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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Legends Revealed #215

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!).

Let’s begin!

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.

STATUS: False

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!

STATUS: True

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!

Thanks to the Grand Comic Book Database for this week’s covers! And thanks to Brandon Hanvey for the Comic Book Legends Revealed logo!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is cronb01@aol.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…

Was Superman a Spy?: And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed

See you next week!

87 Comments

No nazis or swastika? Actually whom did that insult? Mindboggingly stoopid…

I was just reading Essential Ghost Writer and was amused that two characters in those early stories are actually named Richard and Wendy Pini. While I’ve always preferred sci-fi, Elfquest was one of those rare fantasy works I read as a kid and could legitimately stomach.

Even if Nazis weren’t the reason the cartoon was cancelled, are we sure there isn’t any truth to this? Cap was used in both the X-Men and Spider-Man cartoons in the 90s, and the Nazi references were ommitted. IIRC, Cap was fighting…you guessed it…nondescript Germans.

Then again, this may be an across-the-board policy for products aimed at kids. Didn’t the Justice League cartoon have a Vandal Savage/World War II episode with more nondescript Germans? Also, the recent Indiana Jones toy lines have ommitted all swastikas. I think it’s a shame that history takes a backseat to political correctness…oh, well.

Oh, there’s definite truth to the notion that mainstream all ages commercial properties are trying to avoid references to Nazis (and especially swastikas).

That’s more or less why the legend is false – it suggests that the problem came when Marvel FOUGHT the notion, while it seems clear that Marvel is totally fine with the notion (well, fine enough, I guess).

I don’t know if everybody knows this, but World War II was fought against easily destroyed robots and non-threatening villains in goofy masks. This is why GI-Joe was so successful: They just used the same basic storyline from events 40 years prior.

This is why throwing in Nazis and swastikas just didn’t make sense.

So why didn’t you post pages 3 and 5 of the Torres story so we could, you know, actually read the story?

” Apparently Fox News owns the rights to Hitler and they won’t have his likeness being slandered. ” — Carter Puterschmidt, Family Guy

I can’t say that an animated series about Cap in WWII vs “nondescript Germans” is a real loss, but…

That presumed storyboard art sure looks good. Holds up quite well against the art in Captain America’s own comic at one or two points in the 90s.

RE: the Pinis in Ghostrider

Supposedly, Wendy and Richard used to joke that since they appeared in that book, they had to get permission from marvel to reproduce.

I think the closest a Marvel cartoon got to calling the nondescript Germans “Nazis”, was during the flashback episode featuring Logan teaming with Cap during WWII. In the episode, Logan is constantly referring to the “Goose-Steppers”, and I believe the swastika was changed to the iron eagle.

At any rate, it got the point across just fine and I’m sure if they did give the series the green-light, similar steps would have been taken. I agree that this was probably due to cost-cutting (like Brian said, any Marvel cartoon NOT Spidey or X-Men got shelved quickly around this time, such as “Silver Surfer”, “Avengers”, and the “Action Hour”) or the network ultimately not having enough faith in the character at the time to bring-in the ratings.

Huh, for some reason I thought the Pinis had split. I must have been thinking of the Omaha The Cat Dancer team.

As someone who drew the Decepticon and Cobra logos all over my elementary school notebooks, I think the decision not to use swastikas in a kids’ show is certainly understandable. There’s no way that a childrens’ cartoon can properly illustrate the horrific nature of the Nazis and their actions, and they just become cartoon supervillains. Of course, all of this brings up the question of why they thought a show set during WWII would be a good idea in the first place.

Why do you always have legends about elfs in these posts? I´m sick and tired of the elf agenda being pushed forward everywhere else in the media. Elfs, elfs, elfs, even Harry Potter has elfs. And it´s children book! I don´t care if elfs get together in private to explore dungeons and build magical items, but you should post legends about stuff everyone else can enjoy.

Nazis are cool, tough.

Benjamin Moore

July 10, 2009 at 11:17 am

“As someone who drew the Decepticon and Cobra logos all over my elementary school notebooks, I think the decision not to use swastikas in a kids’ show is certainly understandable.”

Really? Because I’ve heard this “Indiana Jones” property is pretty popular with the younger generations, and I’ve yet to hear about swastika-drawing becoming too terrible a problem in primary schools for the past thirty years.

I may be in the minority, but the Iron Man cartoon was awesome. I learned more about the character from that, espeically since there weren’t cheap Essentials back then.

