh!!”

I would guess “Knocking on Heavans Door” would be the most well known Bob Dylan song.

Though the first song I learned to associate with Dylan was “Blowing in the WInd”

I immediately thought of Wonder Man and Force Works, so I double-checked the date of issue 1 of Force Works – July 1994. It seems pretty likely that he was who Gruenwald was referring to in his comment.

I loved Wacky Packages (I was in that 10-12 year-old age group at the time), and stuck the stickers all over my book covers and board game boxes.

Great column this week, Brian.

“This was October 1993. I have no idea offhand who is he is talking about (especially as he does not specify for sure in his piece that it is even a Marvel character!). Anyone recall?”

Fantastic Four #381, cover dated October 1993, featured the “deaths” of Reed Richards and Dr Doom.

While Reed was helping Doom stand up after a massive battle, Doom detonated his armor and killed them both.

I remember that at the time that was what Marvel was hyping as the death of a major character that would rival the death of Superman or some such.

Doom and Reed eventually returned a year later, in F4 406 and 407 respectively… which begs the comment, so what if Gruenwald would have killed the Falcon? He would have just come back a year later too.

I, too, assumed the major character was Iron Man, but I don’t know for sure any more than anyone else seems to.

If you have to explain a joke, it will never be funny. Either you get it or you don’t get it.

I remember having that Garbage Can-dy, at least once.
There was something similar that used small gym lockers, too.

I’m a Dylan fan, but I prefer the Hendrix version of “…Watchtower” and haven’t even listened to Dylan’s original in ages. Like Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah”, Johnny Cash’s “Hurt”, Otis Redding’s “Change is gonna come”, and 1,000 H.DJs with “Supernaut”, that cover wiped out the original for me.

I hated the Garbage Pail Kids and similar gag merchandise of its time. I would never have guessed the Author of “Maus” would have been involved with. Funny how Life works.

You know, those comments from Gruenwald remind me of why I liked him so much as a writer. Note how he a) bothers to talk freely about behind-the-scenes developments to the public, b) showed RESPECT for a character (and indirectly, to the people who are fans of it) and c) offered a very common sense solution for the character’s convoluted past: just ignore the parts that make no sense. No need to Punch Walls to change history and such. And this comes from one of the greatest continuity-minded writers in comics! :) Nowadays, they not only would have killed Falcon, they would have done it in graphic detail as well *coughBlueBeetlecough*

That 90’s Falcon costume sucked, tho.

Btw, what exactly was it that messed the Falcon’s past? I think I read somewhere that he was a mutant (??) Perhaps to explain his ability to control Redwing? Anybody know?

As for Salvation Run, no, I didn’t get the joke either, and I don’t find it THAT funny now that I know. That has to be some of the worst Joker dialogue I’ve ever read (“carry on, then?”) Though asking for good dialogue in these days of Serial-Killer-Joker is probably a waste of time.

The statement “It was in the pages of Raw that Maus first appeared” is incorrect. art spiegelman’s (he uses all lower case letters) Maus first appeared in the first issue of the 1976 magazine Comix Book . It was published by Marvel and edited by Dennis Kitchen.

I would guess “Knocking on Heavans Door” would be the most well known Bob Dylan song.

I’d have thought “All Along the Watchtower”, “Blowin’ in the Wind”, “Like a Rolling Stone”, “Times They Are a-Changing”, “Just Like a Woman”, “Mr Tambourine Man” , “Rainy Day Women”, “Subterranean Homesick Blues” and “I Want You” are all better known that “Knocking on Heaven’s Door”

” As for Salvation Run, no, I didn’t get the joke either, and I don’t find it THAT funny now that I know. That has to be some of the worst Joker dialogue I’ve ever read (”carry on, then?”) Though asking for good dialogue in these days of Serial-Killer-Joker is probably a waste of time.”

Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but I thought the whole point of the scene is that it _is_ very un-joker-y dialogue, thus why he 1.) Fails at making the joke, 2.) Complains about the planet messing with him, in his case making him less insane.

Also, I can sort of see Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door as, to someone who doesn’t care about Dylan and doesn’t listen to 60s rock much, Dylan’s most famous. It’s the one you’re most likely to hear covered for a bad soundtrack or played at a high school dance. (For me, Desolation Row will always have a special place in my heart).

Seriously? That many people are confused?

