web stats

CSBG Archive

Comic Book Legends Revealed #216

Welcome to the two-hundred and sixteenth 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 fifteen.

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 last week’s Movie Legends Revealed, which possibly features a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle appearing in Army of Darkness?!

Speaking of armies of darkness, this week is a special theme week – all legends related to vampires!!

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: The Comics Code Authority’s attitude towards vampires is not as cut and dry as the Code itself might suggest.

STATUS: True

Something that’s often difficult to understand when it comes to the people enforcing rules such as the Comics Code is that is very often a lot more give and take than the enforcers would like you to think, particularly with something like the Comics Code, which was a voluntary oversight group.

Therefore, when the Comics Code says (as it does, in the 1954 original version of the Code):

Scenes dealing with, or instruments associated with walking dead, torture, vampires and vampirism, ghouls, cannibalism, and werewolfism are prohibited.

The enforcers of the Code knew enough to get the gist of the idea behind the rule rather than the exact wording of the rule.

The idea behind the rule was to curtail the (seen at the time as) excessively graphic horror comics of the early 1950s.

That said, vampires basically stayed out of comics for the rest of the 1950s. In fact, even the comic companies that did not submit their books to the Comics Code (Gilbertson, Gold Key and Dell, for instance – Dell had their own code – “A Pledge to Parents” which stated: “The Dell code eliminates entirely, rather than regulates, objectionable material”) shied away from showing vampires.

Dell, notably, tried out a traditional vampire comic in 1962 with Dracula.

And four years later, Dell brought Dracula back, this time as a superhero (weird, right?)…

However, during the mid-60s, the Comics Code Authority began allowing vampires to appear in comics, but only if they appeared strictly in humor comics, not horror comics.

So American Comics Group quickly had a vampire fight Herbie, the Fat Fury…

(They also had Herbie fight a mummy!…

)

and DC Comics introduced basically ALL of the Universal monsters (Frankenstein’s monster, the Werewof and Dracula) appear as supporting characters for the remainder of The Adventures of Bob Hope, from mid-1965 until early 1968, all along with the superhero Super-Hip, who was Bob’s normal, boring nephew who turned into the superhero Super-Hip (Bob’s nephew attended a high school where the monsters were the faculty)…

By the late 1960s, especially with the success of Warren Publishing’s horror comic magazines, the whole “anti-vampire” position among the comics world was loosening up, noted by Gold Key coming out with a Dark Shadows comic book.

Eventually, the Comics Code determined that vampires weren’t so bad after all, and ended up changing the vampire ban to instead:

Scenes dealing with, or instruments associated with, walking dead or torture shall not be used. Vampires, ghouls, and werewolves shall be permitted to be used when handled in the classic tradition, such as Frankenstein, Dracula, and other high-caliber literary works written by Edgar Allan Poe, Saki (H.H. Munro), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and other respected authors whose works are read in schools throughout the world.

Soon, a vampire boom time in comics was coming!

COMIC LEGEND: The success of Morbius helped to get the Comics Code Authority to relax the restrictions on vampires.

STATUS: False

In the pages of my book, Was Superman a Spy?, I do a quick piece on the false belief that Morbius the Living Vampire was labeled as such to avoid the aforementioned ban on the use of vampires.

However, another story that has surrounded the creation of Morbius is, as follows (from Morbius’ Wikipedia page, which I am posting not as a slight to Wikipedia, but just to note that this is, indeed, something that is believed to be true):

In part because of the success of Morbius, the Comic Code was liberalized on the subject of vampires and other horror characters several months later, allowing Marvel and other publishers to use vampires such as Count Dracula.

This is not true.

The clause mentioned in the previous legend that lifted the ban on vampires occurred early in 1971, February 1st, to be precise – Morbius did not appear until later in the year (cover date Octobr 1971).

Roy Thomas has said a few times over the years that Morbius was specifically a response to the changed Comics Code. The Living Vampire angle was just to make him unique and more heroic-sounding.

COMIC LEGEND: In the late 1970s/very early 1980s, Toei Animation did a Tomb of Dracula series in Japan!

STATUS: True

In the late 1970s, Marvel struck a deal with Toei Animation, the famous Japanese animation company, to produce animated cartoons starring Marvel characters that would air in Japan.

The deal ended up only producing a single animated project, which was released as a made-for-TV movie in Japan.

That property?

Out of ALL of Marvel’s comic properties, the only one to make it to pilot was The Tomb of Dracula!

The show was released in 1980 as a TV special called Yami no Teio Kyuketsuki Dracula (Dracula: Vampire Emperor of Darkness) It aired on the TV Asahi network.

The special was really quite faithful to the overall storyline of Marv Wolfman, Gene Colan and Tom Palmer.

