Axel-In-Charge: "Secret Wars" Jam Session Talking "A-Force," "Ultimate End" and More
Welcome to the two-hundred and forty-third 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 forty-two.
Comic Book Legends Revealed is 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 you check out this installment of TV Legends Revealed to find out whether Oprah Winfrey got her unique first name due to a typo!
COMIC LEGEND: A Marvel executive insisted that a Marvel Western comic cover (and the REPRINT story within) be re-drawn with the bad guys given animals masks for no reason related to the comic’s story.
For perhaps as long as I have been doing this column (which has got to be, what, ten – twelve years?), I have been trying to find the issue featured today, so I’m quite pleased to finally be presenting it to you all.
For years, Roy Thomas has occasionally told the story of the time when Chip Goodman (son of Marvel publisher Martin Goodman, who was preparing to retire of publisher of Marvel), attempted to step in into his father’s business, made a rather interesting decision with a Marvel Western comic.
Here’s one version of the story from Thomas, courtesy of a great feature with Thomas that Jon Cooke did in Comic Book Artist #2…
The most idiosyncratic situation we ran into in the early ’70s was… when [Chip] was briefly in charge of the company. It was a Western cover and Chip sent back word that he wanted all the bad guys in the story inside and on the cover to be wearing animal masks. We asked why and he said, ‘I don’t know. Maybe it’ll sell better.'”
I did not know WHICH “Western cover” it was until recently.
It was Summer of 1971’s Kid Colt Outlaw #149, which was actually a reprint of 1956’s Kid Colt Outlaw #59…
And yeah, here is both the cover by Herb Trimpe and John Severin…
along with the four-page story by Jack Keller (I don’t know who wrote it)…
As you can see, the animal masks not only make no sense for the story in the issue (which was a reprint, after all), but they are only used for the first page and the cover!
Pretty darn funny! I wonder if it DID increase sales?
Thanks to Roy Thomas and Jon Cooke for the information!
COMIC LEGEND: Walt Simonson based the look of Beta Ray Bill on Jack Kirby’s design for the High Evolutionary’s Super-Beast
STATUS: I’m Going With False
Reader Mac wrote in about a year ago to ask:
I’ve heard that Simonson, moved by the talent of Kirby in the early issues of Thor, based Beta Ray Bill on the High Evolutionary’s Super-Beast. True or false?
Here is the Super-Beast…
Here is Beta Ray Bill…
They don’t look THAT similar to me, but I can certainly see at least a case to be made for them looking similar.
In any event, in the great book, Modern Masters: Walter Simonson, Simonson discusses the creation of Beta Ray Bill…
I chose an alien because that seems further away from humanity. He’s got a little humanity in him, but that seems more exotic. I made him look like a monster because in short form comics, symbols are very important. You use symbols to get at meaning. One of the ways that manifests itself in simple form is that, mostly, bad guys are ugly and good guys are handsome. Except, of course, if they’re bad girls, in which case they’re beautiful but don’t wear a lot of clothes. [Laughter] I drew Bill as a monster, because readers would think he was evil. In fact, that was pretty much what happened. When Beta Ray Bill appeared and picked up the hammer, I got a lot of crabby letters. Fans knew the inscription. They knew that only the worthy could pick up the hammer. I didn’t get any letters from people saying, “You’re toying with us. This guy must be worthy.” Nobody. There may be 85,000 guys out there now who say, “I knew that,” but really, nobody got it.
and then later…
I’ve said elsewhere that I used a horse’s skull for the basis of Bill’s facial design. That’s because I wanted to combine the aspects of death that a skull represents with the beauty of a living horse.
That certainly doesn’t sound like he was basing it on an old Jack Kirby creation, does it?
And Simonson is such a straight shooter in his interviews (and, really, there isn’t anything damaging in saying “I based him visually on an old obscure Jack Kirby character,” so he has no reason to lie anyways), so I’m going to go with a “false” here.
Thanks to Mac for the question! And thanks to Roger Ash and Eric Nolen-Weathington for their great book, Modern Masters: Walter Simonson, for getting the information from Simonson, and thanks, of course, to Walt for talking to them about it!
COMIC LEGEND: J.T. Krul used to work on Seinfeld!
Reader Bryan recently wrote in to say:
So I’m watching Seinfeld and I look up for a few seconds while the credits are rolling and I notice an assistant production coordinator credit for one Jeffery “JT” Krul. Is that the same guy who wrote the Titans books?
First off, it’s pretty funny that this comes up, as I was just featuring the TV Legends Revealed bit where a reader spotted the name of a Seinfeld character in the credits of Smallville, so he was curious what the deal is, and now a name in the Seinfeld credits leads to a similar question, only about a comic book creator!
In any event, yep, that’s the same J.T. Krul who has been writing Titans, including Blackest Night Titans (and upcoming stuff with Roy Harper)…
You see, Krul managed to get a break as a production assistant during the seventh season of Seinfeld…
In the eighth season, he was an assistant production coordinator (that’s the episode Bryan is referring to
Leading to him climbing the ranks to becoming the production coordinator in the ninth and final season of the show…
Krul then accompanied Sienfeld writer David Mandel to the Clerks animated series (which Mandel helped create), where Krul worked as an assistant.
Krul then worked with Mandel on the film Eurotrip…
Soon afterward, Krul began working in the world of comic books. First, with an issue of X-Men Unlimited in 2004…
And then getting his biggest break at the time, working on a number of titles for Michael Turner’s Aspen Comics…
More recently, Krul has found a spot working at DC, specifically on the Titans characters.
So yes, Bryan, that IS the same guy.
Thanks for the question!
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.
As you likely know by now, last 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 all next week!
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