It’s a song by Bob Dylan, made famous by Jimi Hendrix. Dave Mathews Band even got a single out of covering it. On top of that, it’s also been covered by Neil Young, Prince, Pearl Jam, Vampire Weekend and more.

The song is in Forest Gump, episodes of Simpsons and Battlestar Galactica and quoted in WATCHMEN!

Relying on memeory here –

Wonder Man was a solo character who had his own book, and was also appearing in Force Works(or was it West Coast Avengers?). He “died” in the team book when he took a bomb into space and his energy was dispersed. Marvel had solicited his comic for a few months after that issue, but the solicicted comics were never published because he had died.

Stephane, how hard is it really to Google something if you need information? What would you have done in a time when you had to get on a bus or drive to the library to look somethng up?

Can anyone please explain me the cover to Cap 402? CapWolf? WTF?

“Can anyone please explain me the cover to Cap 402? CapWolf? WTF?”

What about it?

If Thor can become a frog and Superman can have the head of an ant after he is exposed to red kryptonite (I feel extremely dirty after typing that, and like my IQ has severely dropped), why can’t Cap become a werewolf?

As I recall, that Falcon costume was actually designed by James Brock, a bullpenner who had pitched a Falcon project that was worked on for some time, but which didn’t end up seeing the light of day. Mark ended up using the suit and the gimmicks from that aborted series.

And yes, teh character Mark is referring to is indeed Wonder Man. In fact, several fake solicits for upcoming issues of Wondy’s solo title were run so as to conceal his impending demise in FORCE WORKS #1.

Tom B

Fantastic Four #381, cover dated October 1993, featured the “deaths” of Reed Richards and Dr Doom.

While Reed was helping Doom stand up after a massive battle, Doom detonated his armor and killed them both.

I remember that at the time that was what Marvel was hyping as the death of a major character that would rival the death of Superman or some such.

Doom and Reed eventually returned a year later, in F4 406 and 407 respectively… which begs the comment, so what if Gruenwald would have killed the Falcon? He would have just come back a year later too.

I was going to respond that it seemed like Gruenwald was referring to a solo character, but Tom just showed up and confirmed who it was!

Thanks, Tom!

“I was going to respond that it seemed like Gruenwald was referring to a solo character, but Tom just showed up and confirmed who it was!”

He would know better, heh

It IS pretty funny that Reed and Doom died that very same month!

There was a Garbage Pail Kids movie? (checks IMDB, finds it and the TV series). Wow… you’d think I would have remembered hearing about at least one of those. I remember the trading cards were everywhere, to the point that my school banned them.

Re: “All Along the Watchtower” — I had no idea that scene was actually inspired by your blog post! I guess I’d stopped reading the comments by the time Matt Sturges dropped in. Now that’s cool!

I’m pretty sure the original Maus short story appeared in “Funny Animals” sometime around ’72 or ’73. Also, an early Art career retrospective should have discussed “Arcade” a little more. For underground comix fans, “Arcade” was pretty much the only thing available for years.

“It IS pretty funny that Reed and Doom died that very same month!”

The early 90’s were a very interesting time in comics, a lot of radical changes took place, like the death of Superman, the breaking of Batman’s back, the replacement of Wonder Woman and Hal Jordan, Aquaman’s hook, the deaths of Reed, Doom, and Wonder Man, the Spider Clone, and tons of other things, some which legacy is still part of comics today.

At least that can be the reader’s perspective. From a marketting perspective I’m sure the view is much different, heh (i.e. Marvel and DC trying to one-up each other to sell more comics by doing “cheap” gimmicks).

A Falcon legend!!! GREAT! At first I was gonna say the dead character was Iron Man, but his “death” was a year earlier. And I’m glad Sam didn’t get killed off – he’s a great character. Now Marvel just needs to put more Falcon in the MU and make good on Mark’s decision not to off him (*ahem* TOM *ahem*)!!!!!

“There was a Garbage Pail Kids movie? (checks IMDB, finds it and the TV series). Wow… you’d think I would have remembered hearing about at least one of those. I remember the trading cards were everywhere, to the point that my school banned them.”