That Torres story was great, neat twist at the end!

Cheers,

B

“Really? Because I’ve heard this “Indiana Jones” property is pretty popular with the younger generations, and I’ve yet to hear about swastika-drawing becoming too terrible a problem in primary schools for the past thirty years.”

Condescend much?

Anyway, I don’t really think it’s the same thing. The Indy movies were originally marketed at adults (Raiders was originally rated R, IIRC), and the subsequent toylines and merchandising that was aimed at kids weren’t very successful (and there were no swastikas on the toys).

I recall reading in Wizard magazine back in the day when the Cap tv show was announced that the reason the plans for it were scrapped was because of Marvel’s bankruptcy which occured about the same time. I believe it’s also why we never got a second season of the Silver Surfer tv series.

i loved elfquest growing up and have had several incarnations of thier publishings…also had a chance to meet them and they are really nice..

makes me long for the days when there was a letter section..

anyway…google wendi pini red sonya…that richard pini is one lucky comic book fan..if we all get so lucky.

Felipe, you’re intolerance for Elves is pretty intolerant. I hope you never have a friend or family member who is a closeted Elf! I’d feel sorry for them.

I hope your city’s next Elf Pride Parade goes right by your house!

Yep that’s what I’ve heard as well. Which was a shame because that Silver Surfer series was pretty good (at least in my opinion) and it ended up making me a huge fan of the character.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

July 10, 2009 at 12:03 pm

Maybe I skimmed past it in the original post, but surely the obvious reason for avoiding swastikas and direct references to Nazis in syndicated television is to keep the international market as open as possible. German law prohibits most depictions of such stuff, and censoring it costs ca$h.

Stealing Stonehenge and turning it into a giant evil magic swastika is maybe the most awesome villain plot idea ever.

Bingo, Omar. That, and the swastika is still in use in America as a symbol of the Aryan Nation, which is a dangerous and still functioning group.

Does anyone remember the Rambo cartoon from the (IIRC) early nineties? They did have Nazis, part of “General Warhawk’s” paramilitary terrorist strike force that also included ninjas, Arabs (just the shot of a guy in a Bedouin robe was presumably meant to scream Arab Terrorist) and street punks with mohawks.

I’ve heard this “Indiana Jones” property is pretty popular with the younger generations

As Hasbro could surely attest, you’ve heard wrong…

…Let’s not forget one other thing that Wendy had going for her: girls who read super-hero comics were *rare*. I remember that Silver Surfer lettercol quite well, and was surprised that a *girl* had written in to Stan like that. Locally, girls who read comics only read crap like Archie or the romance comics, not the adventures of Norrin “Christ Redux” Radd. It’s no wonder every letter hack started corresponding with her – they felt it might be their only other chance to get laid by someone who shared their interests.

The other chance? Irene Vartanoff, who preceded Wendy as a letter hack, and to this day some older fans claim didn’t really exist, but was a “hoze account” of E. Nelson Bridwell’s. Of course, Irene’s working for Marvel and being caught in the middle of the “Kirby Art Fiasco” sort of proved she really did exist after all…

(There’s an CBL for you: Irene Vartanoff was really E. Nelson Bridwell!)

@ DanLarkin :

Fact check much ?

Raiders was rated PG

I could’ve sworn it was an “R”. My mistake.

Apparently the MPAA was going to rate it R because of an exploding head. After they obscured the head, they got the PG rating. Which makes a lot more sense. I must have screwed up the information in my head at some point.

@Brian: The second season of the “Iron Man” animated series was actually pretty good. They dropped the strict formula, stock footage, and rigid cast of villains and supporting players from the first season and focused a lot more on Tony as a flawed character with trust and control issues.

The two-part adaptation of “Armor Wars” is actually more effective than the comic itself!

(This is one more reason I’m so disappointed by the decision to make the new Iron Man series a “Teen Tony” premise that really doesn’t resemble anything people like about the character.)

The Nazi and swastika avoidance probably stems from Marvel’s need to export the series to a worldwide market. In Germany, it is pretty much forbidden to use the word Nazi or the image of the swastika in a lot of media… specifically stuff for kids or young adults. I work in the video game industry, and art directed 2 separate WW2 era games, both without swastikas present. The word Nazi was edited out of the texts during localization and translation. I believe the SS symbol was also a no-no. Germany was also iffy on the representation of blood, which we changed to be green (!) in one game.

