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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Legends Revealed #278

Welcome to the two-hundred and seventy-eighth 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 seventy-seven.

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 Football Legends Revealed to learn about three legends involving the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints!!

Follow Comics Should Be Good on Twitter and on Facebook (also, feel free to share Comic Book Legends Revealed on your Facebook page!). As I’ve promised, at 2,000 Twitter followers I’ll do a BONUS edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed during the week we hit 2,000. So go follow us (here‘s the link to our Twitter page again)! Not only will you get updates when new blog posts show up on both Twitter and Facebook, but you’ll get original content from me, as well!

This week has a sort of theme – all legends involving other media impacting comic books!

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: The Huron Road Building in Cleveland was the inspiration for the Daily Planet building.

STATUS: I’m Going With False

During a recent Comic Book Legends Revealed involving Joe Shuster’s inspiration for the newspaper Clark Kent originally wrote for, a number of readers were curious about something that they had heard about the Huron Road Building in Cleveland, Ohio.

Specifically, reader Jose asked:

A friend of mine from Cleveland claimed that the design for the Daily Planet building was based on the AT&T building in downtown Cleveland.

Anyone know if this is true or not?

The Huron Road Building was built in 1927. It’s a beautiful Art Deco building….

Currently, A T & T owns it…

Now, first off, in the aforementioned column, Joe Shuster was quoted as saying that he did not base any buildings in Superman on buildings in Cleveland.

But moreover, in the early issues of Action Comics and Superman, the buildings really were not distinct either way.

The Daily Planet as we know it appeared not in the comics but in the Fleischer Studios cartoon.

When the Fleischer cartoons began, this was what their Daily Planet building looked like…

But by their fourth episode, they had come upon the classic look…

Here’s a shot of the building from the fifth episode…

Later that year, in Superman #19, the Daily Planet building from the cartoon was brought into the comics, courtesy of Joe Shuster, Ed Dobrotka and John Sikela…

Eventually the rings were added and that has been the Daily Planet Building ever since.

The great comic book historian Bob Hughes believes, and I concur, that the most likely inspiration for the Daily Planet Building in the cartoon was the Paramount Building in Manhattan.

Fleischer Studios was a New York company and they were distributed BY Paramount. And there’s a globe! Even if you DON’T think that they based it on the Paramount Building, I just don’t think that there’s enough of a case for the Huron Road Building to be considered as the inspiration for the Daily Planet Building (even though the current owners still claim it).

Thanks to Bob Hughes for the great reference work! And thanks to Jose for the question!

COMIC LEGEND: A rejected Disney cartoon formed the basis for the first Carl Barks duck tale!

STATUS: True

In the early 1940s, Western publishing realized something – they were starting to run out of Disney comic strips to reprint! They were going to have to come up with some original Disney content to meet the high demand for Disney comic books.

In 1942, the West Coast editor for Western, Oskar LeBeck, was given permission to examine Disney’s archives for ideas for original comics (Western had already begun to do a few original comics, such as Carl Barks’ first ever comic book story, Pluto Saves the Ship, in Large Feature Comic #7)…


Disney had done a number of cartoons in the 1930s teaming up Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy on a series of adventures.

Disney writers Dick Creadon and Al Perkins worked on a NEW feature starring the trio, with the gang getting involved in a pirate story along with that nasty bad guy, Pete.

Over the next couple of years, a number of storyboard artists at Disney did work on the story, almost 800 storyboard drawings were made for the feature! However, by this time, World War II had begun and Disney greatly reduced their output of featurettes, as Walt Disney felt that they had better do stuff for the war effort.

So when LeBeck went through the archives, he was shocked to find this pirate story pretty much ALL TOLD!

He hired Bob Karp, who was contributing to the Donald Duck comic strip at the time, to write a script based on the story. Studio partners Carl Barks and John Hannah were recommended to do the art, and so, in 1942’s Four Color Comics #9, we see Donald Duck Finds Pirate Gold, Carl Barks’ FIRST Donald Duck comic book story!

Here are some sample pages…

As you know, this new artistic avenue was quickly embraced by Barks, who quit/retired from the Disney studio soon afterwards to concentrate solely on writing/drawing Disney comics.

And all from a rejected cartoon!

Thanks to Wade Sampson’s brilliant write-up of the story for the full info (check it out here, it’s a long and great read) and thanks to Anthony Durrant for suggesting this legend! Anthony also suggested the NEXT legend! You go, Anthony!!

COMIC LEGEND: DC’s first Graphic Novel consisted of unused comic book inserts that were meant to go with a video game.