The Garbage Pail Kids movie is so infamous that, to this day, in Mexico it is ILLEGAL to mail any of the cards. It’s right there in the post office on the list of things you can’t mail right alongside firearms.

oh and BTW i tried to watch the Garbage Pail Kids movie a few months back… UNWATCHABLE. and completely bizarre. the plot follows a 10 (i think he’s 10!) year old kid that works in a creepy antiques store and uses the GPKs to essentially function as cheap sweatshop labor for a 17 (i think she’s 17!) year old fashion designer that the boy has a crush on.

This is the notice as it appears on a website I just found (which is how I remember seeing it on the post office) of prohibited items.

“Estampas impresas a colores o en blanco y negro, presentadas para su venta en sobres o paquetes, aun cuando incluyan goma de mascar, dulces o cualquier otro tipo de artículos, conteniendo dibujos, figuras o ilustraciones que representen a la niñez de manera denigrante o ridícula, en actitudes de incitación a la violencia, a la autodestrucción o en cualquier otra forma de comportamiento antisocial, conocidas como “Garbage Pail Kids” , por ejemplo, impresas por cualquier empresa o denominación comercial”

The rough translation would be

“Printed color or black and white trading cards intended for their sale in envelopes or packaging, even when they include bubble gum, candy or any other kind of article, that contain pictures, figures or illustrations that represent children in any matter of denigration or ridicule, in attitudes that incite violence, self-destruction or any other form of antisocial behavior known as “Garbage Pail Kids”, for example, printed by any company or commercial denomination.”

Sijo said: “Btw, what exactly was it that messed the Falcon’s past? I think I read somewhere that he was a mutant (??) Perhaps to explain his ability to control Redwing? Anybody know?”

i think the best way to describe it is this fantastic essay from the Quarter Bin: http://www.fortunecity.com/tatooine/niven/142/opinion/opi11.html

here’s a quote: “If the Falcon originally represented a sixties ideal of a moral and humane man dedicated to the betterment of his fellows, then the Falcon that left the title in the mid-seventies represented his demotion from an idealized figure to that of a typical period Blaxploitation character. After stripping away his original history as a concerned social worker traveling in what remained of the Harlem in which he had grown up, the writers of Captain America and the Falcon retroactively cast him as a gangster who traveled around in ludicrous pimp suits (perhaps they even intended him as a pimp).”

“Brian, you really ought explain the Dylan references you make. Not everyone is a fan, and assuming we’ll Google anything is a bit annoying.”

Not anywhere near as annoying as someone complaining that the world doesn’t cater to their ignorance.

How hard can it be to Google it?

In this case, plenty hard, because it’s simply not that obvious what to look up.

Sturges didn’t use the exact line Brian suggested, and yet the joke remained; it gave the impression that the line itself was not taken verbatim. There was no indication that “watchtower” was the key to Sturges’s version of the joke. And lastly, try looking up Joker and Shadow Thief (the only constant between the two jokes), and tell me if you find anything remotely useful.

“Sam Wilson, the Falcon, appeared in Captain America #117, and was Marvel Comics’ first African-American superhero (with Black Panther not being, you know, American!).”

What about Whitewash Jones of the Young Allies? Created by Simon & Kirby in 1941, part of a team with Bucky, Toro. Here’s marvel.com’s page on them:

http://www.marvel.com/universe/Young_Allies

Oh, I get so sick and tired of hearing how great Dylan is. All he does is cover other people’s stuff. He got “Watchtower” from Hendrix’s version of that U2 song, “Tangled Up In Blue” from the Indigo Girls, “Mr. Tambourine Man” from the Birds, “Mississippi” from Sheryl Crow, “Heaven’s Door” from G N’ R (the only band that matters), and he totally ripped off the concept of “Subterranean Homesick Blues” from INXS. And those are just off the top of my head; dude doesn’t have an original bone in his body.

What up wit da pileup on Stephane, people? Geez. Apparently all the internet geeks have to get in their licks today.

I’m Dylan ignorant and never had any inclination to get into his music or had any teacher that forced his class to examine it. So my exposure to Dylan is almost completely limited to covers or references in other media. And if you’re a metalhead by any means, Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door is the most famous because of the Guns n Roses cover (which I’m sure infuriates Dylan fans).

Of course you could have googled “there must be some way out of here”…. first hit would have clued you in

If you have to explain a joke, it will never be funny. Either you get it or you don’t get it.

That’s basically my take on it.