Random Stranger

July 10, 2009 at 2:37 pm

What someone posted an unsubstantiated rumor on Wikipedia about the Captain America cartoon and presented it as fact? The devil you say!

Here’s one more Wikipedia oddity you might be able to get something out of, Cronin. Wikipedia has a listing of Eisner winners complete from 1988 to today. The problem with that is they have winners from 1990 and there were no Eisner awards that year. They Eisners were handed out for two years, then they stopped for a year to become better organized, and started up again the following year. I have no idea where Wikipedia gets the list of Eisner winners for 1990 from.

So why didn’t you post pages 3 and 5 of the Torres story so we could, you know, actually read the story?

I figure that’s what EC is selling. These people are still in business, after all, I can’t just reprint their entire stories here for the heck of it.

Hell, five pages might be too much, as it is.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

July 10, 2009 at 3:09 pm

Tony Nichols does a much better and more thorough job of saying what I was trying to express regarding Nazi iconography and international distribution.

It also helps to remember that syndicated animation is disproportionately impacted by such stuff, since they generally have smaller budgets to work with than live-action TV or film of any sort. Their budgets have less room for market-specific censorship tricks like digital blurring and so forth, and unlike live action they have no coverage shots and less room for cinematographic editing to obscure prohibited visual material. You shoot extra footage for live-action;TV animation is literally the bare minimum of images needed most of the time.

EC is still in business?

So have “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Lost Crusade” never been released in Germany?

That Silver Surfer show was really weird and cool. Totally unlike Marvel’s other 90s cartoons.

There was an episode of Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends that aired originally on Saturday morning called The Quest of the Red Skull. I have yet to see it air since then. According to TV.com they no longer air it in syndication repeats. What I remember about it is that there is a big speech by an American Indian character who explains how the Nazis took the symbol of the swastika and totally changed the meaning. It was really informative for what it was, yet they still won’t run it.

http://www.tv.com/spider-man-and-his-amazing-friends/quest-of-the-red-skull/episode/223006/summary.html

I’ll see if I can find a clip anywhere.

Here you go: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=up1vP8gtVW4

Swastika on Saturday mornings back in the 80’s!

The 1960’s Cap cartoons did the same thing. WWII was simply called “the war”, the Nazis were “the enemy”, and Hitler was a clean shaven white haired man just called “the leader”.
I remember when the Marvel Superhero cartoons started rerunning in the early ’80s. With all the references to “the war twenty years ago” I always thought that a whole generation of kids was going to have a really messed up view of Viet Nam.

Yeah, the German restrictions are probably the main reason for forbidding mentions of Nazis on cartoons. But personally I think that’s wrong. I learned about the Nazis when I was a kid (but didn’t learn about the shocking details of the Holocaust until I was about 13). I don’t regret it. War is an ugly reality, and we must prepare our children to deal with it, sooner or later. I don’t see why just knowing who were the bad guys in World War II, or what their symbol was, is such a bad thing for them. It smacks more of adults wanting to ignore it as much as they can, ESPECIALLY in Germany. They aren’t the only countries with shameful acts in their past, you know. (America -all of it, not just the USA- was forged on slavery, another fact I had to learn from TV.)

Re: Elfquest coming about because of Silver Surfer… wow, now that’s a roundabout connection! After all, The Pinis could have met via another comic’s letter column… or they might have created something different from Elfquest. I was hoping for more of a storywise connection. (Still, it IS a nice trivia bit. :) ) Btw are the humans in EQ shown in any better light than in Surfer?

The “An Eye For An Eye” story wasn’t that shocking, because I kept waiting for the revelation that the “real man” was a mutant as well. But, the Code was too strict sometimes (ironically, I actually miss it these days, or at least the way it was in the 80’s!) Still, the story shows originality and good art.

the arrowcave

July 10, 2009 at 6:15 pm

Actually a check with Will Meugnoit who I believe was actually involved in the production of the aborted Fox Cap series would shed some light on this and I believe his version may be slightly different.

Based on my 24 years in TV I question whether Marvel’s financial difficulties would have played any role in the decision to cancel the announced series.
I have the impression all the animated series produced fox Fox were produced by an outside source who had a license from Marvel to produce the project. For example 20th Century Fox producing the Batman and Green Hornet series in the 60s. Universal producing the Hulk TV series and Fox producing the X-Men Daredevil and Fantastic Four movies.
Since Marvel was not to the best of my knowledge the principle production house for the animation projects at this time, the decision to not go ahead with the announced project was most likely the decision of the Production house ( Saban?) or the network: Fox.