STATUS: True

Licensed comic books can often be a real pip, especially if the product your basing your comic book on goes belly up. To wit, Marvel’s Rom comic book was likely more successful than the toy line it was based on!

This was particularly evident when DC debuted their Atari Force comic books.

Atari Force was created by DC to tie in with various Atari video games. They were included with purchases of certain Atari games (the Atari 2600 console, which I believe was just pretty much called “Atari” back then).

The series was popular enough that DC gave the comic its own ongoing series…

Atari released a brand new system, Atari 5200, in late 1982. It proved to be a disaster. 1983 pretty much ruined Atari, as their technology grew outdated SO quickly (or whatever other reason you want to come up with for their collapse – I certainly am no expert on the video game crash of 1983) that they went from being top-of-the-line to being the joke of the market within a year’s time. They were losing upwards of $10,000 PER DAY in 1983!

Atari had hired DC to create another mini-series that they would insert into games in 1983, but when Jose Luis Gracia-Lopez was just 40 pages into drawing the 120 page series (based on a script by Elliot S! Maggin), Atari canceled the deal.

DC, not wanting to waste 40 pages of Elliot S! Maggin and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez story, instead decided to have Maggin wrap the story up in another 20 or so pages and then launch a brand new line of “DC Graphic Novels,” with one large Star Raiders story as the very first one!!

This is the series that later saw the publication of Jack Kirby’s Hunger Dogs…

This was Julie Schwartz’s last series that he edited.

And it was all because of a failed video game promotion.

Weird, eh?

Thanks again to Anthony Durrant for the suggestion!

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Thanks to the Grand Comics 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. And my Twitter feed is http://twitter.com/brian_cronin, so you can ask me legends there, as well!

As you likely know by now, in April of last year my book 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 all next week!

61 Comments

That first building you show isn’t the Huron Road building, it’s the Terminal Tower.

Thanks, Sean. I’ll just dump it. I don’t NEED two photos of the building, after all.

That Hunger Dogs cover is wild. It’s like… Darkseid invades Six Flags.

Awesome.

Fleisher, Shuster, Barks,Conway/ Maggin and Garcia-Lopez, Kirby! WOW! Sounds like my Christmas list!

“Atari released a brand new system, Atari 5200, in late 1982. It proved to be a disaster. 1983 pretty much ruined Atari, as their technology grew outdated SO quickly (or whatever other reason you want to come up with) that they went from being top-of-the-line to being the joke of the market within a year’s time.”

Per “whatever other reason”, I think it’s generally agreed that Atari’s lack of quality control was a huge factor. You’ve most likely heard the story of ET, how they manufactured more copies of the game than there were customers, it flopped, and the unsold copies were buried in the desert.

That’s a big part of why Nintendo and its successors went with closed platforms and require licensing and approval for all games released on their systems. In practice, there was plenty of crap released on the NES and there’s plenty of crap released now, but it made for at least some semblance of quality control.

Obsolete hardware in and of itself doesn’t kill a game console. The Wii is outselling its competition despite inferior hardware. Of course, the difference in capability between a Wii and a PS3 is proportionately far less than the difference between an Atari 5200 and an NES…

Kinda makes me wish DC had used the graphic novel format to wrap up the Swordquest series, which I loved almost as much as Atari Force when I was a kid. Brian, do you know if the “Waterworld” and “Airworld” comics were ever completed?

The Waterworld comic was completed (the game was even released). The Airworld game was never finished, so I have no idea if that comic was completed, but Waterworld does exist (scanned copies are on the web, in fact).

I could have sworn the Daily Planet building was based on the Toronto Star building as it was when Shuster lived in Canada as a kid.

Just remembered – Terminal Tower was the name of a rare song/album (?) by Pere Ubu – & they’re from the area, right? First Devo, now Pere Ubu – you get a bit of everything with CBLR!…

By the way Brian – thanks for putting up the Devo legend a few weeks ago (Legend 274) I’d emailed you about. The DC 100-page Super Spec reprint double page spread that I saw in Mojo magazine (UK’s answer to Rolling Stone?) was where I saw the band interview/feature – they were basically saying they based the name Devo partly on a Wonder Woman story – and it was indeed that 2nd set of scans you did (from WW #28, the one reprinted in Adventure #416, 1971). As you said, that’s how the band saw a Golden Age comic to get the reference. P.

Not to derail the thread, but almost any music magazine has blown Rolling Stone out of the water for several decades now. MOJO and UNCUT are seriously good magazines.

I have always assumed ATARI FORCE was a joke comic, like one hipsters might claim to enjoy ironically. Wow. I had no idea it was actually popular enough for an Ongoing, even! With great creative talent involved!