The only information you “need” for this bit is that I made a Bob Dylan joke, Matt Sturges liked it and worked a variation of the joke into Salvation Run #6. And that’s all clear, right? Heck, the title of the bit IS “A Bob Dylan joke made on Comics Should Be Good led to a scene in a DC comic book.”

Other than that, it’s just whether you get the joke. You don’t HAVE to get the joke. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with not getting a joke.

Hey, that looks like my picture of Adam Bomb!! It’s from my Flickr site, here.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/paxtonholley/2335425585/in/set-72157604244987009/

Awesome! I love this column, I’m glad I could contribute. Keep up the good work!!!

Thanks, Paxton. I had to search for a long time to find a good Adam Bomb pic! :)

If you don’t know enough about Dylan to even know those opening lines from one of his most famous songs, why would you even care enough to google it or to ask someone to explain it for you? You don’t need to get every joke in the world. And if you didn’t get that Dylan joke, I’m guessing your cultural knowledge to be so limited that you get very few jokes. So just move on.

I rememeber the candy they had in Garbage Pail Kids, it was the hard gum that would jab your cheek. Plus, you kept getting multiple cards because they weren’t complete sets in the packs.

@Max Bialy –

I’m with you except I believe most people would consider John Cale’s Hallelujah to be the definitive version.

Maybe once, Michael, but Buckley’s cover has used as a cue for “boy, we sure feel sad” in roughly 2,534 WB/CW teen dramas. I think that’s how most people know the song these days.

Regarding the Dylan reference — I thought Brian’s joke was hilarious and was kicking myself for not thinking of it first. So I put an oblique meta-joke version of it in the script, not wanting to steal it outright. There are actually little hidden things like this in everything I write — jokes that only nine people in the world would ever get, wildly obscure references — heck, there’s even a message in code in Salvation Run #7 that nobody has ever discovered. The trick is to do it such that the people who get the reference will pat themselves on the back, and the people who don’t won’t even aware that they’re missing something.

Just for fun, the first person who discovers the hidden message in Salvation Run #7 and contacts me via matthewsturges.com will get a signed copy of the TPB.

@Mike Loughlin –

That I did not know.

We were talking about Dylan and comics in Rita’s last night. I mentioned that Brian is going to like the movie “soundtrack” of Watchmen since it is full of Dylan. Though it is a weird mix of songs.

1. Desolation Row (My Chemical Romance)
2. Unforgettable (Nat King Cole)
3. The Times They Are A-Changin’ (Bob Dylan)
4. The Sound Of Silence (Simon & Garfunkel)
5. Me & Bobby McGee (Janis Joplin)
6. I’m Your Boogie Man (KC & The Sunshine Band)
7. You’re My Thrill (Billie Holiday)
8. Pruit Igoe & Prophecies (Philip Glass)
9. Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen)
10. All Along The Watchtower (Jimi Hendrix)
11. Ride of the Valkyries (Budapest Symphony Orchestra)
12. Pirate Jenny (Nina Simone)

Yeah, Michael, the Buckley version has oddly enough become the definitive version. It was popular enough that a guy sang it on American Idol last year, even! In fact, after the dude sang it on American Idol, the Buckley version went to #1 on the iTunes download charts – the first time Buckley ever hit #1 on ANY chart EVER.

Wow. I must exist in some alternate universe because I didn’t even know that Buckley had a version of the song much less the definitive one.

It’s not like I’m one of those people who are completely unfamiliar with music after they graduate high school either. In 2009 alone I’ve gotten Glasvegas, Animal Collective, Sparks, Titus Adronicus, and P.O.S. albums.

I need to watch more CW I guess.

I’m not sure what my point was in listing albums I’ve gotten in 2009 though.

Regarding the Dylan reference — I thought Brian’s joke was hilarious and was kicking myself for not thinking of it first. So I put an oblique meta-joke version of it in the script, not wanting to steal it outright. There are actually little hidden things like this in everything I write — jokes that only nine people in the world would ever get, wildly obscure references — heck, there’s even a message in code in Salvation Run #7 that nobody has ever discovered. The trick is to do it such that the people who get the reference will pat themselves on the back, and the people who don’t won’t even aware that they’re missing something.

Yeah, Matt, it’s a good point to note that my joke doesn’t make any sense unless you “get” it, but your joke in Salvation Run is more of an Easter Egg.

If you don’t get it, you can still read the issue fine. If you do, then huzzah!