In most cases the decision to cancel a series rests with the network not the licensee or the production house.

>EC is still in business?

No. They went out of bussiness in the 60´s. Some of his titles are still around, tough.

>So have “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Lost Crusade” never been released in Germany?

It´s a bit more complex than that…

The Strafgesetzbuch 86, the denazification law regarding Reich symbolism is not, as some people think, a clear-cut list of symbols forever forbidden in Germany in any way or form.

What the law forbids is the use of an undefined set of symbols related to Nazi Germany or kin organizations, for means of propaganda. There´s no specific mention of the swastika, or any other symbol. There´s also no universal prohibition, extending to every area of culture.

That means that the key component to apply the law is “context”. If the symbol is being used to disseminate volkisch propaganda it really doesn´t matter if its a swastika or a more neutral symbol, like the celtic cross: it´s punishable by law. If, however the symbol is being used for academic or artistic purposes, the german law is usually fine with it. Otherwise, we wouldn´t have movies like “Downfall”, wich is german, excellent, and has nazis and swastikas a plenty.

But yes, that said, I think german authorities would probable find the depiction of Nazis as one-dimensional baddies for a kids tv show… that also was tied to a lot of children-oriented merchandising… very objectionable. But that would most certainly happen in the US too. It just wouldn´t sting as much.

And, yeah, elves are an abomination in the face of God.

In reply to Felipe, I would like to suggest a legend (although it’s not really a legend, more of an unanswered question) regarding elves. I just read Steve Gerber’s run on the Defenders and there was a great non sequitur sublot about an elf with a gun that goes around killing people in the Western US. Gerber left before he could resolve the subplot and David Anthony Kraft eventually ended the story with a one page interlude where the elf was run over by a bus. I would like to know if Steve Gerber actually had a plan regarding the elf, his identity, his motives, etc. and, if so, what it was. So I guess the “legend form” would be: “Steve Gerber planned to reveal the identity of an elf assassin but left Defenders before he could do so.”

Is the ban on Nazis and swastikas some sort of FCC mandate for childrens’ programming? I remember the first time I watched the Justice League episodes “The Savage Time” and was bugged that they couldn’t be historically accurate with the Nazis.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

July 10, 2009 at 7:46 pm

The Gerber elf subplot was described in interviews by Gerber himself as deliberately random, a symbol of the the thing you can’t plan for that ills you, the lethally irrational element of modern life.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

July 10, 2009 at 7:47 pm

It strikes me, by the way, that Gerber’s Elf is basically Number None from Morrison’s Doom Patrol, just less abstractly rendered.

I think they should put a Captain America series on HBO and call it ‘Captain America versus those Nazi B#S%A$DS!’ It starts with Cap beating the hell out of the Nazis one by one and ends with Cap beating up the Red Skull.

Bam! That’s enertainment.

I remember those Elf Quest comics. I never read one, I was always hooked on Marvel.

EC is still in business?

The company is out of business, but they licensed their intellectual property, so it’s still a commodity for a company out there. That’s why I’m not going to infringe upon it by posting the entire story. There’s a company out there that owns the license to publish “Eye for an Eye” and they’re selling it, so I’m not going to step on their toes.

Sijo wrote: “Btw are the humans in EQ shown in any better light than in Surfer?”

Well, not really, but the humans in the Pinis’ initial series are incredibly primitive (talking roughly pre-Bronze Age). BUT, Wendy and Richard did include a pair of humans (who bore a striking resemblance to Wendy and Richard) who were atypical. IMS, Cutter is wounded during a fight and winds up at the humans’ home where they tend to his wounds. This is a fairly intriguing turn of events as the elves had become as virulently anti-human (not that they didn’t have some reason) as the humans had been towards the “sky demons”.
In a later series, a young human female is sort of adopted by the Wolfriders.

When I first read “SS” in Wendy’s letter I though she was talking about something very different, which I guess just shows exactly how little humanity has “learnt about tolerance in the past 20 centuries.”

The early Torres story has a strong Frazetta vibe to it. Much more than his later work. I dig it.

“I think it’s a shame that history takes a backseat to political correctness…oh, well.”