Brian…your column just stabbed me in my brain’s logic function. Tell it to stop.

um, why is Donald Duck swimming like a ‘human’ and using his arms, instead of just sitting in the water and using his feet, like a duck would do?

What about the Micronauts? Wasn’t that more successful than the toys? If memory serves me right, Micronauts had two series from Marvel, and then a short-lived series just a few years ago.

Bicycle-Repairman

September 17, 2010 at 11:38 am

“um, why is Donald Duck swimming like a ‘human’ and using his arms, instead of just sitting in the water and using his feet, like a duck would do?”

Why is Goofy a dog who can walk on two legs and talk like a human, but Pluto can’t talk and walks on all fours? Why is Mickey Mouse much taller than the chipmunks Chip and Dale? The inconsistencies in Disney cartoons can be a source of humor. There’s a segment in “Fantasia 2000″ in which Donald watches animals board Noah’s Ark. Donald does a double take when two normal-looking ducks walk by.

Terminal Tower – an Archival Collection is, indeed, a Pere Ubu album (though it’s a collection of previously released singles, not an album of new material). Ubu’s music, up to a certain point (maybe the late 80s) included quite a few references to life in Cleveland.

If I remember what I’ve read correctly, another problem with Atari’s E.T. game is that the designers had a severely short amount of time to create it, in order to reach a target release date. Not unlike Iron Man 2…

Also, why is he wearing a shirt and hat? REAL ducks don’t do that! Fuck you Disney for your lack of realism regarding cartoon animals!

Another reason for the Atari 5200’s failure was the fact that it was bundled with the very lame Super Breakout (really, can you think of a worse choice to show off your system’s capabilities?), whereas its competitor Colecovision was bundled with the fairly awesome Donkey Kong. I know which one I bought.

Did … did you admit that you don’t know something about a topic????? Oh, Dread Lord and Master, my faith has been shattered!!!!! To whom will I turn now???? Why, Brian, WHY?!?!?!?

Atari Force (the 20 issue series) and Star Raiders (the graphic novel) were both fairly amazing to my young brain. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized the caliber of talent involved in both.

>>Here are some sample pages (I’m just sharing the Barks pages here)…

Errr… no. According to my copy of “Carl Barks Collection” Vol. 1 you showed some pages by Jack Hannah (whose pencils here look a lot like Al Taliaferro).

Jon M – I don’t think the Star building looked particularly more like the Planet than the Huron Road building. Besides which, it wasn’t built until 4 years after Shuster moved to Cleveland.

Man, I used to love Atari Force. Now if there is a series that needs to be collected it is that one. I can’t imagine the rights hurdles DC would have to overcome in today’s market.

Another factor that lead to Atari’s near-demise, and the industry collapse in general, was their failure to properly patent the 2600. That is how Coleco was able to reverse-engineer the hardware based on the open license that allowed competitors to create game cartridges. Because Coleco got to the end product in a different manner than Atari did, it didn’t matter that they did the same thing. Coleco didn’t have to pay Atari anything for their Expansion Module #1. And, that is why there was never an expansion module for Intellivision games.

That was just one of many things, though. And, the mistake that most directly contributed was the ET fiasco. Atari was contractually required to produce X number of games, by a certain date. They had only 6 weeks to develop it. And, had to produce more game cartridges than there were systems. I think I read somewhere that the game lost something along the lines of $500 million, although that seems high to me for 1982.

I’d like to know more about licensed comics. Particularly, were the Rom and Micronauts crossovers with X-Men in the 80s designed to help bring Rom and Micronauts fans into X-Men? Or, to take X-Men fans and try to sell them on Rom and Micronauts? Or, just because Chris Claremont wanted to?

Theno

Thanks, Ivan, I had a mis-attributed copy! It DID seem weird to me but then I thought, “Eh, maybe Barks’ art looked different in the beginning!”

“…if the product you’re basing…”

Wrong, wrong, WRONG, Ron Moses — Super breakout was awesome.

“What about the Micronauts? Wasn’t that more successful than the toys? If memory serves me right, Micronauts had two series from Marvel, and then a short-lived series just a few years ago.”

The Micronauts toys were actually pretty successful, they were out for a year or two before the comic and lots of kids I knew had them. They were fun toys to play with. I’m not sure if the comic came out as the interest in the toys was dying or if it was my interest in the toys that were dying, but the toys seemed to disappear sometime after the comic came out. The comics outlasted the toys by a couple of years but since the toys were on the market a few years before the comic it’s hard to really say which was more successful. I liked the comic at the time, (although I thought it was just a little to close to Star Wars in the beginning), but I haven’t read it in years and wonder if it would hold up.