“That’s one of MY PEOPLE you’re beatin’ up on, Cap! Well now you can waltz around with ME!”

Perfect!

Just had to chime in to say “WACKY PACKAGES – OMFG!” I was immediately catapulted back through time to when we used to ripoff, I mean, (ahem) BUY those cards ALL The Time when I was, like 8 years old! Had no idea Spiegelman had something to do with them! I always learn something here, Brian.

Like learning you have to explain a Dylan reference when The Joker says ANYTHING to the Thief in Salvation Run… I’m with the “jeesh, no need to cater to the ignorant” crowd on this one. You either get it or you don’t. And funny, my mind went right to BSG, too.

Looking at that first Salvation Run cover, all I can year is Reducto’s voice from Harvey Birdman: “Back off!!!”

“Regarding the Dylan reference — I thought Brian’s joke was hilarious and was kicking myself for not thinking of it first. So I put an oblique meta-joke version of it in the script, not wanting to steal it outright. There are actually little hidden things like this in everything I write — jokes that only nine people in the world would ever get, wildly obscure references — heck, there’s even a message in code in Salvation Run #7 that nobody has ever discovered. The trick is to do it such that the people who get the reference will pat themselves on the back, and the people who don’t won’t even aware that they’re missing something.”

Is it a Dylan reference too?

I loved Garbage Can-dy and Wacky Packages as a kid. I had no idea Spiegelman was one of their creators, that’s cool.

Is it a Dylan reference too?

The secret is that every issue Matt writes is secretly a Dylan reference.

Often, he doesn’t even notice it himself!

“The secret is that every issue Matt writes is secretly a Dylan reference.

Often, he doesn’t even notice it himself!”

Oh, in that case what he’s refering to now is probably not what I saw.

“What up wit da pileup on Stephane, people? Geez. Apparently all the internet geeks have to get in their licks today.”

He complained about Brian’s freely provided entertainment not being totally catered to his limited personal resources.

So, he got a truckload of people telling him to stuff it.

It seems to me that on the cover to Captain America 117, Cap looks fairly disgusted at the Falcon.
Must be some remnants of ol’ 40s racism hahaha

Brian from Canada

February 6, 2009 at 5:11 pm

And yet, the funniest thing in this whole article is that it was the “United State” that sent the villains off to another planet — not the United States. :-)

“t seems to me that on the cover to Captain America 117, Cap looks fairly disgusted at the Falcon.
Must be some remnants of ol’ 40s racism hahaha”

I don’t get that vibe at all.

Of course, I know that behind the Falcon we see the Exiles, a group of Red Skull associates. The sight of them would be disgusting enough to Cap.

@sgt pepper

“Limited cultural knowledge”? Now that’s not a term I would ever use, because it’s always relative to your preferences seeing as the available “culture” is far too vast to experience in full by any one person.
For example, would it be fair to call you culturally ignorant if you couldn’t place the opening line of “Punctured bicycle on a hillside desolate”? (greatest UK indie rock song ever according to Mojo magazine)
Or “E soffitto, e pareti”? (the most performed opera in North America)
Or “I got to keep moving, blues falling down like hail”? (key track by the most legendary blues singer ever)
Or “Forgive, sounds good/Forget, I’m not sure I could” (2007 Grammy for Song of the year)
Or “It was twenty years ago today”? (opening track to the greatest album ever according to Rolling Stone magazine)
Not really, though they are all considered classics. It’s up to you which areas you want to explore, and if I were you I’d be a bit more humble about chastising people for their “cultural knowledge”.

Wow! Seriously!?! The dude who did Maus (a deep abiding work) also co-created the Garbage Pail Kids (a shallow marketing gimmick)? It is awesome to know that those responsible for great artistic creations can also sink so low (or is high?).

The joke was great even without any outside information – it definitely expressed the Joker’s dismay of being on this planet at the time. I remember laughing out loud at it. The Joker not being able to find a joke? Now that is funny, I don’t care who you are.

The fact remains that this entire column is about giving ANSWERS.
Now, I don’t fault Brian personally for assuming everybody knows everything about Bob Dylan, but for a reader to say ‘Hey, I’m not following you, whats this Bob Dylan reference?’ is hardly a mark of laziness.

Sure you either ‘get the joke’ or you don’t.
If getting the joke means ‘think its funny’, I don’t.
But I UNDERSTAND the joke, and I think its fair to ask for enough information to be able to do that.