Check out these screencaps…

Here’s Dracula…

Here’s Frank Drake, trying to karate kick Dracula…

and here is Quincy Harker and Rachel van Helsing….

The story was by by Tadaaki Yamazaki, who actually at least mentioned the original comic creators, Wolfman, Colan and Palmer in the credits as the inspiration for the story.

I don’t believe this has ever been OFFICIALLY released on DVD in the United States, and they really should get on that (they released a dubbed copy on VHS in the U.S. in a limited release back in, like, 1980-81)!!

Reader Bic shared a link with a great article about the movie at Anime News Network. Check it out here – there’s lot more screen caps in that article!

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!

66 Comments

Tom Fitzpatrick

July 17, 2009 at 4:32 am

Y’know, I wonder what the enforcers behind Comics Code Authority would think of Vampirella and HBO’s new series TRUE BLOOD these days?

Would they STILL think that Vampires aren’t so bad after all?

;-)

[...] of Extra Sequential about the book (starting on page 18.) Go here for my interview with Cronin and here for his latest Legends [...]

Those Bob hope monsters remind me of the Munsters. Wonder if they’re connected?

You’ll have to revisit this theme in October!

Cheers,

B

I think I’ve seen that Dracula cartoon. Did it have a scene where the vampire hunters made a map of Dracula sightings in the city, which ended up making an image of a big bat? If so, I’ve seen it (but scarcely remember it beyond that scene).

Those Bob Hope “Super-Hip” comics are really interesting. It is wild to see how they were trying to market Bob Hope to a younger audience. There’s a whole alternate history of comics out there that isn’t documented very well.

Hmm, what was so disgusting about Super-Hip?

WOW! Is Dracula fighting the witch from Voltron?

Most interesting about this whole entry? That there were comic book companies promoting their books as “COLLECTOR’S ISSUE” way back in 1966.

Hey Brian, I got your book for my birthday and I’m really enjoying it. Nice work!

Patrick Joseph

July 17, 2009 at 6:56 am

Thanks for confirming the existence of the Tomb of Dracula cartoon. I had read reference to it in a Comics Journal interview with Marv Wolfman about 10 years ago, but was unclear as to the reality of a finished product.

Want Dracula Anime, please.

No, you don’t. It may have looked cool, but it’s horrid.

Brian, you will want to correct that reference to “Dell’s” Dark Shadows. That’s obviously a Gold Key (Western) series with no connection to Dell.

Jerry Bennett

July 17, 2009 at 7:39 am

The Dracula anime aired on U.S. tv as a movie in the late 80′s. Around the time Robotech and Voltron were first airing. It was dubbed and edited for content. I wanna say Streamline did the dub, but not sure.

Didn’t the Toei/Marvel deal lead into Toei doing the live action Japanese spider-man?

That Tomb of Dracula cartoon looks incredible.

Might be just me but that Bob Hope cover where he is surfing and the girl is on his shoulders is the most suggestive thing I’ve seen today:) If I was him I ‘d worry less about the shark and work out how I could get my head the whole way round

Quasi-OT: Why hasn’t the Sports Legends page linked in the boilerplate been updated in the last month, anyhow?

There’s something disturbing yet fascinating about how extreme the slope of Super Hip’s face is. It doesn’t even seem like he’s tilting his head back. It looks like his head is ubpright but his face just has that insane slope.

Speaking of that Dracula cartoon, it was recently discussed in a column by Justin Sevakis over at Anime News Network. The screen grab of Dracula eating a hamburger amuses me to no end.

http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/buried-treasure/2009-06-04/buried-garbage-dracula/sovereign-of-the-damned

Seriously, why was Super Hip so disgusting? The ‘wild as a tornado and twice as windy” comment has me thinking he farted a lot.

While I think just *one* Bob Hope cover would have made your point, Brian, I’m not going to complain this time because they were all hillarious! :D

(And Super-Hip was not disgusting, except to the conservatives of his time- and that WAS idea! ;) )

The error regarding the CCA decision and Morbius is understandable given how close the dates were. Thanks for clearing that up.

And thanks for the Marvel Dracula Anime adaptation info- I didn’t even know it existed!!

Here’s an excellent review and some background on the UK version of the Dracula animation called “Dracula – Sovereign of the Damned”. Couple of Youtube-clips included.

http://www.anime-games.co.uk/VHS/anime/dracula.php

One of the last times the Code was taken seriously was when an issue of Mazing Man went out sans code, due to use of zombies in the story. Everybody pitches Denton Fixx ideas for his comic, and Guido tells a zombie story. Not allowed, but DC sent it out anyway.

And let’s not forget Marvel’s “zuvembies”, created specifically to skirt the letter of the Comic Code’s law, like today’s designer drugs.

"O" the Humanatee!

