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Comic Book Legends Revealed #221

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Welcome to the two-hundred and twenty-first 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 twenty.

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 a disturbing story involving prejudice and Cagney and Lacey.

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: Irving Forbush’s face was never shown!


Forbush Man, the superhero name of fictional Marvel gofer Irving Forbush, appeared regularly in the pages of Not Brand Echh…

and What The–?!

Stan Lee also referenced him repeatedly in his Bullpen Bulletins.

He made a recent memorable appearance in Nextwave…

In any event, one of the recurring gags of Forbush Man was that we never see his actual face, even when he was not wearing his bucket mask.

Here are some examples of this gag from his classic origin story from Not Brand Echh #5, by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby (with Tom Sutton finishes over Kirby’s layouts)…

However, Irving Forbush’s face WAS seen and it was seen years earlier!

You see, during the mid 1950s, Stan Lee tried a Mad magazine knockoff (as did everyone else). It was called Snafu.

The “founder” of Snafu was, you guessed it, Irving Forbush!!

And here he is, in the “flesh,” so to speak!

Pretty neat, huh?

Thanks to Kevin C. Garcia, who shared this bit with me. Be sure to check out Kevin’s website, Monomythic, which “is dedicated to everything iconic about the hero, and every version and evolution of the hero myth – from ancient poems in dead languages to blockbuster movies, colorful super-heroes and state-of-the-art video games.” Kevin’s entry on Irving Forbush has even more pictures of Irving and his family of Forbushes!

It’s pretty funny that Stan Lee really must have dug the sound of “Irving Forbush” to re-use the character like that.

Thanks, also, to The ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive, for the Not Brand Echh scans. Whenever someone can save me from scanning, they are like royalty to me!

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Y’know, there was an “Irving Forbush” in the Stan Lee story in Incredible Hulk #600. Mind you, it was some really tall guy who happened to be an undertaker, and didn’t look at all like you’d expect from Forbush Man. I took it to be a throwaway gag and not the actual character.

I might be looking at him wrong, but Forbush reminds me of Ma Hunkle’s Red Tornado. Is there a legend there?



Yeah, both Forbush-Man and the original Red Tornado both have the red-longjohns-and-cooking-pot thing going on, don’t they?

Ahh, “Nextwave.” I loved that book and was delighted when Aaron Stack/Machine Man showed up in other books with the same personality Warren Ellis gave him. I also have to give Ellis kudos for writing an issue where the Nextwave Squad fought Fin Fang Foom and did so much damage to Fin that I actually kinda felt sorry for him. And then there’s the baby M.O.D.O.K. and Devil Dinosaur…

So “back to the drawing board” wasn’t a turn of phrase at all prior to that cartoon? Looking at it from that point of view, I have trouble seeing how that cartoon would make sense at all, let alone become a popular saying.

I’ve never been able to determine whether Byrne’s 2112 was any kind of reference to Rush’s 2112. Anyone know?

Tekende – not according to this: http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/back-to-the-drawing-board.html

Do links work? (Shrugs) Anyway, it looks like Brian’s on the nose here.

I love 2112 (the album).



Nice choice with the “Not Brand Ecch” stuff today, since today is NBE artist Marie Severin’s 80th birthday!

“So “back to the drawing board” wasn’t a turn of phrase at all prior to that cartoon? Looking at it from that point of view, I have trouble seeing how that cartoon would make sense at all, let alone become a popular saying.”

I think it makes perfect sense. The casual attitude of the engineer contrasts well with the military/emergency guys all in a panic. When the expression is already common, like now, its not even a joke its just an illustration.

I love that comic from the New Yorker with the plane crash.

BTW, Andrew “Captain Comics” Smith gives the Legends book a good review…



I have also wondered if there was a Ma Hunkel/Forbush connection… I put my vote behind an inquiry into this mystery.

Fr. Dan Graves

Tekende — he’s the designer of the airplane.

Great stuff.

Apologies for my past non-contributions to this blog.

“Looking at it from that point of view, I have trouble seeing how that cartoon would make sense at all, let alone become a popular saying.”