That cover to C ap 408 is hideous.

I blame Liefeld.

Urban Legend Suggestion: Your Salvation Run legend gave me an idea. For posterity, do you think the CBUL articles should document the tip-of-the-had to the “I’m the Juggernaut, bitch!” video as acted in X3? Note that the “bitch” referred to in this matter is the now famous Juno, Ellen Page. I didn’t think it made it into the movie proper, but it was an extra on the DVD, correct? I didn’t by the DVD, as I don’t feel the movie was good enough to earn additional support from me beyond my theatre ticket.

tip-of-the-HAT. Not had. Argh.

“He complained about Brian’s freely provided entertainment not being totally catered to his limited personal resources.

So, he got a truckload of people telling him to stuff it.”

Yeah. The response just seemed a little harsh. But I suppose that’s just the internet.

Anyway, though at this point I’m belaboring the point, I don’t personally think BC or anyone else should have to explain their jokes. “Not everyone gets the joke but the RIGHT people get the joke” and all that. I’ve read this blog enough to know that anything BC thinks is cool that I don’t get is probably a Dylan reference. And a Dylan reference or anything else confusing is usually eventually explained in the comments by someone anyway.

”What about it?

If Thor can become a frog and Superman can have the head of an ant after he is exposed to red kryptonite (I feel extremely dirty after typing that, and like my IQ has severely dropped), why can’t Cap become a werewolf?”

I mean what was the story behind CapWolf? And, now that you mention it, behind Superman Head-Ant thingy?:)

Adam Bomb always reminded me of the video cover (and some poster art) for the Terry Gilliam movie “Brazil”. It may’ve been intentional, but still.

Now, I don’t fault Brian personally for assuming everybody knows everything about Bob Dylan, but for a reader to say ‘Hey, I’m not following you, whats this Bob Dylan reference?’ is hardly a mark of laziness.

Asking is fine.

If it was just asking, the comments would have ended with an explanation the next comment.

People seemed put off by “I am annoyed that you didn’t explain it.”

I mean what was the story behind CapWolf?

The villain Nightshade came up with a serum that turned a whole community of people plus Cap into pseudo-werewolves.

The most hilarious aspect was the fact that while that storyline was going on, Gruenwald tried to work in an Infinity War crossover as WELL, which was just way too silly.

Man, I’d heard about Capwolf, but I didn’t realize it was in 1992 – I’d thought it was a wacky 70s/early 80s thing…

[…] For all my comic book nerdiness, I didn’t realize Art Spiegelman (Maus) also created Garbage Pail Kids. […]

Regarding Buckley’s Hallelujah and American Idol.

Over here in Britain it was actually the winner’s single on X Factor (Kind of a British version of Idol) and the winning version got the Xmas No. 1 in the singles chart. Outcry from fans of the song saw Buckley’s version of the song get to No. 2 on downloads alone!

@Kamino Neko:
Capwolf was in the ’90s, but Nightshade was very, very much a ’70s character, and she turned the Falcon into a werewolf in her first appearance in 1973.

@Zdenko:
I think Superman actually exposed himself to red Kryptonite on purpose so that he could talk to an invading alien ant army. How he knew the red K would give him an ant head is beyond me, because its effects were usually unpredictable.

Mayket – you might’ve even heard the Buckley version of ‘Hallelujah’ without realizing it. It’s extremely, EXTREMELY faithful to Cale’s version of the song, which is quite different from Cohen’s. Cale’s cover, like Hendrix’s, re-defined the song for everybody, and when they cover it, they cover his version. [Hell, when Dylan plays ‘Watchtower’ live, what he plays is far more like Hendrix’s version than his own.]

But, yes, the Buckley is one is everywhere nowadays, and I know people who think it’s the best one.

For whatever it’s worth, I feel like there’s a nice way to give edit notes to Brian — people are probably right, the Dylan thing makes no sense. But I don’t think people were being nice about it, and the people explaining why it was correct to demand more explanation seem to have bizarre feelings of entitlement — my feeling is, if you care as much as you make it sound, then you would google the lyric that was in quotes, and you would’ve found your answer really easily. People on the Internet demand too much of other people to dispense information; my feeling is, you should’ve told them it was a line from “Blowin’ in the Wind” and let them find out it’s wrong for themselves if they really care.