July 17, 2009 at 9:37 am

“The story was by by Tadaaki Yamazaki, who actually at least mentioned the original comic creators, Wolfman, Colan and Palmer in the credits as the inspiration for the story” could be misconstrued. The first issue of Tomb of Dracula was by Gerry Conway and Colan. (The inker is uncredited, but several sources attribute the inks to Colan.) The “classic” TOD team of Wolfman, Colan, and Palmer came together for the first time on issue 7.

Wow: “the superhero Super-Hip, who was Bob’s normal, boring nephew who turned into the superhero Super-Hip (Bob’s nephew attended a high school where the monsters were the faculty)” is, perhaps, one of the most insanely great premises ever.

I really, really want to read some of those stories.

Thanks for the heads up on the Morbius stuff, by the way. I’ve always been under the “he was a living vampire to get around the code” impression, so it’s good to know that’s not the case.

I never thought Super-Hip was disgusting, just stupid. Of course it could be because I was 8 at the time.

I think my brain melted a bit, after seeing those Bob Hope covers. What were they thinking, printing that shite?!?

Angel and the Ape inherited the Universal Monsters in issues 4, 5, 6, and 7 (though by 7, the title had changed to MEET ANGEL). That shows the comic was probably tanking already, in that they had to put something more visually arresting on the cover than A&A.

Herbie the Fat Fury?? You’ve got to be kidding me

Oh, Herbie was boss! If you’ve never read any ACG comics, give them a try. You think the DC Silver Age had weird stories? Even as kids we knew that a Herbie story could go in any of a thousand different directions and never resolve. They were THE strangest, quirkiest, utterly charming in a twisted way comics ever.

I still can’t believe there are people who read comic blogs who haven’t heard of Herbie. It’s universally praised.

And I guess Snikt Snakt won’t be interested in my SWING WITH SCOOTER revamp pitch, where I have them all going to Benedict Arnold High with Super-Hip and the Universal monsters.

Good thing the Comics Code Authority is no longer in force. Otherwise we wouldn’t have dozens of zombie comics!

Vinnie Bartilucci said: “And let’s not forget Marvel’s “zuvembies”, created specifically to skirt the letter of the Comic Code’s law, like today’s designer drugs.”

I don’t recall ever hearing about “Marvel’s” zuvembies, but I remember the term from a non-comic short story I read. It was called “Pigeons from Hell” and written by Robert E. Howard in 1938. Therefore zuvenbies could not have been created by Marvel to skirt the letter of the Comic Code Authority. In case you are interested, a zuvembie is very similar to a zombie but it it could place its victims in a dream-like state and control them. Once a victim was in the zuvembie’s midst it would hack them apart with a hatchet and drink their blood. They could be “killed” by normal means (fire and steel) but were otherwise immortal. Does anyone know what Marvel’s zuvembies were like?

You know when I see stories like these that cover the comics of the 50′s, 60′s & 70′s (along with the cover images) it just reinforces just how much a variety of comics that were available then.

Considering that comics were sold at news stands and stores, places that didn’t have nearly as much shelf space for comics as are available in today’s comic shops, there sure were a lot of choices a reader had to pick from.

Most interesting about this whole entry? That there were comic book companies promoting their books as “COLLECTOR’S ISSUE” way back in 1966.

There was a comic series called “Marvel Collector’s Item Classics” (Fantastic Four reprints, basically) that debuted in 1965.

Dracula also appeared in the pages of Marvel’s Star Trek comics.

..Boy, did this week’s CBL column suck or what? It really bit deep into the big one. It almost drove me batty! I’d stake my reputation on it not being able to stand up under scrutiny in the sunlight. Brian better not eat anything with garlic in it until next week.

:-P :-P :-P

Wow, that Dracula as a straight up super-hero concept is actually kinda neat. Somebody needs to do that again today.

I need to see that Tomb Of Dracula toon NOW.

The expression is “cut and dried”. Only Internerds write it as ‘cut and dry”.

((Sigh)) (The bastardization of the English language.) ((Sigh))

Did Dell follow “New Dracula” up with “Dark Dracula”?

‘Cause that would’ve sold gangbusters.

And those who are interrested in this “New Dracula” should check this mr. Kitty Stupid comics article:

http://www.misterkitty.org/extras/stupidcovers/stupidcomics74.html

I can only ask one thing: If you want to disguise yourself, shouldn’t you cover a bit more of your face than just the nose?

I’ve had a copy of the Tomb of Dracula on DVD for a few years but never watched it all the way through. The animation is okay, on par with shows of that time period. Maybe I’ll sit and watch it all this weekend.

I own a copy of that Dell superhero Dracula. And it is just as stupid as Mr. Kitty (Fantastico?) describes it, if not more so.