Well, the guy with the big rolled up blueprints, he’s an engineer, and you can infer that he’s the guy who designed the plane which just crashed from his reaction, which does make sense as long as you realize that an engineer would draw his blueprints (or have them drawn) on a “drawing board”.

Mr. Forbush also appeared regularly in marvel’s short-lived teen magazine “Pizzazz”, usually in the letter columns or asking questions in interviews. Like Dave Berg’s Roger Kaputnik, it’s just a name Stan and co liked to use.

When Crazy (Marvel’s slightly more recent attempt to chase the Mad/Cracked market) came around in the 70’s / 80’s, Irving didn’t make the cut, instead they created a new mascot, Nebbish N. Nebbish.

In the forbush story: Is that Mia Farrow in the same panel as Woody Allen??

I like how the Not Brand Echh comics have the tagline “Who says a comic book has to be good??” Our Dread Lord and Master, that’s who!!!!!

I’d love to see a Not Brand Echh tpb collection. I loved that comic when I was a kid and only have a few well-loved and read copies in the long boxes.

I think it’s Twiggy, not Mia Farrow, but I could be wrong.

There were other parody heroes who traipsed around in red long johns too, but Forbush-Man definitely looks influenced by the (much earlier) Red Tornado. Appropriately enough, i guess, considering that everyone else in his comic was a thinly-veiled homage to one character or another.

Hey Brian, why didn’t you use a What The–?! cover that actually had Forbush Man on it? Like, I dunno, this one?


I’ve read about Snafu.

“Founded by Irving Forbush”.

“Losted by his cousin,Melvin Forbush”.

Hey Brian, why didn’t you use a What The–?! cover that actually had Forbush Man on it? Like, I dunno, this one?

He’s on the cover to #1!

He’s in the upper left corner!

So with that in mind, I figured it better to go with both #1 issues so they’d match!

I’m with “Batlash”…I’d love to see an Essentials volume of Not Brand Ecch…for all the reasons listed above (Marie Severin art being among the biggest and best reasons)…

Jingoistic Crowd

August 21, 2009 at 8:50 pm

I’ll get in on that Essential Not Brand Ecch… request too. The bit that made it in to one of the Jack Kirby Marvel Visionaries hardcovers was a lot of fun.

Jingoistic Crowd

August 21, 2009 at 8:50 pm

I mean, USA! USA!

If Stan used the name Irving Forbush more than once (see Vinnie B. above telling us about PIZZAZZ), I’m not surprised. Look how he recycled Willie Lumpkin the mailman, as earlier revealed by Brian right here.


And my opinion is it’s definitely Mia Farrow, who was famous back then as a star in the night time soap PEYTON PLACE, marrying Frank Sinatra when she was 20 and he was 51, and starring in ROSEMARY’S BABY. At least she’s still alive. Two of the people in that panel, RFK and LBJ, left this mortal coil a long time ago…

Brian, what’s even more interesting about the Ravage 2099 story was how John Byrne left the book. I think it was over a misunderstanding of the word “ravage.” Byrne thought it meant “rape” but actually he was thinking of the word “ravish.”

Wait, so Forbush-Man was actually used in-continuity? Wow. That page does make me want to pick up Nextwave, though.

Forbush Man once crossed over into the Spider-Ham universe during a back-up story in Marvel Tales. He gets around.

Stephane Savoie

August 22, 2009 at 6:28 am

Nextwave’s place in continuity is dubious. While many of the characters have retained the costumes and some personality traits they gained in the series, the nature of the events in the series make it hard to place in the mainstream Marvel U. (Such as a Celestial giving Machine Man the “Loser” gesture, or identity of the evil mastermind.)
Fantastic read, though.

Nextwave’s place in the Marvel Universe can be explained easily, actually: as many of you know, there IS a Marvel Comics company in that reality- they put out “adaptations” of the real heroes’ adventures, instead of fictional stories (though from what we have seen, they tend to be, err, somewhat loose with the facts.) I suspect what we saw was actually what Earth-616’s Marvel put out, based on rumors of the Nextwave team (and written by someone with an absurdist sense of humor- perhaps that world’s Millar!) This is my theory, anyway. I can see a tie-in in which the REAL heroes show up and DEMAND a public apology and a correction. :D

Btw, that Forbush-man stuff was the funniest thing I’ve seen recently. Funny how well they hold.