The ROM toy on the other hand came out pretty much at the same time the comic did. The toy crashed and burned, disappearing for stores mere months after it’s release, never to be seen again. The comic lasted for five years.

I’ve been told that a few years ago Marvel tried to license ROM again because some high profile creators loved the book and wanted to revisit the character, the company that owns ROM either wasn’t interested or was asking for to much money, depending on who you hear the story from. I have reread some ROM’s and they are really dated but there were some fun stories there.

I remember staring at ads For The Hunger Dogs as a kid for 10 minutes at a time just try to figure just what the heck was happining in this story! Only Kirby can do that to me,

Atari Force was way better than anything with that title had a right to be (though when Mike Baron took it over, he did a good job killing my interest).
I liked Hunger Dogs, but I can’t help thinking that if anyone else had wrapped up New Gods (as it was supposed to be) that way–Orion decides “Screw fighting Darkseid to the death! I’m just going to leave him stewing alone on Apokalips and go off with my girlfriend!”–people would probably have shrieked about how the writer mangled the character. Kind of hard to say that Kirby was mangling his own vision.
Which leads to me a request for a future column–was that the ending he had in mind originally? Or given that it was 10 years after he left NEW GODS, had his original concept changed? The super-computerized Apokalips seemed very 1980s to me when I read it.

I remember Atari Force as being pretty awesome, but I was really young then. It’s be interesting to read it again.

Atari Force is a great read. When it got cancelled I remember that DC said all along that the series was only going ot be 20 issues and that they were afraid no one would buy it if it was going to be a maxi-series.

Greg BurgasDid … did you admit that you don’t know something about a topic????? Oh, Dread Lord and Master, my faith has been shattered!!!!! To whom will I turn now???? Why, Brian, WHY?!?!?!?””

That’s… That’s terrifying. Hold me.

“I could have sworn the Daily Planet building was based on the Toronto Star building as it was when Shuster lived in Canada as a kid.”

Here’s an article which gives credence to that idea. Note the picture of the old Toronto Star building…

http://davidschutz.tripod.com/superman3.html

Quoting from the artlcle:

Mention of The Star sends Shuster scurrying to the cardboard boxes that hold mementoes and treasures from every era sheet music from the Superman Broadway play of 1966, enlarged photocopies of the first Superman sketches from the ’30s, a mid-’40s photograph of Siegel, and issues of Reader’s Digest, Newsweek and Us that cover-featured the Man of Steel when the Superman movie was released in 1978.

Finally, Shuster locates a hardcover book of reprinted Superman stories that were first published in the late ’30s. Settling gently on to the sofa, he lowers his head to the glossy pages and squints while looking for a particular comic panel.

The search goes slowly. Blindness and other ailments are slowly overtaking Shuster, who has lost most of the vision in his right eye and uses oversized magnifying glasses to read the mail and make sense of the fleeting images on his television screen.

Even signing his name is a chore. His left hand the one that once drew colorful figures soaring over futuristic cities can no longer hold a pencil firmly, while his right hand trembles as he labors to shape the letters.

Siegel, too, is feeling the weight of years and cannot participate in the interview, because he’s recovering from heart-bypass surgery.

“There it is,” Shuster says, pointing to a picture of Superman descending toward a Metropolis skyline. The caption on the comic panel says the Man of Steel has landed near the Daily Star building.

“Sure! The Star!” Shuster exclaims, wheezing slightly. “Not the Planet. That came later.

“I still remember drawing one of the earliest panels that showed the newspaper building. We needed a name, and I spontaneously remembered the Toronto Star. So that’s the way I lettered it. I decided to do it that way on the spur of the moment, because The Star was such a great influence on my life.”

Yes, ATARI FORCE was one of the best series of its time. Anything with Garcia-Lopez art has to be good. Find it in the back-issue boxes and buy it!

With regards Darren’s comment regarding the ‘Micronauts’ toy line, I concur – it was certainly very popular in its native Japan and in the UK it was a big seller, in part due to Star Wars mania (that first 1978* Xmas, lots of kids wanted ‘Star Wars’ but the toy line available in the UK through Palitoy was relatively modest / in short supply and ‘Micronauts’ sales benefited from that). Of course, by 1979, the boys section of my local toyshop might as have been called ‘Star Wars Land’ as the market became swamped with official (and unofficial) product.