My Monday-morning editing comment would be that I really laughed when the line “In 1992’s Captain America #408, the Falcon debuted a new look…” was immediately followed by the cover featuring a werewolf Cap fighting the evil Cap doppelganger. If I hadn’t read that issue [I read every Infinity War crossover], I’d be confused as to which character on the cover was Falcon. But I definitely wasn’t annoyed, so nobody yell at me!

Matt Sturges
February 6, 2009 at 2:39 pm
Regarding the Dylan reference — I thought Brian’s joke was hilarious and was kicking myself for not thinking of it first. So I put an oblique meta-joke version of it in the script, not wanting to steal it outright. There are actually little hidden things like this in everything I write — jokes that only nine people in the world would ever get, wildly obscure references — heck, there’s even a message in code in Salvation Run #7 that nobody has ever discovered. The trick is to do it such that the people who get the reference will pat themselves on the back, and the people who don’t won’t even aware that they’re missing something.

—–

Ah, so Matt learned everything he needed to know about comic book writing from Mark Evanier’s work on “Groo”. (For those who don’t get it, Evanier was notorious for including secret messages–usually dealing in some fashion with “Garfield”, the Saturday morning cartoon for which he often wrote–within the text of a story. It might appear as the first letter of each sentence on each page or other variation, or might appear in scrambled form as a spell cast by Arba and/or Dakarba or in some other coded fashion. For years, it was one of the two major gimmicks of “Groo”–the other being, of course, the mention of “mulch”.)

Great column Brian, some great topics here.

I too can’t view Maus the same way knowing this creator was involved with such low-brow consumer schlock as Garbage Pail Kids and similar candy.

I’m amazed how many people don’t know the song All Along The Watchtower. Despite what Mr. Sturges says, I don’t even think its that much of a hidden joke. Shadow Thief literally says “all along the watchtowers”, and the joke is that joker says there’s a joke in their somewhere, but its so obvious he doesn’t see it. BTW, most cover versions including U2 are covers of the Hendrix cover which is somewhat different in feel and tempo and has easily identifiable guitar solos not art of the Dylan’s original

“Soooooo, you’re immortal now.
Forever in a comic book.
Now you can die happy. “

…PAD wrote me into a Spider-Wimp annual back in the late 80’s, where I played a lawyer who was filing charges against Spidey on behalf of his client, a villain. It was supposed to be a parody of a usenet feud I’d had with net.ghod and usenet egotist Chuq “Chuqi the Hutt” Von Rospach at the time – yes, a spinoff of the infamous “Tyg-OM” feud – where Chuqles played the opposing attorney. In the end, while I won the case, the villain wound up proving he’d done the deed after all.

Or so I’m told, and that’s the punch line. I’ve never been a fan or even a casual reader of Spider-Wimp, and not even PAD writing me into an issue gave me any incentive to buy a copy, much less read the damn thing…:-P :-P :-P

“Ah, so Matt learned everything he needed to know about comic book writing from Mark Evanier’s work on “Groo”. (For those who don’t get it, Evanier was notorious for including secret messages–usually dealing in some fashion with “Garfield”, the Saturday morning cartoon for which he often wrote–within the text of a story. It might appear as the first letter of each sentence on each page or other variation, or might appear in scrambled form as a spell cast by Arba and/or Dakarba or in some other coded fashion. For years, it was one of the two major gimmicks of “Groo”–the other being, of course, the mention of “mulch”.)”

…Most of the really hidden messages were in the names of the incidental characters whose lives Groo invariably destroyed. Most of them would be twisted in a “Spanglish” sort of way so that if you didn’t at least read Spanish and/or had a few hundred conversations with Sergio Aragones over lunch, you might not get the hidden in-joke.

…And yes, IIRC Mark even dedicated one letter collumn where every single answer to ever single letter was the definition of Mulch.

He didn’t do a letter column where every answer was the definition of “mulch”, he announced that they were retiring the gag because it wasn’t funny, then ran a letter column where every letter was, “Would you define ‘mulch’?”, and every answer was, “Sorry, we don’t do that joke anymore.”

So the letter column had every answer being the refusal to define “mulch”. :)

Yeah, Michael, the Buckley version has oddly enough become the definitive version. It was popular enough that a guy sang it on American Idol last year, even! In fact, after the dude sang it on American Idol, the Buckley version went to #1 on the iTunes download charts – the first time Buckley ever hit #1 on ANY chart EVER.