I doubt it has anything to do with political correctness, rather it’s all about “won’t someone think of the children”, which is surely coming from the other side of the political spectrum.

Regarding Ms. Pini’s letter, she refers to “a man so deserving of love” whom people “brutally rejected” at a time “almost 2,000 years ago”. She then says “surely the human race must have learned something about tolerance in the last 20 centuries”. Actually, if Ms. Pini meant to refer to Jesus of Nazareth (Muhammad would have lived about 1400 years ago, so he falls a bit shorter of “almost 2,000 years ago”) one should note that the human race stood as in many ways much more tolerant before Jesus of Nazareth allegedly lived. The Roman Empire tolerated just about any worship of any deity. The Biblical Jesus character made numerous statements flatly indicating that he would condemn all who did not believe in him to eternal damnation (see John 3:18 and numerous others). Muhammad followed Jesus’ example.

Regarding the Angelo Torres tale, does the artwork remind you of the Tarzan newspaper strip?

Also, the Bibical Jesus praised eunuchs, thundered on about the end of the world, and banning most cases of remarriage.

Thanks to Steve Englehart for clearing that up!

I’m an Australian science fiction writer: http://www.StrategicBookPublishing.com/ScienceFictionandAlternateHistory.html

who occasionally dabbles in a bit of fan fiction: http://www.fanfiction.net/u/1276881/David_Scholes

You might like to check out one of my stories at the above link entitled “Spitfires over Stalingrad” featuring Captain America himself!

Cheers

Oh god…

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

I remember, when I was a kid in the 90’s Fox Kids UK produced an “autumn lineup” tv trailer during the ad breaks, to show the TV series that would be debuting, Captain America was in there (it was a short clip of footage, of him and Bucky standing on a hill) and it looked fantastic, yet it never materialised, for years I wondered what had happened, and even contacted Fox Kids on a few occasions to try and get an answer (but to no avail) I completely forgot about its proposed existence, thank you so much for giving a little bit of information in to why it never happened

Wendi Pini may have been one of the few female fans out there who frequently got letters published in letter columns, but I also remember Cat Yronwode in the 70’s being a frequent contributor to Shang Chi, Master of Kung Fu… I always thought she and Doug Moench had something going on, but I guess I was wrong… (I’m always wrong, you know.)

The whole prohibition against the use of Nazi/Swastika/SS references is strange. Unfortunately, the Nazi movement still exists, and rather than promote the xenophobic rantings of the ignorant and deluded, I guess the best way may be to not allow such depictions in the media. But it always reminds me of the Japanese textbook issue– how their history books exclude any mention of the Rape of Nanking or the Bataan Death March… If local media blatantly ignores the issues of one’s historical past, then how are the children raised in that environment supposed to learn from those mistakes? Comic books can be used as effective educational tools. To say you can’t use certain words or images in a story depicting WWII Germany, which was controlled by the Nazis who wore swastikas on their uniforms, is basically saying that history as we know it was a lie, and appears to me to be nothing more than an attempt to turn the oppressors into the oppressed. .

Some of you guys who are posting need to read the responses before asking the same question again and again re: swastikas and other Nazi insignias.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

July 11, 2009 at 10:11 am

Did Paty meet Dave Cockrum through letters pages? I know she was also one of the more prolific late Silver Age LOCers.

Colin Rutherford

July 11, 2009 at 12:17 pm

The animated movie “Flash Gordon: The Greatest Adventure of All” from Filmation depicted Hitler and swastikas. The movie began with Flash fleeing the German bombing of Poland in 1939 and had a sub-plot involving Ming the Merciless providing the Nazis with rocket technology. The movie is actually very well written and animated for its time, but it was only shown on American TV once in 1982 and is not available on DVD. An uncited article on Wikipedia says the movie was only rebroadcast and commercially released in Japan and Bulgaria. The legend I heard was that the inclusion of the Nazis was an issue.

Brian From Canada

July 11, 2009 at 12:48 pm

With regards to the animated series of the 90s, whether the series were produced by Marvel or not for Fox is irrelevant: if I recall correctly — and Brian can check on this — Fox took issue with the fact that Marvel included the revenue from both the animated series AND live action pilot features in their restructuring plans during the bankruptcy.