A quick Google suggests that ‘Micronauts’ were launched in Japan in 1972 (Takara Toys’ ‘Microman’ line) and were licensed in the US by Mego in 1976 / early 1977 (who were at about the same time offered but declined the licence to a ‘flash in the pan Sci-Fi B-movie’ called Star Wars heh heh). In the UK a toy model company (Airfix) picked up the sub-licence from Mego in 1978. Both Mego and Airfix sold the toys for several years until 1980 (the Star Wars onslaught of toys finally killed off the Micronauts’ sales). However, they were a definite toy success initially – for example, Airfix was a well loved traditional Model maker (e.g. multipart unpainted planes, boats, cars etc) that was struggling in 1977 – they gambled on importing the Micronauts in 1978 and that line alone brought in 2 million pounds in sales (a lot in 1978 UK toy terms), basically saving the company.. for a few years anyway.

The Story on the US comic was that Bill Mantlo’s son got some ‘Micronauts’ for Xmas 1977 and convinced Jim Shooter they would make a great comic (which they did) but it took just under a year to get it off the ground (issue 1 cover date Jan 1979, actual sales date would have been a couple of months earlier). So whilst the series (and original license) ran (in one form or another) for over 7 years at Marvel (1979ish until 1986), outliving the US toy line by about 6 years, they’d already been on sale as a hit toy line for 2 years before the comic launched (or about 4 years in total). In an ironic twist, the 1978 UK advertising for Micronauts was launched in the then new weekly Marvel UK comic.. ‘Star Wars Comics weekly’ and the following year the Micronauts were briefly the back up strip in the same comic.

By contrast, in 1980 (UK), ROM was literally dumped into the ‘Action Man’ line of figures (the UK licensed variants of the Hasbro GI JOE 12 inch ‘man’ dolls). This was despite the fact that (1) the ROM figure was not as articulated as the action man figures, (2) was incompatible with all the action man vehicles and accessories, (3) was licensed from a different company (Parker Bros) and most importantly (4) was thematically wrong for the line in that, with the exception of the occasional oddball appearance of characters like Bullet Man and Atomic man, the line was totally dominated by WW2 variants, costumes and accessories. I also seem to recall at around the same time Palitoy knocked up a couple of other space themed ‘Action Man’ toys to belatedly cash in on the Star Wars craze (‘Space Adventurers / Rangers’?) that stayed on sale far longer than poor old ROM. Don’t get me wrong, I had the toy and the complete run of the comic.. loved it – but a ‘toy sales sensation’ he was not :-)

Scott

*Yes I know Star Wars was released in 1977 in the US but it didn’t hit the UK until after Xmas 1977 and even then it was limited showing at one or two major London cinemas. A limited release at a dozen major cities followed and it didn’t hit the majority of country until well into 1978. I know this because I won a ticket from a competition in my local newspaper to see the first screening at my local cinema – and that was an Easter Good Friday showing :-)

All I have to say right now is that that ET game for Atari was a pain in the ass to play. Especially on a black and white TV. (And I’m really not that old, we just didn’t have an extra color TV back then). If the ET game is what put Atari under, they deserved it :)

(And I just dug out my Atari stuff from storage this week. Odd coincidence.)

I´ll contribute to the Atari Force lovefest: it really was an amazing series. This is not a hipster, post-ironic thing. It had great art, great characters and great plot (and also, great plot twists). In fact, I think that if Atari Force was published today, instead of thirty years ago, it would be easily considered one of the best comics around.

Here’s some fun trivia about the Daily Planet’s globe: when Superman was “modernized” in the 70’s by, among other things, making Clark and Lois TV reporters working at “WGBS”, the newspaper was moved to the station’s office building, and the globe was put on display in a park in front of it. At least until a supervillain (by accident as it turns out) turned it into a superhot ball and shot it towards the building, and Superman had to destroy it! I believe a copy was later installed on top of the WGBS building.

Man, just look at that panel of “Spyglass Cove” in the Donald Duck story! How many “funnybook” artists of the time put so much detail into what is basically an casual panel? Truly Barks was a master from the start. (And am I the only one who finds seeing Donald speaking with a New Yoik accent hilarious? ) :D

An yeah, Atari Force (well the comic anyway) was incredibly cool and would hold even to this day, mostly because of the Garcia-Lopez art, another favorite of mine.

Man! Look at how beautiful that cover and interiors are on that Old Donald Duck issue. Wish more cartoonists put that much effort into their work.

Just wanted to add my 2 cents to the chorus: Atari Force was one kick ass comic book and the art was absolutely unbelievable. I loved that book.