Say, is “Forbush” supposed to be an actual word or name, or just made up?

And once again, thanks to Brian for informing us about the obscure origins of a pop culture concept!

Though I wish he’d explained a bit better what the actual similarities between Byrne’s original story and Next-Men were…

As much as I enjoy all Brian’s Legends series, my eyes gloss over at mention of Not Brand Ecch. It’s marginal humor at best rendered thoroughly unenjoyable by childish dysphemisms like “The Silver Burper” and “Gnatman and Rotten”.

I agree with Bobo here. Not Brand Ecch seemed really cool right up until I actually got an issue of it and read it. Which is a feat in itself, considering it’s almost unreadable.

Forbush is definitely a real name:

And hey guys, Not Brand Ecch! was supposed to be childish. God forbid a comic should appeal to kids. But I guess I can’t judge — I was a kid when I read it.

About Byrne and Rush’s 2112:

Someone asked about a connection between these two in the Next Men letters pages and Byrne said that he wasn’t familiar with Rush — which I find hard to believe since he did live in Canada for a while, but stranger things have been known to happen.

Byrne said he chose ‘2112’ because it was a palindromic year which has a certain ring to it when written and spoken — like 1991, when the graphic novel of 2112 was published.

I had never heard of the Ravage 2099 and Byrne connection before. From my understanding, Byrne had submitted 2112 (probably under a different title) as a Future Marvel book but he withdrew it when they asked him to pepper it with references to the fates of certain Marvel characters. Bryne has stated that 2112 required only minor tweaking to completely remove any Marvel connections. .

So was Ravage 2099 the name of what became 2112 or was this something completely different?

Ravage 2099 was Stan Lee’s idea for a future Marvel title, Rob.

So it’s doubtful that Byrne was all that involved with the specifics of Ravage 2099, but rather, just a general “future Marvel book.”

Baron Von Cruzer

August 22, 2009 at 3:33 pm

The Stan Lee and John Byrne collaboration that became 2099 was tentatively titled by Stan as “The Mighty Marvel World Of Tomorrow.” What happened was that Byrne’s proposal was rejected by Marvel. Eventually the project was given to Joey Cavalieri as group editor. Ravage was the title Cavalieri gave to Stan to write.

As I remember, the central character in Byrne’s proposal was Nick Fury. The current editor of SHIELD had asked Byrne to take over the book. He declined the offer because he was using his Nick Fury material in “The Mighty Marvel World Of Tomorrow.”

If, for some reason, god forbid, you’re not willing to take my word for it, the place to do further research would be Stan’s column in “Marvel Age” magazine and the text pages of Next Men.

It’s a shame, I would’ve loved to see Byrne do SHIELD.

I dont really care if it’s in continuity or not, NEXTWAVE rules and everyone needs to read it NOW!

No wait…. everyone needed to read it WHEN IT FIRST CAME OUT, but you all didnt, so it got cancelled….
but go buy it anyway!

And I should buy those Next Men ‘essential’ style books, I read a few issues here and there and it seemed interesting.

@I AM Fear:

The essential JBNM books are pretty good, the story has aged well and it includes the hard-to-find-even-at-publication GN pre/sequel 2112. The only thing missing is Byrnes original tie-in novel (Whipping Boy) and the last 20 issues that end the series (which Byrne says he’ll get to eventually).

IMO the real gem of the Next Men books was the letters page and the ‘flame about this high’ editorials from Byrne, which sadly aren’t reprinted in the trades or the phonebooks. In those pre-mass internet days they were the glue that held the book together. I’d seriously kill for a hardcover collection of JBNM/2112 with those pages intact.

[…] Where vernacular English comes from (by Carl Rose, 1928) […]

Irving Forbush? The hell? That’s what Sylvester P. Smythe looked like in the early days of Cracked. Dang, between this and that dentist inventing Alfred E. Neuman, I guess Cain’s the only truly original comic mascot. Wait, he’s from WHERE?

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