Looking at the guy who did Hallelujah on American Idol last year, I suspect he knew the John Cale version more than any other and knew it from Shrek.

IIRC it was Simon Cowel who kept going on about the Jeff Buckley version.

“He didn’t do a letter column where every answer was the definition of “mulch”, he announced that they were retiring the gag because it wasn’t funny, then ran a letter column where every letter was, “Would you define ‘mulch’?”, and every answer was, “Sorry, we don’t do that joke anymore.”

…He did both, actually. I suggest you punish yourself for missing this by reading every issue of Groo until you find it.

I used to like that Garbage Can-dy. Also something similar that had skeleton pieces you could link together, which probably came packaged in a small coffin.

IT’s Rufus Wainwright’s version of Hallelujah that’s on Shrek.

Nope – John Cale’s version is in Shrek, but Rufus Wainwright’s version is on the soundtrack album.

That Salvation Run moment’s really wonderful. The first time I had read it, turned the page, and then went ‘wait..what?’ and had to reread it before I put 2 and 2 together. I thought it was kinda clever (unlike me).

Are you immortal if you died in a comic book? ’cause that happened to me once.

Hey, this is old news, I know but I just wanted to adjust a misunderstanding. First, let me say that I thought the world of Mark. If not for him, I probably wouldn’t have gotten a couple of the opportunities I had at Marvel and if he had had more say-so, I think I would have had been given more. So, just to be clear: not bashing Mark.

The truth is, the Falcon proposal didn’t quite go the way he retold it (If he actually told this story at all, I don’t know). The very LAST thing I would have suggested is that a character be killed off and replaced by a younger version. In my mind, that has contributed to convoluted histories and often inferior knock-offs of the original character. Most characters aren’t so bad that they can’t be fixed by a writer with a feel for it. My idea was to have circumstances play out that would make everyone THINK the original Falcon had died. It made no sense to me that everyone knew who Sam Wilson was, where he worked and who his friends were but that no villains ever used that knowledge to get at him. There were other elements to my proposal but as reported, Mark thought that my idea would make his history more convoluted and so nixed that idea.

Anyway, for anyone who cares, that’s the story. Take care all.

James Brock

Funny enough I read that issue of Salvation Run for the first time yesterday and right away I laughed at the Dylan reference.

I wonder if anyone ever got the secret message in the next issue and got the signed copy of the TPB.

Wow, a new comment at a column from two years ago.

Still, the Falcon legend reminds me of what I feel to be wrong with the recent decision to introduce “Nick Fury Jr.” to Earth-616. In and of itself, it is an even worse character introduction than that of Kyle Rayner back at DC.

Kyle Rayner is a despicable and unworthy character, but at least his ring gave him some actual usefulness. It made some sense (at least until you actually spent time with the spoiled boy) to give him a bit of attention.

Nick Fury Jr., by contrast, is a character that quite evidently only exists in order to ease the transition of the movie-goers who may want to read some comics. Fair enough. But to reveal his existence so close at the heels of the movie is very self-defeating. It is essentially inviting people to pay for being told that they shouldn’t expect their characters to be taken seriously in-world. To make things worse, Nick Fury is one of those characters, like Batman, that rely a whole lot on the idea that they are such exceptional people that it isn’t really reasonable to expect them to ever have a substitute. And yet Battle Scars (a minimally promoted comic at that) introduces his existence, his true name, his oh-so-convenient change in appearance and his dropping at SHIELD already as Head Director in rapid succession, with hardly any time to assimilate the ideas and get confortable with them. It is a very artificial set-up, almost as effective as straight out spending a text page asking nicely for readers to pretend that Nick has always had a son that happens to also be a SHIELD operative. In some ways it is actually far worse a set-up, since it makes canon of the idea that Nick got away with disregarding who knows how many loyal, experienced operatives in order to give this newbie son a tasty bone of power.

They did not think it very through, I fear.

Nick Fury Jr. isn’t the director of SHIELD, Quake (from Secret War and Secret Warriors) is. Fury is just an agent.

I love Mark Gruenwald’s approach – “how about if we just ignore all the stuff that makes Sam’s backstory so unsavory – not negate it, mind you, just never refer to it again”. That makes too much sense. It’s what DC should have done instead of all of these crises.

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