Atari comics — Was that Star Raiders comic mentioned as being a video game related comic? I seem to remember someone saying on a part Legends Revealed that DC/Warner owned Atari at some point, so licensing wasn’t (necessarily) an issue, I guess. How many Atari Force issues were there that were included in the games? I have, I believe, number 3, and I think it’s got Gil Kane art in it. (I know, Kane!) I also have a Centipede comic, and a Yars’ Revenge comic. Neat stuff. Speaking of toy lines, did you know that early He Man comics (that were included in with the figures) had Mark Texeira art (later of Ghost Rider and other stuff)? I saw that years later and was dumbfounded. I assume it was early on in his career.

I had heard the Barks story before, but not in so much detail. Nice work.

Yeah, early Superman buildings are pretty generic, as you pointed out in that other column. And the article Richard above quotes is the same one that either Brian quoted or that someone in the comments quoted in the other column. 50-plus years after the fact, saying, oh yeah, I did that, doesn’t really prove much (and Shuster just seems to be saying that the NAME came from the Toronto Star, not the look of the building.)

I’d like to point out that the Superman page you feature shows a story where Lois and Clark go to see the first Fleischer cartoon, and Clark goes through these convoluted schemes to keep Lois from seeing the parts where it’s revealed that Clark is Superman. Never mind that EVERYONE ELSE IN THE AUDIENCE will know this now. (Or wait, rereading the page, it looks like they’re watching a cartoon that’s a SEQUEL to the real world first cartoon of Superman vs the Mad Scientist. So the comics people introduced the look of the Daily Planet in a story that was the sequel to a cartoon where the building looked different in it. If you follow that :)

Was that an early cross-promotion, getting people to go see the cartoons by advertising them in that way in the comic?

As something of a “Micronauts historian” (heh), I came across these comments and just wanted to post some minor corrections. Microman came out in 1974 in Japan, though it was spun off from the 1972 Henshin Cyborg series (which was brought to the UK by Dennis Fisher in a reduced scale).

Also, sales were doing quite well for Micronauts at the end of its run (a consistent #2 to Star Wars, which wasn’t a bad thing with all the other stuff out at the time, and Mego’s biggest money maker at the end), and was not why the toyline ended. Mego actually had gotten caught in an insurance scam where they had claimed a lot of unsold product (from their other failed licensed toylines–they went crazy trying to corner nearly every SF license after Star Wars in an effort to make up for that mistake) had burnt up in a warehouse fire, then resold the same merchandise on the secondary market. As a result the owners went to jail and the company quickly went under. Marvel continued on for a few more years, freed from the constraints of having to keep things tied in.

Ironically, Mego was approached before Kenner for the Star Wars deal, as Fox already had a successful run with them for the Planet of the Apes toyline. However, the owner of Mego was in Japan at the time due to Microman/Micronauts, so the Fox rep figured they wouldn’t be interested in another SF property and went to Kenner next door. Oops!

I’m going to have to dig out my Atari Forces and reread them now. It’ll be fun.

Those DC graphic novels were amazing!
The quality was fabulous, and they also included titles and themes beyond just super-hero fare.

Two of my faves are adaptations of:
Robert Bloch’s Hell on Earth by Robert Loren Fleming, and Keith Giffen in 1985
and
Larry Niven’s The Magic Goes Away by Paul Kupperberg and Jan Duursema in 1986

Sure, to split hairs those were a part of DC’s Science Fiction Graphic Novel series, but still, amazing stuff.

Marvel’s GN’s, while still excellent, were usually hit-or-miss
I mean… “Super Boxers”?.
(and this coming from a Marvel-centric fan)

Star Raiders and Warlords were fabulous.
Star Raiders, of course aided greatly by Garcia-Lopez, who could draw crap on a cracker and make it look awesome.
(He was the primary reason I bought Atari Force series.)

ROM… oh, why does no one give that toy any love.
Well… if anyone has interest, I gave an intense blog post about ROM, the toy, (and the series) awhile back.
I included sound effect files from the toy, a video showing how it worked, history of the figure and much much more.
Here’s the link:
http://sanctumsanctorumcomix.blogspot.com/2009/04/idol-pursuits-rom-spaceknight-is-here.html

Enjoy!
——–
~P~
“Tamam Shud!”
Sanctum Sanctorum Comix

Ha! Every time I see a still from those Fleischer cartoons, I think of the end of that one with Superman and the bird people underground, when Lois and Clark present their story on it to Perry White, and he says something like “Amazing story. Too bad no one will EVER believe it.”

And then he takes his cigar and FUCKING BURNS UP THEIR STORY IN FRONT OF THEM IN AN ASHTRAY. THE END.

Damn Perry! DICK MOVE.

For some reason the dialogue in Alan Moore’s Tom Strong reminds me more of Barks’s Donald Duck more than anything else. Go fig. I can’t think of a higher compliment.

Atari Force had one thing going for it and one thing going against it: JLGLs superior art, and the nascent networking of fandom beginning to compare notes on just how pathetic a hack Gerry Conway was. Had the book been given Elliot S! from the start, it would have lasted longer, probably even surviving Atari’s self-destruction during the first video game console bust.

Atari Force is awesome. Awesome awesome awesome.

On another note: I’m a huge Carl Barks fan, but I’ve never even heard of “Pluto Saves the Ship.” I guess the story gets glossed over because Barks didn’t draw it. So I learned something.

Again, Atari Force awesome.

The Atari 5200 was an incredible game machine for its time. It’s only real flaw was that it required an adapter to play 2600 games, and that theearly model 5200s (those with 4 controller ports) weren’t compatible with the adapter, without modification.

Just to give you an idea:

The base 5200 was actually a reskinned Atari 800 computer, with a different style cartridge slot & controller. As such, all it took to create many of the early 5200 games was to reconfigure the games to be played by the new controller. The Star Raiders game, especially, was well ahead of its time (a 3-dimensional first person real-time space shooter, VERY loosely based on the star trek mainframe games that were text-driven) when copyrighted for the computers in 1979!!!

And, the controllers…. wow….

2-axis joystick controllers NOT set up on a vertical X/Y system like the 2600, but on a “crossed/X slide” system that made centering them difficult, but had full analog control that was INCREMENTAL. Moving one 10% of the way was 10% of moving it fully, in terms of motion speed (and the top of the stick rotated freely, to reduce stress on the mechanism from radical movement). And, the control wasn’t self-centering, meaning if you could take your hand off the stick to hit controller buttons, maintaining direction and still using the other hand to hit the firing buttons. The controls’ only flaws were the rubber boots on the lower part of the stick, which tended to get worn out, and when they did, dirt getting into the controller would slowly render them unusable (and, while the useful life and cost of the controllers was comparable to today’s machines’ controllers, back then, people expected stuff to last much longer).

It also presaged the controllers of the 90s and today with the start, select and pause buttons on the controller, both left and right fire buttons (a pair on each side, to make the controller ambidextrous, though I can’t remember if any games used the bottom pair, as most games were ports from the computer, as noted before) along with a 12-key number pad superior (IMO) to the coleco & intellivision controllers, with cards that came with each cart that fit over the keypad, to give full instructions as which button did what. Star Raiders (Which I played on my Atari 5200 until it was stolen in the late 80s, and on my 8-bit atari computers until IT was also stolen in 1994), used every button on the pad, on the 5200 set-up, as compared to over a dozen scattered keys on the Computer keyboard (I highly recommend the game, if you ever download an emulator for the 800-series atari computers – and when you do, compare it to the video games on other consoles from 1979-1984). The game also had a full-sized Track-ball controller, mounted (for stability) in a base about the size of a modern laptop computer (that also had the keypads built in). Hell, I still have the Track-ball, as the thieves managed to overlook it.

It’s a shame that the xxx-world and ET fiascos damaged Atari so badly, as there were great plans for the console, and Sears had signed on to help fund some exclusive games, had the project not been written off. It was also not helped by Nintendo’s legal BS, where to keep a gaming-console-with-keyboard descendant of the 800 (the XE game system) off the market (where it would have easily outclassed the NES), Nintendo falsely promised their retail partners that the NES was going to have a keyboard, printers and external drives before Atari’s machine (whose peripherals were ALREADY FOR SALE, for older computers) would be released, to get those places (already feeling the Nintendo craze) from placing orders. Atari won the case, but Nintendo got to the jury, and convinced them to issue no damages (or something like $1), having convinced them that the Judge could override their damage reward to set a fair amount, when the judge had no such ability.

It took me years of searching to complete my collection of the 5 mini-comics that came with the 2600 carts. They, and the Star Raiders GN were preface to the Liberator arcade game by Atari, and then on to the events of the Atari Force comics.

There was a comics magazine in the mid-80s, I believe smaller in width and height than comics, but much thicker, whose name escapes me at the moment (Comics Interview?). When Atari Force was out, it actually made a fan-voted 10 best comics of the year vote in it. And, in another vote, the prequel secondary story from the last issue, “Hukka versus The BOB” (about young Chris Champion’s pet and a robot toy gone mad) won awards as well, but I can’t remember which magazine or group at the time made that choice.

Huh, I just had a conversation today with my comic shop guy about the possibility of selling my full set of DC Graphic Novel/Science Fiction Graphic Novel. (Hey Sanc, no love for Demon with a Glass Hand, from The Outer Limits? Or Me and Joe Priest which was practically a cross between Y the Last Man and Hell Comes to Frogtwon only Rowdy Roddy’s a priest. Bought them all for cover price not long after the last one came out, from a comic shop in Cedar Rapids Iowa.

Aw man, Travis stole my anecdote about Superman #19.

That stuff’s cool, Basara. I don’t know about the fan awards you mention at the end, but you did remind me that there was an early issue of Comics Interview that had an Atari Force cover and JLGL interview. CI was comics-sized (maybe slightly smaller, but I don’t think so) and somewhere around 64-80 pages per issue. (I bought a batch within the last few years. Good stuff. There’s one issue that printed Stan Lee’s outline/plot for FF1.)

Hukka! that was the name of that thing.

Yeah, but did I get the Superman 19 story right, random?

David Anthony Kraft may be mostly remembered for his Defenders run, but his Comics Interview is an important legacy, too. Umm, not that he’s dead or anything, as far as I know!

Brian,

First of all, I love your columns. I bought three copies of your book (One for me, my father, and my best friend) and we all enjoyed them immensely.

Secondly, I have a Legend for you. I know this isn’t as flashy as many of your other ones, but it is one i have been wondering for some time now:

On the credits for the show “How I Met Your Mother” there is listed “Supervising Story Editor” named Joe Kelly. Is this the same Joe Kelly of Superman comics fame? It is something like his sense of humour.

Thanks!
Shamrock Jack

Travis,

Warner owned both DC and Atari from 1976 until 1984, when the majority of the home products division of Atari was sold to Jack Tramiel. I would presume this made the licensing easier to hammer out at the time, but don’t know. Note that the 20-issue on-going was about half-way done when the Tramiel buy-out occurred, but somehow they kept going.

There were five mini-comics. They were included with the Defender, Berzerk, Star Raiders, Phoenix, and Galaxian 2600 games. There were also DC branded mini-comics produced for the SwordQuest series (3 out of 4 published) and Centipede. There was also a mini-comic for Yars’ Revenge, but it appears to have been completely an Atari product with no DC involvement. In addition, DC produced graphic novels for Star Raiders and Warlords. You can find all the mini-comics at Atari Age (http://www.atariage.com/comics/index.html).

Oh, and the Comics Interview issue featuring Atari Force was #12.

I’ve been hearing about the Atari Force comic online for years and finally bought the series on eBay 1 or 2 years ago. Maybe they were great comics “back in the day”, but man are they BAD. The only redeeming quality is the wonderful JLGL artwork as many have mentioned.

I rolled my eyes at the awful Darth Vader-clone of a vilian. It was all downhill from there…

Put me downn as someone else who loved the Micronauts and ROM comic books, but had zero interest in the toys…

I’ve been thinking about the CAPTAIN AMERICA serial, and who the original hero could’ve been that Captain America replaced. Only two of the Golden Age heroes I’ve studied are district attorneys as the Captain’s alter ego, Grant Gardner, is in the serial. The first is the Mask (secretly Anthony Colby, a man who was blinded in a fight with criminals but whose sight was later restored). He pretends to still be blind to keep his alter ego a secret, and has a beautiful secretary/fiancee like Gardner does, but no boy sidekick that I can see, and this makes him a better option than candidate number two:

The one suggested on Wikipedia is Mr. Scarlet, a Quality Comics hero who is also a district attorney and has a boy sidekick/adopted son named Pinky, as well as a beautiful secretary/fiancee. The reason this character was suggested as the one who ultimately became Captain America was that one of the serial chapters bears the title “The Scarlet Clue” when there is nothing scarlet involved in it, possibly due to a rewrite before filming; I believe this was either a coincidence or a red herring for the audience who would very likely have been familiar with both Captain America AND Mr. Scarlet.

Anthony Durrant

October 5, 2010 at 1:26 pm

I had the devil of a time trying to find these legends online, though I finally did, but for a time I assumed that you had taken them down. You didn’t – thank goodness! The contractor who was landscaping our backyard cut the cable for our TV and Internet service, so we haven’t been able to go online or watch TV for the better part of a day. In fact, we still can’t do it – the cable is still cut. I’m using a library computer right now.

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“1983 pretty much ruined Atari, as their technology grew outdated SO quickly (or whatever other reason you want to come up with for their collapse – I certainly am no expert on the video game crash of 1983)”

Come on, Brian. That is patently not the reason. I mean, you don’t have to research video games for a comic book column, I just don’t understand the motivation behind just making something up. And following up with “… but hey, I just made that up. It might be totally inaccurate, who knows.”
The bit in parentheses would have sufficed.

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