At that point the series were suspended from air. Avengers: United They Stand had been plagued with production problems from the start, so no new episodes were made to air. Silver Surfer had already completed the first year’s contract and aired the rest, while Spider-Man Unlimited (Avi Arad’s favourite) was allowed to finish production and ended. NONE of the series were strong in the ratings ESPECIALLY with the new anime focus — this was about the time Pokemon was coming — and so Fox killed any future series in the deal.

Fox also put the kibosh on Black Widow and She-Hulk telefilms as well, which they owned the rights to. The reason was probably low ratings, as that Generation X wasn’t received all that well while Nick Fury (starring David Hasselhoff) was shown in the summer with almost no fanfare.

[Fox’s other telefilm, Doctor Who, was also deemed a commercial failure and ended up preventing the BBC from following up the film after its much better reception in the UK.]

When Marvel went back into television, it was through Warner’s and not Fox.

Brian From Canada

July 11, 2009 at 12:52 pm

I forgot to mention how ironic up until recently Marvel’s only failures to get animated series on television were all launched from existing shows: X-Men in the 80s (after two appearances on Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends) and Captain America in the 90s (from an appearance in X-Men).

Had it been two years earlier, I would have said the other factor which may have put Cap’s animated series back into ice was the awful live action feature they did — but by then the fallout had already occurred.

knivesinwest11

July 11, 2009 at 3:06 pm

“What I remember about it is that there is a big speech by an American Indian character who explains how the Nazis took the symbol of the swastika and totally changed the meaning. It was really informative for what it was, yet they still won’t run it.”

Gavin, i assume you meant to write “Indian American”; like “African American”, “Italian American”, etc… The swastika originates in India, and has nothing to do with American Indians/Native Americans. Just to clarify.

“Gavin, i assume you meant to write “Indian American”; like “African American”, “Italian American”, etc… The swastika originates in India, and has nothing to do with American Indians/Native Americans. Just to clarify.”

If you look at the description of the episode, it mentions a character named “Hiawatha Smith”. I presume that means Native American, i.e., American Indian.

The swastika image may have originated from Sanskrit (in India), but you don’t have to be FROM India in order to state that the origin of the swastika was taken by the Nazis to mean something totally different. An educated Native American could just as easily do that.

India was not the only place where the swastika existed before the Nazis – Native Americans (the Hopi and Navajo, for instance) did use it, and it was used in at least one US military unit’s insignia (a Marine division, IIRC), based on the Navajo usage.

Yes, he was a Native American character. Watch the clip I linked and he’s in it.

Oddly enough he is a tribute to Indiana Jones. The character studies ancient histories, is also a professor, and look at the bit where Firestar has to simulate the sun shining behind the swastika cast its shadow and tell them where the secret chamber is. There is a snake crawling around the swastika. The whole episode is an homage to Raiders of the Lost Ark which is why the Nazi references were there to begin with. I’m willing to bet that they had to soften it up quite a bit to even get what that had aired.

A swastika is a pretty simple design. It was invented by several cultures. (The word ‘swastika’ is Sanskrit, though.)
I am really disturbed by this idea that kid’s shows can’t have Nazis. It amounts to lying about history, which is always a bad idea.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen it, but I seem to remember when Magneto’s history was shown on the X-Men cartoon, that they didn’t show any Nazis or anything that could clearly identify them as such. It was just sort of a generic genocide. (Although I can’t think of any other genocides in history that were done in that fashion.)

The vikings/Norse men used the swastika as well.

Great column, as always, Brian! (And I just today finished your “Was Superman a Spy?” book, by the way… and I loved every page of it!)

Anyway, I happen to also be currently reading”The Chrysalids”, by John Wyndham, right now. It was published in 1955, and is about a small segment of a post-apocalyptic world (Newfoundland and Labrador, actually) in which mutation is rampant and highly feared by the people there. I suppose it’s possibly just a coincidence that “An Eye For An Eye” came out around the same time and featured many of the same scenes (including the one with mutated babies being taken away from their anguished mothers, and destroyed). Or it’s possible that Torres had just read the Wyndham novel and decided to do his own take on those same themes. (Or maybe everyone was obsessed with mutation at that time, what with Hiroshima and Nagasaki being only a decade earlier and the Cold War being in full bloom by then.)

That’s a really cool story about the Wendy and Richard Pini.

They also popped up in an Iron Fist storyline as well, since they were friends with one of the Sons of The Tiger characters, Bob something or other.

>I am really disturbed by this idea that kid’s shows can’t have Nazis. It amounts to lying about history, which is always a bad idea.