Back sometime in the late 80s, I actually came across the ToD cartoon one Saturday afternoon on a Chicago UHF channel, which ordinarily ran English-dubbed Hong Kong martial arts films in that time slot, so I’m guessing they got the cartoon as part of some sort of broadcast package deal. I was astonished to see how relatively closely they stuck to the Wolfman/Colan works…even if they did try to cram a bit too much story into the movie, making things seem a mite rushed. Still, I fondly recall it even now, twenty years on.

The most awesome thing about those Bob Hope covers is that the Neal Adams was the artist on at least one of them, #106.

They should bring back Herbie. He has plenty of material to parody these days, like Marvel Zombies and Black Lanterns! ;)

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

July 18, 2009 at 8:27 am

Don’t dis Super-Hip; he even made it to the wedding of Elasti-Girl and Mento of the Doom Patrol!

Marvel’s zuvembies appeared in Avengers #151-152, in the story where Wonder Man returns from the dead. I haven’t read those issues recently enough to comment on how similar they are to “regular” zombies.

Hey, where are this week’s references to blacks and gays? If you don’t watch out, Shelly will start reading this column again!

“The story was by by Tadaaki Yamazaki, who actually at least mentioned the original comic creators, Wolfman, Colan and Palmer in the credits as the inspiration for the story” could be misconstrued. The first issue of Tomb of Dracula was by Gerry Conway and Colan. (The inker is uncredited, but several sources attribute the inks to Colan.) The “classic” TOD team of Wolfman, Colan, and Palmer came together for the first time on issue 7.

Right, but the series specifically adapted the Wolfman/Colan/Palmer issues, which they were the original comic creators of, but yeah, I get your point that it could be misconstrued!

I vant bloodz

2nd Dell Dracula = new favorite Dracula

..

If only we could get DC and Marvel to remove torture from its CURRENT books. But they won’t do that. Torture is “edgy” and “real”.

..

I’m in the middle of reading “The Ten Cent Plague by David Hajdu (Farrar,Straus and Giroux publishers) and it’s proving to be one of the BEST reads about comics I’ve ever indulged in.

I like all of this stuff….even the campy shite….sometimes the campier the better :o)

but then again I do own full runs of The Witching Hour and We Dare you to Read Ghosts :o)

wish I had those farcical Bob Hope books……they make me cringe(with embarrasment)

Dave Blanchard

July 20, 2009 at 9:27 am

I had the pleasure of interviewing Arnold Drake some years back, and he informed me that Super-Hip and the Monster Faculty were created partly with the thought of continuing them on after DC let the license lapse on BOB HOPE. Same deal with Witch Kraft and Renfrew in the JERRY LEWIS comic.

DC’s Silver Age humor comics, especially those written by Drake and drawn by the peerless Bob Oksner, are perhaps the most underrated comics of all time.

Too bad they don’t make licensed fictionalized comics about celebrity comedians anymore, like DC used to do with Bob Hope and Jerry Lewis.
Just think, we could have “Adam Sandler Comics,” or “The Adventures Of Will Farrel” or… wait.
Never mind.

>> The most awesome thing about those Bob Hope covers is that the Neal Adams was the artist on at least one of them, #106.

And I think Bob Hope #106 is his only DC cover with go-go checks, making it probably his earliest DC work.

Alan Coil: “((Sigh)) (The bastardization of the English language.) ((Sigh))”

It would be much easier to respect your opinion if it didn’t include a sentence fragment.

Some fans had been asking for SHOWCASE PRESENTS JERRY LEWIS editions. Paul Kupperberg said that DC asked Jerry Lewis’s people, and they immediately smelled money and asked for so much there would be no profit. Amazing greed considering the property was bringing them $0.00 to start.

“The Dracula anime aired on U.S. tv as a movie in the late 80’s. Around the time Robotech and Voltron were first airing.”
Those first aired in the mid-80′s, not the late 80′s. I wanna say 84, but maybe 85.

[...] admit that this entire article is thanks to Brian Cronin, whose article on the CCA and their opinion on vampires led me to first seeing that cover. From [...]

Didn’t Marvel’s deal with Toei lead to a rather interesting Japanese version of Spider-man and the Avengers? I believe the Avengers in Japan went on to become the basis for the Power Rangers. I preferred the concept behind the live-action Japanese Spiderman more than the series done in America.

The cartoony version of Bob Hope looks a lot like Quagmire from /Family Guy/!

Anthony Durrant

April 6, 2011 at 1:07 pm

I watched the anime on YouTube this morning, and wept tears copiously for Dracula because I knew how it feels to lose someone you love. The anime spawned a second one called Kyofu Densetsu Kaibutsu: Frankenstein.

Leave a Comment

 

Categories

Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives