DC Reveals First "Dark Knight III: The Master Race" Cover
Welcome to the two-hundred and fourth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous two hundred and three.
COMIC LEGEND: Bob Layton and Jackson Guice re-wrote and re-drew X-Factor #1 from scratch in two weeks…in the midst of a Hurricane!!
An anonymous reader e-mailed me regarding X-Factor #1. He said:
1986’s original X-Factor #1 was completed, then was completely scrapped, rewritten
and redrawn by Jim Shooter, Bob Layton & Butch Guice in two weeks!
This was during New York City’s Hurricaine Gloria in 1985!
So I went to Jackson “Butch” Guice, and he went so above and beyond the call of duty in his response that it’s nuts.
Jackson delivered the following rousing story…
Bob Layton and myself had pitched a simple idea — that being our doing a regular team book with the various surviving members of the original X-Men team (several of whom were appearing in The Defenders at the time). It sounded like a fun project to us, and we were looking forward to working together on something. We also enjoyed the concept twist of the original X-Men using the growing mutant hysteria (then playing out in the Marvel Universe) as a cover to better enable them to locate and protect fledgling mutants. Mike Carlin agreed to edit the book (and christened it, as well, it if I recall correctly), and before the dust could settle, we were off and running on our book. Only — we weren’t…
Word of the new book had spread around the Bullpen and John Byrne and Roger Stern appeared to offer an idea they had concocted on how to resurrect Jean Grey (and complete the original team once more) [See this Comic Book Legend installment to see where Byrne and Stern got the idea – BC]. John offered to set everything in motion in the Fantastic Four, which he was currently writing and penciling –and give us a tremendous lead-in to our own book. Obviously, this seemed to be the way to go, so Bob and I quickly scratched our first story idea and shifted creative gears to tell the return of Jean Grey [See this Comic Book Legend installment to get a view of who the original fifth member of X-Factor was going to be].
The first issue was double-sized. We put it together under the guiding hand of Mike Carlin and the first issue was finished and submitted for final approval to Jim Shooter — who, for reasons he would have to explain himself, decided the entire issue was unacceptable and would need to be redone from scratch — with only 2-3 weeks remaining before the printer’s deadline! Those were a dark few hours, as I recall. Bob and I pleaded that there wasn’t enough time to completely rework an entire double-sized issue, but Jim was adamant and told us if we were not up to the task he would bring in people who were capable of doing so– it was our choice.
[Here’s a little tangent, even before this time, Layton had drawn a variety of possible covers for X-Factor that Shooter had rejected, like the following two…
Ultimately, Walt Simonson did the published version of the cover.
Back to Jackson’s story!]
I holed in my hotel room and drew like crazy, night and day, sitting on the floor hunched over a small coffee table which serving as my drafting table; Bob often sitting a few feet away scripting or inking. Inker Joe Rubinstein was shanghaied into our merry band of misfits to help speed up the work. During the course of the next mad few weeks, a hurricane churned up the eastern seaboard and seemed determined to drive straight into New York harbor for dramatic effect. Overnight, Manhattan Island (and apparently the entire hotel staff) evacuated the city. The last surreal act before departure was the hotel concierge handing me a roll of masking tape and requesting I tape off the windows in my room — and wishing me luck.
Well, the hurricane thankfully made an unexpected left turn during the night and drove ashore to the south, with the next day dawning bright and clear like a scene from the movie, The Omega Man. For several hours we could ill afford to lose, Bob and I wandered the deserted streets of downtown New York looking for any open deli or restaurant in order to eat. It was a very unique experience.
Long story short, we did somehow manage to completely redo that first issue — Bob, Joe, and I gang-inked the last of the pages while they were hurriedly being colored in the Bullpen right up through the final hours of the deadline. The book went to the printer and the rest is history.
A remarkable story, and one very well told by Jackson!
Thanks to the anonymous reader for the suggestion, thanks to Bob Layton for one of the unpublished X-Factor cover (which you can see on his awesome website, BobLayton.com) and thanks a gazillion to Jackson Guice for the wonderfully detailed story of what certainly sounds like two weeks to remember (even if you wanted to forget them)! Guice doesn’t have a website that I can send you to, but he does have original art up for sale on The Artist’s Choice! So go check that out here.
