"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Film, Comic Books
Welcome to the two-hundred and fifteenth 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 fourteen.
Comic Book Legends Revealed is now part of the larger Legends Revealed series, where I look into legends about the worlds of entertainment and sports, which you can check out here, at legendsrevealed.com. I’d especially recommend this week’s TV Legends Revealed, for more legends about Remington Steele than you ever thought possible (and I still have one saved for future use!).
COMIC LEGEND: A Captain America animated series set during World War II that was set to debut in the mid-90s did not happen because Marvel refused to eliminate any references to Nazis in the cartoon.
On the trivia page at the Internet Movie Database for the 1960s’ Captain America cartoon series, it says the following:
This was Captain America’s only animated series. There was supposed to be one in the 1990s that was set in World War II, but due to pressure on Marvel to not use Nazis on the series, it was abandoned.
Before I begin, let me get it out right now – I do not know WHY Marvel canceled their plans for a Captain America animated series during the mid-90s. I have a pretty good idea why, but I do not know for sure.
What I do know for close enough to be sure to have no qualifier for the “false” above is that the reason it was canceled had nothing to do with an unwillingness to not call Nazis Nazis in a Cap series set during World War II.
We know this due to the ever-helpful Steve Englehart, who was one of a number of comic book writers who were given work writing for the proposed Captain America animated series.
On his awesome website, Steve talked about the script he was writing for episode seven of the series:
The series was going to be set during World War II, in Europe (but, in true TV fashion, the enemy forces were not going to be called “Nazis”). The main villain was the Red Skull, and I had developed a plot in which the Skull was going to deconstruct Stonehenge and rebuild it as a gigantic swastika on Salisbury plain. That’s when I first heard that we weren’t doing swastikas, either – and while I was working around that (the Skull was going to purloin the Stone of Scone instead and crown himself King of England), Marvel’s monetary troubles got the series canceled.
As you can see, Englehart was already informed that the cartoon was specifically NOT going to feature Nazis (or swastikas, apparently), so the refusal to do so could not have been the sticking point.
He thinks that Marvel’s mid-90s financial problems was the reason for the Cap cartoon series being scuttled, and that’s as good a bet as any. Around the same time this would have come out, Marvel was ending their Marvel Action Hour
which featured Iron Man and the Fantastic Four, so it might have been a mixture of Marvel’s financial problems and the fact that ratings were not great for the other two non-Spider-Man/X-Men cartoons, so they might have felt the same about a Captain America series (especially one set in World War II where Cap fights…I dunno…non-descript Germans?).
In any event, the key point is that it was not a matter of Marvel refusing to not mention Nazis.
Englehart even shares what I presume is storyboard art from the series…
Wow, is Steve Englehart helpful or what?
Thanks, of course, to Steve Englehart!
COMIC LEGEND: Elfquest came about because of the Silver Surfer.
STATUS: True, in a Roundabout Way
ElfQuest is a popular comic book property created by the married creative team of Wendy and Richard Pini. It was originally published by the pair independently through their independent company WaRP Graphics (Get it? WaRP? Classic) then by Marvel’s Epic line for awhile (though still technically part of WaRP) and most recently it was published by DC Comics.
ElfQuest is an engaging fantasy tale with a strong emphasis on character interaction and the building of an extensive “universe” of characters, all with nifty art by Wendy Pini.
It has been coming out since 1978.
The pair maintains a great website, ElfQuest.com, with a bunch of free online comics for your reading pleasure!
So…how does the Silver Surfer fit in, you ask?
Well, back in a mystical era known as “the late 60s,” Stan Lee was writing a comic book starring the Silver Surfer (with artwork by John Buscema).
In the pages of 1969’s issue #5, a letter was printed from one Wendy Fletcher, taking Stan to task for his portrayal of humanity…
This was back in the days when fellow letter writers would actually write to each other (note that Wendy was astute enough to use a P.O. Box) and lots of pen pals were formed in this fashion.
After her heartfelt, well-thought-out letter to Stan Lee, Wendy was practically inundated with letters from other comic book fans (let’s be frank, the fact that she was about as far as you could come from being “Frank” probably increased the amount of letters sent to her).
One comic book fan was Richard Pini.
The pair became pen pals and the relationship blossomed and ultimately, the pair married.
And they remain together today…
And all due to a silver dude on a surfboard! You gotta love comics…
COMIC LEGEND: Angelo Torres’ “first” comic book work waited fifteen years to be published!
Angelo Torres is probably best known today for his many years drawing for Mad Magazine…
Before that, though, he was one heck of a comic book artist, particularly his work at Warren Publishing on Creepy (which he got into after working on Westerns for Marvel during the late 1950s)…
However, before Warren, and heck, before Marvel even, Torres was an up and coming artist working at EC Comics. He did backgrounds and inks for a variety of artists, and he finally got the chance to draw his first comic book story.
And it was turned down by the Comics Code.
And EC Comics stopped doing comics right afterward (this was all mentioned in last week’s column).
So Torres’ “first” comic book work was not published until 1971, when it popped up in Nostalgia Press’ Those Were the Terrible, Shocking, Sensational, Appalling, Forbidden, But Simply Wonderful Horror Comics of the 1950’s.
Here, then, is a few pages from Torres’ seven-page story that was rejected by the Code, “An Eye for an Eye” (writer unknown – if anyone knows, let me know!)…
then some traveling and then, shockingly…
then a little more fighting and then…
For the complete story, check out any number of EC Comics reprints nowadays, including the reprint of the issue that this story was SUPPOSED to appear in, Incredible Science Fiction #33!
As you can see, the story is way too violent and dark for the Code, but it’s still a strong little story (with great Torres artwork).
15 years for his first story to finally be published – I guess it’s better late than never! And luckily, Torres’ career didn’t seem to suffer for it!
Thanks to Dave Blanchard for asking what became of this story!
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 email@example.com.
As you likely know by now, at the end of April, my book finally came out!
Here is the cover by artist Mickey Duzyj. I think he did a very nice job (click to enlarge)…
If you’d like to 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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