Please, people, let´s be serious. Are we really complaining about the lack of historical accuracy in kid´s tv shows?

Maybe we should start forbidding The Flintstones, then. Not to mention Peabody and Sherman. That time-meddling dog deserves a stern talk-to.

Something I forgot in my original post…

The “banning” of nazi symbolism was actually imposed on the Germans by the Allies in what they called the “denazification” of the country. It was part of the agreement by which the Germans were allowed to form a new government and rule themselves after WW2. It wasn’t so much an effort to “forget history” and “promote political correctness” as it was to prevent propagandists from fanning the still-glowing embers of the recently defeated Nazi party.

Marvel’s avoidance of such symbolism, was probably an effort to avoid the time and hassle of being reviewed by a German censorship board, rather than trying to adhere to a hard and fast set of rules. Although the rules, in their strictest context, are supposed to deal with “propaganda”, it’s probably a little scary to sink time and money into something that someone could subjectively reject because of a questionable translation or maybe they were having a bad day.

(( Interesting note: there was also an allied campaign to instill a “collective guilt” among the German people after the war, with propaganda featuring concentration camp victims with slogans such as “YOU ARE GUILTY OF THIS”. The objective was to make the Germans to feel implicitly involved in Hitler’s madness, with the hopes they would not let it happen again. You learn something new, every day. ))

If you want to read more, wikipedia has some great info.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denazification

Knowing is half the battle.

Tony & Omar are almost certainly right about the problems marketing Nazis in Germany, though even where there aren’t laws prohibiting the use of the symbols, most the formerly occupied European countries will have problems.

Probably though the other factor that’s not been mentioned though is that even without problems to do with the villains, Captain America just doesn’t travel all that well. Even before the current problems, 90% of the world’s toy buying kids don’t have the emotional attachment to the character that you might. Just doesn’t make sense to develop the show

“Probably though the other factor that’s not been mentioned though is that even without problems to do with the villains, Captain America just doesn’t travel all that well. Even before the current problems, 90% of the world’s toy buying kids don’t have the emotional attachment to the character that you might. Just doesn’t make sense to develop the show”

I do not disagree with the sentiment, but do hate some of the numbers 90% of the worlds toy buying kids? You think so? I mean before any cartoon series outside of the established characters, how many of the toy buying kids had an emotional attachment to the product? How much of He-Man toy sales were outside the U.S. and how many kids had an emotional attachment to the product before the show?

Sure Cap as a franchise is probably never going to be a big seller overseas, but there is enough kids in the U.S. to matter to the point that overseas sells are usually thought of as an afterthought anyway. (until recently that is, nowadays they do think more about overseas product sales, but even in the recent past it wasn’t a big business factor—in the opposite way, try and buy a Dr Who toy in the U.S.)

Here is an article about the use of the symbol in Native American Indian motifs.

http://www.collectorsguide.com/fa/fa086.shtml

See…Hiawatha Smith taught me something. I feel more smarter already now.

Wow, the connections to that episode go ever deeper.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Navajo_rug#Folklore

“Weaving plays a role in the creation myth of Navajo cosmology, which articulates social relationships and continues to play a role in Navajo culture. According to one aspect of this tradition, a spiritual being called Spider Man instructed the women of the Navajo how to build the first loom from exotic materials including sky, earth, sunrays, rock crystal, and sheet lightning. Then another spiritual being known as Spider Woman taught the Navajo how to weave on it.”

Just saw this in PBS:

http://www.pbs.org/opb/historydetectives/investigations/704_navajorug.html

So yeah, that episode of Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends was really on to something.

I can’t believe some of you really believe it’s a bad idea to NOT exploit Nazi symbolism in order to sell action figures and happy meals.

[…] Brian Cronin over at Comic Book Legends revealed devoted a legend to debunking the idea that the show was scuttled over the refusal to use the […]

[…] noted in a recent installment of Comic Book Legends Revealed, Fox had some rather…interesting views, censorship-wise, on what was acceptable on a superhero […]

The international market concept makes sense. Outside of that not using nazis or swastikas doesn’t. I mean using them as Caps enemies they would not be glorified. Using generic germans instead of nazis seems like it would cause more outrage. For example it would be less offensive to have Cap beating up Al-quida than just beating up some Arabs, because you know Arab = bad. I realize that the swastika is still used by skinhead and white supremecist groups. All the more reason to show it as an evil symbol and have the symbol of America thrashing them.

PB210, firstly, hijacking a thread about comic book history in order to promote your (un)belief is why some people suspect there’s a high correlation between Asphergers and atheism.
Secondly, the Roman empire was only tolerant inasmuch as if you first offered sacrifice to the genius of Caesar, you could follow whatever gods you wanted to. If your religious beliefs didn’t allow you to offer such sacrifice, as the Jewish religion didn’t, you were regarded as a superstitious freak barely deserving of the time of day. Judaism got away with it because it was a religion older than Rome, and antiquity was an important element to the ancients. Christianity didn’t have that shield, although it tried to hang under the Jewish banner for as long as they could. We have the writings of Pliny which tell us that torture and execution were regarded as suitable punishments for the Christian members.
Jesus informed his disciples that being unmarried and in God’s service had its own blessings. However rabbinic teaching tended to stress the importance of marriage (sometimes from rabbis who were themselves celibate) and apostles like Peter had their own wives so it’s not as if it was an option forced on people. He also taught the coming of the end of the age (not world) which was largely accomplished in the fall of Jerusalem.
Also don’t use “allegedly” in a sentence about when Jesus lived. It makes you look like the kind of nonce who gives credence to the likes of Zeitgeist. No credentialed historian disputes Jesus’ existence, period.

I actually enjoyed the Elfquest books I was able to get a hold of, although mainly in tradepaperback form. I never got to the end of their story though.

Anthony Durrant

August 25, 2010 at 7:28 pm

I was the one who sent that piece of wrong information about Captain America’s 1990s cartoon series, sir, so I am the one who must put that right. I will ask the people there to erase it tomorrow because I submitted it before I was able to delete it myself at that site.

They didn’t have swastikas in the Savage Time episode of Justice League, but they DID show a cryo-frozen Hitler!

And EC’s totally still in business. MAD is one of the most successful magazines of all time, and still going strong. EC’s now under the DC banner, like Wildstorm etc.

DazedGenoshan

July 14, 2011 at 7:41 am

I’m torn on the Nazis in cartoons issue, on the one hand I think its irresponsible to insist small children be exposed to such a brutal historical subject before they’re mature enough to properly understand it for the sake of the integrity of a comic book story. Yet at can’t help but shake the feeling its a touch insulting and an example of bat$h!t hyper-political correctness. Seems to me the Germans would rather have Nazis specified from “generic Germans”; not all Nazis were German, not all Germans were Nazis, and doing so implies the opposite of the reality of the situation.

That said, it looks like the soon to be released Cap. America film is going to do the same thing as the current Avengers ‘toon (i.e.- Hydra in place of Nazis); a move I find baffling. It seems a touch insulting to those who died in the war, and I fear might be a deciding factor in the success or failure of the movie (read- contributing to people hating it; I hear people bash X-Men 3 for much less). What REALLY honks me off though is the modern condemnation of “propaganda” comics and cartoons from the WWII era (Superman advertizing war bonds, Daffy Duck fighting straight up Nazis, Cap. punching Hitler in the face, etc.) For one thing, its another example of the absurdity of imposing contemporary morals on historical subjects, and at worst its indirectly condoning the actions of the Axis powers- you know, the aggressors in the war who preached ethnic superiority as an excuse for genocide.

Oh, and the Surfer/Elf Quest connection is awesome. The trippy Marvel Sci-Fi of the 70s reminds me a lot of Elf Quest. Also, I agree with the other comments about the Silver Surfer ‘toon- it was brilliantly done and cut down much too early.

Sorry, you’ve got your information wrong. Eye for an Eye was originally published in Wallace Wood’s Witzend magazine sometime in the 1960’s #2, 3, or 4, I believe.

It’s a shame that those rat bastard nazis pretty much ruined the swastika forever, without all the baggage it’s a pretty cool looking thing. Of course, that’s hardly the biggest shame to come from the nazis, just one more minor thing to tack on after the more obvious ones.

“EC is still in business?”
Who do you think publishes Mad Magazine? Or those ubiquitous reprints of Tales From the Crypt, et al? They’re distributed thru DC now.

As for Temple of Doom, it was originally given an R rating, but Spielberg and Lucas fought for a PG; the reason being the movies ARE aimed at kids.
The compromise they hit on was the creation and first implementation of the PG-13 rating.

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