If only we could find the copies of the original pages! Jackson mentioned to me that Mike Carlin gave him photocopies of the issue as a memento, but Jackson has since misplaced them (it WAS twenty-four years ago, after all!). Maybe Mike still has copies?
COMIC LEGEND: A deal for Fangoria to purchase Vampirella from Harris Comics fell apart after a general agreement had been made.
Vampirella is one of the longest lasting independent comic book characters in all of comic-dom, debuting in the late 1960s as Warren Publishing’s third horror title, with a cover by Frank Frazetta and interiors by the late, great Tom Sutton.
Originally, Vampirella was just the person who introduced the stories (like Cain and Abel in the two DC Houses), but eventually, under Archie Goodwin’s guidance, she became the star of the book herself…
Vampirella was an alien from the planet Draculon, where the inhabitants were all, well, vampires (duh!).
She came to Earth and helped fight the evil ACTUAL vampires of Earth.
The magazine lasted until the early 80s, with #112 being its final issue.
Harris Publishing purchased the rights to Vampirella from Warren at bankruptcy proceedings, and eventually published their own Vampirella series in the 90s.
Kurt Busiek wrote the revamped origin, which was one of those “everything you knew is a lie!” deals, with Vampirella now being a standard enough vampire.
Harris tried different things, too, like a manga-style Vampirella, Vampi!
In January of 2007, Fangoria announced that they had purchased Vampirella from Harris Comics.
Very soon afterward, Harris explained that that was not the case, and Harris went back to publishing Vampirella in the pages of a quarterly comic later in 2007…
The last issue that I’ve seen was 2008. Is there a more recent one?
Reader Jeremy awhile back asked me what the deal was, did the deal just fall apart after Fangoria announced it? Did they ever have a deal?
Apparently, what happened was that someone in the structure of Fangoria had begun negotiating, but it never went past that, and the problem came down to someone at a convention telling a Fangoria head to announce it when there really wasn’t anything to announce. Perhaps they figured that if they announced it, it would put pressure on Harris to sell the character? I have no idea. It very well could have been a “left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing” type of thing.
In any event, when I asked Harris head honcho Bon Alimagno about it, he basically said that yeah, the talks had not gotten anywhere near that. As he put it:
That had as much credence as us announcing at New York Comic-Con that we’ve bought Spider-Man.
Still, I have no idea exactly how long they had been talking, just that Fangoria was not in a position to announce anything back in January 2007.
Thanks to Jeremy for the question and thanks to Bon Alimagno for the concise response!
COMIC LEGEND: Spider-Man and Captain America starred in a 1970s Turkish film.
STATUS: Sort of True
Reader Roger wrote in the other day to ask:
A friend of mine showed me a clip of Cap and Spidey on Youtube. What’s the deal with that? Is that for real?
I suppose, Roger, it all depends on what you think “for real” is.
In 1973, writer Do?an Tamer and director T. Fikret Uçak released in Turkey the film 3 Dev Adam, which roughly translates into English as “Three Mighty Men.”
The “three mighty men” in this instance were Captain America, Spider-Man and the Mexican luchador (wrestler), Santo.
Of course, though, all three people were being used unauthorized (particularly Santo, seeing as how he was, you know, an actual guy and not a fictional character).
This unauthorized nature was particular true for Spider-Man, who is a vicious killer in the movie.
Here he murders a woman in her shower…
Here, he has just unleashed flesh-eating guinea pigs into a tube attached to a guy’s face (and yes, that’s right – flesh-easting guinea pigs)…
He’s a SINISTER Spider-Man!
Cap, meanwhile, is a good guy fighting alongside Santo…
He manages to defeat Spider-Man in the end!
So, Roger, is it “real”?
Yeah, in the sense that they WERE in a movie, but it wasn’t authorized.
Here’s clips from the film on YouTube…
Thanks to Roger for the question and thanks to AntimatterMultiverse for the YouTube clip!
Okay, that’s it for this week!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
In less than a week, this Tuesday, April 28th, Plume Books (a division of Penguin Books) is publishing a collection of my Comic Book Legends Revealed columns (half expanded “best of”/half new stuff).
Here is the cover by artist Mickey Duzyj. I think he did a very nice job (click to enlarge)…
If you’d like to pre-order it, you can use the following code if you’d like to send me a bit of a referral fee…
See you next week!
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